Creative Ways to Save Money While Traveling

Summary: Traveling to destinations near and far is a dream for many. You can make that dream a reality and also save money by following a few budget-friendly travel tips.

Many people put off traveling due to the cost. Whether you’re flying somewhere or planning a road trip, the costs can add up, especially when airfare, hotel rates and gas prices are high.

Travel doesn’t have to be expensive. You can use several budget travel tips to save money on the trip you’ve always dreamed about. Here are 10 budget travel tips to follow and save money.

10 Budget Travel Tips

1. Plan ahead

You’ll be better able to save money on traveling if you plan your trip several months ahead of when you want to go. According to Travel + Leisure, you should book domestic flights three to seven months in advance and international flights four to 10 months ahead of your travel date to get the most affordable rates.

Planning ahead also helps you schedule your holiday to coincide with local free events like fairs or street festivals. Or you can pick a far-off destination where the U.S. dollar is strong and tipping is not expected at most places (and sometimes even frowned upon).

2. Travel off-season

If you have some flexibility on when you travel, you can save money by scheduling your trip during the off-season. Traveling during high-peak times like Spring Break or Christmas will cost you more on flights, accommodations and gas than at other times during the year. For example, if you plan a trip to Europe, book your getaway in April or October, when airfares tend to be cheaper. An added bonus? Shorter lines and smaller crowds!

3. Schedule flights on certain days

The day of your flight also impacts the cost of airfare. Flights tend to cost considerably less if you travel on Tuesday or Wednesday, rather than Friday or over the weekend. A roundtrip flight from Wednesday to Wednesday will probably cost you at least $100 less than if you traveled Friday to Friday.

4. Fly out of major airports

If you live close to a smaller metropolitan airport, it may be more convenient to travel from there. However, it may cost more. Plus, if your destination requires multiple flights, you may end up changing planes in a larger hub airport anyway. If you live within a couple of hours of a major hub airport, make the trek there for flights. You’ll probably find the airfares are cheaper and the flights have fewer layovers.

5. Pack light

Airlines charge hefty prices for checked luggage, and some airlines also charge for carry-ons. Carry-on luggage fees on discount airlines like Frontier and Spirit can sometimes cost more than your actual airfare. To reduce luggage fees, you should learn to pack light when traveling. Compression bags work great for packing many clothes in a small backpack. Limit your shoes to one or two comfortable pairs.

6. Use travel apps and websites

There are many travel apps and websites that can help you save money on travel. With sites like Hopper, Skyscanner and Google Flights, you can get an idea of the cheapest days or months to fly. Priceline and HotelTonight have deals on accommodations, and you can save money staying in hostels vs. hotels or Airbnb. There are even travel deal sites like FareDrop, Secret Flying and Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) where you can get a membership to receive notifications about cheap travel deals.

7. Dine out once a day

Eating out at restaurants while traveling can drain your wallet. Try limiting dining out to once a day when you are on vacation. Explore local grocery store offerings and plan to make some of your meals if you are staying in an Airbnb or VRBO with a kitchen.

8. Use a travel points credit card

Want to travel for free? Consider getting a credit card that rewards you with travel points on purchases you make every day. Many of these cards include introductory offers that give you thousands of points if you spend a certain amount within a certain number of months. Those points can often get you one roundtrip airfare or a hotel stay for several nights at no cost.

Some travel rewards credit cards also reimburse you for a TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee. However, getting a travel rewards credit card is a good option only if you diligently pay off your credit card every month. Otherwise, the interest you’ll pay isn’t worth the perks.

9. Get a gas card

If you’re planning an epic road trip, consider getting a gas rewards credit card that helps you save money at the pump. Used in tandem with loyalty programs, you can also save on other expenses like dining out, every time you fuel up.

10. Don’t rent a car

Renting a car is often an unnecessary expense when traveling to a place with many accessible forms of public transportation, like Europe. Hopping on a bus or train can add to your travel experience. Besides, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of finding or paying for parking.

Bottom line

Travel on a budget is not only possible but also rewarding when you follow these actionable budget travel tips. These tips can significantly reduce spending without taking away from your experience of visiting a new or familiar destination.

While the allure of luxury travel, staying in posh hotels and dining in fancy restaurants is enticing, exploring the world on a budget can be equally enriching and memorable.