By Madeline Bilis
May 11, 2019
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When it comes to figuring out how to save money while traveling, there’s no better collective wisdom to tap than our very own A-List. Travel + Leisure’s assemblage of the world’s top travel advisors offers a wellspring of travel tips and tricks, including how to get the best deals while planning trips.

From tried-and-true suggestions, like reaping the benefits of shoulder season, to more under-the-radar insights, like booking longer stays for discounts, we sourced more than a dozen ways to make seeing the world easier on your wallet. Ahead, 14 A-List members share what to do to save money on your next vacation.

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“Prioritize! Budget for your priorities, whether that’s convenience, great food, comfortable accommodations, or activities, and don’t skimp on them. Then you can save money on all of the less important details — buy food at a grocery store for a local picnic, stay in a backcountry refugio, or take the less desirable flight connections that are half the price. Once you know what makes an experience wonderful for you, it’s easy to save money because you’re not wasting funds on everyone else’s priorities that don’t add a lot to your personal experience.” —Mary Curry, Adventure Life

“Italy in high season, for example, is expensive and crowded. So my first suggestion is to travel in cooler months, from November through March. Seaside hotels may be closed, but cities are vibrant, especially around the holidays when you only hear Italian being spoken in the streets. You might also consider booking longer stays or prepaying for them. Hotels give discounts if you stay four nights, and sometimes, they may charge for just three. I’ve seen them give discounts as high as 20 percent. Finally, forget the bragging rights. Avoid Positano, Portofino, and Taormina. Rent a car and explore the smaller villages with names you can't pronounce. You will find friendly people, better deals, and a warmer welcome.” —Joyce Falcone, the Italian Concierge

“The saying ‘Time is money,’ is true — so when looking at hotels central to sightseeing, you’ll also want to think ‘location, location, location.’ Pay a little more to stay where you can walk as many places as possible. The inexpensive Airbnb or budget hotel that involves spending 30 or more minutes navigating public transport just to get to a destination amounts to no savings in the long run. You spent a lot of money to get where you’re going and you’re likely only there for a few days. Do you really want to use up a big chunk of your time traveling to what you really came to see and do?” —Ellen LeCompte, LeCompte Travel

“Book as early as possible. You can access early booking specials, lock in your preferred rooms in the smaller boutique hotels, and find unique experiences that are highly sought after. Cruises release schedules far ahead of time, as do allotments in lodges and properties around Southeast Asia. Aim to book at least 18 months in advance if you can.” —Jack Tydeman, Audley Travel

“I always advise seeking out more cost-efficient charming boutique hotels rather than five-star luxury hotel operations. Sure, your hotel may not have multiple restaurants by famous chefs, the latest in luxury amenities, or endless room options, but you’ll instead gain attentiveness to detail, quaintness, and the fun personality that is normally associated with boutique accommodations. Also, bring your friends and family! The more people in your group, the easier it is to arrange discounts for your hotel stays.” —Jarrod Hobson, ATJ

“For repeat visitors to Italy, you should explore the lesser-known regions. Italy has plenty of hidden gems that are not super popular and quite affordable. The Gargano region in Puglia, for instance, has a coastline that rivals the Amalfi Coast, and Bergamo, a city north of Milan, has a thriving culture scene. When you visit unknown parts of Italy, luxury hotels generally cost 30 percent less than they do in more touristy regions. There’s that, and the restaurants are more reasonably priced.” —Andrea Grisdale, IC Bellagio

“Plan ahead. That gives you an edge because everyone is traveling, everyone sees the same Instagram pictures, and people have this ‘right now’ mentality. They don't want to save up for 10 years and then take that dream vacation — they want to live in the now because you never know what tomorrow might bring. I also personally love traveling in the shoulder season. Positano in October is so much more enjoyable than July. Go to Patagonia in March and you’ll have the place to yourself and save a considerable amount of money in the process. Consider shortening your trip, too, so you have a quality time versus quantity of time.” Jim Augerinos, Perfect Honeymoons

“Always use a travel advisor. They know better than any traveler how to get the most value out of your vacation, not only through the best deals but through value-added amenities like on-property credits, complimentary food and beverages, and even unique experiences for their guests. At Valerie Wilson Travel, we offer a proprietary program called Suite Access, which guarantees a minimum of $200 on-property credit, along with a welcome amenity, complimentary WiFi, complimentary breakfast, and a free VIP experience or a customized local experience. It means even the shortest two-night stays become memorable and valuable.” —Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, Valerie Wilson Travel

“Travel in the off season! Peak season in certain destinations, like summer in Europe or winter in the Caribbean, have not only become extremely expensive, but are also so crowded that they can’t be enjoyed as they should be. Locals tend to be more willing to share their hometowns with tourists during the quieter slow seasons rather than trying to power through the madness. The best hotels can be hundreds of dollars less per night than in the off season. (I've seen up to $1,000 per night less!) There are, of course, certain "no go" times: the heart of hurricane season in the Caribbean or the dead of winter in the Amalfi Coast or Greek isles, when much is closed. But shoulder season, when the weather is good but the crowds have either not yet arrived or just left, is heaven.” —Louisa Gehring, Gehring Travel

“Pick destinations that offer good currency conversion value. During high season in Santiago, Chile, for example, the cost per night in one of the five-star hotels is lower than a nice dinner for two in New York City. —Amalia Lazarov, Travelicious Travel

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“Hotel rates in London soar from May through July. From early September to the end of February, however, they drop slightly. If colder temperatures don’t bother you, January is the cheapest month to visit. Splurge on tea, save on lunch and dinner. Enjoy a sumptuous afternoon tea at a five-star hotel so you can miss out on lunch and have a lighter dinner. Most of London’s museums are free with an entry fee only required for some specific exhibitions. Soak up a city’s atmosphere and ditch the car and travel on foot. Not only will you see more, spend less time in traffic, but you’ll also benefit from the walk!” —Nicola Butler, Noteworthy

“In the online world we live in, it is true that you can book travel yourself — but why would you want to? Working with a travel advisor brings added value to every trip. In addition to saving you the time and stress of planning, their global connections allows them to make you VIPs at luxury hotels, on cruise lines, on tours, and beyond. Working with an expert means you’ll enjoy everything from upgrades to complimentary breakfasts, resort credits to shipboard credits, backstage experiences, private sales, the very best service and treatment — no matter where you travel.” —Susan Sparks, Points of Interest Travel

“Know which destinations are best to avoid on the weekends or holidays to skirt price increases and crowds. I often strategically plan trips to particular areas to fall outside of busy times. For example, Hiroshima and the beautiful island of Miyajima are excellent places to visit in Japan but will be touristy on the weekends. I try to make trips to those spots fall mid-week. Staying on Miyajima is a very special experience, so booking far in advance helps you secure rooms in its small, charming accommodations.” —Tesia Smith, Audley Travel

“Find local spots to dine at. Not only will mom-and-pop places save you money on your next vacation, but they’ll also allow for more opportunities for unique moments and cultural interactions. Some of the best memories are when meals are shared locally.” —Christina Turrini, Frosch Travel

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