The cost of traveling can be steep, unless you take full advantage of the different ways to save money on each aspect of your travel adventure. Traveling on the cheap is totally achievable when you plan ahead and utilize the tools out there! As long as you start early and are deliberate with your planning process, your dream vacation is literally at your fingertips.
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With that said, I’ve outlined six tips for traveling on the cheap in order to stretch your budget as far as it can go! These travel hacks will help you answer the following questions before finalizing your itinerary:
- Where am I going?
- When will I go?
- How will I get there?
- How will I get around?
- Where will I stay?
- How much spending money will I bring?
Saving your hard-earned money will ultimately make your experience more enjoyable and worry-free!
Six Budget Travel Hacks
1. Take The Road Less Traveled
When deciding where to go, plan to stay somewhere less traveled.
This doesn’t mean you can’t visit the amazing tourist attractions a particular area is known for, just look for accommodations in the surrounding area that are substantially cheaper than staying in the heart of all the action.
A great start for your search would be to contact your destination’s office of tourism or visitor information center. Ask them to mail you information on free things to do, as well as coupons and discounts for accommodations, restaurants and entertainment.
2. Go Off Season
Planning your trip during the low season (or off season) as opposed to the high season (or peak season) can save you lots of money.
But when exactly is the off season? Of course, that depends on your destination — climates differ drastically, so the off season in Jamaica is very different from Alaska’s off season.
To find off season months in different regions of the world, Scott’s Cheap Flights has a great list.
3. Get Discounts on Flights
Cheaper flights mean more money in your pocket!
A fantastic site to find information on discounted flights (and hotels) is The Points Guy.
He also ranks the best credit cards to use for travel. Based on your purchases with these credit cards, you can rack up incredible sign-up bonus points (sometimes enough to get you a free round trip flight!) as well as ongoing rewards and miles!
Another way to save money on flying is to create a frequent flyer account for each airline you typically fly. Then, keep track of it all in one place: App in the Air tracks points and miles for each airline.
More money-saving tips on flights include:
- Reserve your flight at least one month in advance (domestic) and at least two months in advance (international).
- Act on flight deals quickly before they expire.
- Subscribe to budget airline emails & loyalty clubs for rewards and discount notifications.
- Compare flight prices on Matrix Flights.
- Use an app like Hopper to track flights and notify you when prices change. (They’ll also let you know whether a certain flight cost is expected to go up or down).
Also, check these airfare deal sites:
- Scott’s Cheap Flights
- Jack’s Flight Club
- The Flight Deal
- Secret Flying
- Holiday Pirates
- Airfare Watchdog
In addition, here are some discount online travel agencies for booking your trip:
4. How To Get Around
Besides rental cars and cabs which tend to be higher priced, here are some alternatives:
- Uber – Drivers
- Turo & ZipCar – Car Sharing
- BlaBlaCar – Ride Sharing in Europe & other countries (not offered in the U.S.)
- RVShare – RV Rentals
- Eurail Pass – A Rail Pass to travel through 33 European countries
- Public Transportation – Use the Moovit app to find routes
- Car Service or Shuttle – Mozio
- Bike Sharing – LimeBike & Divvy Bikes
5. Explore Different Types of Accommodations
Comparing costs well in advance of your trip will help you narrow down ideal accommodations at the right price.
- Join hotel loyalty programs to increase your chances of getting an upgrade.
- If they don’t offer a room upgrade, ask for one when you arrive.
- Celebrating a special occasion? Let them know! Oftentimes they will give you special perks for free.
- Ask in advance if the hotel offers extras such as free breakfast, cocktail hours, laundry machines, etc.
6. Money For Food & Excursions
- Buy groceries when you arrive and plan to cook a few meals during your stay.
- Identify nearby grocery stores and get a loyalty card and coupons in advance.
- Use the EatWith app for food tours, cooking classes and dinners hosted in private homes and exclusive venues. This option may not be the cheapest way to eat, but it will provide you with a unique, local food experience for the same price, if not less, than eating in a restaurant.
- Use Restaurant.com or Groupon for restaurant deals.
- Take advantage of included meals with your accommodations.
- Make lunch your big meal of the day since dinner prices tend to be higher.
- Find student, senior citizen, and veteran discounts.
- Take free walking tours.
- Use the entertainment coupons that were sent to you (Tip #1) from your destination’s local tourism office.
Now that you have all these budget travel tools in your toolbox, where will you go first? Wherever that may be, I’ll leave you with this thought, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
Pam is the Owner of Housewives of Frederick County. She loves a good cup of coffee, trying new recipes, and spending time in her dream home with her family and pets. She’s a self-proclaimed dancin’ fool who, in her free time, enjoys a good true crime show, morning walks, taking roads less traveled, and collecting vintage finds along the way.