Wise travelers know that they should book flights far in advance. They also know that packing a carry-on saves bucks.
But master travelers take things a few steps further, and as a result, they save big-time on trips! Check out some of our all-time favorite money hacks for travel, and get ready for quite possibly the cheapest trip of your life.
1 – Get your passport renewed NOW.
Not later, but now! Avoid the hassle of re-verifying your identity and do NOT let your passport expire. Homeland Security does not make it any easier to get this process approved quickly.
If your passport expires in 2016, you are not alone. The U.S. State Department expects passport renewal applications to be through the roof this year. This is because of the millions of Americans who rushed to get passports during the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative of 2006 – 2007. This required passports in order to travel to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, or Bermuda. Hence, all of these are about to expire — as passports only last 10 years.
These increased renewals may result in some delays. While you can order an expedited passport, it will cost substantially more money due to the additional processing fees. Do yourself a favor and don’t spend more than you need to, nor stress over the deadline.
Specifically for Costa Rica, your passport should be valid for at least six months from the date you enter the country. So again, trying to squeeze by with the remaining valid days will only get you “the hand” — stopping you from exiting the Immigration area at the airport.
I’ll let you in on a secret… The food is not cheap at the airports, nor are the seats comfortable enough to sleep on for the duration of your vacation — while the other members of your party are actually enjoying the sun.
2 – Buy your airline tickets on sale.
Yes, I know. This isn’t rocket science here, but human nature will put it off until the window of opportunity has passed. Just get it done now.
Some of your favorite airlines including: JetBlue, Southwest, Frontier, and Virgin America announce surprise flash sales that offer lots of flights at incredibly low prices. Some as low as $34! There are ALWAYS blackout dates and specific days you have to fly on, but if your schedule is flexible, it’s an awesome way to travel cheaply.
The best way to find out about these sales is to sign up for their airline emails and “like” their Facebook pages.
3 – Alternatively, book on a “magic day” for the best fares.
Diligent research has found that for domestic travel, plane tickets tend to hit their lowest prices exactly 54 days before takeoff. Besides flash sales, this is the next best option.
4 – Let Google plan your trip.
Google Flights will automatically suggest flight swaps, time swaps and route changes that will save you money on your airfare.
Meanwhile, their new Destinations tool will tell you the cheapest time to visit a bunch of global destinations, based on tourist seasons and price shifts.
5 – Don’t be afraid to ask a travel agent.
Thanks to their connections with hotels and cruise lines, real-deal travel agents (you know…those real people) often have access to deals that you won’t find online.
However, do a quick price comparison just to make sure you’re not getting duped by some Craiglist/Groupon scam, and then score big time.
6 – Pay super close attention to the credit card you’re using.
Not only do some credit cards offer top-notch rewards programs, but also protection plans. Some cards automatically come with travel insurance, rental car insurance, roadside assistance and free checked bags. Others will reimburse you when airlines won’t for lost luggage or other flight reservation issues.
Bring a letter of proof from your credit card company to use your CDW coverage over the rental car company’s in-house choice. Unfortunately, this will not alleviate the need for the Third-Party Insurance (SLI), or Mandatory Insurance, that Costa Rica required because well…it’s mandatory.
Discover more travel tips here @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/04/12/cheap-travel-hacks_n_9679048.html or for Costa Rican insurance questions, please see our insurance explained post.