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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Why Traveling in the Off-Season Can Save You Big

I always choose to travel in the fall. It is usually cheaper wherever I want to go and, since I have no kids, I don't have to worry about a school schedule to work around. Of course, if you have little ones, you can often work with the teacher and school to take all the required reading and homework with you to keep up. If you can take advantage of not traveling during the most expensive times of year (summer and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas), you can really save big bucks. In particular on airfare. Fall is one of the best times to go to Europe. Airfare can easily be halved at that time. With all the kids in school, it ensures that crowds during the week will be much smaller and allow you to do and see more while at your destination. This infographic shows the different travel seasons in the U.S. The same principles can be applied to other destinations around the world.

Off Season Travel Guide


What's been your best experience traveling during off-season or shoulder season?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Shave Time, Shave Money on Travel

Traveling, even when heading out on a road trip and staying with family, has never been called cheap. If you're on a budget, and you probably are if you read my blog, then you'll want to find ways to save on all aspects of your trips. There are some pretty simple ways to do it before you start trying to do complex algorithms on how to book flights that will give you a ton of frequent flyer miles and eat up all your free time. I don't have time to figure out how to spend most of my time on the plane and I know you don't either. Here's what I suggest instead:

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Book Tuesday-Thursday
Airfare sales come out each Tuesday and you'll see other airlines trying to match or beat said sales before Friday, when rates go back up for when the majority of travelers start actually looking for flights on the weekend when they have free time. (money shaved!)

Fly on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday
These are the least popular days to fly, which means seats cost less on these days. Most people want to take advantage of the weekend for their trip, so the airport is busiest on Thursdays and Fridays (when people fly out) and Sundays and Mondays (when people fly back home). We often fly on Wednesdays and the the airport is pretty dead, especially in the morning, which is another good time to fly, but Saturdays are equally easy travel days...and family is available to drop us off and pick us up. Bonus! (time + money shaved!)

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Fly Carry-on Only
Did you know that a checked bag can cost you $35 or more? That's $70+ for your bag to fly under the plane and possibly not even the one you're on. Yep, my bag has been lost and also diverted. I have also spent way too much time standing around at baggage carousels when I could be exploring my destination. Pack mix and match items for an optimal wardrobe that takes up minimal space. 3 bottoms + 5 tops + 1 dress/skirt + 2 pairs of shoes = perfect number of items to take you through one week, one month or one year. Throw in some accessories, like a cardigan and jewelry and you're set for mixing it up. (time + money shaved!)
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Keep Your Bag Packed
As much as I like packing, I don't like doing unnecessary work, which means I keep the important things in my bag at all times: underwear, toiletries like toothbrushes, toothpaste, comb, shampoo bar and moisturizer and a packable jacket. You can find travel-sized items of almost all your favorite products now, and if you can't there are always bottles, jars and spritzers that you can decant your full-size ones into for vacation and doesn't cost you having to pay almost the same price for something 1/4 of the size. Keep things packed that you use all the time, like a good razor for shaving your face or legs. Sign up at Dollar Shave Club for a your home razors and keep one out for your travel bag. You can get awesome razors and shaving creams and lotions starting at just $1/month. Hey! Bring one razor and two heads if you have someone you could share with. (time + money shaved!)


Sign up for Groupon and Other Daily Deal Sites
I can't tell you how much money I've saved on entertainment, dining, tours and activities by using Groupon. You can adjust your subscriptions for every trip you take and then save a ton all over the world. I've purchased and used daily deals at home and Hawaii and as far away as London and Paris. There's almost nothing you can't save on. Just sign up for the emails for home and your next vacation destination, then change them when you come back. Usually, three month ahead of your travel date is perfect for finding anything you want to see, do or eat at a discount (50-90% off!). I also use Amazon Local, Living Social and KGB Deals. (money shaved!)

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Avoid Summertime
I know it's not always possible to travel whenever you want, but summer is notoriously the most expensive time to fly. By avoiding those three months when the kids are out of school, you can save up to 50% off airfare and even hotel rates. We choose to travel in the fall for our large yearly trip, because the weather is still pretty good, the crowds are smaller on the weekdays and we don't pay an arm and a leg to fly to our destination. If Disney World or Europe are on your list to visit, September is the best month to travel to both. Think of all the deals you can take advantage of when destinations are clamoring to get visitors to come there! (time waiting in lines + money shaved!)

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Stop Ordering Off the Kids' Menu
First of all, if you travel with kids you'll learn that A) all kids' menus offer the same 3-5 dishes and B) they almost never finish the food they swear they are starving for. Make sure your kids eat healthier when you go out by either having them share an entree with you or with your other child. They won't be living off pizza and chicken nuggets and you won't have to eat extra calories when they don't finish them (because we all know that's what happens). (money shaved!)

These are just some of the (very) many ways to save when you travel, allowing you to budget better or spend more on souvenirs or splurge on a nicer hotel. What are your favorite ways to shave time or money when you plan your vacations?

Disclosure: This post was inspired by Dollar Shave Club who want to Shave you Time and Money.
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