How to save money when you're traveling

By Laura Brown
April 7, 2021
Saving Money Family Saving
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Ready to book that bucket-list trip, only to find your pockets don’t run as deep as you had hoped? Don’t despair – there are countless ways to save money, from discount air fares to traveling with credit card points.

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Here's our guide to making your travel money go further, so you have more to spend when you get there.

Tip 1: Drive!

The easiest way for anyone, especially families, to save money when they travel is to avoid the price of plane tickets and making your travel money go further, so you have more to spend when you get theredrive to your destination instead. Driving allows you to see more of the country, have more bonding time, and prevents you from having to pay for rental cars or rideshare when you get to your destination. Remember to make sure your car is road trip ready before you leave, and make sure your insurance is up to date. Looking to save even more? GEICO could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.

Tip 2: Use Skyscanner Alerts

If your destination is too far away for a road trip, we recommend using Skyscanner alerts to make sure you get the best price on airline tickets. Skyscanner lets you enter your departure and arrival destination and will email you alerts when the price drops. It will also let you explore the prices by date and by month so you can make sure you’re going when the flight is the cheapest.

Tip 3: Take advantage of “shoulder season”

The time between a particular destination’s peak season and off-season is known as “shoulder season.” Shoulder season allows you to experience some of the destination’s best offerings without the crowds, and for cheaper rates. To determine when shoulder season is for the destination you have in mind, Google to find out when the peak season is, then start researching the months that bookend the peak. For prime family destinations, such as DC or Florida beaches, save money by booking during times when schools are typically not on break. Shoulder season is a great time to have a more laid-back travel experience, and to save money.

Tip 4: Buy travel insurance

The advice to buy travel insurance can sound counterproductive on this list of money saving tips, since insurance will raise the cost of your trip. But consider how much extra expense could be added to your budget if something goes wrong. Even something as simple as locking the keys in your rental car can cost more than $200 to fix. Travel insurance will cover the costs of any unintended emergencies and give you the peace of mind to enjoy your trip without any nagging worries about expenses.

Tip 5: Book with points

Travel credit cards allow you to earn points for your everyday purchases that you can use toward booking travel. Look for credit cards specific to travel. We really like the Chase Sapphire card and the Southwest Airlines card. You’ll even get extra points if you’re able to recommend them to a friend. Like all credit cards, make sure you have a plan to pay them off at the end of each month.

Carefully crafted collaboratively between GEICO, Budget Travel, and Lonely Planet. Both parties provided research and curated content to produce this story. We disclose when information isn’t ours.

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Travel Tips

What to do about high rental car prices

$300/day car rentals? Is this real? In some extreme cases, yes, this is the current reality. Or, potentially even worse, there are no rental cars available at all. As travel demand continues to rise for Spring Break and Easter weekend, rental car companies are struggling to keep up with demand. Our internal data and analysis have shown a spike in not only the average price per day (which has increased 100% in the past 30 days), but also in the percentage of searches with no availability. While the latter is starting to trend back downward, prices have remained stubbornly high. Why is this happening? Our earlier prediction on Dec. 15, 2020 of elevated rental car rates laid out four main reasons that the market and other forces would result in the current situation. At that time, we encouraged everyone to reserve their rental car early. Rental car fleet is dramatically lower than typical for this time of year. Car rental companies became experts of selling their fleet direct to consumers, further reducing their fleet size. In-fleeting, or adding inventory, will go more slowly than usual. Our thinking here was mainly around corporate risk avoidance for fleet planners, which still holds true. However, another factor is at play here with manufacturers delaying planned orders because of a computer chip shortage that is affecting production. Car Rental companies are sticking by plans to be ready for a higher travel demand by the peak summer season. Travel demand will spike as cases decrease, vaccinations increase and restrictions are loosened. There is a wave of pent up travel demand waiting to be released. Previously, we felt this would peak in Summer 2021, but all signs point to this happening now for Spring Break 2021. What can you do about it? If you are seeing higher than average prices or no rental cars available, here’s what we suggest. Change your travel dates. If your travel dates are flexible at all, search for other dates. This will especially be helpful if you can travel during off-peak / shoulder date ranges. Late April through mid-May typically sees lower travel demand. So does early June and late August. All bets are off the table when it comes to 100% reliable forecasting, but those date ranges should be fairly reliable when it comes to leisure travel destinations. Search for alternative pick up locations. While this could mean a completely different location that may not be as popular, it could also mean looking at rental car options not at the airport. Finding a rental near your hotel or final destination may mean lower rates and lower taxes. Try searching for city locations beyond the airport, or use our Zip Code search capabilities to hone in on specific locations. This may mean you will have to be creative in getting to the rental car facility away from the airport (think shared ride service, hotel shuttle or taxi), it could be the difference in taking that trip or not by finding an available and affordable rental car. Book as far in advance (NOW) as possible. Considering a trip for the summer? Search for that rental car first and make your reservation immediately. Most rental car reservations are flexible and can be fully cancelled or modified all the way up to the day before your scheduled pick up date. Our goal is to always find the perfect car for the best price for you. We encourage you to use these options to reserve that perfect rental car as soon as possible! Click here to search for your car rental on

