Plane tickets just keep getting more expensive and perks that you might have enjoyed as part of your loyalty program just aren't what they used to be either. As a former Platinum AAdvantage member, I've chosen to fly as little as possible the past few years and I'm sure some of your have noticed that I've sent friends off to cover events around the country instead of myself. Unfortunately though, traveling by plane is often the only choice available if you want to get together and go somewhere epic with your buddies. So, If you're planning a guys getaway and you want to save money while traveling, here are five tips that will help you save at the airport.
Book Your Flight in Advance:
Booking your flight in advance is one of the best ways to save money when traveling. Airlines offer discounts for early bookings and the earlier you book the more likely it is that you will find a good deal. Also, if you're booking for multiple travelers, look for deals on Groupon or other discount sites that may offer discounted rates for bulk bookings.
Choose Your Airport Carefully:
Choose an airport with lower airfares as some airports charge higher fees than others. Do your research by comparing prices from different airports to see which one offers lower fares and better deals overall. You can also keep an eye out on airline websites where they often advertise sales or special offers on flights in certain cities or airports.
Additionally, it is important to take into consideration the convenience and costs involved in selecting an alternative airport. For example, if you are planning a guys trip to San Francsico and will be staying at a posh hotel like the JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square, flying into Oakland or San Jose just to save $50 is going to cost you more money in extra cab fare than the money you might be saving vs going to SFO.
This is even more important when visiting smaller cities.
For example, I can save $150 with a direct flight from San Diego to Chicago on my way to St Joseph, Michigan. However, that is a 90 min drive in traffic on potentially icy roads compared to flying into South Bend, only 30 minutes away.
Time and stress are just as important as money!
Consider Parking Options And Look For Deals:
In years past, if you were driving to the airport, you just had to suck it up and pay whatever the fee was. Today though there are tons of places out there to help you find parking deals or at least plan ahead and know how much you're going to pay. For instance, on this SFO airport parking guide by ParkOn, it not only lists the rates for on-site parking but also links to off-site long-term parking options and what to expect when you get there.
Pack Light - Bag Fees Suck:
Packing light will not only make your airport experience easier but will also help you save money on baggage fees that most airlines now charge per bag. If possible, try to put everything into one carry-on bag so that you don't have to pay extra fees for checked bags or worry about penalties for overweight luggage.
Get An Airline Branded Credit Card:
Getting a branded credit card can help you save on future flights. Most cards offer discounts, free bags, or priority boarding for members that add their special credit card to their loyalty account and use that card to book the flight. Personally, I have multiple cards like this, and even with the $99 annual fee - it saves me a ton of money each year.
For instance, on one flight I would normally pay $25 per checked bag for each direction. When traveling with my wife, that comes out to $100 for one trip.
This was a perk I once enjoyed as a loyal member of their AAdvantage program but now I can pick and choose what airline I fly based on the actual cost, schedule, and type of plane instead of feeling obligates to be loyal to an airline and doing silly stuff like booking flights I didn't need - just to cross into a new threshold before the end of the year.
Be sure to read the fine print and shop around for the best deal though as some cards may have higher fees or interest rates than others.
Bring Your Own Snacks:
Airports generally have high prices for their food and drinks so it's wise to bring your own snacks from home to avoid those expensive costs at the airport and during the flight itself. This is especially true with regard to water since you can't bring drinks through security.
Instead, I bring either a collapsable water bottle or my insulated Owala bottle if there's extra room in my pack.
This saves me a ton of money at the airport since I don't have to buy a bottle there for a ridiculous price. It's also better for the environment and that's just as important as saving money.
Check with Your Hotel For Shuttle Service:
Before going to the airport, contact the hotel where you will be staying. As them about any shuttle services, they might have available since this could save you money on transportation fees and/or cab fare from the airport to the hotel upon arrival.
It's also worth considering renting a car (instead of getting a taxi) since many car rental companies offer discounts when booking online in advance, which could be cheaper than just taking a taxi service all the way there each day!
With these seven tips, men like us can easily save money at the airport when traveling to our next guys getaway. Every dollar you save during the travel process is an extra dollar you can spend buying another drink or another souvenir to remember the fun you had hanging out with the guys.