When you’re planning a trip, it’s fun to look for ways to save money with cheap travel deals, discount vacations and vacation packages. If you’re wondering how to save money specifically for your big adventure, you’re in luck.
Here are travel hacks and ways to save money on a tight budget, many of which won’t interrupt your life at all. Check out these 50 easy ideas for how to save money for your next trip.
1. Create a Budget
Personal finance experts agree on one thing: Implementing a budget is one of the best ways to save money. Having a consistent, simple spending budget is critical to saving for anything, including a vacation.
You must keep track of money coming in and money going out if you’re going to save. Luckily, Mint and Wave offer free budgeting software that links all your cards and accounts for convenient tracking. Both apps enable you to create vacation-specific budgets and saving plans while you’re searching for last-minute travel deals.
2. Threaten to Cancel Service
Threatening to cancel a service can get you a lower rate on monthly expenses, from cable to web hosting, according to Barry Gross, founder and president of BillCutterz, a website devoted to helping people save on their monthly bills. The money you save can go straight into your vacation fund. Start by calling customer service and saying “cancel service” when you get the auto prompt.
“They might ask if you are moving,” Gross said. “Say ‘no.’ This will immediately escalate your call to their retention department, which offers significantly higher discounts than just the general customer service department.”
3. Save on Bills to Hit the Beach
You should also call your service providers and negotiate on bills by asking open-ended questions — like, “Where can you save me money?” — according to Gross. “If you ask, ‘Can you give me a cheaper rate?,’ they can just say, ‘Sorry, no I can’t,'” Gross said.
Be polite, call at off-peak times and don’t let the customer service person respond to your request for a lower bill with an offer of extra service, like free HBO for three months. Comps might be nice, but they don’t net you cash for the best travel deals.
4. Scrimp on Transportation to Splurge on Travel
Social sites like Meetup and GroupCarpool host rideshare groups that get together to carpool for both commuting and long-distance journeys. The most expensive way to travel is alone. By carpooling, you effectively split the bill with other motorists.
The money you save can go into your vacation fund. As an added bonus, you do the world a favor by getting a car off the road.
5. Trim Your Own Hair
The average haircut costs $28 for a man and $44 for a woman, according to data from mobile payment app Square. Cutting your own hair — or at least trimming it between cuts to stretch out trips to the stylist or barber — is one of the best easy ways to save money for your trip. YouTube offers plenty of tutorials on how to cut and layer by yourself.
If you’re not feeling adventurous, you can always visit a salon school. Student hairdressers offer discounts but are supervised by experienced stylists.
6. Ask for Loyalty Credits
Negotiating your bills can lead to real vacation savings. But don’t stop with lower payments.
“Ask if they can give you any ‘loyalty’ credits,” Gross said of the companies that you pay each month. “They usually will give you a $25 or $50 one-time credit.”
7. Don’t Buy Vacation Stuff on Vacation
When you go on your trip, chances are good you’ll need things like bathing suits, sunscreen, sunglasses, beach chairs and other vacation-related stuff. Bring it with you instead of buying it once you arrive — especially if you’re going to a resort. Destination spots are known to charge more for sunblock, which can negate any money you saved by shopping for discount vacations.
8. Keep It Simple
You can save big bucks on clothing without looking like a pauper. And you can pass those savings on to your vacation fund, according to certified career coach Jess Chua.
“Build a minimalist wardrobe that is focused on classic styles and fabrics,” Chua said. “The choice of clothing should flatter your body type and reflect your personal sense of style. There is a tendency to waste more money if you follow fashion trends blindly and end up buying clothes, shoes and bags that are not essential.”
9. Stay Beautiful on the Cheap
Many expensive beauty products have inexpensive, homemade alternatives. “Search for affordable and effective DIY natural skincare recipes,” Chua said. “For example, a turmeric face mask has been used since ancient times to rejuvenate skin. Natural ingredients like turmeric and organic raw honey possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that treat and repair the skin.”
