15 Vacation Hacks for Your Best Trip Ever

Save your sanity—and your $$.

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"Traveling is all about enjoying the journey" is...bullshit. Because we all know that going on a vacation isn't *actually* enjoyable until the minute you arrive. (And even then you're probably stressing out a bit.)

To make sure everything goes as smoothly and costs as little $$ as possible, we caught up with Expedia expert Ingrid Belobradic for some expert tips.

Fly Saturday to Tuesday

"To increase your chances of getting a better, cheaper seat, travel during off-peak flight times. Avoid the businessman's cross-country commute and opt for a Saturday to Tuesday itinerary for a long weekend. These routes are also likely to be less expensive so you can use your savings on, say, spa experiences."

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Fly through a smaller airport

"Find your desired flight path using a smaller regional airport (for example, Long Beach Airport or John Wayne Airport versus LAX). Oftentimes, smaller airports will be less crowded making it more likely there will be more seats available at the gate."

Buy everything together

"Book your flight and hotel, flight and rental car, rental car and hotel, whatever the combination *together* to save major bucks. You can save up to $570 this way."

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Try for an upgrade even if you don't have points

"If you're looking for an upgrade but don't have the points or the status to make it happen, find an airline that offers cheap upgrades. Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Virgin America offer reasonable, last-minute economy to business fares."

Schmooze

"Unlike the common saying, nice guys don't always finish last. Positively interacting with gate agents and flight attendants could earn you major brownie points and could even land you a spot in the front of the plane or that corner room with a view."

Yes, go for the rewards-program song and dance

"Sign up for rewards programs for airlines, hotel brands, and online travel agencies. All of them not only qualify you for upgrades, but you'll be among the first to learn about special sales and deals reserved for rewards members. Think: free breakfast, spa sessions, and discounts on local concerts and events."

Use your credit card in your favor

"Some credit cards offer travel and dining rewards redeemable for experiences on vacation or cash back, just by swiping for your everyday purchases like groceries and clothes. So go ahead, buy those new shoes. Now you have another reason."

Breeze through security and customs

"If you are impatient and hate your life when going through an airport, sign up for TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry. These programs allows for expedited clearance through security when arriving for your flight, as well as bypassing long customs lines upon arrival in the United States. Skipping the security line allows you more time to relax before your flight and maybe grab a last-minute drink before you board. (Just, you know, as an idea.)"

Apps make things easier

"If you booked with an aggregator app or directly through an airline or hotel that has a dedicated app, consider keeping it handy throughout your trip for easy access to important notifications—like a gate change or a flight delay."

Suck it up and buy the traveler's insurance

"From unpredictable weather to unforeseen medical emergencies, travel insurance is a real deal. Often overlooked, it not only ensures trip protection, but also enables customers to adapt to changing plans without crazy expenses down the road. (Because someone telling you it'll be $800 to rebook your flight is not at all okay.)"

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The 2015 Way to Travel on the Cheap

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