We love to live an active life. Travel and experiencing new places and cultures is at the top of our list of things that make our life better.
Sadly, we don’t have endless piles of cash to fund our travel adventures (who does?).
Just like most families, we do everything we can to experience great adventures, while still being budget conscious.
Here are some of our favorite websites, apps and credit card options for hacking the travel scene.
https://creditcards.chase.com/credit-cards/chase-sapphire-preferred – this card has been ranked really high for the best travel rewards. Yes, the commercials are a little cheesy, but this card does work for getting travel discounts.
https://www.jetsetter.com/ – like Groupon or Living Social (below) but they only post travel deals.
https://www.livingsocial.com/escapes & https://www.groupon.com/getaways – for both Groupon and Living Social, do a little research before you buy. Sometimes the deals are awesome, sometimes you can do better on other travel sites. Both are still great resources for good deals, regardless.
http://www.dufl.com/ – we’ve not yet tried Dufl ourselves, but know people who have, and they love this service. Great if you travel for business a lot, or just hate dealing with luggage. Dufl will store your suitcase and travel clothes, pack your bags and ship them to you at your destination. You can fly luggage free. Even better, when you return your clothes to Dufl, they have them cleaned and pressed.
http://www.flightstats.com/go/Home/home.do – this site is good for providing you a host of flight information. Great for researching flight reliability, or flight status.
https://www.tsa.gov/precheck – seriously, if you do a lot of flying, spend the $85 to have TSA precheck clearance. It is an easy process, and will save you substantial amounts of time in the airport. We recently got ours, and it made our Thanksgiving travel a breeze. FYI…Kids under 13 can tag along on their parent’s Precheck status.
Global Entry (https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry) – Follow up your TSA Precheck with the US Customs Global Entry program. Similar to TSA Precheck, but gets you through Customs quicker. This process is substantially more involved than the TSA Precheck, but if you’ve ever come home from a long flight from another country, and stood in an epic Customs line, this program will be a life saver and a time saver.
https://travelhacking.org/ – pay a monthly fee, get frequent flier miles without ever flying. Use everyday stuff to build up miles for your next trip.
https://www.nomadicmatt.com/ – this site has some great ideas (read the blog) for getting travel for cheap or free.
http://www.goeuro.com/ – this is a must if you are heading to Europe. Plan your train schedule, and buy tickets ahead of time. They are generally cheaper when purchased before your trip, and you get more flexibility for travel times. Also, it’s the best way to purchase “first class” travel, which actually gives you a more comfortable place to rest, especially if you are traveling overnight.
https://www.refund.me/ – a good resource for travel in Europe. They will help you get a refund on your flight, if it is canceled and you need to rebook at your cost.
https://www.worldnomads.com/ – easy, affordable travel insurance recommended by Lonely Planet.
https://tripadvisor.com/ – a great tool for researching the places you want to stay, airlines, activities, anything travel related, really. If you find a great deal on Living Social or a discount site, check here before you book. The reviews are from actual people, and can help you make educated decisions before booking an adventure.
TripIt Travel Organizer – a great app that automatically imports your airline itineraries and hotel bookings and makes it super easy to keep track of your upcoming travel plans. Find it in iTunes or Android App Store.
Frequent Flyer Miles – I would suggest finding an airline that services the destinations that you travel to most or want to travel to, and sign up for their frequent flier miles. You can get a free flight in most cases after only a few round-trip purchases.
The last sites I’m suggesting are all aggregators. They will help you find the best prices available for flights, hotels, rental cars, or vacation activities. I used to use Expedia a lot, but have found that these are better and actually have better deals.
Also see my article http://www.dadslifeblog.com/dads-share-passions-adventures-grow-closer-kids/ where I reference some of these sites to get ideas for destinations.
https://www.skyscanner.com/ – More useful for flights, as the name suggests. Other aggregators are better for hotels and other travel amenities.
http://www.hotels.com/ – love this site for booking hotels. If you book 10 nights of stays, you get your next night free. Pretty cool. They also have some pretty sweet “secret” deals for members.
https://www.kayak.com/ – to find the best travel deals, Kayak compares thousands of aggregators.
https://www.hipmunk.com/ – coming up hot on the heels of Kayak, this useful little tool can save you a lot on airfare. Useful because it compares different flights by a number of variables and it crawls more of the low cost local airlines around the globe than any other aggregator. If you are traveling regionally, this can mean big savings.
https://www.agoda.com/ – this is now my first go-to spot when I’m looking for hotels, bungalows, villas, or other accommodation in a new city. Gives you pretty great rates that are hard to find elsewhere. I check listings here first, then I’ll compare against real people’s reviews and customer photos at TripAdvisor.
https://www.priceline.com/ – bid low on last-minute flights and check out their Pricebreaker deals. Also great for getting deals on rental cars. You can bid last minute and get a better car for a reasonable rate.
These are just a few of our favorite travel hacking resources. If you have other suggestions, let us know. We love a good hack, especially if it lands us somewhere amazing!