Travel hacking can be a great way to save a significant amount of money when searching and booking flights, accommodations, and other travel experiences. If done correctly, you can drastically reduce the cost of your vacation and make your travel spending more effective. But, it comes with its own pitfalls, and if you’re not careful, you may find yourself spending more than you bargained for. In this article, we’ll discuss the common mistakes to avoid when trying to “hack” your way to great travel deals.

Know the Cost vs. Benefits of Travel Hacking

Travel hacking, first and foremost, is a tactic to save money when booking travel. However, when researching potential deals, it is important to consider the cost of travel. Flight and hotel costs can quickly add up and the costs associated with traveling (such as change and cancellation fees and taxes) can often end up wiping out any savings you may have thought you had. So before committing to any particular deal or promo, be sure to calculate the cost vs. benefits.

Be Flexible With Your Travel Plans

The key to successful travel hacking is flexibility; without it, it will be hard to extend your dollar farther. Many platforms and services online allow users to modify search results to find the best deal. Even if you have a certain destination in mind, consider being open to alternative places that fit your budget.

Be Smart With Your Travel Credit Card Choices

Many of the popular travel reward credit cards require a minimum spending requirement to be met within a certain amount of time in order to receive any benefits. It is important to read the fine print when selecting a card to make sure it’s a good fit for your spending needs. Avoid opening multiple travel cards at once, as this could potentially lead to severe credit damage and a higher interest rate. This can also be said for other types of credit cards, such as cashback or student cards.

Read the Terms and Conditions

Travel reward points can have a wide range of associated benefits, depending on the reward program. Make sure you read the individual program policies and conditions prior to using the associated points. Understanding the restrictions can save you time and money in the long run.

Use Kiosks and Apps to Find Deals

There are plenty of travel apps and websites out there that allow users to search and book deals that fit their interests. These digital platforms can save you from the stress of manually searching for deals. Be sure to check out different travel apps and websites to find the best deals for your specific locations and dates.

Be Aware of Foreign Transaction Fees

When using a credit card or debit card abroad, keep in mind you may be charged a foreign transaction fee by the bank. Transaction fees may vary based on the issuing bank and the country being used, so it is important to inform your card provider of where you are traveling and when so they can waive any additional fees. This could potentially save you a lot of money in the long run.

Book Far in Advance is Not Always Better

Many people assume that booking their trip well in advance will guarantee them the cheapest flights and hotels, but this isn’t always true. Prices can decrease substantially in the days leading up to the trip, so if you think you can take a chance and wait for prices to drop, we recommend you give it a try.

Avoid Peak Travel Times

It is understandable that you want to travel with the most convenience, but avoid peak travel times when possible as these tend to be the most crowded, and can also be the costliest. Consider booking for off-peak times of the year, such as shoulder season (March to May and September to October), or off-peak days of the week.

Sign Up for Flight Alerts

Flight alerts from services such as Google Flights and Kayak allow you to be notified when certain fares drop within your preselected destination and criteria. This is a great way to track fares in real time and can potentially get you a great deal if you act fast, and also gives you a better idea of the market prices of your preferred route.

Travel hacking can be a very effective way of cutting costs and finding great deals. By doing your own research and being flexible with your plans, you can be sure to get the most out of your travel money. With that being said, there are some common mistakes to avoid in order to get the most out of your travel-hacking experience. Be mindful of foreign transaction fees, read the terms and conditions, seek out alternatives, and use flight alerts – all helpful tips to ensure you’re not wasting your travel money.