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7 Money Saving Tips for Frequent Travellers

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Ryan Ong

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I fly for free all the time. It usually involves a nylon cord, and curt advice not to let go. But if you want survival odds better than 17%, you might have to buy actual plane tickets. Good luck; the price is usually (the maximum you can afford) + 20%. What’s that? I’m wrong? Then I guess PEANUTS ORDINARILY COST $200 A PACK. It’s all a rip-off. Don’t fall for it, and use these tactics instead:

1. Get a Frequent Flyer Card

If you buy a lot of plane tickets, you want a frequent flyer card. These credit cards are meant to accumulate the most bonus miles per dollar. Apart from lowering ticket prices, you can also get free upgrades to business class.

Typical examples are the KrisFlyer Gold card and ANZ Travel Visa Signature card. You can look for more examples on credit card comparison sites, like MoneySmart.sg.

But remember to pay the cards in full. Otherwise, any “savings” you get are swallowed by the interest rate.

 

2. Shop Online For Tickets

The cost of a flight ticket is one of the great mysteries of the universe. It’s based on a bizarre combination of distance, seating area, luggage, quantum physics, and whether the counter staff think your tie is cool.

Only one thing’s for sure: You don’t want to get prices at the counter. Try hitting air ticket sites, like Kayak and Skyscanner. Ticket prices are sometimes lower than buying direct. And you can get quotes on how much the air tickets will cost, since the price is volatile.

 

Airline tickets
Budget airline tickers. I won them in a box of Rice Krispies, along with the parachute.

 

3. Check if Budget Airfare Includes Airport Taxes

You know those budget airfares that cost 80 cents, or less than $25? Yeah, they’re usually off. By about a few hundred freaking dollars.

What the ad might not say is that the price excludes airport tax. Those are the extra fees you pay for processing your luggage, the customs check, or whatever the airport staff can make up. And depending on where you go, airport taxes can range from $120 to well over $200.

So when booking budget flights, be sure to ask if the price includes all taxes.

 

4. Register at the Singapore Embassy, if There is One

Register at the Singapore embassy. It’s not just for safety, it’s for the tip-offs: Embassy staff can advise you on cheaper accomodations, steer you from tourist traps, and warn you of scams.

I usually get hotel advice from embassy staff, not travel sites. They can highlight important details; like how your “cheap” hotel is actually quite expensive, because you’ll need a cab to go anywhere. If you’re lucky, the staff might even have contacts in local hotels; that can mean a discount.

And if some globetrotting mafia has you tied up in a cellar, you’ll be glad you left your details at the embassy.

 

carpark
The Singapore embassy was easy to find. The parking charges were higher than the local property.

5. Use Vacation Rentals Instead of Hotels

Vacation rentals are when you rent someone’s house, instead of going to a hotel. You can find good rentals at airbnb.com. If you’re immune to serial killers, you can also try Craigslist.

I don’t want to tell you to avoid Craigslist rentals, but avoid Craigslist rentals.

Note that vacation rentals aren’t always cheaper. If you’re going alone, for example, the hotel might cost less. Most vacation rentals are for entire apartments or summer houses; so the price only drops if you have a large enough party to split the bill.

 

6. Don’t Change Money at Hotels and ATMs

The best place to exchange money is always at the Money Changer. I’m amazed I have to say this. If someone makes a living selling only one service, what are the chances it’ll be bad?

But I still hear about friends / readers / relatives using the ATM or Hotel exchange service. Usually, these services end up costing you 5% – 10% more. You’re paying extra for convenience. Unless it’s winter in Russia or something, I suggest you make the effort and walk to the money changer; they set up near hotels anyway.

When getting a cash advance from your credit card (in foreign currency), call the bank and check the costs. Some credit cards charge a fee for the service.

 

Money Changer
Mostly, we change your money into less money.

7. Travel on Off-Peak Periods

The holiday seasons (like December) are usually pricier. Air tickets cost more, hotels overcharge, and even cabs may get in on the action. Not every country regulates taxi fares, and big crowds might drive their prices up.

Try to arrange your trips around February or August, which are relatively slow months. You should also Google the relevant city: If there are any major events, like Mardi Gras in New Orleans or F1 in Singapore, prepare to spend more.

Note that prices go up a week before and after an event; some tourists try to get in early, and other stay late.

Image Credits:
puddy_uk, kalleboo, cosmic_spanner, imtfi

How do you save money when travelling? Comment and let us know!

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.