The number one rule of cheap travel


I love to travel. Over the years, I've used a strategy that has allowed me to visit all around the globe without spending a lot of money. And I'm going to tell you my secret!

It's really pretty simple: I don't pick a destination that I have to go to. I wait for a deal somewhere, buy the deal, and then figure out why I want to go there!

By following that simple rule, I've been able to visit every continent except Antarctica and every state except North Dakota. And I've done it all on a dime.

While I would recommend this strategy to anyone, it's particularly great for honeymooners. When you're getting married, you already probably have a date in mind. There's not much flexibility there. But if you can be flexible on destination, you can save big bucks.

So how do you figure out where the deals are? There's a service called Kayak Explore that lets you find great airfare deals on your budget.

You simply select how much you're willing to pay, and then available destinations in your price range pop up on a world map. You can drill down further by season and month of travel. Or simply use the "any time" option that I love.

Remember, my #1 rule of travel is buy the deal first and then figure out why you want to go there!

If, on the other hand, you do have a specific destination you have to go to, there are number of tools to use to find the best deal.

Among them are Hipmunk and Mobissimo for international travel.

Here are some other pointers to initiate you into the budget travel lifestyle:

Only two discount airlines — JetBlue and Southwest — allow you to check a bag without paying a fee. Your first bag is free on JetBlue. Southwest, meanwhile, allows up to two checked bags absolutely free. 

Of course, not everyone lives in a market served by JetBlue or Southwest. So there's still one other way to avoid baggage fees no matter which carrier you're flying: Don't check a bag! I travel only with what an airline permits free as a single carry-on — usually a 22x14x8 piece of luggage. Another plus is I never worry about the airline losing my baggage.

Have you heard of airfare envy? That's when you buy a ticket and find the same itinerary for less money afterward. The good news is that there are a handful of airlines that will give you a voucher for the difference if you ask. These include Alaska, JetBlue, Southwest, United, US Airways and others.

But unless you religiously follow airfares after you've made your purchase, you may not even know that you overpaid. That's where Yapta.com comes in handy. After completing the free registration, Yapta will e-mail you when your flight goes down in price and help you get a refund for the difference.

One caveat here. Some airlines will charge big fees if you want to do this kind of thing. United and US Air both charge a whopping $150. So make sure it's worth your while before you get involved.

If you're traveling abroad, be sure to check out my International Travel Tips page with advice on money exchange, mobile & wifi use, and affordable accommodations while overseas.

Clark Howard is a nationally syndicated consumer advice expert



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

Garth Brooks’ donation helps K99.1FM raise $310,000 for hospital
Garth Brooks’ donation helps K99.1FM raise $310,000 for hospital

Garth Brooks and his fellow county music entertainer wife Trisha Yearwood helped K99.1FM’s “Cares for Kids” Radiothon gather a record $310,713 in its 20th year raising money for Dayton’s Children’s Hospital. Brooks’ and Yearwood’s matching of funds meant each dollar in that hour was quadrupled leading to a...
D.L. STEWART: ‘Last class’ creates plenty more room for concern

Boarding an airplane is traumatic for me. It has nothing to do with a fear of flying. I’ve managed to put that in the back of my mind, although any time there are 10 or more consecutive seconds of turbulence it vaults to the front of my mind. My concern is walking through the first class or business section and looking down on the passengers...
Coupon deals of the week
Coupon deals of the week

Coupon availability and coupon values may vary within different regions or neighborhoods. All Laundry Detergent This week at CVS, All laundry detergent is on sale for $2.99. Use the $1 off one All laundry detergent coupon found in most of today’s RedPlum inserts. Plus, if you have the CVS Pharmacy app on your smartphone, and have your Extra Care...
PARENTING WITH DR. RAMEY: Why kids don’t reveal sexual abuse

At my Catholic high school in Massachusetts, it was well known that a few of the clergy were molesting various boys. While several of my friends spoke about this informally, I said nothing to any adult. I assumed that since it was such common knowledge around the school, that people in authority accepted such behavior. I’ve been thinking of my...
Why you shouldn’t ignore hand and wrist arthritis
Why you shouldn’t ignore hand and wrist arthritis

What starts out as a dull, deep aching pain in the hand may eventually lead to a less impressive golf swing or the inability to open a jar lid. ››RELATED: Older people should screen for Hepatitis C The progressive pain is known as arthritis in the hand and wrist, and if not caught and treated early could mean permanent loss...
More Stories