Travel Tips

Ask the experts: can you fly safely during a pandemic?

Coronavirus cases are continuing to spike in the United States making it quite unappealing to fly as it’s impossible to socially distance on a plane. Planes have a high rate of air circulation and HEPA air filters which the Mayo Clinic says helps to prevent the spread of the virus. Flying is still risky as airports are busy and flights are often crowded. Delta is keeping middle seats passenger-less through at least January 6th while American, Southwest, and United are no longer blocking off middle seats. The CDC doesn’t recommend holiday travel and notes that “social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.” Yet, a recent study found that 23% of Americans will travel for the December holidays. If you absolutely must travel on an airplane there are precautions you can take to lower the chances of catching COVID-19 and passing it along to others unknowingly. We spoke with Dr. Kunjana Mavunda, M.D., a travel medicine specialist and pulmonologist at the International Travel Clinic, to find out how to be smart about flying during the COVID-19 global pandemic. “Flying cannot be COVID-19 safe—especially, currently, where our COVID-19 numbers are high in so many parts of the USA and the world.” Get a COVID-19 test before flying, even if it’s not required Dr. Mavunda says that FDA approved rapid tests give quick results compared to PCR tests that take longer to get the results but notes that PCR tests may be more reliable. “The test should be taken as close to travel as possible,” Dr. Mavunda says. After getting tested, It’s important to quarantine until your flight. “People can be asymptomatic but can still transmit the infection. One can get infected after the test or during travel,” Dr. Mavunda says. “One should assume that they’re infected, considering how fast our numbers are increasing.” 2. Choose an airline with strict COVID-19 regulations Book a flight with as few layovers as possible to avoid airports. Opt to fly with airlines that require a negative COVID-19 test, enforce mask-wearing, reduce cabin services, middle seats blocked out, paperless check-in, and have stringent disinfecting measures. “An airline that enforces mask-wearing in waiting areas at the airport; one that’s careful about not allowing people to travel if they have a fever or other respiratory symptoms and does not overbook will be ideal. Also, the airline should use special sanitizing equipment after people disembark and before new passengers embark,” Dr. Mavunda says. 3. Wear proper PPE from the moment you enter the departure airport until you leave the arrival airport Make sure you have a proper mask to wear while flying—a handkerchief or a mask with ventilators won’t protect you or others. “A surgical mask and shield will be best. A face shield will give additional protection, but should be used with a mask, not on its own,” Dr. Mavunda says. Some airlines don’t allow face shields at all and others only allow them when paired with a proper face mask. A reusable cotton mask that properly fits the face and covers the nose and mouth adequately will suffice. Dr. Mavunda says it’s fine to double mask but it may make it difficult to breathe on long flights. 4. Bring as much hand sanitizer on board as you’re allowed You’ll want to clean your hands often while traveling—and have lotion to help your hands retain moisture. “Passengers should sanitize their hands regularly during a flight, including before and after eating or drinking, immediately after sitting down, and after every time you get up and move around,” Dr. Mavunda says. Use the sanitizer to clean your area including the tray table and any food or beverage packaging. Do your best to reduce touchpoints and never touch flight attendants. “I keep my hands clasped in common areas to remind myself not to touch surfaces and not to touch my face,” Dr. Mavunda says. Fabric seats cannot be cleaned properly so Dr. Mavunda recommends choosing an airline that uses special sanitizing equipment in between flights. You can also bring a towel or blanket to serve as a barrier between the seat and your body. 5. Maintain a social distance at the airport Stay at least six feet away from other people at the airport. Avoid a large carry-on so you can avoid boarding the plane quickly to secure overhead bin space. Dr. Mavunda says it’s best to be the last to enter the plane. “Pack wisely so that you can have a carry on with your essentials that fits under the seat. Pay for checked luggage. Try to get a seat as close to the entrance as possible so that you’re the last one on and the first one off,” Dr. Mavunda says. 6. Be mindful of your behavior in flight Keep your mask on throughout the flight. Eat before you arrive at the airport to avoid removing your mask to eat at the airport or on the flight. If you have to eat, clean your hands right after and put your mask on immediately. Don’t read the in-flight magazine. As COVID-19 is spread through liquid particles Dr. Mavunda says to talk softly and avoid loud people while traveling. “One should not sit next to a person who doesn’t keep the mask on,” Dr. Mavunda says. “Ask to be moved if someone around you isn’t being compliant and the flight attendant is unable to take action.” Dr. Mavunda recommends avoiding areas where people congregate or have high usage, such as toilets. If you plan to keep your air vent on full blast bring a hat and scarf to stay warm while flying. Lola Méndez is a freelance travel and lifestyle journalist who runs the blog Miss Filatelista.

