Labor Day was earlier this month. In addition to signalling the start to the school year, it means only colder weather is ahead. For many, winter is unbearable without at least one getaway: to visit family or escape to somewhere warm. If you’re already looking ahead to that upcoming respite from the winter blues, consider these hacks for making your travel cheap and easy with a few tips for comfort along the way.
Save Cash On Flights And Accommodation
Money’s always tight in the winter season – maybe it’s the steady diet of comfort foods and extra clothing to keep warm. But your travel doesn’t have to take a huge bite out of your budget, especially if you are flexible. Global Guides recommends booking your flight months in advance to get the best deal instead of waiting for a last-minute steal. That means you might want to look for January or February getaways, even if it it’s during those lean weeks after the holidays.
It’s also helpful to be flexible on flight days, airports, and airlines. Flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays will usually cost you a bit less. Budget airlines can save you a bundle, especially if you are not fussy about amenities like meals. Flying direct might cost you extra, but if you don’t mind killing a bit of time, a longer route can keep some cash in your bank account. A larger region means multiple airport destinations, and potential savings for your flight. Routing through Barcelona might cost less than going through Paris’ Charles de Gaulle or London’s Heathrow because of tax differences, according to Global Guides.
Check to see if the hotel you are booking has a Best Rate Guarantee. That means they will cut the price if you find something cheaper advertised elsewhere. Probably the best way to save cash on flights and lodging, however, is to book a package.
Pack it Right
If you’re like many people, you pack at the last minute. But although it’s tempting to throw a few necessities into a bag and jump on the plane, the editors at Travel + Leisure recommend taking a few clever steps to make life easier on the road.
Get new bubble wrap and tuck it into your suitcase. The wrap will save space for the trinkets you’ll inevitably pick up in your travels and protect your new purchases for the trip home. While you’re thinking of saving space, plan to roll your clothes instead of folding them. It’s a sure-fire way to tuck into those extra spaces and give you a few more options of what to wear when out on the town.
Travel + Leisure writers also recommend keeping your stuff safe from the elements by lining the inside of your case with waterproof items: rain boots on the bottom, plastic cosmetic bags on the top and sides. To make getting settled on your flight easier, separate out your in-flight necessities, like earbuds, reading material, or toiletries, beforehand and put them in a small zippered pouch. Throw the pouch on your seat as soon as you board and stash and forget your carry-on.
Know the Language
Even if you are spending just a few days in each place you’re visiting, it’s helpful to know a few important phrases. It shows locals you’re a respectful traveler and will make life easier when you’re getting around. Oyster recommends knowing “thank you,” “where is,” and other important words like “bathroom” and “hospital.”
Mind the Money
It takes just a few minutes to let your bank and credit card companies know you will be out of town. That means you’ll avoid the hassle of having your accounts frozen because of unusual activity. Get to know the ATMs wherever you are visiting. It never hurts to come into the country with a bit of local currency, but according to Oyster those foreign bank machines can still give you the best exchange rate at the end of the day. You can even follow multiple currencies using a currency exchange app.
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Most importantly, have fun and mix things up – even if you have the perfect getaway, you will still come home to winter. Gather up enough great memories to last until Spring.
[Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images]