How do you save money on travel?

thFrequent flier miles? Trading in hotel loyalty points? Those all work. So do the tips I offer in a guest post called “Destinations on a dime: 10 tips that will change your wandering ways,” a guest post over on The Real Deal, the house blog at Retail Me Not.

Anyone who’s read me knows that I’m more likely to go for hostels, museum reciprocity, buddy passes public transit and the Megabus.

Rewards programs, too; in fact, I recently cashed in points from a rewards credit card to get a Buffalo Wild Wings gift card for my trip to Phoenix next month (more on that in a minute), and will also cash in Swagbucks points for gift cards to Red Robin and Cracker Barrel. That way I can treat my daughter and son-in-law to a few meals out. After all, they’re getting me to and from the airport.

What else have I been writing lately? So glad you asked.

I contributed to a multi-author piece on the Allstate blog. “Saving strategies: Financial advice for new parents” featured tips about budgeting for baby, sizing up vehicle purchases for the long haul (as it were), loyalty programs and college funds.

Here’s one of my takeaways: “Tell (relatives and friends) that a kid can play with only so many toys at a time, whereas a contribution to the education fund will benefit your child for life.”


A voice in the crowd

Over at the Plutus Awards website I put up a post about writing in a unique and personal style. “Find your voice, and make it unmistakeable” encourages writers not to work at sounding like other tale-spinners. After all, tens of millions of blogs exist. How do you make yourself heard among the din?

With a unique voice, that’s how. It will bring readers back again and again to see what’s going on in your world, and to learn how to make sense of their own.

Speaking of voice: I have started a second, writing-focused blog to go with the website for my new writing course.

The many roads to writing” is an introduction to what I hope to do with the blog, with articles for writers and readers alike. In other words, you don’t have to be an active blogger or toiling away on the Great American Novel to join the conversation.

Thinking in walk tempo” describes my attempts to clear out the cobwebs by taking a break from the computer. Walks do more than stretch out my work-stiffened limbs. They sometimes jump-start creativity and at the very least help me see things more clearly. (Well, except for the time I almost walked right into a moose.)


Feedback from a writer

I decided to extend the 20 percent discount on my writing course until March 31. If you’re interested in taking the class, see this post to learn how to study for less.

Lisa Aberle, a college professor who writes for Get Rich Slowly and elsewhere, has completed the course and given me some marvelous feedback. Naturally I’m gonna pull out the money quotes:

“Reading your writing is a dream. Practical, down-to-earth, reachable. … Your writing makes me think of you as a friend who is genuinely interested in making my writing (and the lives of readers everywhere) better.

“In a (nutshell), I found it very helpful to move my writing to the next level. I am envious of your writing skill as it’s some of the very best I’ve seen online. You write with skill…and with soul. A winning and rare combo!”

Bless her heart.

Finally: I’m attending the New Media Expo in Las Vegas next month to present a program, “Stop calling it ‘content’!” A Phoenix blogger named Funny About Money just clued me in to an intensive one-day seminar from WordPress that takes place in Phoenix on Saturday, April 18 – two days after I finish up at NMX.

You bet I’m going! I’ll be in Phoenix for several days afterward, so there’s always the possibility of another Surviving and Thriving meet-up. Anyone who’s interested, let me know if Sunday, April 19 would work. That’s when Funny and several other bloggers, including my daughter, will be confabbing at the same Wendy’s restaurant as before.

Hope to see you there. I’ll be the one who looks very, very overheated, since it will likely be in the mid-80s or higher. Today it was 41 degrees and sunny in Anchorage and I saw people walking around in shorts, T-shirts and sandals. It’s a dry chill.

468 ad


  1. lostAnnfound

    For any long trip where we are driving to our destination we pack a cooler with water, sandwich fixings, fruits, yogurt, and other food items. Also, at rest stops on the highway we pick up booklets that have coupons for discounted hotel rooms.

    • Punkin Pye

      Same here. We will also use the cooler or take advantage of the mini fridge in our room to save on lunch and breakfast. That saves us money to go out to dinner and enjoy regional food.

      On that note, we also find it cheaper to avoid tourist traps and eat where the locals do. Think about where you live. If someone was coming to Texas and wanted Tex Mex food, I would steer them away from the restaurants that are run by famous local chefs and take them to some of the little Mom and Pop places where they will get great homestyle Tex Mex for a third or fourth of the price. It also makes for a more authentic experience.

      • Donna Freedman

        Agreed. If I don’t know anyone in the place I’m visiting, I ask a police officer — they tend to know where the inexpensive, out-of-the-way places are. Lower-level hotel employees (i.e., not the concierge) have never steered me wrong, either.

  2. Lazyretirementgirl

    Donna, you do write with skill and soul! Lisa is spot on. You share your inner life, or at least some of it, and you are never, ever sanctimonious or patronizing. I have stopped reading almost all the other PF bloggers, but I always come back to you. Thanks so much!

  3. Isitaneedorawant

    Recently my daughter purchased a round trip ticket which went down on the airlines website by $30.oo with in 24 hours. They cancelled her original booking when she rebooked with an agent on the line.

