Traveling is a wonderful opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime. Traveling should excite, inspire, and rejuvenate you — not leave you in debt. Expenses can add up fast when you’re traveling, especially if you do it often. Finding ways to maximize your budget without sacrificing your experience is a challenge. We understand the struggle so we have compiled some of our best tips and tricks to help you save money. These suggestions help cut the costs, not the experience. Some of these tips require planning before you hit the road, while others you can do while actually traveling to save.
Travel During the Off-Season
If you can travel during the off-season, you’ll save money and the headaches associated with large crowds. The off-season is the time of year when the least amount of tourist activity occurs in a destination. Summer is almost always classified as a high season, and winter is notoriously considered a low season, but there are always exceptions. For instance, winter in the Austrian Alps is the peak season due to skiers and snowboarders. If you can travel during a destination’s off-season, you’ll save a good chunk of change on your airfare and even hotel rooms since prices are often considerably less expensive than regular or peak season rates.
Lock-In the Lowest Hotel Rate
The hotel room, for many people, is just a place to rest their heads. If you’re not spending a significant amount of time in your hotel room, opting for a 3-star hotel instead of a 5-star deluxe resort with all the amenities can save you money. Shopping for the lowest rate is crucial even if you settle for a less-expensive hotel. There is a multitude of ways to ensure you’re getting the lowest rate, including:
Be flexible with your dates. If you can travel during the week, you’ll find that hotel rates are cheaper on weekdays than on weekends.
Sign up for the hotel’s loyalty or rewards program. These programs offer repeat customers perks and can save money on future visits.
Book a non-refundable rate. If you’re sure you won’t need to cancel, you can save money by booking the non-refundable rate instead of the refundable option.
Check directly with the hotel to see if they match or beat the lowest advertised rate. Many hotels pledge to beat the lowest advertised rate offered for their rooms.
Book longer stays to save more. Staying at a hotel more nights will often lower the nightly rate.
Look for promo codes. Always search the internet for a promo code to save even more money. Sign up for their emails if you’re going through a third-party booking service. These companies tend to offer a one-time welcome promotional code to save on your first booking. You’ll want to look for their brand-specific promo codes if booking directly with the hotel.
Book your room using credit card reward points. Booking rooms with points versus cash can help you avoid dipping into your cash savings and may even help you eliminate some fees. Some hotel loyalty programs, including Hilton Honors, waive resort fees for rooms booked on points.
Explore Additional Lodging Options
Although some people prefer the perks and convenience of a hotel, you could save money by renting a vacation home, Airbnb, or VRBO property for your stay. These options tend to be cost-effective for longer durations or large families. Since they’re typically equipped with a kitchen, you can prepare meals and save even more money on dining expenses.
Venture Outside the Tourist Zone for Food
Food and drink expenses can be some of the most expensive aspects of your travel budget. Doing your own cooking if you’re staying in a place with kitchen accommodations is an obvious way to save, but it’s not always an option. You can still enjoy dining out if you ask the locals for recommendations. The hotel staff or locals will likely know the best places to experience authentic local cuisine at a great price.
Generally, the restaurants closest to tourist attractions tend to be the priciest. Referred to as “tourist traps,” these places often swarm with tourists simply because they’re convenient. Additional tips for cutting costs when dining include:
- Pack snacks
- Eat during early bird hours
- Dine out for lunch instead of dinner
- Choose buffets for value
- Enjoy the complimentary breakfast options at your hotel if offered.
Packing light allows you to avoid the checked bag fees, but other incentives exist. A light suitcase or backpack makes it easier to get around, too. You can navigate public transit rather than paying for a taxi or private car to bring your luggage to your lodging. A smaller bag also helps you resist the urge to buy souvenirs.
So how exactly do you pack light? If your accommodation doesn’t have washing options, bring clothes that you can wash easily in a sink and dry quickly. You can also pick clothes that you can mix and match. Stick to basic items and shoes that match multiple outfits.
Use a Credit Card that Provides Travel Insurance
Travel insurance protects you and your nonrefundable deposits from unexpected emergencies. However, these insurance policies often cost hundreds of dollars. Some credit cards offer free travel insurance if you book the trip with that card. Check to see what travel insurance coverage your credit card offers to avoid spending money on separate coverage.
Take Notes and Plan
ByteLyfe’s online micro journaling app is the ideal way to document your travels. A travel journal helps you keep track of all the places you’ve been, the experiences, people you met along the way, and any helpful tips or hacks you learned to save money on future trips. A planning journal is a simple way to get organized as you prepare for an upcoming trip. The app even allows you to pin important notes and easily search for them with labels and hashtags. You can store key details, including price comparisons, promo codes, and attractions you want to check out right in the app.