The costs of traveling can add up quickly! Flight, hotels, food, transportation, insurance… it accumulates and can become expensive, especially if you travel often!
However, there are so many ways to be cautious with spending, and a few simple tricks will save you a lot of money in the long run. Over the years, we have figured out some of the best travel hacks that have saved us a lot of money. When you make a consistent effort to save money where you can, you will realize that traveling doesn't have to cost a fortune.
Here are our top 10 tips to save money while traveling:
1. Be flexible with dates
Flexibility in travel dates can save you at least a few hundred dollars, if not thousands! Flights will vary significantly based on when you book and when you plan to travel. Two key things to keep in mind when booking your travel.
- Hotels generally cost more on the weekends
- International flights cost more when departing on Friday or Saturday
If you have flexibility in your travel plans, you can find the best hotel and flight deals. You may find you can save $200-$500 on flights simply by leaving one day earlier!
2. Book directly with airlines or hotels
While it can be convenient to use booking platforms to make your travel arrangements, you will likely pay additional booking fees that are charged by that website. The fees can vary quite a bit depending on the overall cost of your trip; however, by booking on the airline or hotel website directly, you can expect to save anywhere from $20-$100+ a trip. You may also find hotels have lower rates on their own websites, as they often want to encourage travelers to book directly through them to avoid the platform fees they must pay too!
3. Cook your own meals
One of the most expensive parts of traveling can be eating out. If you don't have accommodation with a basic kitchen, you might be eating out 3 times a day! That can quickly take a reasonable trip and make it super expensive, especially if restaurant-dining is costly in the place you are traveling to. By cooking some of your own meals, you can save anywhere from $50-$100 per day! If you're traveling for a week, that's almost $700! Renting an apartment is a great way to reduce travel expenses as they often come equipped with kitchens and everything you need to make a meal. You can buy a few things from the local market and prepare 1-2 meals a day in your own kitchen, saving you a lot of money!
4. Take public transportation
Taking public transportation can be confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, you will be glad you did! Taxi's and Uber's are much more costly than public transport. You will also get to see more of the city since you won't always take the most direct route when on a train or bus.
5. Don't exchange money at the airport
Whenever possible, avoid the airport exchange booths. The rates are never as good, and you will pay a significant exchange fee on top of the regular cost. You want to ensure you are stretching your money as far as possible when traveling, so exchange your money in advance at your local bank before you go, or wait until you're in the city once you arrive. Airport exchanges will be the most expensive, and you can save a lot if you avoid them altogether.
6. Use a local sim
These days we are so used to being connected and having access to our phones wherever we go. However, roaming costs can be very pricey! Some phone companies can charge upwards of $50 a day in data and roaming charges. A local sim can cost anywhere from $10-$25, and you can choose a plan that works for you and your needs.
In certain parts of the world, bargaining is all part of the shopping experience! In some countries, sellers will name a high price, expecting that you bargain it down by at least 50%. If you are traveling to a new place, do some research ahead of time to understand their common practices. This way, you will know if you can bargain and get a better deal for something you really want.
8. Browse in incognito mode
Browsing in private mode can save you tons of money when booking hotels or flights. Have you ever searched for a flight, saw it was a certain price, then gone back later the same day to see it was higher? This happens a lot! Flight prices will increase if you are repeatedly looking at a particular route because the site is hoping that you'll try to "lock in" the lowest price and book right away by raising the price. By browsing in private mode, you will make sure you get the best price. To browse in private mode using Google Chrome or Safari, press Command (or Control), Shift, N. This opens a new browser where you can look at flights without being tracked.
9. Book flights in advance
More often than not, flights get more expensive as the trip gets closer. If you know where and when you want to travel, booking your flight in advance can save you hundreds of dollars. As the date gets closer, the demand will likely increase, ultimately causing the flight price to go up. Avoid waiting until the last minute to book your flights.
10. Sign up for reward programs
Reward programs can give you great discounts on flights and travel. For example, if you fly with the same airline frequently, you might be able to use points and get a free flight or a free upgrade. If you often book with the same group of hotels, you can receive exclusive deals and free stays using their reward program.
Being mindful of your budget can help you make the most of your travel experiences. More importantly, it can allow you to travel more often! There are many ways to save money when traveling, but these were the top tips we found to be the most effective when planning our trips.
What are your money-saving tips for travel? Let us know in the comments below!