Travel Tools

So, you are in dire need for a vacation but you only have a limited budget. We’ve all been there… sitting there on the couch researching “Top Vacation Spots” and we come across Tahiti but all we can afford is Florida… Sure, Florida is nice but you really want to go somewhere exotic, somewhere that’s once in a lifetime. Don’t worry – with a little research you can go anywhere around the world on a budget. Exotic travel isn’t just for the rich and famous anymore with a little help from the internet! All of the travel sites and apps available can be a little overwhelming. I recommend starting with Kayak and Google Flights in the beginning – they are user friendly and incredibly helpful. Kayak
  • Search and compare flights, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, you name it!
    • Pulls comparison prices from Priceline, TripAdvisor, Hotwire, TravelCity, Expedia, Hotels.com
  • Filter on rating, reviews and view hotels based on location on the map.
  • Available in 18 different languages at Kayak.com or their downloadable app.
  • For each option the prices for each site is listed for comparison, with the lowest price highlighted. You can select the deal and be linked directly to booking.
Google Flights – 
  • Pulls current flight prices for all major airlines for selected criteria – passengers, dates, preferred airline, type of trip needed (round trip, multi-city, one way).
  • Compares dates selected to “flexible dates” within the same week to let you know if its cheaper to fly in or out on a different day.
  • Tracks prices for selected days and destinations and notifies you via email with price changes.
  • Links you directly to airlines website to book flights selected.
  • Big Saver Tip: If you are planning to travel to multiple cities you can book your flight with a multi-city ticket. However, these tickets are incredibly pricey! Look at booking your flight out of your home town and your flight back to your hometown through different airports and book separate tickets for the cities in between. You will be shocked by how much money you can save – just don’t lose track of all your reservations!

If you are traveling internationally one of the most important things to consider is currency conversion. If you choose to blindly convert at the airport for a lower rate or allow the locals to convert your purchases for you, you might lose out on one of the easiest ways to save money. Converting Cash Most credit card companies will charge you a foreign transaction fee every time you use it internationally. It’s usually a pretty small fee but it’s smart to check and see what you will be hit with when running your credit card. Some credit card companies actually wave this fee! You can save yourself the headache of the fees by bring cash with you and converting once at your destination. To make sure you get the best bang for your buck research the best places to convert to the local currency before you head out. Compare current rates online to the rates offered at the local currency exchange to make sure you are getting a good rate. My favorite app to use is XE Currency (available on android and iPhone) –  an extremely user friendly currency conversion app that shows you live rates and stores the latest updated rates in case you don’t have internet on the go. Using Your Credit Card If you aren’t comfortable carrying cash internationally the second best option is to use your credit card. One word of advice – check to make sure your type of credit card is accepted in most local establishments. The more remote the location, the less likely you will get away without converting any cash to their local currency. If you choose the credit card route, which often times is less stressful, you will be hit with a foreign transaction fee each time you use it (unless your bank waves the fee). You will also be asked if you want to complete your purchase in USD (already converted) or the local currency (converted by your bank). The best decision is to purchase in the local currency. Your bank will convert to USD based on posted daily rates while the local merchant will convert based on their rate, which 9 times out of 10 will be lower and you will lose out on easy savings!
Happy Traveling! jillheartlogo