Traveling sits at the top of countless bucket lists and new year’s resolutions, and it’s no wonder why. Getting to take time away from the stress of your everyday life can be refreshing and rehabilitating and makes you happier. Unfortunately, traveling to anywhere but your backyard isn’t exactly cheap. However, there are quite a few ways determined travelers can dramatically cut travel expenses and get more bang for their buck.
1. Travel to Cheaper Destinations
Although it may be tempting to plan a dream vacation in a location that would make anyone jealous, doing so will cost you in the long run. Cities like Paris, Milan, New York, and Dubai are among the most popular travel destinations in the world but they come with a hefty price tag. To avoid the sticker shock, pick destinations that are less traveled and therefore cheaper. There are quite a few places in South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa that will set you back far less than a trip to Milan and Dubai, and are just as beautiful.
2. Travel During the Off Season
In the world of traveling, the year is divided into seasons that are based on how much traveling is usually done during that time. Peak season takes place during the summer when the majority of people plan their vacations. Off-season, however, falls in winter and results in fewer crowds and cheaper prices. Hotels will have more vacancies so rooms will have lower rates and airfare will cost less for the same reason.
3. Purchase Plane Tickets in Advance
Speaking of airfare, don’t wait until the last minute to start shopping for airfare. Tickets purchased somewhat in advance, especially if they’re scheduled for the traveling off-season. According to a 2016 study, tickets are cheapest 54 days before the flight is scheduled to take off. If you don’t get it exactly right, don’t worry. If you book within 21 to 105 days before your trip begins, you’ll still get better rates than if you waited.
Money saving tip: Book your plane tickets in advance using the best search tools. They’ll give you a list of the best deals on airline tickets. Make sure to check them all before booking!
- Momondo: I always find the cheapest option here as it picks up fares from the cheapest agents.
- Kiwi.com: Another great search tool that I use to find cheap fares.
- Google Flights: What I love about Google Flights is it shows you the cheapest days to fly with its useful calendar option. Once I find the dates, I’ll use one of the websites above to book the flight.
- Jetradar: Search also includes budget airlines that other websites don’t show. It’s worth looking into.
- Airfare Watchdog: Airlines sometimes make mistake with fares (human error, computer glitches, etc.) which lead to unbelievably discounted cheap flights. I use this site to find the best error fares.
4. Consider Trains or Buses
While flying is convenient, it’s not always the cheapest option when it comes to traveling. Often times, bus and train rides end up being much cheaper than airfare to a certain location. Traveling by train has a reputation for being expensive, but if you carefully compare prices between different transportation methods, you might be surprised to find much cheaper roundtrip fare by train. Traveling by bus, if you don’t mind the extended travel time and frequent stops, can cost a fraction of the price of airfare.
5. Sign Up for Travel Reward Programs
The thought of opening a new credit card for your travels may seem a bit scary, but it can be beneficial in the long run. Using a credit card with a travel reward can drastically cut travel expense. Users can earn points with every purchase they make that go toward perks like free flights. In addition to opening a travel reward card, you should sign up for the frequent flyer program with the airline you book your airfare through. Doing can maximize the benefits you receive from your card.
Money saving tip: When signing up for travel rewards credit cards, you should find out your credit score first. Check your credit score for free at Credit Sesame!
6. Rent a House Instead of Using a Hotel
Hotels can quickly become expensive, especially if you’re traveling for an extended period of time. Avoid paying the heavy cost of booking a room by renting instead. If you’re traveling for a long time, you could rent an apartment for a few months or longer. This will be cheaper than renting a hotel room or renting the same apartment on a week by week basis. Plus, renting out an apartment or house gives you much more space to work with than the average hotel room. Head to Airbnb to find a rental suited for you!
7. Or Use a Hostel
The idea of staying in a hostel while traveling is often overlooked because of the lack of privacy, but for those who don’t mind sharing space and meeting new people, using a hostel can save you heaps of money. Hostels are among the cheapest lodging options for travelers with rates often dropping as low as the single digits. Surf through Hostelworld to find affordable lodging.
8. Buy Multi-Day Passes to Attractions
Popular attractions that draw in large crowds of people annually are usually expensive. Paying for admission on a day to day basis adds up quickly. Luckily, most places offer a discount for people who purchase multi-day passes in advance. Always be sure you do your research and don’t pay for passes for attractions you have no interest in seeing.
9. Purchase All Your Necessities Beforehand
This tip often gets forgotten in the hustle and chaos of planning for a vacation, but adhering to it strictly will help you stick to a budget. Always purchase your necessities before you arrive at your destination. Take some time in the weeks leading up to your trip to stock up on whatever you’ll need while you’re on vacation. Medications, toiletries, clothing, and even disposable cameras can all be much more expensive at your hotel than they would be if you’d bought them at your local drug store.
Money saving tip: Before heading to the grocery store for some of your travel essentials, sign up for ibotta so you can save money and get some cash back!
10. Pack Lightly
Pack strategically and pack lightly. If you’re traveling by flight, you’ll have to pay for every piece of luggage that gets checked at the gate. Avoid this extra cost by either traveling with only a carry on bag or by using an airline that overs both free carry on items and a free checked bag.
11. Get Dropped Off
Leaving your car at the airport is an expensive mistake. Either have a friend drive you to the airport or call a taxi to save a significant amount of cash.
12. Use Coupons
Coupons exist for a reason, to make purchases cheaper. It may seem silly to rely on coupons while traveling, but you can use them to save on everything from the cost of lodging to the price of your toiletries. Take advantage of coupons that you can find in newspapers, newsletters, or even at the grocery store.
Money saving tip: Sign up for Ebates to earn cash back when you shop your favorite stores online like you normally would. Plus it’s free and when you sign up through my link, you’ll receive $10 free cash back as a bonus.
13. Cook For Yourself
This tip is just as useful to cut travel expenses as it is trimming your budget in your everyday life. Eating out costs more than a home cooked meal would. Hit up the grocery store, stock up on food, and take it back to your hotel room to make a delicious meal for a much lower price.
Money saving tip: To cut down on my food spending, I signed up for the $5 Meal Plan so I can eat more at home. It’s only $5 a month and you get meal plans with the exact shopping list you need to create the meals. Each meal cost about $2 per person. I thought this would be great for travel if your accommodation includes a kitchen. When you sign up through my link, you’ll receive a 14-day free trial.
14. Walk or Use Public Transportation
If you plan your trip carefully, as you should, you may be able to get away with walking everywhere you need to go. And if you can’t, there’s always public transportation.
15. Visit Less Popular Attractions
Tourist traps are called that for a reason. They’re popular attractions designed to lure tourists in, and they’re usually greatly overpriced. Instead, go where the locals frequent. As a bonus, you’ll see a side of the area that few people get to experience.
16. Avoid Souvenirs
It might be tempting to come home with keepsakes to remember your trip by, but to save on expenses, you should either avoid purchasing souvenirs altogether or come up with a strict budget and stick to it.
17. Avoid Extra Expenses
Don’t hang out at the hotel bar, don’t use the minibar in your room, and avoid pay per view at all costs. Those little expenses add up over time!
I hope you’ll find this list of ways to cut travel expenses useful when budgeting your next trip!
For those that are new to Hot Beauty Health, I’m always trying to find ways to make and save more money especially when I travel. Below are some of my favorite sites and products that may help you out with your travels:
- Find ways to make extra money: I share over 85 ways you can make extra money this year.
- Start a blog: Luckily, starting a blog is relatively easy and is how I currently make a living. I started full-time in 2014 and now I make six figures a year. You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $2.95 a month and you’ll get a free domain if you sign up through my tutorial. I have a free blogging course you can join too that will help you start and launch a successful blog!
- Answer surveys: It’s a great way to make some quick cash for your travels. You get paid once you answer surveys and test their products. Best of all, many of the sites are free to join! I recommend Swagbucks, Pinecone Research, Harris Poll Online, Pro Opinion, Survey Junkie, Opinion Outpost, and Vindale Research.
- Save money automatically: Save money without thinking about it with the Digit savings app. It’s a great way to save for a vacation. When you sign up through my link, you will receive a 100-day free trial just for signing up!
- Earn cash back when you shop: Sign up for Ebates to earn cash back when you shop your favorite stores online like you normally would. Plus it’s free and when you sign up through my link, you’ll receive $10 free cash back as a bonus.
- When signing up for travel rewards credit cards, you should at least find out your credit score first. Check your credit score for free at Credit Sesame!
Free Vacation Packing Checklist
Download this packing checklist printable when planning your next vacation!