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24 Ways to Save Money on Travel

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save money on travel

With spring and summer travel season on the way, it’s crucial to find a way to fit some wanderlust into your monthly budget. But with the growing costs of travel and our stagnating incomes, this isn’t always an easy feat.

Still, vacationing on a budget is possible if you’re willing to consider alternatives, take advantage of deals, and think outside of the box. Here are 24 strategies to try this year:

1. Drive instead of fly. With the average plane ticket costing $355 according to CheapAir.com, it can pay to drive your family instead of flying them – even when you factor in the cost of gas and vehicle maintenance. Best of all, when you drive, you won’t need to arrange transportation when you arrive at your destination.

2. Sign up for a credit card that offers free travel perks. Some travel credit cards offer free perks just for signing up. Those perks can include priority boarding, free wifi, free checked bags with certain airlines, and more. {Related: Secret Perks Your Rewards Card Probably Offers}

3. Rent a vacation condo so you can cook your own meals. Where staying in a traditional hotel can mean eating out for all of your meals, renting a condo with a kitchen can save you a boatload if you’re willing to eat in instead.

4. Split accommodations with family or friends. Speaking of vacation condos, you can save a bundle if you’re willing to rent a bigger place and split it with family and friends.

5. Get a travel credit card with a signup bonus. Rewards cards offer signup bonuses that can drastically cut down on the cost of your trip. While some signup bonuses come in the form of cash back, others come as airline miles or even hotel points.

6. Visit the visitor’s information center. Tourist bureaus offer a wealth of information that can help you plan, and often coupons and discounts to boot. Whenever you arrive somewhere new, visit the visitor’s information center to inquire.

7. Bring snacks and drinks. Whether you’re flying or driving, you can save big by bringing along your own snacks and drinks. Pack some bags of easy-to-transport snacks and a few bottles of water, and voila, you’ve got instant savings.

8. Be flexible with your travel plans. According to CheapAir.com, the cheapest days to fly are often Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you’re able to be flexible with your travel dates, you could save a bundle.

9. Start a targeted savings account just for travel. Saving some money on your own is the best way to afford the vacation of your dreams. Start a separate savings account just for travel, then fund it as often as you can.

10. Leave the kids at home. While a family vacation might be in order, some destinations aren’t geared to small children. Plus, you might be craving an adult getaway. Either way, you can cut down on your travel costs tremendously by leaving the kids at home.

11. Don’t pay foreign transaction fees. If you’re traveling abroad, it’s crucial to use a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. These fees can add 3% to all credit purchases if you don’t find a way to avoid them.

12. Travel off-peak. Traveling outside of the busy season is a smart way to save money. Consider taking a spring trip before or after spring break, visiting spots like Europe during fall, or visiting the Caribbean during hurricane season.

13. Avoid holidays. Holidays drastically drive up the cost of travel, which is why they’re best avoided. Try to travel outside of spring break, winter break, Thanksgiving weekend, and the summer holidays.

14. Sign up for travel deal alerts. Sites like AirFareWatchDog.com let you sign up for alerts that will notify you when the cost of airfare to your desired destination drops.

15. Scour the internet for the best deals. Depending on where you want to travel to, you could save big money by searching the internet for deals. Start with Cheap Caribbean, plus sites like Expedia, Travelocity, and Priceline to find a baseline for the best deals.

16. Look for free things to do. Most cities offer an array of free things to do, whether that includes local parks and waterways, free museum day or free entrance to local attractions.

17. Take public transportation. Instead of relying on taxis, see if you can use public transportation to get around. You’ll save a bundle by doing so, and you’ll learn your way around a city as well.

18. Don’t pay for rental car insurance. Some travel credit cards include free primary auto rental coverage as a cardholder perk. Before you pay for extended coverage, see if your rewards card offers it for free.

19. Eat where the locals eat. Restaurants right off the main drag and near tourist areas are often pricey – and with lackluster food to boot. If you want to save money and eat local fare, eat away from the main tourist attractions and at places where locals already eat.

20. Travel slow. The biggest travel expense you’ll encounter is likely the cost of traveling itself. To save money, travel slower and spend more time in each destination. The longer you can stay put in one area, the more you’ll save on buses, airfare, or train tickets.

21. Follow destinations and hotels on social media. Many destinations and resorts offer special deals to their followers on social media. If you’re paying attention, you could strike while the iron is hot.

22. Go camping. Pricey hotels and resorts can take a bite out of your travel budget. But, camping? Not so much. Save a bunch by packing your own tent and supplies and staying at local campgrounds and state parks as you travel.

23. Eat street food. Street food can be both delicious and inexpensive. Avoid pricey sit-down restaurants and eat your food on-the-go. Best of all, no tipping!

24. Don’t drink – pop or alcohol. Soft drinks and alcohol can cost a bundle without really adding to your travel experience. By not partaking, you can save money at every meal.

Final Thoughts

Summer travel can be as cheap – or as expensive – as we make it. By combining some of these money-saving strategies, we can hopefully get the most out of our dollars while making plenty of memories along the way.

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