1. Find the best flight deals
These are my favourite sites to keep track of flight details departing from the Benelux:
For Business & First Class deals, the best site is You Have Been Upgraded. If you’re looking for a particular flight deal, set an email alert via Google Flights to keep track of flight fares. Don’t forget to also check Momondo as they tend to regularly find cheaper or alternative fares.
2. Book hotels at the lowest price
Start your hotel search on a price comparison site, they do the hard work for you! HotelsCombined and Google Hotels Search are my favourites. Tip: Make sure to create an account on HotelsCombined.com and search for hotels when signed in. For some hotels you’ll see secret deals which are only available when you’re logged on.
3. Use hotel discount codes
Compare the lowest hotel rates you found via HotelsCombined.com with the rates using discount codes at FlyerTalk.
If you (or your partner) haven’t used Airbnb before, now is the time to sign-up. Airbnb has temporarily increased the sign-up bonus for new users to €41 ($45) travel credit which can be used for a first time booking of €65 ($75) or more. Even if you don’t intent to make a booking right now, sign-up to secure your travel credit.
4. Earn money booking hotels
In the past two years, I earned more than €2000 (!) with one simple trick: cashback sites. Every time I book a hotel, I check my favourite cashback sites to earn up to 20% back of the money spend on hotel bookings. Here’s how it works:
- Create a cashback account Quidco (£10 bonus!) / Mr Rebates
- Use cashback search function to find booking site (e.g. Hotels.com)
- Click on the link and book your hotel
- After your stay, you’ll receive the money in your cashback account
- Wire the cashback money to your PayPal account
There’s no difference with booking directly on the hotel booking site or going via a cashback site, except you earn a nice cashback!
The cashback sites I use:
Quidco (cashback in GBP via PayPal) booking sites
Mr Rebates (cashback in USD via PayPal) booking sites
5. Maximize the value of your hotel points
Hopefully you’ve already collected some valuable hotels points with your travels. If not, sign-up for your favourite hotel loyalty programs now and track your accounts via AwardWallet. Once you’ve collected some points, you probably wonder where you can use them and how to get maximum value out of them. You could login to each hotel loyalty program and search for free hotel night awards. But what if you could search all loyalty programs at once? You can! AwardMapper lets you search for hotel awards. Looking for handy maps of all chain hotels? Check Travel is Free for Google Maps of all Hilton, Marriott, IHG, Hyatt and Radisson hotels.
6. Always use the right credit card
Some reminders to avoid common mistakes when booking travel and paying abroad.
- Always book your travel using a credit card. If the hotel, airline or booking site goes bust you can get your money back. Last year I booked a hotel in Cape Town using Galahotels.com. I had booked months in advance as they offered a really good deal. A few weeks before my stay I learned Galahotels had filed for bankruptcy. I contacted the credit card company and within days the money was back in my bank account.
- Always pay in the local currency. Hotels, restaurants, shops and even ATM’s will ask you if you wish to pay in your home country currency. This is a SCAM. If you agree, the terminal will convert the foreign currency to your home country currency and apply a nice markup fee for the business owner. Don’t fall for it and ALWAYS insist to pay in the local currency.
- Get a credit card with no conversion & ATM fees. Most debit cards and credit cards charge fees when you make payments in a foreign currencies (conversion fee) or when you withdraw money from an ATM. There are a few exceptions. One of them is Revolut, a free debit card which allows you to withdraw up to €200 currency equivalent per calendar month without any fees.
- Find an ATM with no or low fees. On top of the fees charged by your credit card issuer, many ATM’s charge an additional fee to withdraw money. e.g. in Bangkok all ATM’s now charge a 220 THB fee. For other destinations it might help to google in advance to figure our which banks provide ATM’s with no fee or at least the lowest fee.
- For euro payments, consider the Brussels Airlines American Express card. You’ll collect valuable Miles & More miles and the card includes travel insurance. Sign-up and get 16.000 Miles & More miles.
7. Plan your trip
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. 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…
8. Use local transportation apps
Rome2Rio 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 frequently use Uber (Worldwide – €5 off first ride) Grab (Southeast Asia) and Careem (Arabic countries).
9. Save on your rental car
Here are 3 ways to save on your rental car:
- Use Monondo and Kayak to compare car rental prices.
- Get separate insurance. This is where the real saving are. Insurance offered by rental companies is insanely overpriced. Settle with the minimum insurance from the rental company and cover your risk using iCarhireinsurance.com I’ve used them for several years now, and it costs me less than €100 per year to get all my rentals fully insured with no excess. Several of my blog readers and social media followers have reported their positive claim experiences with them. They also have a 4.5 out of 5 score on Trustpilot. Make sure to use Quidco cashback to sign-up for iCarhireinsurance as they offer 21% cashback!
- Check alternatives: If you’re looking to rent a car in the USA, Canada or the UK make sure to check the ‘Airbnb of car rentals’: Turo. I used them in Los Angeles when regular car rentals were super expensive. You can find Turo promo codes here.
10. Get the right travel gear
Travel gear should be functional, comfortable and affordable. Here’s my selection of the best travel gear I own.
Samsonite Neopulse Spinner
With most airlines now charging additional fees for checked luggage, it’s essential to select the right carry-on luggage. The Samsonite Neopulse Spinner 55cm is still my preferred travel companion after several years on the road, here’s my review video.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II wireless headphones
If there’s one piece of travel gear I can’t recommend enough to make your flights more enjoyable: noice cancelling headphones! I’ve been using my Bose QuietComfort 35 II for several years now and I would never fly without them.
Travel Pillow Plus
Back in October 2018, I funded the Travel Pillow Plus KickStarter project and it turned out to be an excellent investment for my long-haul economy class flights. The pillow looks ridiculous at first sight, but once you’ve experienced how comfortable you can sleep thanks to the pillow, you won’t care about the looks! Combine the Travel Pillow Plus with Quies ear plugs and a sleeping mask and you’ll sleep as never before in economy class.
Fjallraven High Coast Hike Trousers
Another thing I discovered in the past year are the Fjallraven High Coast Hike Trousers. Not only are they great trousers for my more adventurous trips, they also are super comfortable to wear on a plane. I’m even considering to buy a second pair to make sure I have a replacement when my first pair is worn out!