Travel Tips

United Airlines is getting rid of change fees.... Forever

United Airlines has announced that it is permanently eliminating change fees for all standard Economy and Premium tickets for travel within the United States. The change is effective immediately.Additionally, beginning on January 1, 2021, any United customer can fly standby for free on a flight on their ticketed day of travel, regardless of the type of ticket. United becomes the first airline to permanently waive change fees. Additionally, United has announced that it is extending its waiver to permit unlimited changes to new tickets with new fee. This extension lasts until December 31, 2020. The effect is that customers can rest assured that they can make adjustments to their travel plans in the future. You can read more about United's new policy on change fees here:

Travel Tips

Tips and Tricks for Traveling With Pets

Prepare Your Pet Does your pet do well in new situations and environments? If so, great! If not, going on a year-long adventure right off the bat might not be the best idea. Starting out with a few smaller-scale trips will help minimize the stress your pet might feel on the road. Mind the Paperwork Bring your pet’s health certificate and vaccination records, since many RV parks require you to have them with you in order to enter the grounds. Make a List The essentials like food and water are a no-brainer, of course, but be sure to write down absolutely everything you need for your furry friend, including dishes, leashes, a litter box for your cat, waste bags, treats and toys, cages, a brush, and a crate, if needed. Don’t forget medications if your pet takes any. Call Ahead Get in touch with the RV parks and campgrounds you plan to stop at. Make sure they allow pets, and also ask if they have any rules or regulations regarding pets at their facility. Stay up to Date Make sure your pet's vaccinations and shots are up-to-date, with the records to prove it. This will avoid paperwork hangups, but it's also important in order to keep your animal companion safe from disease as you travel through new areas. ID Your Pet If you haven't already done so, take the time to put your cell phone number on your pet's ID tags. Protect Your Pets Bring along flea and tick spray, or make sure your pets are already treated before leaving on the RV trip.It’s easy to pick up fleas and ticks, especially in the great outdoors, so ask your vet about treatment for your particular furry family member. Be a Good Citizen Remember to pick up after your pets in all locations. This is not only polite and courteous, but it also encourages RV parks and campgrounds to keep allowing pets. Get outside! Exercise isn’t just important for humans, it’s extremely important for pets to have quality time in the great outdoors (especially during long road trips). Make potty breaks fun for everyone by taking a long walk or playing fetch with your pooch. RV Trader provided these tips.