Save time and money to get the best out of your travel experience by planning in advance and taking advantage of special offers and opportunities. Below are 10 tips with some examples to help you enjoy your trip. (Listen to the podcast at the link at the end of this article for a review of all of this information and much more!)
Travel Tip 1 – Check out credit card offers to fly for free on points.
Look for credit card offers that might work for your typical purchasing habits and earn free travel. Two offers that I have used recently are the Delta American Express Skymiles card offer and the Hawaiian Airlines Master Card offer from Barclaycard.
Example A – Delta Skymiles American Express card – personal Gold credit card – 60,000 points bonus – enough for a roundtrip ticket for free from a number of places in the US to Europe roundtrip on Delta, depending on travel flexibility:
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $2,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles after you make an additional $1,000 in purchases within your first 6 months.
- $0 Introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $95.
Weblink for this Delta offer:
Example B – Hawaiian Airlines – Mastercard through Barclaycard – 35,000 point bonus – enough for a free round-trip ticket to Hawaii at value rates
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 35,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within your first 90 days of Card Membership.
- $89 Annual Fee – not waived the first year
Weblink for this Hawaiian Airlines offer:
Travel Tip 2 – Book crowded attractions early to save time.
Example A – Vatican – Book and buy tickets through website. No need to stand in line to pick up tickets, just walk right in when it opens. Go directly to Sistene Chapel to be there alone and then walk back through Vatican Museum.
The ticket gives the right to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel and is valid for the day of issue.
Tickets may be reserved up to 60 days before the date of the visit.
Current Regular adult price ticket: 16 Euros
Official weblink for purchasing Vatican tickets:
Example B – Skip the line to see Michelangelo’s David in Florence, Italy, at the Academy – Official Website:
Example C – Skip the line to see Monet’s Garden at Giverny, France:
Travel Tip 3 – Join hotel programs and match status to get the highest level for possible upgrades.
For example, Best Western has a status match guarantee. Most hotels will match your highest status with another hotel, at least for a time. Marriott, Ritz Carlton, and Starwood share the same accounts, so be sure to link your accounts.
Best Western Status Match Form:
Travel Tip 4 – Consider applying for Global Entry privileges for TSA pre-check and easy re-entry to the United States from overseas.
Global Entry is a program for eligible United States citizens or permanent residents of the United States to apply for expedited entry upon returning to the United States from overseas. It generally then provides expedited entry to most airports when flying within the United States via the TSA Pre✓® program. It is valid for five years. More information is available at the website here:
The $100 per person Global Entry fee is reimbursed if you have the Ritz Carlton Chase Visa.
Ritz Carlton Chase Visa application link:
Travel Tip 5 – Stay in a low priced suite on cruises to get suite upgrades.
For example, on Norwegian Cruise Lines suite guests receive breakfast and lunch in a private restaurant and are first off the ship for shore excursions. Generally, more perks are included with the cost of your ticket, too. These perks might include free drinks, free nights in specialty restaurants, and additional onboard spending or ship excursion credits, so the price differential compared to a regular stateroom may not be too much. And, you get a nicer room!
Travel Tip 6 – Use transportation passes to save time and money.
Example A – The Swiss Pass covers unlimited travel on trains, buses and most boats in Switzerland. It includes free access to over 500 Swiss museums, and it provides free or discounted access to many mountain excursions. (For more on Switzerland, check out my four blogs/podcasts on Lucerne, Lugano, Zurich, and Engelberg/Mount Titlis on my website: www.oneperfectdayin.org)
Official Link for Swiss Passes:
Example B – The Bavarian Pass covers unlimited travel on trains and local buses in Bavaria. We used this on a trip to Munich. Munich was our chosen base cit for exploring Bavaria and to get to and from Innsbruck, Austria. Currently, the price for the pass for second-class tickets is 25 Euros for the first person plus only 6 Euros per additional passenger traveling together (maximum of 4 additional passengers), so the cost ranges from 31 Euros for 2 passengers to a maximum of 49 Euros for 5 passengers. Bayern Tickets are valid from Monday to Friday after 9:00 am until 3:00 on the following day and all day on weekends and public holidays until 3 am the following day.
Bavarian Pass (Bayern Pass) Purchase Link:
For more on Bavaria, check out my earlier podcasts/blogs on Munich and Neuschwanstein at my website. Also, check out my new $8.99 paperback book/$5.99 Kindle, “One Perfect Trip to Munich with Bavarian Day Trips,” here:
Travel Tip 7 – Use City Passes for cities where it makes sense.
For example, the Innsbruck Card is an especially good bargain. The official link is below:
For more on visiting Innsbruck, check out my podcast and/or blog with a suggested itinerary and walking tour at this link:
Travel Tip 8 – Get free tickets in advance to save time and disappointment.
For example, this is especially important for making sure you are able to see some of the free museums in Washington, D.C., including the Holocaust Museum, the US Capitol, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
See more about booking these museums on my website and podcast, Washington, DC – 7 Major Museums – Highlights and Walking Tour:
For much more, consider purchasing my $8.99 Amazon paperback/$5.99 Kindle book, “One Perfect Trip to Washington, D.C. 2017” at this link:
Travel Tip 9 – Look for and book special experiences in advance.
Example A – The London Eye weekly wine tasting at 5:30 pm on Saturday night is an especially good one. Booking information is included here:
For much more on London, check on my earlier podcasts/blogs and my $8.99 paperback book/$5.99 Kindle book on Amazon, “One Perfect Trip to London,” available at this link:
Example B – Lugano, Switzerland, has a great food and wine tasting walking tour that must be booked in advance. Schedule at the official website:
Travel Tip 10 – Make a budget spreadsheet and a calendar and stick to these, but give yourself some leeway for unexpected events.
Be sure to put dates on your calendar for purchasing or reserving tickets on the available dates and/or cancelling credit cards. For budgeting, make a simple spreadsheet. An example of a budget spreadsheet we have used is here (as well as in my earlier “Travel Hacks” blog/podcast #22):
I hope these tips will help you think about getting the most out of your vacation time and money. Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a pdf of these tips and more as I add to them in the future.
For more travel tips, check out my posts with tips for taking a perfect trip with family and friends and for tips for how to avoid travel scams.
Until next time, I hope all of your travel days are just perfect.