Travel is often looked at as expensive, but travel can actually be pretty affordable! You can go on your dream vacation without draining your wallet, I promise! I’ve traveled to over twenty countries and countless cities around the world and most of my trips have been on a budget!
Over the past seven years of traveling, and through trial and error, I have gathered some of the best travel hacks and I’m super excited to share them with you! Here’s my list of:
Travel Hacks That Will Save You Money
1. Find Cheaper Flights On Skyscanner
Know your travel and flight search engines! My two favorite are Skyscanner.com and Momondo.com! Websites like these gather and compare all flights available for your route and they’re super easy to use! This is one of the main ways I’ve saved money on travel!
2. Be Flexible With Travel Dates & Destination
If you’re open and flexible with your dates and destination then travel will be much cheaper for you! An any moment, you can go to Skyscanner and enter “everywhere” instead of selecting a destination, then select the month you prefer to travel in. Skyscanner will display a list of the cheapest destinations for those dates. You can also play around with the dates and check the price difference for each month and destination.
3. Travel on Tuesdays or Wednesdays
Traveling in the middle of the week is much cheaper than any other time. People often travel on weekends, which is why tickets will be pricier on those days. Book your departing flight for a Tuesday or Wednesday, instead.
4. Avoid Fancy Hotels
Skip the fancy hotels and instead book with Airbnb or Booking.com. Airbnb always has amazing apartment and house rentals, most of the time cheaper and nicer than hotels. Staying at an Airbnb also adds to the local experience rather than feeling so touristy. Some of my favorite and most memorable stays have been possible thanks to this amazing marketplace!
The same goes for Booking.com, you can find amazing deals for hostels and hotels all around the world through this site.
Use my Airbnb code to get up to $35 off your next stay!
5. Delete Your Cookies
You know how sometimes you visit a webpage and they ask you to “accept cookies”? Yeah, that’s not because they want to send you chocolate chip cookies. They require you to accept because they want your permission to track your website activity.
Let’s say I’m looking for a flight on Alaska Airlines and I’ve agreed to cookies…now they can track how many times I search for a flight and how often I return to their website. This will let them know that I really want a flight and that I’m likely to purchase, therefore, they will increase the price. This is why you should ALWAYS delete your cookies before booking a flight!
All you have to do is select “Safari” > “Preferences” > “Privacy” > “Manage Website Date” > “Remove All”. These instructions are for an iMac computer.
6. Search For Flights On A Private Browser
This goes hand in hand with the cookies. It’s basically another way to avoid website tracking. If you search on a private browser, no one can track what you’re doing so you’re free to look up flights as much as you want without worrying about increased prices.
On an iMac, all you have to do is select “File” > “New Private Window”.
7. Get Free Flights With Travel Credit Cards
This is one of my favorites because, if you do it right, you will be traveling for free ALL THE TIME! I have recently booked THREE entire roundtrip flights for TWO (me and my boyfriend) just by using my travel credit card points.
This is how it works: you get a travel credit card (like Southwest or Alaska Airlines), then you charge all your bills, gas, food, Netflix to this card, and then you will start receiving travel points. It’s so easy! These are things that you are already going to pay for anyway, but instead of paying with your debit card or with checks, you pay with your new travel credit card.
However, you have to be super responsible with this because you don’t want to acquire interest, so make sure you pay off your credit card total right after every charge you make. And, if it wasn’t obvious, only purchase things that you can actually afford and pay them back immediately.
Then you can happily redeem your travel points and book your next trip for free (aside from taxes)!
Check out my 10 Budget Friendly Destinations blog post!
8. Book Two to Four Months in Advance
Book anywhere between two to four months in advance! I’ve read plenty of times that this is the sweet spot! And gathering from my own experience, I can assure you that it’s pretty accurate! I’ve looked up flights as early as eight months in advance and they always turn out to be cheaper when it gets closer to four month mark. Try it out yourself and see if you can save some money!
9. Shop For Groceries When You Arrive
Food is the most expensive part of any trip! Think about it, three meals a day plus snacks and drinks…that’s hundreds of dollars every single day! Let’s say I spend $20 on breakfast, $25 on lunch, and $30 on dinner, plus $15 on snacks and drinks throughout the day, that’s $100 daily (if not more)! If my trip is for four days, that’s $400. That might as well be another flight ticket!
Instead, book a place that offers kitchen access, or at least some basic kitchen appliances; like a microwave and a mini fridge. This way, you will be able to go grocery shopping once you arrive to your destination and save a ton on food.
I usually assign a budget of $60 to $100 dollars for groceries for both me and my boyfriend. We buy all kinds of snacks, water, oatmeal, toast, almond butter & jelly, nuts, almond milk, bananas, apples, eggs, and other food items that are ready to eat or easy to make. Then we assign a dinner budget, it’s usually $40 – $50 dollars per day for both of us. So, $40 for four days is $160, plus $80 from groceries, that’s $240 dollars for TWO instead of $400 for a single person!
10. Skip The Checked Bag
Checked baggage fees these days are usually no less than $30, for one-way! That’s $60 dollars roundtrip! Ditch the heavy, inconvenient suitcase and pack everything into your carry on and a backpack!
I once traveled to Europe for an entire month and a half and all I carried with me was a carry on and a handbag! It’s not hard to do if you plan out every outfit, restyle the same pieces, and carry nothing but travel size beauty products.
11. Get Informed On Public Transportation
You can spend a lot on transportation if you don’t do your research. For example; if you visit New York, You might think that you need to pay for individual subway rides or hitch an Uber over and over again, which would end up being hundreds of dollars. But you can actually purchase a 7-day unlimited subway and locals bus rides Metro Card for only $33 USD.
This is why it’s super important that you look up the best options for you destination. Some cities are totally walkable while others will require you to rent a car. By the way, if you ever decide to rent a car, expedia.com is a good place to start.
12. Create An Itinerary and Expense List
If you travel somewhere without planning, without knowing how much things cost, without looking up activities and things to do in the area, then you will either not take full advantage of the trip or you will overspend. By the way, if you don’t take full advantage of the trip, that also equates to overspending. Because, after all, you spent so much money to get there, and if you don’t use your time correctly, then you wasted all that money for a mundane, boring trip.
Planning activities, transportation, food, and so on, will help you create an itinerary to help you make the most out of the trip, but most importantly, it will help you determine a budget. I like to first calculate the flight because that establishes dates, then lodging, then food, then activities, and then transportation.
Once I have all my expenses and activities determined, I create my daily itinerary. I assign each day by area, this way I’m not traveling across town to get from one activity/sightseeing to the other. Finally, I total up all costs and start saving for my trip!
Here’s a simple itinerary and expense list that I was working on before the current pandemic.