Traveling is one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have, but unfortunately, it’s also quite expensive at times. It’s easy to spend thousands of dollars on a vacation or trip, but not everyone has that kind of money available. Luckily, there are ways to save money while traveling so you can still enjoy your destination without having to break the bank.
If you know what you’re doing, there are ways to save money every step of the way when it comes to traveling. That means from the minute you decide that you want to do some traveling, you can start doing things to cut your travel costs. As soon as you turn on your computer or phone, there are money traps that you’ll want to know how to avoid. You can save money and cut your travel costs whether you are traveling by plane, car, bus, train, or any other way. You can save money by finding cheaper places to stay and you can also save money on things like food and sightseeing. There’s a lot to be learned from veteran travelers who have seen the world for a fraction of the price you’d expect to pay.
These tips will help you save money along every step of your journey. If you look for hacks to cut your costs in your everyday life, you can have more money to travel and not have to worry as much about your personal finances. Start saving ahead of time for your next vacation and use these 20 hacks to cut your travel costs in half.
20 Try Some Internet Tricks
There are a few things you can do before you begin searching for your flight online that can save money. The first trick is to clear your cache or enable private browsing.
Airlines keep track of your behavior, so they know if you look at prices on flights but don’t make a purchase.
If you come back to their website, chances are the price will be slightly higher since they know you’re specifically interested. You can just open up a new incognito window to save some cash. Another good trick is to use a VPN or Virtual Private Network. Make it appear as if you are browsing from another country like Germany, Japan, or the UK. This trick might not always work, but sometimes it does. It’s amazing how just doing a few tricks with your internet connection can save you some hard-earned money on booking your flight.
19 Use Search Engines To Find A Flight
Rather than going directly to the airline websites, the best way to search for flights is by using search engines. There are plenty of travel websites you can try searching, but there are also
search engines that are useful for finding the cheapest flights, such as Adioso, Skyscanner, and Google Flights.
You can choose to book your tickets through these engines or you can click through or go directly to the airline’s website. You might find that the prices are different on the actual airline site, so be careful before booking. That might work to your advantage, and you can also enter your frequent flyer information to see if you can get any discounts or upgrades. If two airlines are offering similar prices, you might want to choose the one with fewer connections or a faster arrival time. You can also opt for your preferred airline so you can rack up those points.
18 Take Advantage Of Sales Days
Certain airlines release sale fares on the same days of the week. Virgin Australia has a promotion known as Thursday Happy Hour, but those deals are only made known to customers who sign up with their email alerts. Jetstar airlines has a Friday Frenzy which is similar to the Virgin Australia offers. If you can wait a little while before booking, which is recommended, take advantage of websites that track fares. Sites like CheapAir.com or Airfare Watchdog will track fares for you and alert you when any prices drop. While it’s best not to wait too long to book your flight, giving yourself some time to wait for a sale or promotion is recommended. Booking early can often save you money, but using fare-tracking sites and waiting for sales is often your best bet. If you really want to go after it, then you can try to find patterns in when sales happen such as when they happened in previous years.
17 Get Yourself Bumped
This travel hack works great if you have plenty of time on your hands. If you need to be somewhere fast, then it won’t be for you. Lots of airlines overbook flights hoping that some people can’t or won’t show up. When flights fill up, they ask for volunteers to get bumped. What that means is that you’ll miss the flight you were booked for, but you’ll get on the next available flight. That could be an hour or a day, depending on where you’re going.
You’ll also receive certain perks such as free flights or credits.
If you aren’t at your home airport, you can also receive accommodation vouchers if you need to stay overnight to wait for your flight. You might even be able to stay at a hotel if you live in the same city so you won’t have to make the commute to the airport at another time.
16 Use Rewards Points
You can save up all your frequent flyer miles or points for many years and you may still not have enough to get a free flight. Unless you are a frequent traveler, those points often don’t add up fast enough to get a free trip before they expire. You might find that the best way to take advantage of those points is to use them on upgrades. You can book your flight in coach and then possibly upgrade to first class if you have enough points to do so. Points can also save you money when it comes to booking a hotel room. Almost every hotel chain has a rewards program, and if you stay there enough times, you can earn free nights. The same thing is true with hotels about using the points for upgrades if you don’t have enough for a free room. You can also use certain credit cards to earn hotel rewards points like the American Express Membership Rewards program.
15 $20 Sandwich
We aren’t talking some type of delicious sandwich, but a way to receive an upgrade to your room. This is a popular trick in Las Vegas but it might also work in other places. While it’s no guarantee, some people swear by the $20 sandwich trick. This gets its name because the way to do it is by
folding up a $20 bill and sandwiching it between your ID and credit card when handing them to the check-in agent at your hotel. You should accompany it by asking a question such as “Do you have any complimentary upgrades?”
