Wondering how to save money traveling? Over the years I’ve learned some amazing money-saving travel tips and I’m sharing them with you! Whether you want to know more budget travel tips, hotel hacks, or even international travel on budget tips I’m here to tell you how to save money on travel (before and during the trip).
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How to Save Money on Travel
Tip #1 – Signup for a Credit Card That Will Earn You Points and Cover Your Global Entry Application
If you’re an avid traveler or even someone who travels a couple of times a year but can’t stand long lines you’re probably going to want Global Entry. Global Entry allows you to “skip the line” and clear customs quickly upon arrival back into the United States. There are some credit cards you can apply for that will reimburse you for either Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check every 4-5 years.
Choose Global Entry because it comes with TSA Pre-Check. And if you have more than one of these credit cards you can use it for someone else, like a family member or significant other. This is one of my favorite travel tips to save money. It will save you the $100 application fee!
AND when you use these credit cards you’ll earn points for travel. By travel hacking and earning points, I’ve been able to get some free flights.
Here are some cards that offer this perk:
Capital One Venture
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Platinum Card® From American Express
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
Tip #2 – Sign Up for A Debit Card That Doesn’t Have ATM Fees
Tired of high exchange rates when you need foreign currency? Or dread having to pay ATM fees for your bank and the fee the ATM is charging? I got you!
Sign up for a Charles Schwab Brokerage Account with a checking account. They don’t charge you any fees when you use ATMs anywhere in the world. You can literally use ANY machine. They will also reimburse the fees that the ATM charges you. You’ll get a monthly reimbursement.
You can do everything online and mail in your first deposit. Their customer service is excellent and they can walk you through the entire process.
Or if you have a branch nearby, pop in. All you need is your ID, a check, or money order to get started. They don’t take cash at any of their locations.
This is one of my favorite travel saving tips and has saved me HUNDREDS if not thousands of dollars throughout the years.
Tip #3 – Opt for Free Walking Tours and Other Free Activities
If you like to travel on a budget, look for free walking tours in the cities you plan on visiting instead of booking a paid tour. Something to note, ‘free tours’ aren’t exactly “free.” The guide usually takes tips at the end of the tour. However, it’s a cheaper alternative to traditional tours and they’re usually full of cool facts and bits of information you might not have come across on your own.
Another way to find free activities is to do a Google search of “free activities in” and the city you’re visiting and you’re likely to find some fun things to do that are all FREE. Other searches include “free museum days in ____” or “free entry days in ____.”
Tip #4 – Look for Discounted Days for Entry to Museums and Other Sites
This is similar to the above tip but you’re looking for discounted entry. Some bigger attractions might not have a “free day” but can have a discounted day on their more quiet days/times. For example, Casa Vicens in Barcelona has discounted entry on Mondays. If you love tips for cheap travel definitely look for discounted and free entry with a simple Google search. The info is out there and you’ll be surprised at how many discounts you can find.
Tip #5 – Set a Travel Budget
If you want to travel cheaper, create a traveling budget! Set a budget by taking into account your daily expenses such as accommodations, food, transportation, activities, etc. Look to see how much an average night’s stay will cost you. Budget your meals based on what the average meal will cost. If you’re on a tight budget opt for making your own meals. After you take into account what an average travel day will cost you set your budget and stick to it.
Tip #6 – Do Your Research on Transportation Costs
Use websites such as Rome 2 Rio to price compare trains, buses, or using Blah Blah Car (which is big throughout many countries in Europe). Trains can be more expensive but may save you hours in time. Book transportation directly through the railway or bus website when possible to avoid additional fees. This is a travel tip that I learned after a couple of years of international travel and has been super helpful. It requires some research but the extra 15 minutes spent has saved me money.
Transportation traveling tips:
- Some cities may have a metro pass that saves you some money but this only will work if you will use it more the number of rides it’s good for
- Walk when possible. If you’re visiting a walkable city take advantage of freely roaming the city.
Tip #7 – Opt to Book Hotels/Hostels with Free Breakfast
A great way to save money to get a free meal. If there’s a free breakfast at your hotel make sure to take advantage. This is one of those travel hacks that seems obvious but no one really brings up. I like to factor this into my search and will tend to book hotels that have a GOOD free breakfast (TIP: look at photos and reviews to make sure it’s a quality breakfast and not just stale muffins and Minute Maid OJ).
Tip #8 – Bring a Friend to Split the Cost of Lodging
You can save on travel if you are traveling with a friend by splitting the cost of a hotel room. Most hotels are the same price whether you’re just one guest or two guests. This isn’t helpful for solo travelers who want to save but if you do have someone to travel with you’ll be able to split accommodations in half
Tip #9 – Book Off-Season
Wondering how to save on travel expenses? Book off-season! Accommodations and even some activities can be cheaper because the demand isn’t as high in the off-season. If you’re going on an excursion that you’re booking the day of or the next day don’t be shy to negotiate and ask for the best price.
Tip #10 – Find Cheap Flights
Want cheaper flights? Look for travel deals or sign up for a travel deal alert program like Dollar Flight Club. You can also join a Facebook group for money-saving travelers who are looking for good travel deals. There are so many ways to get the best flight deals.
For other ways to find cheap flights, check out my guide.
Tip #11 – Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates
Wondering how to save money on travel? Be flexible! Flexibility with your travel dates can help you save BIG! This is probably one of my favorite travel tips. When you’re flexible with your travel dates you can sometimes save hundreds of dollars. It’s usually cheaper to fly on Tuesday and Wednesday. However, flying international is usually cheaper on Thursday and Friday.
You can use Google Flights to see which days are cheaper to fly and adjust your travel plans accordingly to save big.
Tip #12 – Book Travel on Tuesday and Use an Incognito Browser to Price Compare
Tuesday is said to be the cheapest day to travel. This isn’t always true but usually is one of the best days to buy. You’ll also want to take into account purchasing your flight in advance (see below).
Tip #13 – Book Travel in Advance But Not Too Far in Advance
Domestic travel is supposed to be the cheapest when booked three months in advance to six weeks in advance. You’ll want to monitor the prices and make sure to use an incognito when price comparing. And international travel is supposed to be the cheapest when booked six months to three months in advance. Again, you’ll want to check at least a couple of times within this timeframe.
I start to look at flights as far in advance as I possibly can to monitor the trends. As soon as I see the prices go up or down I’ll wait a bit more and then decide right away if I see they are going up. If they are gradually going down I’ll wait it out so I can try for a better price.
Tip #14 – Stay at the Most Expensive Hotels During the Week to Avoid Premium Weekend Rates
Look at the rates to see which hotels you’ll be staying at are the most expensive. If you can arrange your plans so that you stay at the most expensive hotels during the week you can avoid paying premium weekend rates.
Many hotel rates are a bit higher on weekends so decided to stay at the cheaper hotels on the weekends can help you save. This is something you’ll have to price compare and also make sure it makes sense for your travel schedule. For example, if I’m flying into a city on a Saturday night I might choose to stay at a 3-star hotel for the first night then move to a better hotel the following day.
Tip #15 – Use WiFi, Not Your Data
If you don’t have an affordable international data plan leave your phone on airplane mode or turn off roaming. Avoid a hefty bill by relying on free WiFi when available. Need to call home? Use FaceTime when on WiFi or apps like WhatsApp and Skype. Need maps while out exploring? Download the area you are going to Google Maps or download Maps.Me for offline maps.
And now you know how to save money on travel (or at least 15 different ways)! I hope you found these money-saving travel tips helpful and can use some of them when planning your next adventure. If you’re ever asked how to save money on travel feel free to share this!
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