If you want to travel more and save money while doing so, continue reading. I have 25 budget travel hacks that will save you hundreds – even thousands – of dollars on your next trip.
Travel is one of those things that most people want to do often, but feel that it’s just too expensive. I love to travel, but my love of adventure is usually controlled by my checking account balance. This hasn’t stopped me though and over the years I’ve learned some handy tricks on how to travel on a budget.
If you’re looking on simple ways to save on transportation, lodging, and entertainment on your next trip in and out the country, read on for cheap travel tips.
- 15 of the Best Budget Travel Blogs
- How to Travel More Even When You’re on a Tight Budget
- How to Save Hundreds on Your Next Flight by Travel Hacking
25 of the Best Budget Travel Hacks to Save Money
- Research cheap flights on sites such as Sky Scanner. These sights are always on the look-out for discounted flights and should be your first stop when looking for deals. They will let you know when rates drop, so schedule your next flight on Skyscanner or use their app for savings.
- Use a VPN to secure reservations. A lot of times you won’t see certain rates because they’re blacked out to depending on your location. You can instead use a VPN, which will make it look as if you’re in a specific geographical area. That way, you’ll see rates specified for those residents. If you want to learn more about VPNs, what they are and why you need one, check out this post here.
- Book a flight on a Tuesday or Wednesday. To save money on your flight, try to book your departure and arrival on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Most people like to travel a the start or end of the weekend, so you’ll find cheaper rates on these days.
- Be flexible with your travel dates. If you don’t have to travel during a specific time, look for dates before and after your desired vacation. You may save money by moving the dates of your trip by a week or so.
- Stay at a hostel. Hostels are not just for college students. They are inexpensive ways to travel and the great thing about hostels is that you’ll also meet new people on your way. These people may, in turn, show you the best places to visit while you’re on your trip. By the way, most hostels have a kitchen where you can prepare meals, therefore, saving more money. Visit Hostelworld, Hostel International, or Hostels Worldwide for a guide to hostels.
- Book a place to stay on Airbnb. When my family started to plan our trip to Virginia Beach, we looked on Airbnb for a place to stay. We figured that we wanted to the comforts of home that no hotel, no matter how nice, could offer us as a family. If you’re traveling, you can find a nice and affordable place to stay on Airbnb. Go there to schedule your next vacation.
- Research a place to stay at on couchsurfing.com. If you’re really looking to save on lodging, try to find a place to stay on Couch Surfing. When you couch surf, you’re staying with locals who have a couch or a room you can crash. This is a great way to save hundreds on a hotel and you’ll be able to learn about the area from someone who lives there and knows the ins and outs. Besides, you’ll get to meet new people, making your vacation extra memorable.
- Choose a cheaper destination. Some destinations are expensive because they are so popular. Avoid going to these popular locations and look for cheaper options. Traveling to Southeast Asia can give you more bang for your buck. Not only are you saving money on your trip there, but you will also spend a lot less on lodging and food. Do your research and try to avoid the more popular and expensive locations on your next trip.
- Travel in the off-season. Visiting the beach during the summer may not be the most cost-effective thing to do while traveling. Rates are higher during this time because here in the U.S., most kids are out of school during the summer and this is when most working families take their vacation for the year. The hotels know this and have no incentive to drop prices. Go during the off-season and save on travel rates.
- Use frequent flyer points. Airlines and credit cards offer loyalty programs where you’re able to earn frequent flyer miles, which can be applied to future flights. Sign up and take advantage of them. If your credit card doesn’t offer a program, apply for one that offers a low APR and rewards you for your purchases. Use this credit card for most of your purchases and just pay it off at the end of the month.
- Check for travel deals on Groupon. Tiffany Haddish is not the only one obsessed with Groupon. You’ll find that you can find travel deals if you check their site out first. These deals are time sensitive, but if you purchase them now – you’ll be able to redeem them later.
- Check out cheap travel sites. If you’re not visiting a travel site when planning your next vacation, you are doing yourself a disservice. Look to these sites when planning and you’ll find that you can save a lot of money on travel. Do your research and compare prices for the cheapest rates. Agoda, Booking.com, and Kiwi are great sites to find deals on flights and hotels.
- Save on baggage fees and pack light. Use approved carry-on luggage such as this one and avoid the baggage fees from the airlines which can range from $30-$50+ per bag, depending on weight. Just be smart when packing and take the necessities and clothes that can serve double duty.
- Fly to one destination and take public transportation to get to another city. If you find that flying to your desired destination is expensive, why not look for a nearby place to fly into and then take public transportation to get into? Flying into BWI may be a lot cheaper than coming into Reagan, so you may decide to fly into Baltimore and take a bus or train into DC. Not only can you explore a new city, but you may find that you can save money on a flight by going this route.
- Fly when no one else wants to. Look for redeye flights or those with long layovers to travel. These are the times that most people hate to travel during, but if you do you will save money on your flight. Airlines have a harder time selling these tickets, so you’ll find discounts on these unpopular flights.
- Spend the night at the airport instead of staying at the airport hotel. You’ll be able to save on hotel fees if you take late flights and sleep at the airport instead. Be careful though, not all airports allow travelers to sleep there overnight. Visit Sleeping in Airports as a guide to sleeping in airports
- Take a free class. You can explore your destination without spending a lot of money by signing up for a free class. You can look to see what classes are offered by museums, which are often free and very informative.
- Take a free tour. When visiting a new city, I love signing up for a walking tour. By following a knowledgeable tour guide, you’ll learn more about an area than you could ever do on your own. There are also bus tours that do the same thing and are usually low-cost, so sign up for one. Schedule a tour of your city with City Pass.
- Go where the locals go. The most fun I have when visiting a new destination is when I get insight from the people that live there. Yes, the travel guides will tell you about some great places to eat, but usually, they’re sponsored and expensive. If you want genuine cuisine at affordable prices, ask the locals what their favorites are. The locals can tell you which locations to avoid and give you new places you may never see in a travel guide.
- Talk with other travelers. This is mostly for solo travelers, but it could work for anyone traveling. Talking with other travelers will give you some insight as to where to go and what to do while you’re in town. In addition to meeting like-minded people, you’ll find that they’ll be able to tell you what they’ve experienced while they’ve been there, hopefully allowing you explore different places or avoid trouble spots altogether.
- Take advantage of loyalty programs. It seems like every business offers some type of loyalty program, so take advantage of them while traveling. If you stay in a specific hotel often, you can use those points to apply towards a vacation stay down the road. When my aunt travels, she always stays at a Choice. The points she accumulates are used towards her next stay.
- Eat a bigger lunch and a lighter dinner. Restaurants usually charge less during the lunch hours than for dinner. If you plan your heaviest meal during the lunchtime, you can grab a smaller meal or snack later that evening. You’ll end up saving money on food, which can be a budget buster.
- Get around by foot, bike, or public transportation. Renting a car can be expensive. You’ll save a lot of money by walking or biking everywhere. The city you’re visiting may have a great public transportation system and is way more inexpensive than driving by car. You’ll save on gas and parking fees. In addition, there’s also Uber or Lyft that will save you from navigating unfamiliar territory.
- Follow favorite travel bloggers and vloggers. You can learn a lot by following travel bloggers and vloggers. They make travel their living and have tips that will save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars. They’ve experienced it, so listen to them to show you how they save money and the best places to travel. Check out my post 15 of the Best Budget Travel Blogs to find travel bloggers to follow.
These are a few of the budget travel hacks I use when planning a vacation. Hopefully, some of these will help you to save money on your next trip. Please share in the comments if you’ve tried any of these hacks or have your own to share.