PSA: The best time to book your 2023 travel plans is any time before 2023.
You’ve seen the lines at airports these days. Maybe you’ve even had the misfortune of traveling during this glutted and gridlocked time already. Airlines and travel agencies know that travel is more in demand than ever. And they’re making you pay exorbitant amounts for your escapist fantasies.
But your dream vacation doesn’t have to be completely beyond your reach. By planning well and booking early, you can save big on travel without cutting corners or sacrificing your experiences.
The secret to saving money on travel? Planning. Tons of it. And as far in advance as possible. So before the year ends, make your vision board, bookmark your dream hotels on Instagram … but then actually look into how much these things cost. Planning in advance means you can save on everything. Those coveted seats far-far away from the bathrooms? Yours. An early bird hotel rate? A fine Airbnb? All yours. If you act now.
Then take it one step further.
When I make my travel plans, I don’t just plan hotels and flights, I literally plan out each day. I’m an Aquarius, so I do leave room for spontaneity — to explore neighborhoods, wander through museums and stores, and kick along the streets on a random existentialist stroll. But setting a tentative schedule provides a realistic ballpark budget. When and where will I need to flag a cab? How efficient is public transit? How can I schedule my days most efficiently and cost-effectively? And what can I save on if I buy in advance?
If you’re cobbling together your 2023 travel plans, here are some ways to save by planning ahead:
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This is how they get you: staying loyal to an airline really does make a difference. While I scan Google flights for airline deals, when I can I stick to my airline of choice to accrue loyalty points and miles that help me save big time. United has a giant presence in all the major cities that I tend to fly to. That’s including frequent non-stop flights to London, South Africa, and other long-haul flights I take for the holidays. Check out their loyalty cards for perks like lounge access, advance boarding, and exclusive flight deals.
Sometimes there’s a deal too good to miss out on — even if it’s not by my trusty United. I’ve put all my friends onto Scott’s Cheap Flights. They send out email alerts for the best flight deals — whether you’re planning in advance or looking for last-minute flight drops. It’s best for brainstorming. If you’re flexible with place and dates, there’s a wealth of deals at your fingertips.
Another go-to resource is Kayak. Its award-winning app makes it easy to search for all my flights, hotels, cars, and more, in one convenient place. If you’re seeking a dashboard that keeps all your information in one place, Kayak gives you the best deals for everything in an easy-to-manage interface.
Dreaming of a stay at the buzziest Instagram hotels? Never. Ever. Book through the hotel portal. You can save big with Booking.com — and the more points you rack up, the more extra discounts. Plus, free room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, and more.
Drawn to boutique and luxury hotels? Good taste gets rewarded with the IHG loyalty program. While some hotel chains offer run-of-the-mill experiences wherever you go, the IHG brand has a stay for every budget. With their partners, the luxury booking agency Mrs. and Mrs. Smith, you can find design-forward luxury stays at any cost.
Renting a car while on vacation is an underrated luxury. Book with Enterprise for the best deals on car rentals combined with seamless service. If you tally up your potential Ubers and day trips, you might find that renting a car is cheaper than calling a cab.
Another major travel win is saving on luggage. Before you go, make sure you have the right carry-on and checked bag for your trip. I’m a big fan of packing light so I always recommend investing in quality carry-on luggage. The best value for your money is the Tumi aluminum hard shell luggage. It’s sturdy and stylish and easy to maneuver around the airport.