1. Plan your trip: Wikivoyage
I’m a big fan of Wikivoyage, the Wikipedia of travel. For each country, region, city you’ll find a page loaded with practical information ordered in recurring sections (Get-in, Get Around, See, Do, Buy, Eat, Drink, Sleep, …) an excellent resource to start planning your trip. I usually combine this with some research on Flyertalk, a huge frequent traveller forum where you can find a lot of info about hotels, airlines and destinations. For example, I found the contact details of a good driver in Bali via Flyertalk. Once I’m at my destination, I use the app Foursquare to get local tips on things to see & do, find good bars & restaurants, etc…
2. Best flight deals: Google Flights
Google Flights is my favorite tool to look for flights. Just enter your travel dates, hit ‘explore destinations’ and Google will show you a map where you can travel for the lowest price. Once you have found the flights you want to book, make sure to check Momondo to ensure you book at the lowest price. Read more tips & tricks to book cheap flights.
3. Best hotel deals: HotelsCombined
You can score fantastic hotel deals with a wide range of tips & tricks which I’ve written about before. The absolute minimum effort you should make before finalizing your hotel booking is comparing hotel rates via an aggregator. HotelsCombined and Trivago are reliable ones.
4. Try alternative accommodation: Airbnb
Still haven’t tried Airbnb yet? You can now get up to €77 discount! I often use Airbnb when regular accommodation is not available or too expensive. New users can now book any accommodation with €30 discount using my Airbnb referral link. On top of that, both new and existing users can earn €47 Airbnb credit for a ‘business’ stay.
5. Best seats on the plane: SeatGuru
Not all airline seats are created equal, in fact you can have a complete different inflight experience by selecting the right seat! Most people don’t do much research when selecting their seat, which is an advantage for you. If you have the opportunity to select your seat at the time of booking, make sure to do it. In case you need to wait until online check-in is open, set a reminder in your agenda to be one of the first to check-in online. You can use tools like Seatguru to determine what are the good seats or by googling something like “name of the airline + type of aircraft + best seats” e.g. “British Airways A380 Best Business Class seats”. You might end up one a frequent flyer blog like mine where I indicate the best business class seat on the British Airways A380 is 53K as it has its own private aisle access. 😉
6. Know your rights: Passenger Rights app
Be prepared for when things go wrong. Install the EU Commission Passenger Rights app. It provides you will all possible transportation scenarios where things can go wrong (air, rail, ship or bus) and what your rights are.
7. Local transportation: Rome2Rio
Another fantastic app is Rome2Rio. It provides you with all transportation options between two points including how much they would cost. For example, it would tell you how to get from the airport to your hotel (train, bus, boat, taxi, uber, …) include the estimated price and even link to the bus, train or boat schedules…. it works like magic! Also don’t forget to install the Uber app and its most popular clones. I use Uber (Worldwide – €10 off first ride) Gett (UK – £50 of free credit) and Grab (Southeast Asia).
8. Avoid exchange & ATM fees: Revolut
Most debit cards and credit cards charge a fee when you make a payment in a foreign currency (conversion fee) or when you withdraw money from an ATM. I’ve written about this topic before in my article “How to pay when traveling abroad“. Most of what I mention in that article is still valid, however the BCKP VISA card which I recommended for my Belgian readers is no longer available. Fortunately, there are a number of new players on the financial market (FinTech) offering solutions. One of them is Revolut, a debit MasterCard. I’ve been using the card for almost a year now, and I love it. Why? There are no fees for payments in foreign currencies or ATM withdrawals*! This is perfect for that weekend getaway to Poland where you only need a small amount of Polish Zsloty and don’t want to be hit with a €5 ATM fee and 2.5% conversion fee! The Revolut card can be requested by installing the Revolut app from the Apple or Android store. The app allows you to manage all the aspects of the card and keep track of your expenses. Total cost: €7 to ship you the physical MasterCard. (*ATM: Free up to £200 or currency equivalent per calendar month, foreign currency payments: live interbank rate with no fees up to £5000 or currency equivalent per calendar month)
9. Earn miles when you spend: Amex
Did you know you can earn airline miles even when shopping groceries or buying gas? Make sure to pay as much possible with your Brussels Airlines American Express card (Euro payments only, use Revolut for foreign currencies!). You can redeem the earned Miles & More miles for Business or First Class flights you would normally not be able to afford. Why not try Lufthansa First Class? For as little as 62000 miles you can fly First Class to the Middle-East!