Sometimes, they will return your tip, and sometimes, they’ll keep it without doing anything for you. Other times, you might find yourself getting a nice upgrade to a room with a few other premium amenities that would cost much more than $20. Since this trip is popular in Vegas, the sandwiching of the money is so that the cameras don’t see it.
Sometimes, staying at a hotel isn’t the best way to save money while traveling. Staying at someone’s house or condo can be more luxurious and cheaper. Use Airbnb or one of its competitors so you can live like a local. This also allows you to save money on food because you’ll likely have access to a full kitchen to cook your own meals (or at least use the fridge and microwave to not waste leftovers). A homeowner won’t charge you extra to use the internet connection, and depending on the place you stay in, you may be able to use things like bicycles or kayaks. Those who rent out their homes often try to provide nice little extras as well. You can ask advice on places to see or where to eat as well. At least check with sites like Airbnb to compare to how they stack up against hotel chains for your next trip.
13 Take A Cruise
Cruises may be seen as a popular method of travel for older adults, but they can be a lot of fun. There are plenty of specialty cruises like musical festivals on a ship or where you can hobnob with your favorite celebrities like the Gronkowski family. If you are looking for a cheap cruise,
try a re-positioning cruise. When cruise ships need to relocate to a new starting point, they sell discounted tickets to board the ship and travel to the new location.
You can even take a one-way cruise to a destination and then take a one-way flight back home. Many cruises are all inclusive so you won’t have to worry about spending money on food and drinks. With so many areas being accessible by the vast oceans, it doesn’t make sense to completely dismiss traveling by boat altogether. Even if you find that it’s not for you, you’ll remember the experience, and there’s nothing quite like being in the middle of the ocean.
12 Ground Transportation Options
Depending on where you’re going, public transportation may or may not be a good option to get around. While America doesn’t have a lot of trains to get you where you need to go, many countries do have them. There are plenty of options including trains, buses, taxis, rental cars, and rideshares. Do your research on travel websites or use apps to help you find the cheapest and fastest ways to get around?
You don’t have to stick to one method of travel, feel free to mix and match to save money and time.
Ask around if you’re traveling somewhere new and find out the most popular ways that locals travel. You might find that renting a car may still be your best option, but in many cases, it’s not. Traveling by train is also a great way to get around to different areas or even different countries. You might fly into one country and travel by train or bus to another before returning home.
11 Rental Car Tips
If you find that a rental car is the way to get around at your destination, there are still ways to save money. Look for relocation car rentals, which means that you are helping out a rental car by driving one of their one-way rentals back to its original location. Sometimes, you can get ridiculously low rates that include fuel and don’t make you pay any fees. If you can’t find that type of deal, look for smaller rental car companies which often have better prices. Skip out on rental car insurance as long as your private auto insurance policy covers it. Some credit cards also have coverage for rental cars, so you don’t need to double down on paying for it. Rentals cars don’t have to break the bank if you know how to look for deals and not fall into certain traps like rental insurance. You can stick with the base model to save extra money as well.
10 Carry A Water Bottle
In the United States, we tend to take water for granted. While many Americans carry water bottles around, this tip can save you money when traveling to foreign countries. Several countries don’t have safe drinking water, so carrying your own water bottle with a built-in filter can save you a good amount of money. Instead of having to buy water everywhere you go, you’ll always have it with you and you won’t have to spend any money after your initial investment of buying the water bottle. Depending on the size and features you want, you may be able to find a water bottle with a built-in filter for as little as $5. You could spend that on one or two disposable water bottles, so imagine having to buy five or six every day and how much that could cost you. If you’re traveling during the summer, it’s especially important to stay hydrated, so be sure to try this tip.
9 Find Free Things To Do
No matter where you go, there are plenty of things to do that will cost you little or no money at all. Many cities offer free local walking tours but you’ll want to do your research ahead of time. Checking out nature usually doesn’t cost you very much money, and that includes spending a day at the beach. If you bring your own lunch and water, a beach day can cost you next to nothing. Check out the popular tourist attractions as many historical landmarks don’t cost much to view, and tours may or may not cost a nominal fee.
Try doing a search for “free things to do in…” and enter your destination and see what comes up.
If there is a particular attraction you want to see such as a theme park, spend most of your money on that and then do free things to take up the rest of your vacation.
8 Use Alternative Airports
Just because you might live relatively close to one airport doesn’t mean it’ll be the cheapest to use it. Even if you have to drive a little farther to another airport, you may save money on your airline tickets. You can also take advantage of “hidden” airports, which means that they won’t show up when you search for flights on most search engines. Try apps like TripCombi to find these hidden airports that often have cheaper rates. You should also consider thinking outside of the box when it comes to airports. Just because you land at one particular airport doesn’t mean you have to return from the same one. Sometimes, it pays to travel to a nearby city and then hop on a plane from there. There are certain regions where airports are quite frequent, but sometimes, you don’t have much of a choice. Take enough time to explore all your options before committing to buying airline tickets.
