By Andrea Woroch
Saving on airfare is a big topic these days, especially as experts predict yet another increase in flights costs for 2013. While airfare and lodging represent the biggest chunk of travel costs, there are a host of other expenses that beg to be reduced, too.
I travel frequently for business and have family on the opposite coast. I’m constantly looking for ways to shave costs and have come up with the following advice for saving on travel extras.
1. Airport Parking
Parking at the airport seems like no big deal during quick trips, even when rates run from $12 to $30 per day. For long trips, however, there are many affordable parking lots often overlooked at your home airport. Many of these cheap parking places offer direct shuttle service with rates are as low as $3.99 per day. Check AirportReservationsParking.com for a list of places to park on the cheap, and don’t forget to search for a coupon code to save on the $5 service fee.
2. Rental Cars
Be sure to broaden your search when looking for rental cars. I recently reserved a standard car for less than the cost of an economy car, something I’d have missed if I only searched for economy prices. Additionally, you can use the Coupon Sherpa mobile app to save on rentals from Hertz; they’re current offer is $5 off weekday or weekend rentals.
3. Passport Services
Sadly, the government doesn’t offer discounts on the pricey process of passport acquisition. However, you can trim the cost of your passport photo by taking it yourself. There are several guidelines associated with taking passport photos, but this detailed video from CNET covers offers a step-by-step guide to save on this application necessity.
4. Checked Baggage Fees
Fees for checked baggage cost anywhere from $15 to upwards of $100, depending on what you’re packing and how heavy it is. The best way to avoid this extra cost is to fly Southwest or JetBlue which offer complimentary checked bags. As a UnitedChase Visa cardholder, I get my first United bag checked for free too, so consider this perk when shopping for mileage cards.
For business travelers, time is money and anything we can do to get through the sometime endless security queues is tempting. The CLEAR program is a good option if you’re departing airport is Denver, Orlando, Dallas, Westchester or San Francisco. For $179 per year, you can zip through security after a quick eye scan to verify your information.
6. Inflight Wifi
If your flight offers Internet access at 30,000 feet, you may be tempted to log on for work or chat with friends on Facebook. Rates for this perk are about $8 per hour and can add up to nearly $30 during long flights. Before you take off, check to see if the Internet provider has any promotions or coupon codes. For instance, Gogo Inflight Wifi is currently offering two, all-day Jet Set passes for just $20 via their Facebook page. If you wait until you’re airborne, you won’t be able to access the offer.