Vacations can cost a small fortune, but luckily, there are plenty of ways for you to save money on everything from airfare to hotels to the attractions that you want to visit. Some of the savings that you find will be in the form of special, short term sales, but there are many other discounts and perks that you might not be aware of that can save you even more. Even with well-known discount programs, there are probably some hidden savings you didn’t know about.
Here are 7 travel discounts and perks you didn’t know about:
1 Hotel Rewards
Hotel rewards and frequent stay programs are ideal for racking up free nights. In the case of working road-warriors, especially if their employer reimburses their hotel stays, which most do, sticking with the same brand hotel such as La Quinta will rack up a briefcase full of free night coupons which can then be used while on vacation.
Most hotel rewards programs such as the Hilton Honors program give points. These points can not only be applied toward future stays, they can even be used for shopping on Amazon to purchase new luggage or whatever the cardholder wants. Some hotel rewards programs, including Club Carlson, Marriott Rewards, and IHG Rewards Club even let you use points to pay for a TSA Precheck membership.
You might think that you need to be brand loyal in order for a hotel rewards membership to be beneficial to you, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You should always sign up, even if you only expect to stay at that hotel infrequently or even just once. As a reward member, you could be eligible for free Wi-Fi, special rates, and even late checkout. For extended stays of a week or more additional room discounts are possible, but not unless someone asks. Always ask!
2 Comparative Shopping
Not all travel agencies are created equal. Different agencies receive different deals from resorts or hotels so never book a vacation with the first one you contact. Call a few of them and compare their offers, but don’t stop there. Try going direct. Sometimes resorts have unadvertised specials, or if you talk nice enough they may offer a discount you can’t refuse, and one a travel agent can’t make. Never settle until you are certain you have the best deal going.
If you’re a senior, there’s a lot of competition for your travel business. Don’t let vanity prevent you from grabbing big savings. Sign up for AARP as soon as you’re eligible, usually a few months before you turn 50.
For the very low cost of only $16 per year, AARP members receive impressive discounts on just about everything. This, of course, includes travel. Not only are substantial savings realized when booking a hotel or renting a car, but almost every major restaurant chain in America gives some percentage of a discount for AARP members. If a card-carrying member picks Branson, Missouri as their vacation destination they’ll be given discount admissions to the shows. The same holds true for entertainment venues across the land.
AAA offers much more than a tow truck if you end up with a flat tire on the side of the road. Members receive discounts on airfare, hotels, cruises, attraction tickets, and more. Their travel agency services can help plan a vacation itinerary based solely on what someone wishes to see and experience. Members also receive a free additional driver at Hertz local locations.
Costco customers are privy to much more than bulk purchases of mayonnaise and beans. Every member receives discounts on hotels and flights, but the best savings are on their heavily discounted car rental rates through Enterprise. Unlike non-Costco members, a second driver can be added at no cost.
6 Bank of America – Museums on Us
This requires some planning, but If someone has a Bank of America debit or credit card they can receive one free general admission to participating museums, but only during the first weekend of every month. All it takes is showing their Bank of America card and a photo id. Especially at well-known museums which can be pricey, the savings are substantial.
7 Off-Season Travel
There are locations in the world, such as anywhere in the Caribbean, where the weather is great year round. Still, the summer months see the most amount of vacationers, so thus, supply and demand escalate the prices. If at all possible, go in the off-season when things are much slower. Some resorts will offer incredible discounts just to fill their rooms and keep their staff busy. Try it. You’ll be amazed.
Don’t be afraid to register on sites like Travelzoo and Expedia. Create a new email address and expect tons of promotional mail. Great deals to locations all around the world will begin to flood your inbox, but this is what you want. If you are not dead set on a location, sort through them to find one that appeals to you. These are usually specials they are in need of selling so some of the discounted rates may come as quite a shock. Expedia also has special member pricing on select hotels.
9 Credit Cards
Many credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, give points for every dollar spent which can be applied towards airfare, hotels, rental cars, and more. It’s like receiving free money. Two of the most highly rated cards for this purpose according to nerdwallet.com, are American Express and the Capital One Venture Rewards card. Some of the travel perks that you may already have include concierge services, entertainment discounts, car rental insurance, travel insurance, and airport lounge access.
10 Senior Discounts
If you’re a senior, flaunt your age. Many hotels, attractions, restaurants, and other travel-related companies offer senior discounts, but you have to ask for them. Hotels and resorts give these discounts at the time of booking so if you’re over the proverbial hill, let them know. The qualifying age is usually 65 but some places will give discounts to people as young as 50. Even if a discount is minimal or there are certain restrictions, a buck is a buck and they all count. Heck, some places will give you a discount if you ask, even if they don’t have an official policy.
These are but a few of the ways to save money by taking advantage of every available perk and discount. You may find you actually can afford that dream vacation, or you just may save enough to take a second vacation later on. A bit of due diligence is always worth the effort.