We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t put a price on an adventure,” but let’s be honest: if you can find a way to save money on travel, you should.
If you’ve ever dreamed of ziplining in Costa Rica or taking a relaxing cruise to the Caribbean, but thought you couldn’t afford it, think again. You can travel on a budget.
With a little creativity, some planning, and a willingness to go off the beaten path, the world is yours to explore. You don’t need to break the bank to travel the world. Not only are there plenty of ways to save money on travel, but some savvy penny-pinching can help you get a lot more bang for your buck. These hacks will help you get out there and see the world from unique housing options to creative flight hacks.
Planning a trip is exciting, but it can also be stressful. If you don’t have a lot of cash on hand or you’re trying to stick to a strict budget, booking travel can be an ordeal. Traveling can also cost a lot of money once you reach your destination — and that’s before you even start shopping!
But it doesn’t have to be so hard. You don’t need to spend all your savings or put yourself in debt just to see the world. By being smart about how and when you book your next vacation, you can save hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars with just a little extra effort. Here are nine ways to save money on travel:
1. Book Your Flight with Points or Miles
This is one of the easiest ways to save money while traveling. If you have credit cards with points or miles programs — or even if you don’t — consider applying for a travel credit card with a generous sign-up bonus. These cards typically offer 20,000 or more miles when you spend a certain amount within the first few months of opening your account. You can use these miles for free flights, which can offset the cost of the flight (and potentially even cover it completely).
2. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Book Your Flight
If you know where you want to go and when don’t wait until the last minute to book your trip. Some companies offer last-minute discounts, but they tend to be small compared to the deals that you can get if you plan ahead.
Fly out of smaller airports that aren’t as popular as those in nearby big cities. Flying into and out of large airports like those in New York City or Los Angeles tends to cost more than flying out of smaller ones nearby because of demand. Sometimes it’s worth driving an extra hour or two just so that you can fly from a smaller airport and save some money on airfare.
Plan for a layover when booking flights online. If your flight involves a layover rather than a direct flight, you can usually save some money by selecting this option from your search results.
Additionally, if you already have these points, don’t forget about them! Many people forget how many points they have accumulated and do not use them before they expire.
3. Use Coupons for Flights
Coupon codes are not just for your weekly grocery trip or shopping at your favorite clothing store. Using them can help you save up to 20% or more on travel. Sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Urban Dealight often offer deals for restaurants, hotels, and other attractions that you can use to save money during your travels. You can also find them by checking out the website of a particular hotel, restaurant, or attraction; many times, they will offer a discount if you enter a code when booking directly through the website.
- Search for coupon codes on your preferred hotel site or check out Groupon for travel deals.
- You can also find coupons for car rentals from sites like Expedia, Hotwire, and Priceline.
- Search for restaurants in the area where you will be traveling using sites like Groupon or Living Social for extra savings on dining out during your trip.
- See if there are any local deals available on Amazon Local in the area where you will be traveling. They have a wide variety of deals, including hotels, car rentals, activities, and dining out, so you can save in multiple areas while you are away from home!
Check out the promo codes at GreenPromoCode.com before booking your reservation. These sites list current coupon codes for hundreds of retailers, including many travel sites like the ones mentioned above. Look for coupon codes offering discounts or freebies, such as a free day of car rental or free baggage check.
4. Save Money by Volunteering Abroad
One of the best ways to experience foreign countries is by volunteering at an organization while you’re visiting. Not only will you immerse yourself in day-to-day culture, but you’ll also get a deeper understanding of local issues and make friends along the way. And if you’re really lucky, your volunteer job could even include free room and board!
5. Be Flexible with Your Dates
Sometimes you can save by changing your travel plans just a little bit. For instance, if you fly out on a Tuesday instead of a Friday or Sunday, it may save you some cash. If your trip is not time-specific, try searching for flights on different days to see which day has the lowest fare.
Compare fares at different airports. You may be able to save money by flying into an airport that is farther away from your destination than the one closest to it.
6. Travel During Off-Peak Times
Peak tourist season is usually during summer holidays in Europe or winter holidays in popular tropical destinations like Asia and South America. If you are flexible with your dates and avoid visiting during these times, you can save hundreds of dollars on airfare alone! Flights can be even cheaper during weekdays, so if your company allows it, consider taking a Wednesday or Thursday flight as opposed to a Friday or Saturday one.
- If possible, use credit card rewards points to pay for flights and hotel stays.
- Set up price alerts through an app like Hopper or Kayak.
- Book with discount airlines such as JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and Alaska Airlines (many of which offer free checked bags).
- Fly midweek, not on weekends when fares are higher.
- Get a hotel loyalty card, which offers discounted rates for frequent travelers.
- Check prices on Airbnb or other home rental sites; it might be cheaper than a hotel stay in the same area.
- Buy snacks and unlimited drink passes for theme parks and flights in advance (you’ll save money compared with paying for them on site).
Travel can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Sure, you can save a little money by staying at cheap hotels and eating at fast food joints, but the experience will leave much to be desired. To truly save some cash on your vacation, try booking a travel package or considering alternative lodging styles for your trip (like a hostel).
Look for good deals on airfare and dine like a local instead of eating out every meal—when you do, you’ll get to experience the culture of your destination with both eyes open instead of feeling like a zombie tourist. Anyone with a few hours for research can significantly reduce their expenses while making sure they have an unforgettable trip.
I hope that these tips have given you some good ideas for saving money on your next trip. I know, personally, we will be using these tips on our honeymoon this summer. If anyone has any extra tips of their own to add to the list, feel free to leave them in the comments below! And if you enjoyed this article, please don’t forget to Pin it and share it with your friends.