10. Cut the Cord
Your cable bill might be dragging down your budget — and your vacation plans. Today, there are great, cheap streaming devices that can replace almost everything you love about cable.
“Cancel your cable subscription,” Chua said. “Get a Hulu or Netflix subscription, Roku stick or Amazon Prime TV streaming, instead. A TV antenna will also allow you to watch free broadcast TV, with access to networks such as CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and more.” Those savings, plus any travel discounts you can find, might be enough to put your vacation budget where it needs to be.
11. Side-Hustle Your Way to Vacation
You can earn extra money from the comfort of your own home with a side gig. And it’s way more convenient than an actual part-time job.
“Use an online database like FlexJobs to search for legitimate, work-from-home jobs,” Chua said. “Data entry, social media management, medical coding, talent acquisition and writing/editing tasks are some examples of jobs which can be done remotely.” Any of these can help you pay for one of the travel package deals you’re considering.
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12. Eat at Home So You Can Go Away
If you look at your credit card statements, and you see more than just one or two dining receipts every month, your vacation fund wants you to cut back. “Prepare your own coffee, tea and meals at home,” Chua said.
“Your wallet will thank you whenever you forego Starbucks or replace a restaurant lunch with a home-cooked meal.” If you shop all-inclusive travel deals, you won’t have to worry about food while you’re on vacation.
13. Keep Out the Draft
Any money you save on energy costs can go directly into your vacation fund. “Cover your windows with plastic,” said Joseph Templin, managing director of Lamp of Castle Holdings and author of “Financial Mistakes of Young Americans: What They Didn’t Teach You!”
“In addition to making your apartment or house warmer, you can easily save $20 to $40 a month this winter,” said Templin. That’s hundreds of bucks a year toward your cruise, road trip or whatever your vacation entails.
14. Host a Clothing Swap
A clothing swap is a party that will net you some new wardrobe items. Invite people of all shapes and sizes, preferably at the end of the season when they’re ready to clean out their closets.
Determine a maximum and minimum number of articles every person should bring and make sure everyone knows to bring items that are washed and folded. Ask them to add some accessories and swap away. Not only will you save money, you’ll have brand-new threads to show off when you get out of town.
15. Head to the Library
For entertainment, Templin suggests visiting an amazing, free resource that exists in nearly every town and city in the country: the public library. Offering far more than just books, libraries enable users to rent everything from DVDs to video games for free. Satiate your cravings for books and media while squirreling away money for your trip.
16. Hungry? Call for Reinforcements
You don’t want to waste money by dining out, but you want to have some fun and live a little while you’re saving for vacation. “Get together with friends for a cooking dinner party instead of going out,” Templin said. “Rotate among friends weekly.”
17. Clink, Clink, Clink Your Way to Vacay
Small change can quickly turn into big vacation savings. “Take all the change you generate every single day, both bills and coins from purchases, and put it in a jar or basket,” said Stephen Lesavich, Ph.D., J.D. and coauthor of “The Plastic Effect: How Urban Legends Influence the Use and Misuse of Credit Cards.” “This will allow you to save money every single day,” Lesavich said.
18. Open a Dedicated Savings Account
The act of opening a savings account exclusively for your vacation fund can make you want to save more and watch it grow. “Open a new savings account at your bank or credit union,” Lesavich said. “Set up a small — $5, $10, $20, $50, etc. — auto withdrawal from whatever bank account your payroll check is deposited into to your new savings account.”
19. Pay Yourself First
If you want to start taking saving seriously, treat your vacation fund as you would any other bill. “It will be automatically handled, so once you set it up, you will never have [to] think about it again,” Lesavich said. “Even a $20 monthly auto withdrawal gives you $240 at year’s end — enough to spend on vacation or handle a small emergency.”
20. Buy Generic
Americans waste as much as $44 billion a year on name brands, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Bayer aspirin costs $6.29, but the store brand costs just $2.27 — and $1.14 when it’s on sale, according to CNN.
The moral of the story is to buy generic whenever possible. Your vacation isn’t a brand snob.
