Do you have a modest travel budget, but not-so-modest travel aspirations? There are ways to save on — and to save for — travel that can help get you to your dream destination (or destinations). Here's what I do to ensure I can take that next trip, to Chicago, Mexico, Florence or beyond.
I've grown addicted to google.com/flights ever since it saved me $100 by alerting me to a price drop on a round trip that I recognized as a bargain. You know that holiday song, "Christmas the Whole Year Round?" In a way, I'm living it, since I just set up a price alert for my 2018 holiday trip to see relatives. Tracking is possible once airlines set their schedules, and late December recently came on line. The trick with price alerts is to know a good price when you see one and act on it.
Experts dismiss airline loyalty on the grounds that airlines have deflated the value of points and miles, even as they make redeeming them more difficult. I understand the philosophy, but I won't be worrying about it when my family flies — for free — to Maui this winter. In a market like ours, so dominated by one airline, loyalty makes sense, provided you hop to another airline when its price is better. My Delta-branded American Express card, which I use for everything from groceries to airline tickets, does heavy lifting in bolstering my miles.
Autoslash.com is my new go-to for rental cars. This website uses parameters you provide, including memberships such as AAA, to secure a rental car at a great price.
Finally, consider saving for trips in a way that you may not even notice. Split your paycheck's direct deposit so some funds go into a savings account. Or use Acorns, an online site that rounds up your credit card charges to the nearest dollar and puts the spare change into a savings account. It is the virtual equivalent of throwing your change into a jar, except that it accrues interest.
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at email@example.com, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.