Traveling is one of life's greatest joys, but the cost can seem prohibitive to many people. It doesn't have to be that way! There are plenty of incredibly helpful tips and tricks to save money while traveling. From flight deals to finding a cheap hotel room and bringing your own food - there are a lot of hacks to make your budget stretch further.
This article will lay out ten excellent money-saving travel tips, but it's only the tip of the iceberg.
Find Cheap Flights
Flights are one of the biggest travel expenses out there, especially if you're traveling from the US to an international destination. If you're not careful, you can rack up thousands of dollars just to get to your destination.
Fortunately, there are a lot of budget airlines out there and travel sites that help you make the most of your travel budget. Try one of these sites to help find cheaper flights and start saving money before your trip even begins.
- Skyscanner - Skyscanner is one of the best sites around for the savvy budget traveler. You can book flights, hotels, and even rent cars through Skyscanner. You'll get access to hundreds of airlines and other companies.
- Kayak - You can book flights, accommodations, cars, and even vacation packages through Kayak. It works by sorting through other travel websites to find the best available deals.
- Priceline - Priceline allows you to book combo deals for flights and hotels. You can find individual discounts for both, though, and book them through the site.
- Expedia - Expedia is quite similar to Kayak and is owned by the same company behind Hotels.com, Vrbo, and other travel-related sites.
If you're looking to undercut the prices listed on travel sites, you can try out a budget airline instead. Every continent typically has a handful of budget airlines available.
Food-related expenses add up quickly, especially if you're eating out for every meal. Packing your own snacks and preparing meals is possibly the best non-transportation way to save money while traveling. If you shop at local markets and stores and then prepare your own meals, you'll be living on a budget closer to a local than a tourist.
If you do want to eat out, give the street food a try. Eating street food still gives you the local flavor, but it's less expensive than going to a regular restaurant. For the best experience and least impact on your wallet, shop in local grocery stores, prepare most of your meals, and enjoy the occasional treat from street food vendors wherever you're visiting!
Go During the Off Season
All travel dates are not made equal. Certain parts of the year are substantially more expensive than others. The meaning of "off-season" may vary and depends on where you're traveling, but summer and holidays tend to be the peak times for travel. On the other hand, flights and accommodations booked during winter and early spring are less expensive, sometimes to the tune of hundreds of dollars.
Beyond the savings, destinations are less crowded in the off-season. That means you can enjoy your trip without crowds or lines.
Find Cash Back Opportunities
There are many excellent travel rewards credit card options out there. You'll score points by booking flights and paying for accommodations (like resort fees). You can use those points toward free flights and other travel-related goodies. Many cards offer cash-back as well, which is just more money going right into your pocket (or bank account). If you do a lot of international traveling, find a card with no foreign transaction fees to save even more!
There are also some fantastic browser extensions like Comrade that pay you when you visit recommended products and ads. Comrade words with hundreds of different brands, including Skyscanner, to bring you relevant advertisements and offers. You'll get paid just for giving those brands attention. If you're already browsing for travel deals, you can make a bit of extra spending money in the process.
Use Local Transportation
Skipping out on a car rental is one of the best budget travel tips out there. Many cities have affordable transportation available. Check to see if there's a subway, bus line, tram system, or other public option at your destination. Typically, you'll be able to take local transport to all the major tourist attractions and convenient spots (like grocery stores).
Not only will you save on upfront costs, but taking local transportation means you won't need to buy gas, purchase additional insurance, or worry about figuring out navigation on the road.
Find Free Attractions
When you're planning your trip, look around for free tourist attractions. Many cities have things like free walking tours, which will give you interesting information, historical facts, and a view of the city with someone knowledgeable. Monuments, parks, and many museums are free to the public and are a great way to have a wealth of different experiences.
Some cities, like Washington D.C., have many free attractions. All of the Smithsonian museums have free entry, for instance, and have world-class quality exhibits. When you're choosing your destination, look for cities that have many low-cost or free options!
Look for Discounts
As you're planning things out, check for available discounts. Sometimes, if you book longer stays you'll get discounted rates. There are also websites, like Groupon, that specialize in gathering deals in one convenient location. You can find discounted tickets, experiences, and packages to make the most of your trip.
Shop Around for Accommodations
Don't settle on the first hotel you see. In fact, sometimes you'll do better not to settle for a hotel at all. If you're really looking to save money, there are options like hostels and discount hotels. Airbnb, Vrbo, and similar sites also offer accommodations at less than the cost of a hotel or resort, although that varies from place to place.
The most important thing to remember is that you can (and should) check as many places as possible. Unless you require a specific type of accommodation, don't rule anything out. You can even try sites that specialize in couch surfing to cut costs further.
Visit Less Expensive Destinations
Perhaps this one is obvious, but some places cost more to visit than others. It doesn't mean they're better, or that you'll have more fun. If you're ready for an adventure, save Paris or London for later and opt for a less expensive (but no less thrilling) trip to Central and South America instead. You can have the trip of a lifetime in Southeast Asia for a fraction of what it'd cost to go to Rome. Being open-minded is one of the best travel tips out there.
Travel With a Friend
Traveling with friends or family members is a surefire way to save money. You can split the cost of hotel rooms, groceries, and sometimes even event or experience tickets. Many people prefer traveling with others, so this one is a double-win situation.
By following the ten tips laid out in this article, you're sure to save money on your next vacation. Mix and match suggestions, combine methods, and look for your own ways to cut costs and travel with a tight budget. With planning and careful spending, you can see the world.
Learn how to earn money when shopping online with Comrade, the only browser extension that pays you in cash for your attention.