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21. Get a Good Travel Rewards Credit Card
The best travel rewards credit cards incorporate big bonuses that quickly allow you to earn enough miles or points. Once you’ve collected enough points you can travel the world practically for free.
22. Get a Good Cash-Back Rewards Card
Cash-back cards can be as good as those that award airline miles for travelers. By accumulating cash back, and not touching what you’ve earned, you automatically build a travel savings account that you can use on vacation.
23. Use Cash
People are more reluctant to spend money when they use cash, according to Psychology Today. Because you can’t physically see money disappearing from your wallet, credit and debit cards take the pain out of spending and therefore encourage overspending. Use cash so you can physically see your vacation fund disappearing — and spend less.
24. Read for Free on Amazon
If you’re an avid reader, ditch your book subscription service and take advantage of Amazon’s extensive free e-book selection. You can also save on your reading habit by hitting used bookstores or borrowing from a friend. Not only will you save for your trip, you’ll be able to delve into a new chapter for free when you get to your destination.
25. Consider Amazon Prime
Purchasing Amazon Prime for $99 a year seems counterintuitive because it’s an added expense. But subscribers get streaming TV and movies, unlimited photo storage and Kindle book borrowing, which can help you cancel several monthly subscription bills. Even better, you get free two-day shipping on eligible purchases, a feature that provides huge savings.
26. Split the Cost of Subscription Services
You can add up to two adult “household” members — with no real household requirement — which enables you to get others to chip in with you toward the $99 subscription fee and share the benefits of free Amazon delivery. You can also split Netflix with roommates and even share Hulu services with a friend and save money toward your vacation.
27. Get Free Amazon Shipping Without Prime
If you don’t want to spring for Amazon Prime, you can still enjoy free shipping, as long as you’re not in a rush to receive your goods. Wait until you accumulate at least $25 of eligible items in your cart to qualify for free shipping. The catch? It takes between five and eight business days for your purchases to arrive.
28. Make ‘Deal of the Day’ Your First Stop
Amazon has a “Deal of the Day” page that offers big savings on goods. Stop there first on birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. And don’t forget to check out other stores’ websites, which might offer limited-time deals.
29. Buy on Fridays
Every Friday, Amazon lists more than 100 items for special, deep-discount sales — for 24 hours only. Amazon’s Friday sale is the ultimate discount rack.
For best results, establish one day each week when you do all of your shopping. Not only can this save you time — and gas mileage — it can help you cut out all that mindless spending throughout the week.
30. Opt for Gently Used
You can score like-new products in Amazon Warehouse, the site section where buyers can save big on lightly used or open-box goods. Additionally, you can find deals on pre-owned products on eBay or Craigslist.
31. Put a Hold on the Holidays
If you’ve been saving up for Christmas gifts all year, put that money toward your vacation fund instead. Opt for a Secret Santa exchange with family or friends — this way, you’re assigned to purchase a gift for just one person.
32. Use Coupon Sites
From hamburgers to motorcycle helmets, there’s a good chance a coupon or discount code exists for whatever it is that you’re about to buy. Search sites like CouponSherpa and RetailMeNot before making a purchase.
33. Become a Rideshare Driver
Convert your car and free time into vacation savings by signing up as a driver for Uber, Lyft or one of the emerging competitor services. Doing this might enable you to have a primo vacation bought and paid for in just a few months.
34. Be a Secret Shopper
Businesses of all kinds hire secret shoppers as part of their security and quality control efforts. You go in as a customer, eat a meal or buy some stuff and report back to the company about your experience.
The most dedicated shoppers can make thousands of dollars a year, but the majority get reimbursed for the meal or items purchased and receive small stipends. Translation: free food and merchandise. As a cautionary note, you should beware of mystery shopper scams and never pay to sign up for a secret shopping gig, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
35. Take Surveys
Many companies pay people to take surveys, the results of which they sell to corporations and marketing firms. You can make money on the side by participating in these surveys. You might find there are disreputable sites running scams, however, so proceed with caution.
