I have been traveling a fair amount lately and I couldn’t help but notice how certain expenses added up beyond airfare and lodging, which is already pricy enough. So I took a step back and reassessed what exactly I was spending my money on and found ways to cut costs. Here’s what I learned:
Use a travel credit card.
I only just got a travel credit card this year and it changed the way I travel completely. The benefit of a travel credit card is that you earn points on purchases that go toward airline miles or hotel rooms, and that alone can save you hundreds of dollars. I had to book a flight recently that cost $500+ roundtrip. I used one month’s worth of points and saved $200. Plus, if you’re already using that same card to book your travel accommodations, you’re adding more points—it’s a win-win situation.
Bring a reusable water bottle.
One of my guilty pleasures is buying a liter of smartwater before any flight longer than 4 hours. It has to be smartwater or nothing. I once tried to buy a 1.5-liter of Fiji Water and, I kid you not, the woman at the register told me it cost $9.29. My jaw dropped because honestly that is a CRIME. Needless to say, I did not waste my money on ~bougie~ water. Thankfully, airports are getting better about installing water filters and the best advice I can give you is to TAKE 👏 ADVANTAGE 👏 OF 👏 IT 👏. Plus, it’s better for the environment! And pro tip: if you’re looking to fill your water bottle up at your hotel, go to the exercise room. Chances are they will have a water filter, so you won’t have to buy water or drink tap water from the bathroom sink, if you’re not into that.
Review your hotel perks.
Research the different perks hotels offer where you’re staying and determine what matters most to help you save money. For example, my parents always opt to stay at hotels with complimentary breakfast, which means they can have more money to spend on a fancier dinner. I recently stayed at a hotel that had a free shuttle to take guests to the train station and airport and I appreciated using that instead of spending money on a ride-sharing app.
Pack your own food.
Once in a while, I love treating myself to a full-blown breakfast complete with coffee and a mimosa before a flight because #selfcare. But every other time I’m penny pinching, I’ll either eat a meal before I board the plane or pack something with me. My go-to snack is an RXBAR or peanut butter and jelly sandwich to hold me over. If I do end up buying food at the airport, it’s most likely at a chain restaurant like Starbucks or Dunkin’ because those types of establishments usually have the same prices across the board, so you can manage expectations on how much you will be spending.
Drink coffee on the plane.
Coffee drinkers, if you know you shouldn’t be buying that $6 latte from Starbucks before your flight, wait until you are on the plane and the drink cart comes around. Believe it or not, some airlines actually offer a decent cup of coffee. In 2016, United Airlines announced that they would begin serving Italian coffee roaster illy on their flights. However, it is important to exercise caution just because the coffee machines may not get cleaned as often as it should, and the tap water has been known to be stored in holding tanks with high bacteria and fecal counts (it is important to note that this article is from 2005 as well, so maybe there have been improvements, but still, tread lightly).
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