10. Keep track of your points: AwardWallet
Not yet collecting airlines miles and hotel points? The beginning of the year is a great time start! Sign-up for your favorite airline and hotel’s loyalty programs now. The good news is you can track all your loyalty program balances with one tool, AwardWallet. Enter your airline and hotel loyalty card numbers and AwardWallet will take care of the rest. You’ll even get email notifications when points or miles are about to expire. Use promo code free-shadir for a free upgrade to an AwardWallet Plus account.
I’m confident several of these tips & tricks will make your travel more affordable and enjoyable in 2017. Do you already have trips booked for 2017? Any tips & tricks you want the share with us? Please let us know in the comments section below. I wish you all happy & safe travels in 2017!
Did you ever use the Ukraine Airlines Best Price Guarantee?
Is it easy to get the claim through?
Hi Steeve, no, didn’t even realise it existed at UIA. Would be surprised if you would be able to submit a valid claim. Keep us updated!
Great tips & tricks – Thanks!
What very useful travel tips. I have bookmarked the link re car hire insurance as we are just about to book car hire.
Thanks for your feedback Catterygirl. Have an awesome road trip!
Hi Bart, Do you have any suggestion about upgrade option? For example I bought an economy class ticket , on the day I travel I ask airline ground staff for pay upgrade. Is that the best way to spend less for flying comfort?
Hi Worapol, these days most airlines offer online upgrade options (e.g. via bidding) Check your airlines website for the upgrade options they offer. If you have any specific questions about a particular airline, feel free to let me know. Enjoy your (upgraded) flight!
thanks for the tips! Just sitting in the plane from Jo-burg to Frankfurt and downloaded some apps you described. Especially Rome2rio is very cool. I was searching already something like the AwardWallet, now I have it
Thank you for your feedback Salvatore. Enjoy your travels!
Hi Bart, heb je ook tips voor goede prijs/kwaliteit huurwagens?
Hi Tom, apart from using an aggregator to compare prices (e.g. kayak.com) the best way to save money is to get rid of all the extra insurances car rental companies try to sell you. You can do this by getting your own insurance policy. I personally use https://www.icarhireinsurance.com/ Dutch language site https://www.huurautoverzekering.com/over-ons
Thanks, Bart! Great suggestions I will certainly look into.
Ik ga hier toch ook eens meer en meer gebruik van beginnen maken. Merci he!
Thanks for your feedback Yannick. Happy travels!
Thanks Bart, fantastic information from a wonderfull looking man!!
Wish to see u in person
Thank you Shirin!
Bart, what SIM card/cellphone plan do you use when travelling?
Thanks for this list and everything you write on the blog!
Many thanks, great tips.,frantastic !!!!!
Booking with hotel.com (if your usual hotel chain is not available) can earn you a free night. They also have a loyalty program and we use it if their prices are lox and there’s no other program we’re member of.
This year we’re heading for tokyo, just started to look for tips.
Thanks! Handy information!
Just wonder how you claim the airbnb ‘business’ referral credit? There’s no link to your account?
Hi Bart, did you add your Business email address to your profile via https://www.airbnb.com/business-travel ? Once you’ve done that, you’ll notice that when you’re booking an airbnb stay there will be a question if that stay will be a personal trip or business trip. https://bartlapers.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/airbnb-for-business-travel.jpg Indicate it will be a business trip and after the stay you’ll receive the airbnb credits. https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/1167/airbnb-for-business—50-promotion
Nice! I’ll try. Thanks. Btw, I also used google trips recently, just like the other commenter and it works great.
Another tip: I just installed the Google Tips app. Also a very nice app for planning your (city)trips. It automatically collects reservation data from your gmail account.
Thanks for sharing Michel!
Fantastic tips. I think I will download the Know your rights and Rome 2 Rome app. I haven’t used Wikivoyage yet but will check it out. Thanks for the suggestions.
Thanks for your feedback Mike!