The frugal traveler

Recently I’ve  been doing a lot of traveling and I’ve been trying to be as frugal as possible.  What has been become strikingly clear is the one place I can make a consistent dent in my travel spending is in transportation to and from the airport. Traveling to and from the airport can be so expensive because the rates you might pay for taxi cabs can be up to ten times higher than you might pay for public transit.

Ask for a ride = free

I do this all the time and routinely save $50 per round trip.  It’s always helpful to return the favor if you’re ever asked!  Once you get to your destination, if you’re going to visit friends in an unfamiliar city, you can always pull the “I don’t know how to get around” card and ask them to pick you at the airport as well. If you’re with a group of friends and your friend doesn’t have an eight passenger vehicle, you might want to consider other options.

Investigate public transportation options

I was stuck without a ride back from the airport a couple of weeks ago and decided to consider public transit options.  In Nashville the bus system is somewhat limited versus other cities I’ve lived in, but I did discover that I can get from my house to the airport in 50 minutes via bus.  There’s a stop right behind my house, as a matter of fact.  Who knows how much money I could have saved over the years by connecting the dots.  Also, in New York City where there are excellent public transportation options, you can easily save money by riding on the bus and the subway to Laguardia.  I strongly suggest using Google Maps to see if there are transit directions from the airport to your destination.  Often times there will be, surprisingly, as I learned.

Ask to share a cab

If you’ve got no other option than to take a cab once you’ve arrived, one option would be to share a cab with a stranger.  I realize this might be out of some people’s comfort zones, but I’ve had surprising success with this.  This can easily cut your cab bill by 50%.  Look for the cab line at the airport and approach some of the people in the line.  It’s best to approach other single travelers (of the same sex, guys) or couples and just lay it out there and say something like, “Hey where are you heading? I’m on a budget and I was wondering if you might be interested in sharing a cab? Where are you heading?”   Worst thing they can say is no.

Save money on cabs

Most cab drivers are essentially self-employed.  They pay a fixed fee to the cab company to rent their car for the month.  They have more flexibility than you think on rates.  It can’t hurt to try to negotiate a lower rate or a flat rate with them, particularly if you’re traveling at off peak times.

Thanks to Well Heeled for including this in her roundup for the Carnival of Personal Finance!

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