1. Swipe it. We’re usually big proponents of using your debit card, but when traveling overseas you might want to stick to hard plastic. Your credit card usually offers a better exchange rate than your bank debit card because Visa, MasterCard and American Express use their size to push for the best deal. Just make sure you use a credit card that won’t charge you an extra 1% to 3% currency conversion fee. Bonus: it’s safer than traveling with a ton of cash!
2. Room service. It may be the easiest method, but when booking your hotel room do not book online or by calling the toll-free reservation number. You’ll speak with a reservations desk who has no authority to give you a discounted rate. That’s right: take it to the top. Wait until Sundays around 4:00 p.m. local time to call the hotel directly; typically, that’s when the hotel revenue managers who usually set and control the room rates are not working. Ask to speak with a manager or supervisor. Now you have the ear of a person with whom you can negotiate the price.
3. Ticket to ride: According to a study by FareCompare.com, Tuesday at 3:00pm Eastern time is the best time to buy airline tickets and shop for domestic travel. This is because weekend fare hikes have had a chance to return to normal, even less than normal. But be careful as most of these discounted airfare rates are pulled on Thursdays — so if you wait to buy on the weekend you’re going to pay too much.
4. Wednesday is the new Friday: Multiple studies have shown that Wednesday is the cheapest day to fly, most likely because it falls between long weekends. So if you’re planning on taking Thursday off anyway for a four-day weekend, why not book a flight for Wednesday night? Or, for four-day weekends going the other way, fly back early Wednesday morning; the cheapest time to fly is typically the first flight out in the morning at 6:00am. Sure, you’ll be a little sleepy at work, but you’ll rest easy knowing you scored the cheapest flight possible.
5. Save your suit: Bought a new bathing suit for your trip, maybe even on sale? Before you wear it for the first time, soak your swimwear for 30 minutes in a mixture of vinegar and water (1 tablespoon vinegar per 1 quart water). Vinegar helps set the color and prevent fading from chlorine and sunlight. Once you’ve broken it in, continue to hand wash with gentle detergent and line-dry; the agitation and heat from washing machines and dryers will cause the fibers to break down more quickly.