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10 Money-Saving Travel Hacks You've Never Heard Before

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    The start of summer stirs up some serious wanderlust — and the travel industry knows it. Despite our best efforts to adhere to a budget while traveling, we usually wind up splurging more than we'd planned (paying more for an "upgraded room" always feels like a good idea in the moment), forcing us to live a little leaner once we return home.

    According to a 2013 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker survey, a summer vacation costs an average of $1,145 per person. And many travelers likely aren’t taking advantage of the extra ways to save, with 34% admitting they’re overwhelmed by the information and resources available online.

    Before dusting off your carry-on, take heed of these insider-traveler tips — from making flight delays work in your favor to flipping someone else's canceled hotel reservation into your own amazing last-minute deal. Not only will the advice ahead save you money; it could make for a more memorable trip in the long run. And who knows — you might even have enough cash left over to squeeze in an extra getaway and opt for the ocean-view room.


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    "Don’t fall into the trap of flying home to a huge phone bill," says Mike Kelly, CEO of On Call International. Wi-Fi is your best friend, especially on international trips or when visiting parts of the U.S. that have spotty cell coverage. Kelly suggests using the Wi-Fi Finder app from JiWire, which has a directory of free and paid hotspots worldwide. Or, use a company like Boingo Mobile, which gives unlimited access to thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots for a monthly fee. Once you’re connected to Wi-Fi, use Skype to make calls for pennies per minute.

    Another option for keeping phone rates low during international travel is to get a local SIM card. But, rather than waste precious vacation time scouring a city for its nearest mobile stores, plan ahead with apps like Local SIM (which helps you easily find the nearest SIM card retailer based on your location) or Roamer (which allows you to order and receive a pre-paid SIM card before you leave home).

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    Never heard of a glitch fare before? Well, the airlines hope you never do. Unfortunately for them, you’re about to learn the best kept secret of how to fly for a whole lot less. Just take it from Jaimee Ratliff, the travel blogger behind ThisWayNorth.net, whose best fare to date is flying from Dallas to Abu Dhabi for about $300.

    "Glitch fares are basically when airlines publish fares at extremely low prices on accident. It’s not a sale or promotion; it’s simply a technical glitch," she says. The best place Ratliff recommends for finding glitch fares is The Flight Deal, which rounds up other budget-friendly deals in addition to the glitches. Make sure to sign up for The Flight Deal’s Daily Deals newsletter so that you’re privy to bargain flights as soon as they pop up.

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    Ever notice how when you’re searching for fares, they’ll creep up in price the longer you’re browsing? It’s no accident. "When you search regularly, your computer places cookies in your browser, which enables sites to remember you’re searching for flights," says Ratliff. "They’ll continue to raise the price as a scare tactic to get you to hurry up and purchase."

    Don't be bullied. Instead, clear your cache regularly when you’re doing preliminary research for flight times, or switch between your phone, tablet, and computer. As far as the best times to book, the best day is generally Tuesday, within 50 to 100 days prior to travel (57, if you want to get technical), according to an Expedia study of 2015’s air travel trends. Ratliff tried the experiment herself, finding a flight on a Friday but waiting to book until the following Tuesday, and lo and behold, she says it was about $200 cheaper.

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    It’s tempting to want to go to the summer "it" spots (such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Mykonos, and Paris, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 rankings). But finding a destination located just outside a popular vacation spot will offer the same climate and culture without the inflated costs, according to Jamila Justine Willis and Jordan Claire Drosdick, creators of Wanderlust, Simply.

    For example, instead of visiting trendy Lake Como, Italy, the two opted for Lugano, Switzerland. In Lugano, they experienced the same landscape, climate, and food but with fewer crowds, and at a fraction of the price. Looking to a neighboring country can also impact the difference in currency exchange, says Melisse Hinkle, travel expert and site editor of Cheapflights.com. "To ensure your dollar goes as far is it can, travel to countries with weaker currencies: instead of Paris, try Budapest; instead of London, try Prague; and instead of Barcelona, try Hanoi," says Hinkle. "It pays — literally — to know that currencies like the Vietnamese Dong offer American travelers great value for their U.S. buck." Also, be smart about where you exchange your currency. Avoid airports at all costs, says Hinkle.

    If a specific destination is a must on your summer bucket list, Ratliffe suggests comparing flights into surrounding airports, which are often just a few miles away, but may be much cheaper.

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    Before heading to the airport, see if FlightCar has made its way to your city yet. The service allows you to park at the airport for free and will compensate you for renting your car to other FlightCar members (each rental is insured up to $1 million). Another thing to add to your pre-trip checklist: If you need to rent a car at your destination, always check on the rental car insurance before you leave town, says Joshua Dziabiak, COO of The Zebra — a digital auto insurance agency and comparison engine.

    "Making a call to your car insurance agent and one to your credit card company could save you an average $20 to $40 per day," he says. The reason? Many credit cards offer rental car coverage as a perk, so you likely won’t need additional coverage. Also, look into renting through warehouse clubs (believe it or not, Costco has some very economical rental options) and be sure to download the Gasbuddy app, which can help you locate the best gas prices in any area. Finally, for those wanting to utilize public transportation, use BusBud to find bus routes worldwide.