7 Save On Baggage Fees
Nobody likes paying for their bags when traveling by air. If you can’t or don’t want to travel on an airline like Southwest where bags fly free, there are other tips and tricks that you can try. Wearable luggage like luggage jackets have become popular and allow for plenty of room to bring things with you on your person. You’ll also want to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to your luggage bags themselves.
Sometimes, more expensive bags will have more compartments and room for storage, so they’ll pay for themselves after a couple of flights.
Other times, you won’t have to spend too much on roomy luggage so be sure to shop around. Try to pack as lightly as possible so you can save those extra baggage fees for some spending money on your vacation. Airlines try to fool you by offering a sale but then counting on the fact that you’ll end up paying extra fees for your luggage.
6 Use Apps
We know there are apps for almost everything these days, and that certainly includes traveling. Instead of buying a map or travel guide, you can probably find one for free on your smartphone or tablet. Apps can help you save money every step of the way, including booking your flight and hotel, finding a ride, finding cheap or free things to do, searching for the best affordable restaurants, and so much more. There are also apps for keeping in touch with friends and family back home if you are traveling internationally. Instead of paying ridiculous rates for a phone call, try apps like Skype or WhatsApp. Be sure to take advantage of free WiFi and use a VPN to protect yourself when traveling. Don’t forget your phone charger or you’ll have to buy a new one and make sure your phone has plenty of room to download all those travel apps.
5 Visit Jump-Off Cities
A jump-off city is somewhere you can travel to and visit two destinations in one trip. An example of this would be going to Las Vegas to party and then going to visit the Grand Canyon to unwind. Since these destinations are about 250 miles apart, you can fly into Vegas (there’s no major airport near the Grand Canyon) and then rent a car to travel to the canyon. From there, you could drive back to Vegas or perhaps go to Phoenix if flights are cheaper out of there. Another good option is to travel to San Francisco and then extend your vacation by visiting California’s wine country. The east coast has cities that are closer together if you want to try this creative way to travel. A two-for-one trip is a good idea and you won’t get tired of being in one place for too long.
4 Pay Attention To Hotel Fees
Much like airlines, hotels also have hidden costs and fees that you may not even know you’re paying for. Depending on the hotel, you may notice certain charges listed on your bill. Some of the nicer hotels in New York, for example, may have listed fees including occupancy/tourism tax, internet service, and newspaper delivery among others.
Make sure you ask the attendant for all of the fees associated with the room to be disclosed when you check in.
Decline anything you don’t want or need like newspaper delivery and avoid using the phone in your room if possible, unless you’re calling down to the front desk. Almost everyone has a cellphone, so there really isn’t a reason to use the room phone at all. If you have to call someone long distance back home, use an app or buy a prepaid calling card and use a public phone outside of your hotel room.
3 Know Where To Fill Up Your Gas Tank
One travel cost that adds up fast is gasoline. Whether you’re taking a long road trip or just driving around at your destination, knowing where to get the best prices on gas can save you a lot of money. Two gas stations on opposite corners of the same intersection can have dramatically different prices, and many stations take advantage of their location. If you come to a gas station in the middle of nowhere, chances are it will cost a lot more for a gallon of gas than a station in a busy area.
Gas stations near the highway are often more expensive as well because they know you need to gas up before you start your trip.
Map out the best gas stations and plan ahead where you’ll fill up. Sites like gasbuddy.com allow you to find the cheapest gas station near you at any given time to save some cash.
2 Eat A Big Lunch
Food can be a major travel expense. You likely want to experience the local cuisine where you are traveling, and finding some mom-and-pop style diners is typically pretty affordable. One way to save money on meals while traveling is to make lunch your main meal of the day. Many restaurants serve the same items for lunch and dinner, but they mark up the prices some 30% for dinner. Dinner is the meal that most diners will also splurge on expensive wine or other cocktails. Eating a bigger lunch will fill you up and save you money. You can still have a smaller or more affordable dinner, and it’s often not hard to find a good breakfast for a reasonable price. If you are staying somewhere with a kitchen, you can take advantage of that for breakfast and dinner but go out to a nice relaxing lunch to treat yourself.
1 Travel During Off-Seasons
One of the biggest ways to cut your travel costs in half is to travel during the off-season. If you travel during the busy season, typically around the holidays, almost everything will cost you more.
That means plane tickets, hotels, and food will be more expensive as well as gas to fuel up your vehicle.
Europe is a good place to travel during winter because there are relatively few tourists, and accommodations come at a discounted rate. Travel to the Caribbean during the summer, which is cheaper, because it’s considered hurricane season so be sure to go at your own risk and pay attention to any alerts. Many times, you’ll be able to experience more for less because destinations don’t close down, they just offer discounted rates. Most places will also be less crowded so you’ll be able to enjoy yourself more. You won’t have to wait in long lines or pay premiums for traveling during the busier times of the year.