    If you know of someone over 18 who has a cognitive or physical disability and needs someone to travel with them many airlines offer free tickets for the attendant.

    Same for train travel, you must though go to the individual airline web sites to see if they have this .Read their rules for application .Most require a signed medical from an MD to be registered well in advance of anticipated travel.

  4. I love it when you give us all the articles you have written elsewhere. I follow your blog, but not necessarily all the other websites, so this is fun to read your other articles. Thanks!

  5. I just booked 4 RT tickets for $44.80 to Vegas for me and Den and his parents. I charge and pay off our credit card every month and Spirit has lots of free ways to earn miles. I earned almost enough points for 2 RT tickets just for leaving 2 comments. You have to have their credit card to get the super cheap flights but I think it is worth it. I’m probably the only person that likes that airlines. We also only stay at the same hotel when we go to Vegas. And we only gamble there. They always comp our rooms and most of our food. Plus we get free shuttles to and from the airport and strip. Oh and we don’t pay for luggage, we just pack a small bag for each of us. And snacks too. Can you tell that I am so over this Chicago winter wonderland yuck? Bring on the warm weather.
    And you inspire people to better themselves on so many levels. You worry about them financially and are looking to help them better themselves as writers. What’s next? How will you better the world during your next round?

  6. Cakester

    Arizona sounds so hot! I live in Colorado and it’s been a very mild winter in my microclimate, but it’s been getting to the 50s and we’ve all been sporting capris and sandals. I’d think I was dying in 80 degrees right now.

    • Donna Freedman

      I don’t think I could live in Arizona year-round but it’s a lovely place to visit in the winter, when Anchorage is dark and cold.

  7. Here’s an example on how I’ve saved quite a bit of money on my upcoming trip to Chicago this summer:

    1. Transportation: Taking the Amtrak. $264 for two round-trip tickets. Beats spending $ on gas & paying for parking. 2 of the cheapest tickets via Southwest would cost $370. 2 Megabus tickets would cost $121.50 for upper level front window seats. Might sound like a no brainer to choose the bus, but the reviews for my specific route are ehh.. plus it’ll add 2.5 hours to our travel time. Then again some people might pay the extra $100 & hop on Southwest. The BF opted for the train. It’ll be his first time on one. We also chose lodging within walking distance of all attractions so no additional costs there. *Side note: I still budgeted a small amount in case my feet get tired & need a break.

    2. I too prefer hostels. However, I do stay in private rooms. Nonetheless, I still save a ton of $! A hotel room downtown Chicago averages $350/night. My private room in a hostel is $99/night. And the hostel has amazing reviews.

    3. I check the city calendar for free events. For example, the day we arrive in Chicago there will be a free music festival going on at a park we already planned to visit. Also, we originally wanted to book a food tour. However, instead of spending $100-ish, we’ve requested a FREE tour via Chicago Greeter. We can even specify the type of tour we want (in this case, food) & the neighborhood. All that will cost is the food we choose to taste-test. The reviews are also good.

    4. Leading up to departure, I’ll be checking Groupon for deals on attractions we already plan to visit.

    5. Minimal souveniers. I dislike knick-knacks/clutter so instead, I take photos (I run a very small photography business) & have 1 or 2 blown up into canvases to display in my home.

    6. RESEARCH! This isn’t so much as a money saving gimmick as it is ensuring my money is well spent. I’m a stickler for reading reviews, especially via TripAdvisor. If I’m going to spend the $, I want to feel confident in my activity choice. I research lodging, activities, & restaurants. I’ve had several enjoyable trips in the past several years thanks to my TripAdvisor obsession :-p

    Unfortunately, in this case there are two areas that will cost more than I wanted. First, boarding my dog. My Dad/gma can’t take her, and I can’t ask anyone else to watch her. She gets very nervous in new places & has potty problems. I’d rather pay for boarding & save my relationships lol. Second, getting to & from the train station. Our train leaves at 7:45am on a Sunday & none of our friends/family are willing to drive us downtown at 6am on their day off. We return late mid-week. And again, no one wants to haul downtown when they have to work the next day. So we’ll pay the $10/day & park our car at the train station. No public transport options & taxis cost more than parking.

    Ok, sorry for the lost post! 😉

    • Donna Freedman

      If you’re staying in the Harris Family Hostel in Chicago, I second those great reviews. It’s clean, convenient and they serve you breakfast.
      Hope you have a great time.

      • Is that Hostelling International? If so, that’s where we’re staying!

        • Donna Freedman

          I’m pretty sure that’s it. You can walk to the Art Institute pretty easily from there. Some of the rooms have the El passing by, but that never bothered me because once I’m asleep I’m really asleep.

          • I read that on the reviews as well so I talked with the manager & requested a private room away from the El. I’m also bringing earplugs & an eye mask.

          • Donna Freedman

            Good idea. The hostel I use in Philly is next door to a nightclub. They offer free earplugs at the desk. (It’s never bothered me, fortunately.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *