Before you book your next trip, make sure to check out these easy ways to save money on travel. Traveling can get SUPER expensive and sometimes it is hard to save money. Expenses like food, fees, and transportation add up fast. I always leave a little extra wiggle room in my budget when I travel, but it is nice to find deals and ways to save money while taking a trip.
1. Use a Travel Credit Card
I know some people do not use credit cards but I have the Capital One Venture card, (click here to sign up) and I absolutely love it. I love that it is not tied to a specific airline or hotel so I can use the points for literally any travel expense. We used these points to pay for our honeymoon. If you use this link you can get 75,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. That equals $750 to spend on any travel! I recommend opening a new card around the time you have to pay for a big expense so you make sure you get your bonus miles. If you pay for your car insurance in full, any furniture, home repairs, or even taxes you can open this card and hit the bonus way faster. If you struggle with credit card debt and overspending, definitely don’t do this just yet. BUT once you feel more comfortable using credit cards again and you have a budget you can stick to, check out this card. If you join my program Flourish FinanciALLI, there is a guest expert session on travel hacking in the bonus section!
2. Track Flights
There are many apps and websites now that you can track flights. If you have a few months until you have to book, this is a great way to find a good deal on flights. When we were booking our flight for Australia we tracked flights for a few weeks using two different apps (hopper and skyscanner). You can set parameters and it will alert you when a flight is available within the parameters you set. This is how we found our great deal for Australia (decently cheap and the top airline).
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3. Check Out Getaway Deals
You can also check out Groupon or Expedia for getaway deals. Expedia has bundle deals for flight and hotels as well as cruises and vacation rentals. Groupon has a section for domestic and international getaways. I know multiple people who have booked trips through both Expedia and Groupon and saved hundreds.
EXTRA TIP: Use your Rakuten account before booking on Groupon or Expedia and save even more! Currently, Expedia is up to 10% cash back and Groupon is 6% cash back if you go through Rakuten. Some hotel chains and airlines also offer deals through Rakuten. Honestly, if you do ANY online shopping you need to use Rakuten. Click here and get $30 for FREE once you make one qualifying purchase.
4. Travel Off-Season
Traveling during off-peak season can save you a significant amount of money on flights, hotels, and attractions. I know this isn’t always ideal or possible but if you can save a lot. For example, if you can go to the beach April or October instead of July, you will save A LOT on hotels and if you go somewhere that is normally warm (or warmer) during those months you should still be good!
What to Bring
5. Extra Snacks and Food
You might not be able to bring liquids through but you can bring whatever food. I usually pack a PB&J or protein bars so I don’t spend $20 on a snack at the airport (why is airport food SO expensive?!) You can pack snacks/food in anything. I’ve flown with pizza from NY to SC before (there is nothing like NY pizza). If you forget snacks at home stop at the gas station before you get to the airport. It will still be a lot cheaper than buying it there. Snacks are also important on road trips so you don’t need to stop every single time someone is hungry. You will also be able to choose healthier snacks instead of just whatever is available at the rest stop.
6. Empty Water Bottle
I cannot honestly say I do this all the time (sometimes I need coffee) but I try to always carry an empty water bottle. This is especially important for longer flights. You might get a drink on the plane but while you are waiting in the airport or if you have multiple flights you will probably need a drink at some point. Most airports have refill stations (or at the very least a water fountain) that you can fill your water bottle once you are through security. This way you can stay hydrated without spending any money.
Whether you are traveling by plane, bus, train, or car you need something to keep you occupied during the trip. If I forget a book or magazine I ALWAYS end up buying one at the airport. PSA: books at the airport are NOT cheap. They are full price aka more expensive than Amazon. I try to always make sure I pack either a book, a few magazines, or my iPad to watch movies. Also don’t forget headphones. I’ve done that before and it sucks haha. Most airlines have an app you can watch movies for free on your phone or you can download a movie on Netflix before.
When You Are There
8. Public Transportation
Subways, trains, and buses are A LOT cheaper than taxis. You can save a ton of money by using public transportation. If you are going to be in the same city for a few days I definitely recommend using public transportation. It might be difficult to navigate for the first day, but by the second you’ll be traveling like the locals! You can look up the best (and cheapest) way to get around a city before you go so you can be prepared.
9. Getting Cash
If you are traveling internationally, try to avoid the exchange centers. They usually have a lot of fees and bad exchange rates. If you are going for a short period of time you can get cash in that currency before you go from your bank (check the fees first). You can also get money out of the ATM when you are there but watch out for foreign transaction fees from your bank. You can try to find a sister bank in that country before you go which would have no extra fees. Before I traveled to China and Australia, I ordered money through my bank and it was a really easy process.
What to Look Out For
10. Extra Fees
Airlines are starting to charge for EVERYTHING. Make sure before you book a flight you check any extra fees you might pay. Some budget airlines even charge for carry-on bags. The flight may seem cheap but when you add up extra fees it might end up more expensive. If you are booking an Airbnb you can always try to negotiate the rate before you book. This will be a lot easier to do if you’re traveling during an off-season as well.
11. Car Rental Coverage
Some credit cards (especially travel cards) cover car rental insurance. Make sure to check this if you are planning on renting a car and you could save yourself some money! All you have to do is pay with that credit card when paying for the rental car and decline the insurance when they offer it to you.
EXTRA TIP: fill up the rental car yourself. The gas is cheaper 99% of the time. The prepaid gas is usually a lot more expensive than if you just filled the car up yourself.
What other travel tips do you have? I am always looking for more ways to save money on traveling!