I love to travel. We just came from an overseas military assignment where we were fortunate enough to travel to 37 countries in 3 years. I have learned a lot about travel these past few years. I’m also an accredited financial counselor and my philosophy is that “a penny saved is a penny I can spend traveling to Disney!” Whether you are traveling to Disney or elsewhere, here are some travel hacks that can make your life easier and/or save you money.
How you enter into incognito mode differs from browser to browser (and between PCs and Macs). But in Chrome, you can hit “CTRL” + “SHIFT” + “N”. Alternatively, you can click on the three dots at the end of the address bar and choose “New incognito window” from the options.
In Firefox or Explorer, click on “CTRL” then “SHIFT” then “P”. If using a Mac, substitute the “Command” key for the control key. For each new search, close previous windows and open a new incognito window.
Use several search engines when looking for airfares. Unfortunately, there’s not one perfect way to search for airfares. I look at several sites, but the first one I usually check is Skyscanner. It allows you to look at airfares for a whole month (so you can see which days might potentially be cheaper), and it also lets you put in “everywhere” as an option for your destination so you can see what places you might potentially fly to for an upcoming long weekend. (This is how I ended up in Lisbon for Martin Luther King Day one year and Lithuania for Columbus Day another year).
Airfarewatchdog.com is another good site; it also features a Top 50 Fares of the Day page where you might find a super low “error fare” that an airline has mistakenly posted. Google Flights lets you explore specific destinations but also lets you see other places you could fly during your dates. There’s even an “I’m Feeling Lucky” option. Most of these sites will also let you sign up to get email alerts if there are changes in fares that you are watching. The Hopper app watches fares for you and lets you know if they are likely to go up (or down!) in the future.
Make money while you make purchases. Did you know that you can earn money each time you shop? If you use a portal like Ebates to make your “normal,” everyday purchases, you can get a percentage back as cash. I have been using Ebates for several years now, and have earned close to $400 by simply using the shopping portal to get to Booking.com, Expedia.com, Hotels.com and other travel sites. Plus, I do my holiday shopping at Target, Walmart and elsewhere through Ebates. Every bit helps. They send you a “Big Fat Check” each quarter with your proceeds, or you can receive it through PayPal.
Always search for discount codes. I can’t tell you how many times I have been about to purchase something, and then do a quick online search and find a money saving coupon code. Just this morning, I got an additional 10% off my online order when I typed in the website name and the word “Coupon” into the Google search bar. There are several trustworthy online coupon sites; the one I use the most is retailmenot.com. I have found percentages off or free shipping on all kinds of products, from rental cars and hotels to toy stores.
Sign up for newsletters and loyalty programs. Earlier, I mentioned using airfare search engines to find fares. However, some of the bargain airlines don’t show up on these sites. So it’s well worth it to sign up for newsletters for airlines like Southwest so you can have a heads up when they are having a fare sale. We are hoping to fly to Barcelona next summer for a Disney Cruise in the Mediterranean. You can bet I have already been scouting out the discount carriers that fly from south Florida and have signed up for their email list. Make sure that you belong to loyalty/rewards programs for all the airlines you will fly, the hotel chains you stay at, and the rental car companies you use.
Save big bucks by buying Disney gift cards at a discount. Disney vacation packages are pricey. Disney cruises are crazy expensive. But did you know that you can pay these things (and food, tickets, souvenirs, hotels/etc) with Disney gift cards? And that there’s a way to get Disney gift cards at a discount? I have a Target Red Card, and if I purchase what is termed by Target as an “entertainment card,” and this includes Disney, Starbucks and all kinds of other gift cards (except Target ones), I am entitled to a 5% savings. While this doesn’t sound like much if you are just talking about buying a $50 gift card, multiply that out into the thousands and you can save quite a chunk of change.
Warehouse clubs like Sams and BJs also sometimes have Disney gift cards at 4-5% off (and if you purchase them with a credit card that gives you rewards, you can potentially save even more!)
We don’t have Kroger grocery stores in my area, but I have heard of people getting great fuel rewards (savings on their gasoline purchases) by buying Disney gift cards.
Note that unless you want to carry a giant stack of cards around with you, you will probably want to go online to Disneygiftcard.com and consolidate your cards. The most you can have on any one card is $1000. But if you’re paying over the phone, it’s a lot kinder to the Cast Members to only give them a couple of cards to input rather than dozens (and they will tell you they can only put in three at a time).
Use a travel agent. This last tip sounds obvious, but there are a lot of people out there who don’t realize that it is FREE for a client to use a travel agent to book Disney vacations or cruises. While I don’t use an agent for every single international trip I take, I do use one to book cruises because an agent can often offer you extra perks, like onboard credit, that you don’t get when you book on your own. For a free quote on your Disney vacation, contact our FREE Disney Diva Travel Agent Patricia.
What are some ways you save for your Disney vacation? Let us know in the comments!
*Photo courtesy of Jane’s World