We all need to get away every now and then. It’s good to refresh, recharge, and see and do some really cool things in the process. It’s why companies offer paid time off, and why so many Americans often take advantage of this time off to explore new cities, states, and countries around the world. And while many Americans love to travel and vacation accordingly, there’s one aspect of this that is not universally enjoyed: the costs of doing it.
Yes, when you factor in the likes of airfare or gas, lodging, meals, entertainment, and more, they can all add up. In fact, it’s estimated that the average vacation costs about $1,500 per person when you factor everything in. It’s not exactly a drop in the bucket.
The good news is that vacations have gotten less expensive and more convenient over the years with the rise of more affordable ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to get around busy cities, and with Airbnb over traditional hotels. And there’s more good news, as there are ways to save on that next big trip beyond the aforementioned.
Here’s a look at some last-minute travel tips that can save you money and really make that vacation more enjoyable:
Ask for a Better Rate
If you booked a hotel through the hotel itself, don’t be afraid to call them and see if you can get a better rate from what you already paid. You’d be surprised how many agree to shave some of the cost off the hotel room since you booked through them, and not a third-party source like Orbitz or Expedia, which often charge the hotel a small commission to host room specials. If not discounting your room, they might offer you a free upgrade.
Another nice benefit of booking directly through the hotel is typically you can cancel your room or adjust the reservation without any additional charge. That’s not often possible when you book through a third-party site. Be sure to also sign up for the rewards program of the hotel you’re staying at. Often, being a rewards member is good for free in-room WiFi or daily complimentary treats.
Don’t Get Trip Insurance If…
… you have a credit card that will already cover things for you. Airlines make bank on offering travelers trip insurance as an add-on. But many Americans may not realize that they’re likely already covered for cancellations, delays, baggage losses and more should the unexpected happen. Make sure you check with your credit card company first, but there’s a good bet that you’re covered at least in some way. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card, for instance, is among the crown jewels of credit cards, offering up to $10,000 in trip insurance.
Delayed? Ask for Money
They say there are only three truths in life: death, taxes, and that you’ll eventually experience airline issues.
OK, that’s not how the saying goes, but we all know how frustrating airline delays and cancellations can be. They’ll leave you stranded at the airport, and usually offer you a measly meal voucher and maybe a few hundred dollars in a flight credit that you have to use within one year. What’s worse though is if you get bumped from a flight without volunteering for it. It happens. Sometimes the plane is overbooked, and airlines need to make tough decisions. Other times, the flight path is headed into major headwinds, and the plane needs to drop weight or risk having to stop for more fuel along the way.
If you’re bumped from a flight, don’t accept the voucher they’ll try to offer you — ask for cash. The neat thing is that you’re allowed by federal law to ask for cash over a travel voucher. How much you get will depend on a variety of factors, such as the airline, airfare ticket, and length of the delay you’re experiencing. But you’re well within your legal rights to get cash rather than a travel voucher for this, and you can receive a maximum of $1,350. A nice payday from a bad flight experience can do more than put your vacation back on the right path or end it on a great note.