I consider myself a fairly seasoned traveler. Yet, I will confess—I have made every one of these five common travel mistakes! I have learned better both through trial-and-error (not my favorite way) and helpful input from other travelers. Now I pass what I have learned on to you—happy budget winter travels!

1. Flying on the wrong days

Flying on the wrong days can literally break your travel budget. To sidestep this common mistake, think like an airline that needs to make sure every seat is full.

To get the best prices, avoid flying on these two extremely popular travel days!

  • Fridays
  • Sundays

Instead, book lower-priced flights on these three less popular travel days.

  • Tuesdays
  • Wednesdays
  • Saturdays

2. Traveling during peak travel days 

During the holidays in particular, booking your travel during "peak" (high demand) travel days is a surefire recipe for flight delays, overbooking and full-price flights. Instead, try to leave just a bit before or after the peak times.

Examples:

  • Leave two days before a long holiday weekend begins (for instance, leave on Thursday instead of Friday to travel over Memorial Day weekend).
  • Leave the week after Labor Day.
  • Visit major national or theme parks just before the summer, winter or holiday crush begins or after it ends.
  • Travel on Christmas Day (not on Christmas Eve) or two days after Christmas.

3. Not using the most beneficial travel planning site

Old habits die hard, and if you’re comfortable using a certain travel planning tool, you may be slow to change. Your budget will not thank you for this. The new breed of travel planning sites is nearly indistinguishable from a travel agent—they do just about everything an experienced agent could do, but they do it virtually, on demand and for free.

Example: Carryon.com

What it does: This site uses travel rewards, crowd-sourcing and price-watching to find the lowest price on everything you need to travel on a budget.

What to do:

  • Visit www.carryon.com.
  • Perform a search in the category of your choice to find the lowest price.
  • Book it, OR…
  • Set an alert to "watch" the price and receive an alert when it drops.
  • Carryon.com will continue searching once per day until you book or cancel the alert.
  • Every time you book, refer friends and they book, or you share an offer you like, you earn points towards future, free travel.

4. Not calculating the daily rate in advance 

Airlines and hotels are notorious for hiding the true daily rate from guests. If you don't check, you could discover after check-in that Wi-Fi is 10-$20 per day (as is parking), it costs extra to use the workout facilities, and in addition to your room rate, you will be assessed a daily "resort fee" (particularly problematic when you stay near major theme parks or very popular tourist attractions).

  • What to do: Find a nice, clean budget-rate hotel instead. For most middle – low priced hotel chains, the room fee is all-inclusive (except for taxes) and you might even score a daily free continental breakfast!

Note: Speaking of which, food is one of the biggest cash drains during a typical vacation. Find a budget hotel with a fridge, microwave and kitchen amenities to save big-time on vacation meals!

5. Assuming hotels are cheaper than vacation rentals 

Again, your comfort zone is not your friend. Increasingly, enterprising folks are renting out their own homes to travelers—and often charging less than traditional hotels (and nothing for extras).

Example: VRBO.com

What it does: This is another virtual travel site that is totally free to use and assesses no booking fees. The site advertises lodging for "half the price of a hotel."

What to do:

  • Visit www.vrbo.com.
  • Search to find an available property in the right area.
  • Contact the owner if you need more information, OR…
  • Simply book the property.
  • VRBO.com has its own secure payment process through HomeAway.

Note: If you want to earn extra cash to fund your trip, consider renting out your home through VRBO.com while you are away on vacation!

 

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Winter Vacation