14 Tips That Help You Save on Travel

As summer hits its middle, it’s not too early to think about next year’s vacation and how to save on travel. This year we may just be lounging around the community swimming pool and having a few BBQ nights on the grill, but not next year.

When planning your vacation, follow these tips to save on travel. The more you think about it in advance, the less you'll worry on your trip.

My wife and I are in the process of planning a big vacation for 2020 right now and we’re getting pretty excited. Excited, but also a bit worried, too. After all, vacations these days have become a pretty hefty expense and because of that we have to use our “super saving” skills to limit the cost and to maximize the fun.

14 Tips to Save on Travel

In prepping for our trip, I have broken out some of my very favorite tips to save some money before we “sign on any dotted line” to travel. See if you can pick out a few ways that work for you and save from my list!

1. Plan for a weekday trip

Hotels are cheaper if you’re staying sometime between Sunday through Thursday. In addition, restaurants are cheaper for lunch and early bird specials that aren’t on weekends. Plus common vacation stops will be less crowded, too.

2. Hunt for hotel amenities

Look for a breakfast included at your hotel. Many hotels offer free breakfast and that’s one less meal to worry about. Check other amenities such as a gym, a pool, child care options, Wi-Fi, laundry, free shuttles, or free parking. Even in-room amenities like soap, shampoo, moisturizer, etc. can save you money.

3. Research loyalty program rewards

You may know that you can use credit card rewards to earn travel, aka travel hacking, but this post isn’t about that. Your credit cards can also include deals on travel insurance, cashback on hotels and rental cars, and some even offer free entry to museums and events just for being a member. Points can earn credits that translate into cashback rewards (if you’re not travel hacking for your next trip).

Check your credit card for benefits such as travel insurance and rental car insurance. Some cards even have upgrade perks with certain hotel chains or airport VIP lounges.

4. Bring a reusable water bottle when you travel

Avoid spending money on bottled water, or worse on sugary drinks. Bring your own reusable bottle to fill up and carry it around with you while exploring at your destination. This cuts costs.

5. Steer clear of silly souvenirs

Things like shot glasses and t-shirts may seem like fun impulse buys, but you don’t need them to remember what a good time you had. Instead focus on taking photographs. They will last longer and are much cheaper.

6. Book your trip well in advance

Travelers often ignore or forget that money can be saved by booking in advance! Many places will allow you to book as far as a year ahead. This summer you can book for next summer. While sometimes last minute bookings can save you money, that’s a gamble.

7. Try to avoid many of the extras

Additional extras make things easier, but they can be very expensive. Avoid a rental car and rely more on public transportation if it’s available. Do your research on what to see and do before you book and you’ll save more!

8. Haggle

If you’ve found a good hotel you like, it’s worth getting in touch with them directly to see if they have any offers or discounts available that you haven’t yet discovered. Email is good, but don’t hesitate in making a call if there is no language barrier. The answer may be no, but there’s never any harm in trying. If you can’t get a reduction in price, maybe you can get extras thrown in. When in doubt, remember the principles of negotiation.

9. Monitor prices even after you look and book

Just because the price is set on the day you check doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Websites often entice you with timely discounts, and it’s worth keeping an eye on the dates you’re looking to travel. Being flexible on your travel dates can also help.

10. Shop smart for your food and drink

Just because you’re going on vacation doesn’t mean you have to pay top price for expensive food and drink every day you’re traveling. For the kids, consider taking some powdered drinks and crackers or other dried goods that you can bring from home. You can shop a local grocery store for replacements while you’re on the road. And keep in mind you can use some saving tips even when you dine out.

11. Vacations and reading

Consider borrowing books from the library and you can even pick up travel guides there without having to pay for them (since you probably won’t ever use them again). You can also check out some books to read while you’re traveling to avoid the costs of buying them new.

12. Check the exchange rates

If you’re traveling abroad, don’t just assume that you’re getting the best exchange rate for your dollar without shopping around. Check with your personal bank and other local banks and credit unions as well as credit card companies to save.

13. Visit a friend?

As strange as it may seem at first, what about making a plan to visit a friend or relative to see someplace new and different? I have friends in Hawaii and California who invite me to visit and even one in Mexico. Just be sure to be a good houseguest!

14. Try something very different and save

Go camping? Why not take a tent and head outdoors for your next vacation? Is there an inner “Daniel Boone” inside you and yours? There are some great national parks to enjoy. Or consider an RV rental in a park setting. Competitively priced, these may offer a savings over the traditional vacation accommodations.

Final Thoughts

Researching vacation deals is not always easy, so it’s never too early to do your homework to save on travel. There’s airfare, the place to stay, and all of your expenses once you get there. How can you save money on all of this and stop the worrying and actually enjoy your vacation?

Vacations are meant to be a time to get away from the real world, but there’s no point in going away if all you’re going to do is worry about how much your trip is going to cost you. Knowing in advance how to save money and cut down on unneeded costs will help you enjoy your time away even more.

What are your best tips to save on vacations? Do you plan way ahead or are you one who just hangs loose and worries about all of it later when the bills roll in? Is your vacation as money stress free as you’d love it to be?

2 Comments

  1. Louise

    Good points, Gary! If you do want local souvenirs, look for a thrift store.

    When I was young, I never understood why older people who traveled were spoken of with admiration. Now I do! Airports are exhausting, as is walking on hard pavements. So when you plan, keep in mind the physical toll they might have on you, and alternate the kinds of activities you do.
    It doesn’t save money to have poor shoes, or to cram too much in to your time and not be able to enjoy it. Some of the most memorable parts of trips I have taken have been unplanned or seemingly small interactions or discoveries.

    As I’m sure you’ve read, anticipation is a big part of a trip. Enjoy your planning!

    1. I appreciate your view on what a vacation is supposed to be. When I was younger, I think I tried to cram everything into a vacation except one thing: relaxing. Nowadays, even though I have the time during the year to relax, I still like the idea of not doing too much and overextending myself with lots of activities. Enjoying some warm weather at a nice beach is probably the way we’ll go on our upcoming vacation. Thanks so much for your comments!

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