Last Updated on April 15, 2021 by Jim Ferri
By Jim Ferri
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
At the Airport
28) Be Careful With Checked Luggage
It pays to check online ahead of time regarding your carrier’s checked baggage weight limitations since they sometimes differ between airlines. Norwegian’s allowance is 44 pounds, KLM’s 50 pounds. Some budget carriers will charge you additional fees if you didn’t tell them ahead of time you’ll be checking a bag and prepay the fee online.
29) Collect for Those Delays
We’ve all face flight delays but many of us aren’t aware as to whether or not we should be compensated for them. In the U.S. if you are involuntarily bumped from a flight you could be owed up to $1,300; in the European Union the fee is $750 for a flight that is overbooked, canceled or delayed. And there’s Air Care, a Berkshire Hathaway company that provides a near-instant payment for flight delays, missed connections, lost or stolen luggage, etc. for a flat $25 fee. A tarmac delay of more than 2 hours nets you $1,000 with no forms to fill out.
30) Breeze Through Customs
if you travel a lot registering for Global Entry, and its affiliated Sentri and Nexus programs, can be a tremendous timesaver. You can now also expedite your customs clearance in Asia by getting the APEC Business Travel Card. Apply for it and Global Entry through the US Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler network GOES. (If you have an American Express Gold Corporate or Platinum card, or a Citi AAdvantage Executive credit card, you can be reimbursed for the $100 application fee). In the UK the Border Force has just opened a similar program to U.S., Australian, Canadian, Japanese and New Zealand travelers for a £70 fee.
31) Clear Customs Outside the USA
If you want to really make your travel less hectic, fly home from a foreign airport where CBP has opened overseas customs clearance facilities and you’ll avoid the wait, the crowd and the hassle when you arrive back in the USA.
32) Denver in August? It May Pay to Take a Carry-on
For a variety of reasons some bags just don’t make the flight. Many travelers don’t realize, however, that some bags are deliberately pulled from a flight because of weight restrictions. The restrictions are imposed at high altitudes on hot days, two conditions that make it difficult for a plane to take off. On very hot days in Denver, Mexico City or other high-altitude destinations you may find a carry-on is the best way to ensure you’ll land with your luggage.
33) Ship Your Luggage Ahead
With the onerous baggage fees being charged by many airlines these days (Southwest is the only carrier that still allows two free check bags), it may well make sense to ship your luggage ahead. Check airfarewatchdog.com to see a list of baggage and other fees now charged, and then pay a visit to UPS or FedEx.
34) Speak To a Human
Prices at many luxury hotels can vary quite a bit depending upon occupancy at the time. A property may be full one week because of a convention or popular holiday, and nearly empty the next. If you’re looking at a hotel that has an on-site reservation desk, as many luxury properties do, call the desk and inquire when the hotel forecasts it will be most empty and have the lowest rates. Then ask if you book during that period would there be a chance you can be upgraded to a better room.
35) Look For a Package Deal
Hotels, especially upscale properties, like to keep their discounted rates out of view of the general public. They do this by bundling their room rates with airfare, disguising the discounted rate. If you book through online travel agents (Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, etc.) you’ll often find good discounts. Again, however, do the math first and price out what you have to pay if you bought each element separately.
36) Stay in Extended-Stays
Extended-stay hotels have always had a lackluster reputation but if you’re traveling on a budget and are looking for real value they can quickly become your best friend. Not only can you save money by using the in-room kitchen but you’ll also find the rates are quite low on weekends when corporate travelers have returned home. Even Hyatt (Hyatt House), Starwood (its Element brand) and Sonesta (ES Suites) have gotten into the act.
37) Use Social Media
One sure way to tug at the heartstrings of a hotel – and get a better rate – is to use social media. Before you book, Tweet the hotel and see if they are offering any special deals (that are often broadcast on social media first). Like them on Facebook and perhaps send a Tweet ahead of your arrival (saying how much you’re looking forward to staying with them), which may help you be given an upgrade (don’t forget to ask on arrival). Some brands, Kimpton and Marriott among them, award loyalty points to guests who promote the brand on social media.
38) Want an Upgrade?