36. Sit on a Jury
Law firms and other legal entities pay people to serve as mock jurors on cases that haven’t gone to court yet or to train new lawyers. Try eJury or Online Verdict to participate in this money-making endeavor.
37. Talk to Your Insurers
Call your auto, health, homeowner and other insurance providers to see if there is any way you can lower your rates. Bundling can save you money and so can lowering your deductible. In some cases, taking a free, defensive driving course can lead to a lower premium on your auto insurance.
38. Tutor Online
Share your skills and knowledge with someone who is eager to learn. Sites like Tutor and TutorVista pay online tutors for their time and effort.
39. Reassess Your Mobile Plan
Research shows that many Americans pay for data they don’t use — and they often have no idea how much they use or waste. Call your provider, see what plans it offers and make sure the plan you have is not too much — and expensive — for your needs.
40. Sell Your Stuff
OfferUp and other apps make it easy to list and sell household items you no longer need or want. Unlike eBay, you don’t have to ship anything. Just list it for sale with some photos and people will message you about purchasing and picking up.
More Tips: How to Make Money Off What You Already Have
41. Get an Acorns Account
The Acorns mobile app helps you invest and save with nothing more than your spare change — literally. Link a credit or debit card to Acorns make a purchase and the app will round it up to the nearest dollar and put the difference into your investment account.
42. Join Rewards Programs
Customer loyalty and rewards programs enable you to save money, get first dibs on deals and accumulate valuable points at the places you shop the most. Rewards programs are not the same as store credit cards, so you might want to avoid the latter if you’re looking to save.
43. Take Advantage of Free Museum Days
Many museums host free days that waive admission costs for the general public during their slow times. Entertain your kids, yourself or a date with a fun, educational — and free — trip to a museum.
44. Buy Organic Produce Sparingly
Buying organic produce can reduce the amount of pesticides you ingest. But it can also be a waste of money.
Maybe it’s worth spending a little more to go organic on the “Dirty Dozen,” which includes apples, celery and tomatoes. The “Clean 15,” however, are probably not worth the expense. Safe, nonorganic foods include honeydew, eggplant and avocados.
45. Quit Smoking
Smoking is killing you — physically and financially. Pack-a-day smokers cough up an average of $9,200 per year that nonsmokers get to pocket for things like vacations.
46. Cut Electricity Costs
Most homeowners spend 5 percent of their energy budgets on lighting. You can reduce your energy costs by switching out bulbs for CFL, halogen or LED. To save even more, use Energy Star-certified fixtures. That’s not enough for a real vacation — but it’s enough for a whole bunch of drinks.
47. Plan Meals Around Sales
Save money by planning meals for the week to avoid wasting unused ingredients and eating out. For best results, base the plan on your local grocery store’s flyer, circular and weekly sale.
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48. Slay ‘Vampire’ Appliances
Although energy costs are at record lows, Americans still spend as much as 4 percent of their incomes on powering their homes. And hundreds of those dollars might be going to vampires.
Vampire appliances use “standby power” when they’re plugged in, even if they’re turned off. By slowly bleeding unused electricity, these appliances gradually kill your budget — and your vacation dreams — to the tune of $250 a year. Kill vampires by unplugging electronics when they’re not in use or investing in advanced power strips.
49. Work Out at Home
The average gym membership costs around $60 per month — and about 67 percent of memberships go unused, according to USA Today. Cancel the costly membership and work out at home with exercises that require no equipment. Get the beach bod of your dreams just in time for your vacation, which you’ll soon be able to afford thanks to the $720 a year you just saved.
50. Get Better Credit Card Rates
In most cases, you can get a lower interest rate on your credit card just by calling and asking for one. If the company doesn’t give you a better rate it might offer points, especially if you’re a high-credit customer who pays on time.
Consider transferring the balance from a card with a high APR to a one with a low APR. Generally, balance transfers offer low introductory APRs for a set period of time, often 12 months. You can consolidate debt and save on interest payments.
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