The smart budget traveler - Carolina Country

The smart budget traveler

Planning ahead expands your options while saving you money


The smart budget traveler

Whether you are venturing around the world or road-tripping across North Carolina, traveling smart is a must if you want to get the most out of your vacation without spending more.

According to a Bank of America survey, nine out of 10 Americans think they are smart travelers, but only 54 percent are planning their vacation itineraries in advance. What’s more, only 38 percent use credit card rewards to help offset costs of their travel expenses.

Travel Channel host Samantha Brown helps Americans raise their travel budget IQ. Smart travelers will plan their itinerary in advance, alert their credit card company (especially if you’re traveling overseas), send loved ones their travel itinerary and contact information, and apply for TSA pre-check to get through airport security faster. If you are heading overseas, check to see if your credit card waives foreign transaction fees.

Leverage social media

Once your itinerary is booked, Brown advises travelers to use social media and start following your airline and hotel, your destination city and sites you plan to see. They’ll send you deals directly, along with great advice on what to do in the area.

Jump on flight deals, lodging perks

One of Brown’s favorite tips: jump on flight deals when you see them. “If you see an airfare that’s within your budget, book it. Don’t wait. You could spend a lot of time and energy looking for a cheaper fare that in the end saves you 20 bucks,” she says.

Brown also recommends choosing hotels that offer free hot breakfasts and a small kitchenette in the room. Another idea: pick a destination where your family or friends live, so you have a place to stay, a method popular among millennials (those born in the years from the early 1980s to the early 2000s).

Credit card rewards

It’s important to make sure that your credit card rewards you for everyday purchases, the rewards don’t expire, and it has the flexibility to allow you to use the points you earned to cover all or part of your hotel and transit. For example, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card lets you use your points on airfares, hotels and many other travel-related activities. For more information, visit

Negotiate at food markets

Creamy Italian gelato? Spicy red curry? Besides lodging, food and beverage are the biggest travel expenses, particularly for millennial adventurers. In exotic locations, explore a local marketplace. Depending on the country, you can sometimes haggle food prices. Don’t be afraid to try.

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