Summer is on the way, which means that many will start planning their vacations. Whether it’s a long trip or a short one, though, vacationing can be expensive. Below are 20 different tips that will help you save money on travel, so you’ll hopefully be able to go on a trip you didn’t think you could afford, or splurge a little with the extra money you’ll be saving.
The myth that travel is only for the wealthy is busted. It turns out that the well-traveled don’t necessarily have to make a ton of money – it’s simply about making travel goals a priority in life.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler looking to save a few bucks or planning your first adventure, the tips below will help you save on your next vacation.
20 Ways to Save Money on Travel
1. Choose inexpensive destinations
According to Forbes, some of the cheapest destinations in 2017 were South Africa, Chile, Crete, and Morocco. Check out some of the other low-cost destinations here. While you might not think of any of those locations as cheap, it can really pay to do your research!
2. Fly cheap
Budget airlines can be your best friend! They are just as safe as other airlines; the cost is saved in extra amenities during travel. However, try to research as many airlines as you can before booking! One of my favorite sites to research flight prices is CheapOAir.com. They do a great job of piecing together different flights – for instance, perhaps you fly United to your destination, but Delta home – and I almost always book through them because they frequently have coupons available.
3. Travel during the off-season
We almost always travel during our destination’s off-season and have had great luck finding awesome deals this way. It was the rainy season when we traveled to Costa Rica so we ended up paying about 50 percent less than we would have at other times. The weather was absolutely beautiful and it only rained at night. It worked out perfectly! We also traveled to Australia during their winter. While we are used to a midwestern winter, depending on where we were in Australia the winter temperatures ranged from 50-80 degrees! Do your research and don’t be scared away when you see “off-season.” Depending on your plans, it might be the perfect time for you to travel!
Here’s a great infographic about traveling during the off-season.
4. Get travel rewards
If you use a credit card, ask about travel rewards. If you make your daily purchases on a card with travel points, you can build up significant savings on your travel plans! Our main credit card is just building up airline miles and we are hoping to have enough miles built up to take our entire family to Germany next year. We aren’t frequent fliers, by any means, but we pay most of our bills via credit card and then pay it off each month, so we are always accumulating more miles!
By the way, did you know that through Points.com you can exchange points you’ve accumulated for points that you need? For instance, let’s say you have enough points for your flight, but need more hotel points. They’ll help you convert your points, which can make your travel that much more affordable!
5. Road trip
If you own a vehicle, you have everything you need for a road trip! Just budget for gas, food, and hotel stays or camping fees. Road trips are also an easier and cheaper way to travel when you’ve got little kids. Just be prepared with plenty of kid-friendly road trip entertainment options!
6. Skip (or limit) restaurants
Bringing your own food with you to cook can help you save money that you would otherwise be spending in restaurants. You don’t have to forgo them completely – just save your outings for the restaurants you really want to experience and cook your own meals other times.
7. Work abroad
Working while you travel can actually make your trip profitable or at least break even, depending on how you plan it. Consider finding work as a nanny, cleaner, or another job in your destination areas.
8. Use the sharing economy
The internet has allowed people to share resources and make travel more accessible than ever. Sites like Airbnb and HomeAway let customers rent out their homes. Instead of hailing a taxi, order a ride from Uber or Lyft instead.
9. Pack light
Less baggage = fewer baggage fees and hassle. Learn how to be a minimalist traveler.
10. Choose cheap or free entertainment
Official parks and many museums are free to the public on certain days. Focusing on these types of places can help you save lots of money on entertainment!
11. Take advantage of discounts
Are you a student? Do you or your spouse serve in the military? You may be eligible for certain benefits and discounts. Remember to ask about any benefits that may apply to you at hotels, transportation centers, and even stores and restaurants. Another option is to check sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. You’ll be able to find discounts for many activities, and you can also find dining discounts!
12. Explore package deals
While they’re not always the better deal, sometimes travel packages can help you save money over booking your plane, hotel, and car rental separately so be sure to explore what’s available for your trip.
13. Put money away each day
Cutting back on your expenses in your daily life makes thrifty spending a habit and helps you build up cash for your trips. Or, if you’re trying to save more money, consider taking up an extra job, having a garage sale, or selling things on the Facebook Marketplace.
14. Check Facebook groups for deals
I belong to a ton of Facebook groups, and I regularly see people posting about cottages or vacation homes that they own and that they’re trying to rent out a discount. I’ve even seen people with timeshares offering their weeks for free when they’re not able to make it work themselves. If you see these types of deals pop up, be sure to jump on them immediately!
15. Bookmark travel sites & register for travel-related emails
If you want to save money on travel, you need to be ready to strike when a deal is hot. In order to do this, I recommend bookmarking your favorite travel sites and registering to receive their emails. Some promotions – especially in the travel industry – are incredibly short-lived. You’ll need to stay on top of the offers to save big!
Some of my favorite travel sites include:
- Flighthub – Awesome for flight discounts!
- CheapoAir.com – Mentioned above; it’s a longtime favorite!
- BookingBuddy – Register to receive notifications when prices drop
- Hotels.com – As I’ve been booking my upcoming vacation, I’ve been really impressed with the hotel prices I’m finding on this site!
Sign up for email newsletters with airlines and travel sites to get notified of special promotions that can help you save money on travel!
16. Be part of a Couchsurfing network
As you become a more seasoned traveler, your Couchsurfing network builds – which is a great asset to have for any traveler!
17. Trade house and pet sitting with a friend
Save money on housekeeping and pet sitting fees by trading these duties with a trusted friend or family member. You’ll take care of their stuff when they travel and vice versa.
18. Borrow luggage
If you travel infrequently, it may not be worth it to you to purchase your own luggage. On the other hand, if you do plan to travel a lot, investing in a high-quality set is a great choice as it will last a long time and keep your belongings safer.
19. Book as early as possible
You’re almost always going to get a better deal when you book your travel plans early. Flight prices will be lower and hotels will often be cheaper the earlier you book. Prices will go up as the date approaches and they start running out of space.
20. Swap homes
Perhaps you have a relative across the country who is also looking to travel? Maybe it would be a good opportunity to swap homes for a certain period of time! You’d each only pay for travel, food, and entertainment and know your house was being looked after.
Following these tips can make traveling to far off destinations more attainable and affordable for everyone. Where would you love to travel to next and what other tips do you have to help others save money on travel?