You Can Take the Best Vacation Ever With These Key Upgrades
Whether you’re headed overseas or taking an all-American road trip, your vacation does not need to break the bank. We gathered some tips on how to get free upgrades, find cheap flights, and more to make your trip top-shelf. You’re gonna want to write all of these down.
1. Keep your travel dates flexible
According to Time’s Money section, flights will cost you less if you avoid peak seasons for your vacation. Consider traveling in late spring or early summer, or even into fall. Also think about leaving or returning mid-week instead of weekends. You can save hundreds by traveling on off-days and seasons. And if you find a cheaper flight, you might be able to afford that sweet, sweet first-class upgrade.
Next: When booking a flight, think about timing.
2. Book flights at optimal times
CheapAir.com concludes the ideal time for booking flights to Europe falls roughly four months before departure. Plan ahead! When traveling off-peak, you can fudge that timeline a bit. Last-minute travel can come in cheaper too. Consider using budget carriers, flying into smaller airports instead of major hubs, or taking longer routes to save big bucks too. The more money you save on flights, the more you’ll have to spend on upgrades elsewhere.
Next: Don’t get shy about bartering.
3. Consider negotiating for a lower rate or better room
Go ahead and use sites like Kayak.com and Expedia to find good deals, but don’t forget to search the internet at large for deals and promotion codes. Hotels do not always share those on deal roundup sites. Once you have a few in mind, try playing them against each other. According to a survey by Consumer Reports, sharing rates you found for other hotels yields a lower price or better room 80% of the time.
Next: Think about the assets you already have.
4. Go ahead, use those connections
Are you a student, a teacher, or a senior? How about a military veteran? Do you work for the government or use AAA for roadside assistance? You may qualify for discounted rates when traveling. Ask your hotel before booking, or check the website for your employer, AAA.com, AARP, or Military.com before you go to save some green.
Next: Get creative with your location.
5. Consider other neighborhoods or lodging
In today’s world, we have more options than ever and some of those can get seriously swanky. The Nerd Wallet recommends checking AirBnB and HomeAway for more luxurious, often more affordable accommodations than the chain hotels. Neighborhoods off the beaten path have a lot to offer, too. Make sure you investigate transit options, but sometimes staying even just a few miles outside the city center can net you better digs at a decent price.
Next: Treat the staff well and they will (probably) reciprocate.
6. You’ll catch more bees with honey at the flight gate
When angling for an upgraded seat, treating the staff well goes a long way. Edward Pizzarello, who writes for Inside Flyer, carries several $5 Starbucks gift cards when he travels. “It’s a great thing to hand to somebody when you’re having a discussion and they’re trying to help you,” he said. “More often than not, I’m going to get a desirable outcome.” He also recommends carrying on your luggage. “More flexibility will yield more benefits from the airline,” the expert added.
Next: Loyalty will get you a long way.
7. The most loyal customers reap the best rewards
Even though we all like shopping around, earning gold or platinum status on a single airline — or several, if you travel a lot — really helps. TripSavvy recommends sticking to one airline to earn loyalty points, or traveling with someone who has them. If you travel frequently, consider earning loyalty with hotel chains, as well.
Next: Want into the lounge? Here’s how.
8. Use this trick for lounge access
If a flight gets oversold and you have some flexibility, offer to give up your seat. Airlines will often offer big rewards for delaying your travel. Don’t fear negotiation, in this case. Ask for airline lounge access, and you can wait for your next flight in style.
Next: Class it up a little for this perk.
9. Dress nicely for real rewards
Thrillist points out that wearing slightly nicer clothes — we’re talking real pants, not prom dresses — goes a long way. If you want to fly in business class, it helps to dress like you’re going places. Sorry folks, that means no spandex and no pajama pants.
Next: Give good feedback and you may reap this reward.
10. Make like an influencer
Hotels and airlines are businesses, and they value good feedback. If you say nice things on social media, you may get better service next time. Conversely, don’t fear leaving negative reviews if your room or flight goes poorly. Sometimes, customer service will come through to avoid negative press.
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