This past weekend I attended the New York Times Travel Show at the Javits Center in New York City. I planned on attending both Saturday and Sunday, but the 8 hours of intense deal-hunting on Saturday was more than enough. The main floor was packed with all kinds of travelers, shirtless men, Jets cheerleaders, food, drinks, dancing, and a stuffed moose. What better way to enjoy a taste of the world without spending the money to step foot on a plane, right?
I sat in on hours of seminars led by travel writers and experts (such as Seth Kugel, Andrew Evans, Robert Reid, and Beth Whitman), and spent another couple of hours “window shopping” past the countless booths of paper flyers and cultural gimmicks. I may have been a little too excited at first, grabbing flyers for every intriguing destination that was almost within my price range. And yes, my shoulders are still sore three days later.
Since I’m recovering from about 17 paper cuts, I haven’t been able to sift through this massive heap of brochures yet to find the best deals. If you’re looking for some good deals from the show you may want to head over to the NYTimes Frugal Traveler. Instead I figured I’d share some tips on how the experts say you can travel smarter and cheaper in the future.
From the New York Times Travel Show, 9 Tips to Spend Less and Travel Like a Pro
1. Reach out to your social media community for advice on places to go, things to see, and places to eat for wherever you’ll be that day. You’re likely to find a cheaper (and possibly better) experience than any search engine or guidebook will give you.
2. Look at exchange rates when searching for bargain destinations.
3. If you’re looking to travel right now, the NYTimes travel crew recommends these destinations for budget travel: Greece, Portugal, Libya, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Bolivia, Iceland, Equador, and Colombia. Just be careful if you’re visiting a place that’s been in the news a lot lately!
4. Things that are never worth splurging on (are obviously personal preferences, but Seth Kugel has two major ones): airport food, and taxis when there is public transportation available. I’d also like to throw in bottled water when the local tap is just fine. You can’t be a diva when you’re trying to save a buck.
5. Major chain hotels are much cheaper on Priceline and Hotwire. This is something I’ve never tried out because I’m a bit of a control freak, but Seth was relentless about how many great deals he’s gotten in the US from bidding sites. You can find help on how to master the skill on betterbidding.com and biddingfortravel.com.
7. Sniqueaway.com and Tripalerts.com are two Groupon-style websites offering up deals on a daily basis, the former being invite only. They’re not entirely budget friendly, but depending upon your finances, you can certainly stumble upon a good deal from time to time.
8. Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Yapta.com, and at the travel show was no exception. It lets you track flights before you purchase, sending you a notification when prices drop and advising you on when to purchase. Then if the price drops after you’ve purchased, it helps you to get a refund for the difference.
9. Sign up for all the travel deal newsletters that you can. When it comes time to book, do a quick inbox search for your destination and see if anything pops up. You never know when an airline has a deal for your dream destination!
Good luck using these tips to find yourself an affordable getaway! Happy travels!