Your love of travel may be directly at odds with how much traveling can cost, from the airfare or other form of transportation to lodgings to fun activities you hope to do once there. And that doesn’t even touch upon the many surprising expenses that crop up when you travel.
Fortunately, experts have a lot of unique hacks for how to save money when you’re booking travel or are already on the road. Here are our top 10 tips.
Search Flights in Incognito Mode
If you want the best chance to find the lowest price on airfare, Rax Suen, a travel blogger, podcast host and founder of Nomads Unveiled, said, “Always clear your web browser cache or use incognito mode if you are checking flight prices multiple times. Some airline websites track your browsing history and will show repeat visitors a different and higher price to cause FOMO (fear of missing out).”
Use Flash Sites
According to Rose Ackerman, editor of the travel website Family Destinations Guide, you will likely get the best deals by visiting “flash sites” such as Groupon Getaways and Scott’s Cheap Flights. “If you are flexible with your dates and book well in advance, you could save anywhere from 40 percent to a whopping 90 percent on flights alone.”
Credit Card Points
Of all the ways to get cheap flights and other travel deals, Alene Laney, a travel writer at Pennies to Paradise, said, “There’s not much that can beat travel hacking with credit card points.”
You can take advantage of flexible point systems like those from Chase, American Express and Citi, and combine them with sign-up bonuses from you and a significant other and end up with free flights and hotels, she said. “I’ve traveled to Paris, The Galapagos, and Bora Bora using points in the last couple of years all on a one-income household budget. It’s a game changer for any family on any income level.”
Use a Local Sim Card To Reduce Roaming
Since roaming charges for your mobile phone can add up quickly if you don’t have a package, and if you’re not interested in purchasing one through your provider, consider, instead, getting a local sim card for wherever you’re traveling, especially internationally, Suen said.
Book a Travel Bundle
Another way to save on travel costs is to book a travel bundle, said Michelle Halpern, founder and owner of the Live Like it’s the Weekend travel blog. “The best way to save money on your travels is to book your adventure in a bundle or packaged deal such as those offered by Costco.” She said this may eliminate taxes and fees that come with individual bookings and can often include perks such as free room upgrades and other discounts.
If you can book your travel on slightly less traveled dates or with less of a fixed destination in mind, you can end up with a fabulous trip for a lot less money, said Zander Buteux, a travel industry executive at VacationRenter. “My number one money-saving tip is to be flexible with your travel plans because it gives you a better chance of getting a better deal…” he said.
He pointed out that flying on a Thursday, for example, instead of a Friday could save you several hundreds, as well as staying at hotels mid-week versus the weekend.
Travel Off Season
If you want to travel well, avoid crowds and pay the best price, Jignesh Gohel, founder of The India, a travel website, encourages off-season travel.
“Off-season travel is a great way to save money because…accommodation is not at all expensive [and] easily available, the tickets are cheaper, [and] there are fewer people at tourist spots so you can spend quality time with your family and friends.”
Airbnb for Longer Stays
If you have the capacity to stay for a longer trip at your destination, between two and four weeks, Ackerman said that Airbnb offers a “generous discount” on these longer stays. “Apart from the discount the long-term stays at an Airbnb offer, it also adds more of a local flavor to your vacation.”
Book Flights to a City Linked to a Major Hub
One great hack for cheaper airfare, if your travel involves a major airport hub, is to book a ticket to a city linked to that hub, said Jill Miller, a travel expert with Your RV Lifestyle. “The ticket will be much cheaper and, as you will be routed through the hub anyway, you get off there.”
Alternatives to Flying
If you can let go of traveling somewhere by plane, you can save a lot of money by using buses, trains and taxis, said Stephan Jacob, IT lead for a travel agency. He recommended using the websites Rome2rio.com, “a trip planner that maps out all available transportation options between destinations in major cities and countries;” and RideGuru, “an online tool that helps compare taxi and rideshare services so you can find the most economical choice for you.”
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