Saving Money on Travel
Chris Guillebeau is a man on a mission. The entrepreneur runs a burgeoning media empire that includes a popular website and a bestselling book called The Art of Non-Conformity. But his primary ambition is to visit every country in the world by his 35th birthday. So far, so good--he's been to 151 of 192 countries, and he still has nearly three years to go.
Because world travel can be expensive, Guillebeau has made financial sacrifices to meet his goal. "Some people think I'm crazy," he says. "I don't own a car, so I walk everywhere. I don't even like spending a few bucks to use public transportation. But I spend thousands of dollars to fly all over the world."
By doing without things that aren't meaningful to him--such as a car--Guillebeau can afford to pursue his passion. And after jetting more than 1 million miles in the past five years, he's learned a thing or two about saving money on travel. Here are three of his top tips:
- Priceline.com is a good source for discounted hotel rooms but doesn't disclose minimum successful bids. Search Google for "Priceline winning hotel bids" to find sites that list this info. Guillebeau uses this method to stay at fine hotels around the world.
- When redeeming frequent-flier miles, request rewards on partner airlines that offer better value than the domestic carrier's. Guillebeau has used partner awards to go to Mongolia (Korean Airlines, booked with Delta SkyMiles), Kuwait (Qatar Airways, booked with American Express points) and many other locales.
- If you have a travel question, visit FlyerTalk.com. The forums there are filled with experienced travelers, and you can pick up free advice on your itinerary or travel issue.
Not everyone wants to visit every country in the world. If you're traveling in the United States or Canada, order a copy of the Entertainment coupon book for your destination city at entertainment.com. You'll save big on restaurants and hotels.
And, of course, carry a guidebook. A travel guide is worth its weight in gold. You'll pay $20 to $30 for a good one, but it will save you money and time. A good guide gives the inside scoop on the best days to visit museums, highlights free attractions and offers important travel tips.
Here's a final trick from my cousin, who manages the office at our family's small business: Whenever possible, pay invoices and expenses with a business credit card that earns frequent-flier miles. It's a simple, painless way to earn free tickets--and a reward just for paying the bills.