Saving Big Money on Trips!


A colleague (lets call him Dave) and I travelled to the same conference for three nights in Portland, Oregon from Washington Dulles (pictured right). Leaving aside the airfare, it cost my colleague for his accommodation and expenses in Portland $1081.00! It cost me $446.20.  


How did I save the $634.80?

Don't travel with baggage -I am going to write a separate blog article on how I travelled for two years now with only carry-on!  In the meantime, suffice to say, no baggage reduces time hassles, and charges for check in. I brought my boarding pass with me, wheeled my small case on board and walked straight off the plane.  Dave paid $25 for his bag both ways --$50 round -trip

Find reduced hotel rates  by looking at Hotels.com, Zuji.com kayak.com,  expedia.com.  In Portland, Dave used the conference hotel for $165 a night. I am confident enough to use Priceline.com (an online tool where you bid for hotels in a city but you don't know the hotel until your bid has been accepted. I use it to get hotels in Asia, Canada, Europe, UK, and USA, having checked the aforementioned websites first). In this case, I was amused to find that I was staying at the official Conference Hotel but paying $99 a night! - saving $66 a night over Dave!

Join the Hotel Rewards/Frequent Traveller Scheme- members get special deals and the more you travel, the better the deals. They can  include free stays, free drinks, free internet. In this case, I could not earn any points because I had booked with Priceline. To add insult to Dave's injury, when I checked in, the hotel offered me as a member of their Rewards Program,  an upgrade to a suite for an extra $42 a night (including taxes).  So I ended up staying in a room five times bigger than Dave for less than his closet sized room. In addition, there were some other freebies with the upgrade including free Internet and local calls. Hotel internet cost Dave $22.95 a day.

I always look for Starbucks or Mcdonalds or a cafe with free Internet before I will pay for Internet in my hotel room. Sometimes the hotel may offer free wifi in the lobby. Be warned. I was in a very swish hotel in Singapore (using Priceline) and wandered down to the lobby bar to use the free wifi and have a drink. The cheapest drink at this hotel was $14! If you travel regularly, get a mobile broadband account.

Also, look for apartments. I use apartments a lot and I like them because I can feel at home,  wash clothes and spread out  If there are a number of you traveling, an apartment is much cheaper than multiple hotel rooms. Renting an apartment, means I can cook in my room which has been fun. I like cooking and have had guests over in some very interesting places, saving even more money!

Use Public Transit 
On arrival at Portland airport, I trundled my suitcase off the plane, ignored the frustrated faces waiting at baggage and went to the TriMet ticket machine to buy a public transit ride into downtown. My Light rail fare is $2.30. I then walked the short walk to the light rail line. After a 7 minute wait, the ride is then 40 minutes but I can work and read on the light rail easily and I answer emails all the way in. Its a 3 minute walk to my hotel.

Dave having waited at  the airport for his luggage then picks up his car. The car collection process takes about 20 minutes and the drive to downtown about 25.  Dave's car cost $294.00 plus fuel. He then garaged it at the hotel (it never left the entire time) at a cost of $75.00 plus tips. His transfer cost $369.00 plus tips and fuel - mine - $4.60. There is transit at many airports-consider it as an option before car rental and taxis. There are times when I will opt for the more expensive option when the PT option is not as convenient.

In the USA when I do rent cars I use Priceline for Car Rental Savings-works fine for simple round trip rentals. Elsewhere and the USA I use Vroomvroomvroom which is a brilliant car rental site-saves me heaps of money and allows me to compare all of the options in a location. (sometimes Vroomvroomvroom has been cheaper than Priceline!).

Dave enjoyed a buffet breakfast each morning in the hotel for $24.95. I went to the nearest supermarket and bought cereal, milk, juice and fruit for $18.60. I stored the cold things in my fridge (check your hotel policy).  I saved $55.35! Plus buffet breakfasts lead to over-indulgence of unhealthy foods. When I travel as much as I do, I am trying to reduce my calorie intake and stay healthy! I eat the cereal from a cup using a handy utensil i travel with which is combined spoon, fork, knife. Not classy but healthy and cheap. I have taken those packet soups for lunch which again is not classy but can save money plus picnic supplies from supermarkets cut the costs again!

Dave and I had the same meals for lunch and dinner.


Where did I save the money?

Baggage:  $50
Hotel and internet: $140.85 -had i not taken the upgrade, it could have been more.
Transfers:   a massive $387.70
Breakfasts:  $56.25


Consider the money I saved could pay for another 4 nights in the location!


Any other tips that you have found?

(photo is taken on flight from PDX to IAD)


By the way, Portland is a great city- one of my fave cities:-



3 Responses
  1. jayne Says:

    Great advice!

    Vroomvroomvroom sounds like a great find!

    I've had terrific luck with hotels.com. I don't like bidding on hotels, so hotels.com has been a great way to find good deals. I also look when I buy my plane ticket online to see if the airline is going to offer any hotel deals - there are some GREAT deals out there, especially when I'm going to a really high-priced city.

    Careful with that "super" public transit in Portland. It's great if you stay in a very small space within downtown Portland, on weekdays. But if you want to get adventurous and go to any surrounding areas, or need it to go to meetings out on the fringes, make absolutely sure the light rail or bus will be running regularly. Also, only very particular bikes are allowed, and must be hung from a hook inside the train -- something to keep in mind if you decide to enjoy the supposedly bike friendly town. I'm still looking for those "friendly people" in Portland...


  2. I assure you the friendly people are there...yeah hotels.com are great...watch the airfare + hotel deals,..sometimes very good and sometimes its a rip off!
    the lesson is compare but as I said yesterday put a limit on the time you spend on your comparing!


  3. Vivutravel Says:

    Thank you for your advice !! This article has been written in 2010 but still useful now <3


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