A good way to increase your chances of getting a better room is to check in later in the day when the hotel has a good idea of available inventory for that evening. Also consider staying at a newly constructed hotel – they have a greater incentive to court guests by providing an upgrade in hope they will return another time. And, of course, become a loyalty-program member of that hotel.
39) Go Off-Season
Hotels need to keep their rooms filled and in the off-season, after the crowds have either left or not yet arrived, they will often slash prices and provide added perks to lure your business. Such perks may include spa credits, discounted meals in the hotel’s restaurant and other incentives. Look also at business hotels for weekend stays.
40) Call the Front Desk
if you see a price for a hotel on the web it sometimes helps to call the front desk and ask if they can provide a better rate. Also inquire about other things that may get you a discount… are you a member of AAA or AARP, a government employee, etc.?
41) Move Out of the Neighborhood
Oftentimes you’ll find better a better rate if you change the neighborhood in which you’re looking. If you’re driving a car this often isn’t a problem. But if you’ll be flying into town you’ll need to do some planning to make sure there is sufficient local transportation to help you move easily about. For example, many travelers who don’t want to pay the high hotel rates in Manhattan stay across the East River in Long Island city, only two subway stops away.
42) Book Through a Hotel’s Website
Although you can book a hotel on many different sites, sometimes you’ll find the lowest rate right on a hotel’s website. Some, in fact, guarantee that they will give you the lowest rate. Be aware that although some websites may show a lower fee, it may not include all of the taxes and charges, which the hotel site likely will.
43) Keep Looking Even After You Book
Keep watching a hotel’s rates even after you book since sometimes you’ll find a less expensive room. If that’s the case call the front desk and see if they’ll match the rate. Or book your room through Tingo.com, a site that tracks your hotel’s rates and automatically refunds any difference to you should the price drop. To qualify for any refund, of course, you have to prepay your stay.
44) Join a Hotel Loyalty Program
if you join a hotel loyalty program you’ll not only earn points towards future stays, you’ll also get such perks as member-only sales or early notification of upcoming sales and discounts.
45) Fight Those Fees
Some hotels have become as fee-crazy as the airlines. But you can fight them and sometimes win, especially if you are a member of the hotel’s loyalty program (in which case you may not see them at all). The more upscale the property the more likely is the chance for additional fees so call ahead and ask what they may be. Sometimes they’re willing to waive them, especially if you’re a frequent guest.
46) Booking With Airbnb? Negotiate
Many people don’t realize it but if you stay in someone’s home or apartment by booking through Airbnb there’s nothing that says that you can’t negotiate a better rate. You might tell them that you love the looks of their place but it’s a bit above your budget and ask if might they lower the price a bit.
47) Ditch the Hotel Altogether
Apartment rentals are a great option to a hotel room, especially if you have a group of people. My wife and I have stayed in rental apartments and I love the experience, especially since we have plenty of room, as well as a washer and dryer (ensure the amenities and extras before you book, however). The best thing is that you can often learn from the owners where are the best “non-tourists” restaurants and things to do in the area. Try Airbnb, HouseTrip and FlipKey.
48) Book Blind
Priceline’s Negotiator and hotwire.com’s “Secret Hot Rates” can provide you some great discounts. What you’re giving up, however, is knowing what hotel you’re staying in until your bid is accepted. Overseas this can be a gamble if you don’t know the neighborhoods of the city. But if you do, you usually have a pretty good idea of the hotels are bidding on. I’ve booked blind several times and have never had a problem.
49) Switch Hotels
Here’s a nifty trick: if you book a hotel for five days and find three of the days are more expensive, switch your hotel on those days if you can find a comparable property at a lesser rate.
50) Ratchet Up Those Rewards
And another nifty trick: say you’re staying for 5 nights in a city and want to max out the points you’ll receive for your hotel stay. Some travelers actually switch to a different hotel every night. (You cannot check out and then check in at the same hotel, however). Since many hotels are located within easy distance of one another this is easier to do than you may think. It will also get you free rooms five times faster.
Read the rest of the series:
100+ Cost-Saving Travel Tips (Part 1): Planning Your Trip & Booking Your Flight
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