Online travel sales set to reach Dh17.3b in UAE
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Here is your guide to saving money when you travel

When you’re booking:

1. Book on a Sunday, six weeks to 4 months ahead of your trip

When it comes to the best day of the week to book your trip, various experts have suggested that booking on a Sunday is your best bet. Many online booking agencies adjust their prices then. The best time during the day to book is from 11am onwards. Book 4 months in  advance for the best prices, up to 6 weeks in advance. Obviously, the early birds get the worm. 

2. Set a price tracker

Finding a cheap flight may sometimes require the expertise of stock trading. You need to study the market. Figure out the cheapest months to fly, get to know what the regular fare costs are, and you'll learn how to spot a bargain. One of the tools I use is a price tracker. Select which flight you want to track and you get email notifications every time the price goes down.

3. Be flexible and travel during off-peak times

Try to be flexible with the timings that you choose to book your holidays. Mid-march is always a great time, or right after the summer break ends when hotels, airfares and local excursions are all less expensive. According to SkyScanner, the cheapest months to travel according to experts are: October, January, February and September and October. Booking in June tends to be the most expensive month, where flights are as much as 10 per cent more than the yearly average.

4. Browse different booking sites

While making reservations, don’t stick to one booking site, because they have all your info conveniently saved. Look all over the internet to make sure that you get the best possible deal before making a final decision.

Right before you travel:

5. Avoid currency exchange on airports

Airports make a lot of money from their exchanges, because of how high the mark up is. So you have to plan ahead and exchange your local currency in advance around your city. If you have lots of time, then check the exchange rates online to know when the best time is to buy the currency you need.

6. Sign up for local discount websites

As soon as you’ve picked your destination, check out local websites like Groupon that offer coupons on meals, clubs, shopping and even spas. You’ll get a fair idea of how expensive the city is and at the same time, pick up some exciting discounts.

7. Bring your own snacks

I definitely encourage you to try the food in any place you visit, but if you want to save some money, definitely pack some non-perishable snacks from home, that could sustain you in between meals. We recommend bags of cereal, which you can easily have for breakfast, dinner or just as a snack. Just buy some milk from the local supermarket and store it in the hotel fridge.

8. Plan your own excursions

This might require some time and planning from your end, but will end up saving you cash, so you are not dependent on a tour guide, who may take you to more expensive activities. While in some countries it may be appropriate to take part in tours and excursions through a website, you don’t necessarily need to follow that rule throughout your trip. Plan your own day out, with stops at museums, shops and of course, restaurants.

9. Travel overnight

This is a great option for young enthusiastic travelers who have the energy, and also know how to sleep on airplanes. Tickets at night are usually cheaper than those during the more commonly travelled hours of the day.

When you’re there:

10. Avoid touristy restaurants

Most restaurants that have English menus will likely be more expensive than local ones, which probably serve better food for less money. See if you can find places with short, handwritten menus and go for the daily specials.

11. Eat more lunch and less dinner

Eat more at lunch time than at dinner time. Most of the time lunches out are less expensive than dinners. For dinner, opt for a takeaway sandwich or salad from a local supermarket.

12. Reap the benefits of your age

Many countries offer special discounts for students as well as senior citizens for numerous facilities like metro transport, bus passes, lunch meals and drinks. Be sure to carry your ID cards to take advantage of these privileges.

13. Buy a local sim card

Many people are now following a trend of purchasing a local sim-card to avoid the sky-high rates of international calling. It is advised to use a local number for all your phone conversations as well as for data services.

14. Save on commuting

Walk! Walking is not only the best way to explore a city, but also cuts down on transportation costs drastically. In case the city is not pedestrian friendly, you can opt for metro passes and bus passes.

15. Tax refund policies at airports

Airports have a special section for tourists who can recover the taxes they paid on their expenses in the foreign country. Keep your shopping bills and food bills intact as you can get tax refund at the airport before you leave the country.