Money-Saving Tips for Travel

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

We’ve all been there – trying to find ways to save money on travel – so we can travel even MORE! I’ve found an incredible expert on this important topic - Teri Gault. She’s an expert on saving money in many areas, has logged thousands of miles, and has plenty of tips for saving money while traveling, as well. We caught up with her and chatted about saving money, giving back, travel tips, and more.

WE: Please tell us about your travel experiences...

TG: I travel 150,000 miles a year as CEO of The Grocery Game. I also traveled extensively with my sons and my husband, Greg was in the movie business. For years we chased him all over the globe when he was filming on location. In my first son’s first year, I recorded 22 flights in his baby book, domestic and international. And it didn’t stop there. I became the expert at “mobile baby”! 

WE: What are your favorite money-saving tips for travel?

TG: I’m always about saving money. I have a whole system of getting the most value for my travel dollars, and still without sacrificing comfort. My favorite...I love to bid for hotels on I'm able to stay in 4 star hotels for less than the cost of a 2 star in most cities I visit. My method is to choose 4 star and see what 4 stars are going for in the area I will bid on. Then I typically bid about half the cost. The only pitfalls can be two things: 

1 . If you are traveling with two people and need two beds, you can only "request" two beds when bidding. And some older classy boutique type hotels only have two beds as an upgrade. It can be difficult to get an upgrade if you've bid on

2 . You cannot cancel and get your money back. If your travel plans change, your hotel booking cannot change. Occasionally I have paid for a room in a city I never got to, just because my travel plans unexpectedly changed. But in the long run, the money I have saved on bidding has really paid off.

Additional Traveling Tips

Free upgrades for rental cars: When checking in for rental cars, sometimes certain categories are in bigger demand than others. That's why sometimes I have gotten a luxury car for an intermediate price. If I'm not driving a lot of miles and don't have a lot of fuel to burn, a free upgrade to a luxury car can be a nice perk. It never hurts to ask.

Cheaper rental cars: I’ve saved money on rental cars two ways:
1. Bid on Again, like hotels, I try for half the going rate, and often get it.
2. Book off airport for savings of up to half off or more. I've been thrilled with the service in many cases. I've been picked up at the airport curb with my "off site" rental car. Many off airport rental offices provide transportation to and from the airport. And it can be more convenient than using the rental car center shuttle and dealing with huge crowds.

Free upgrades at hotels: If you book a hotel directly through the hotel reservations or on their website, you just might be able to score a free upgrade. Upon checking in, if the hotel is not booked up, and if premium or deluxe rooms are available, hoteliers often want to give you the better experience. Especially if it's my first time to stay in a particular hotel, I will book a standard room. Then upon check in, ask if they have any rooms with a view available and what the cost of upgrade would be. I let them know it's my first time and would love to have the view if it doesn't cost too much more. About half the time, they give it to me at no extra cost, if they have a lot of availability.

Traveling on off peak days and times of the weeks can give great savings on flight costs. Typically, travel on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday are the cheapest. Also, stay away from peak travel times - like the flights at the beginning of end of the work day. For example, a 6 pm flight out of New York will typically cost more than a 1 pm departure.

Opting to fly into alternate airports can make for huge savings as well. Many travel sites like orbitz have a box to check other airports in the area. I've saved hundreds of dollars by flying into a different airport across town, or in a nearby city. There are also compensation for delayed flights in the EU.

WE: What are your top recommendations for travel planning?

TG: For vacation travel, check the almanac for historic weather. A vacation can be cheaper in the off season, but the weather can also make the vacation a disaster. Book flights going out and returning on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday for the best prices.

WE: How do you suggest travelers get off the beaten path, on their journeys?

TG: Find out what the locals do. The web is full of local bloggers who tell all the best-kept secrets of the area. Try using sites like Chowhound or Yelp. You can find inexpensive delicious food, interesting places to hike, and more!

WE: Any tips for giving back, while traveling?

TG: There are numerous food pantries in every city. If you’ve stocked up on food, drink, and snacks for your hotel room, you can easily find someone who can use it, before you hop on a plane. When I’m in cities doing TV news, we drop off the groceries at a local food pantry.

WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

TG: You have to travel light. But you have to look good!

My shoes that I wear on the plane and running through airports double as my gym shoes. For winter, I have Cole Haan lightweight black boots, that look stylish, but they have "Nike" bottoms. They zip up the side, so they're easy to remove in security. And then I wear them in the gym. I wear long pants, so it's not obvious that they may look odd. But I don't care. In the summer, I just use a pair of regular gym shoes that I wear with my jeans when I'm not going to a meeting or for "running" through the airport, which I did yesterday, when I almost missed my plane! By the way, I NEVER wear shoes to the airport that I can't run in! Gate changes can cause you to miss a plane on a connection, if you can't run!

You only need to pack ONE pair of shoes. All of your clothes that you will be wearing for meetings must go with that one pair of shoes. For this trip, since it's in freezing winter in Chicago and Pittsburgh, I packed one pair of high top black leather boots that look cute with my dresses, and my black pant suits.

Never pack shampoo, conditioner, or lotion, as every hotel has them (unless your skin or hair has special needs).

Never carry anything in full size. It's worth the expense to go to drugstores and buy the tiny deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, aerosol hairspray, etc. Everything should be aerosol, if possible, since liquid pump hairspray, for example, can leak.

Bring smaller version appliances. Never bring a blow dryer, as all hotels have them - or call and ask ahead of time if you're not sure. I have very thick hair and require a large hot roller set of at least ten rollers. But I travel with a set of five and do my hair in two sections, top and bottom, while getting ready in the morning. I have a routine that doesn't hold me up, works fine, and doesn't add extra bulk to my suitcase.

Read only electronic books. I have a laptop, Ipad, and Kindle. I realized for books, if I'm bringing my Ipad, I can download the Ebooks I need there, and now I don't need to bring my Kindle. But if I'm bringing my laptop, I bring my Kindle, not my Ipad.

Since I go to several cities, I can re-wear blazers, with a different top underneath and a different silk scarf. An array of silk scarves is totally weightless, and can change up an outfit. The same applies to the lightweight, almost sheer tops I wear under the blazers. I also re-wear my dress pants. I change out of my meeting clothes as soon as I get back to the hotel or when I go straight from a meeting to the airport, I change in the airport restroom before I begin my fight through security and to the gate, as I plan to re-wear my business clothes, and want to keep them clean.

I travel with "Shout" wipes in my suitcase, purse, and laptop case. I've never felt the need to wear dress shields, since I change the top under the blazer every day.


WE: Teri - you're a fount of travel information! Your money-saving tips are so VERY useful, and I loved hearing the backstory of your company. Thank you!