I am not going to give you every tip on traveling...that would take way too long. Besides, I don't know everything. But I do want to share three easy tips on saving big while traveling.
My first tip doesn't come from a deal on the web or a coupon. This deal comes from just being you.
Tip #1: Fly for FREE (or at least try)
As many of you know, I am in Alaska right now. I flew here on a ticket with a very free past. It's freedom started about 3 years ago when I used some frequent flier miles to visit a friend in North Carolina (please tell me you are all signed up for airline frequent flier clubs). On the way home, while sitting on the plane getting ready for take-off, a flight attendant announced that the flight was too heavy and they needed three passengers to volunteer to disembark. I quickly raised my hand. To my delight, not only did I receive a $400 voucher for my next flight, I also had a beautiful hotel stay, dinner that night and breakfast the next morning. My flight was conveniently rescheduled for the following morning.
The free ticket continued its journey when I was able to book a flight to Alaska last summer to attend my 20 year high school reunion. Always hoping for another "bump," I scheduled my flight home on a very busy flying day, Sunday evening. It was there I was able to get my name first on the waiting list to be assigned a new flight in case of an over sale. As I was waiting for all the passengers to board (hoping there were too many), I chatted with the flight attendants asking for the possibility of an upgrade to first class. They said, yes. I eventually was bumped off the flight, was able to reschedule my next flight at my earliest convenience, received 2 meal vouchers and flew home on the 7 hour red eye flight in First Class.
And one year later, I here I am back in Alaska. I flew here on that free ticket I received last year. That is 3 free flights in three years!
I do not travel for business. My husband only travels once every other month or so. We do not have the advantage of mega miles coming our way for free tickets each year. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to get a flight for free!
So here is what you should do to increase your chances at getting "bumped" from a flight and flying for free:
1. Make sure you book your flight for a day and time where flights are the fullest. These days are usually Mondays or Fridays. But it can also mean a Sunday when traveling to certain destinations. Traveling around the holidays (though crowded) will also increase your chances of being booked on an overbooked flight.
2. After you book that flight, be sure you have seats. You need an assigned seat! You can't give up something you don't have.
3. Get to the airport early. Once at the gate, ask at the desk if the flight is full. If it is, see if they are taking names. If they are, get on that list.
4. If they call your name and tell you that you will be giving up your seat and will need to reschedule your flight, ask them if you can be upgraded to first class for this inconvenience. You should also get hotel for free, transportation and food if your new flight isn't until the next day. If you are just waiting for a few hours, make sure you at least get a food voucher.
5. If you are traveling with your spouse or children, you might all get bumped. Over the years, I have been bumped off at least 10-15 flights.
Remember, you won't be traveling with your suitcase! So be sure you have what you need most in your carry-on. Most airlines will give you a free kit with toothpaste, comb, contact solution, etc. BUT YOU NEED TO ASK!
Be kind. Be sweet. Be yourself. But remember to ask!