8 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Trip

Written by: Darlene M. Baird

Budgeting is always a very important part of travel. Not only does the trip itself have to be affordable in order to work, but once you’re on the ground and enjoying your destination, it’s usually important not to go overboard. Now, if you happen to be comfortable enough to splurge here and there, by all means, go for it. But personal financial situation aside, there are a lot of fairly easy and logical ways to save money on your next big trip. We’ll discuss eight of them below.

How to Save Money on Travel

1. Book Airfare Early
There are actually a ton of fun and interesting airfare “hacks” out there that you can research thoroughly if you really want to ensure the best fares. The idea of booking early is a fairly basic one, though if you book too early, flights can actually be quite pricey. Interestingly enough, there have actually been massive studies looking at tens and even hundreds of millions of bookings, and they’ve determined how far in advance you should book for optimal rates. In Winter, it’s 62 days in advance; in Spring, 90; in Summer, 47; and in Fall, 69. Go figure!

2. Book At Off Hours & Days
The same study referenced above, which was conducted by CheapAir.com, actually found that the whole “book on off days” thing typically amounts to only a few dollars of savings. Nevertheless, a few dollars here and there can make a fairly big difference, particularly if you’re booking for a group or family and buying several tickets. Generally, it’s still best to seek out off days and odd hours – often Tuesdays and Saturdays, and early and late flights, though this is not an exact science.

3. Avoid “Dynamic Pricing” When Booking
Dynamic pricing is a devious trick by which prices can rise for you if you’re simply refreshing a booking page in search of better fares. One way to think of it is that the system becomes aware of your repeated desire to book flights, and effectively raises prices to match your demand. You can avoid this by clearing cookies on your browser before refreshing or looking again. Don’t expect this to magically make all flights affordable, but do try it just in case you’re falling prey to dynamic pricing.

4. Book Accommodations Directly
These days we’re getting used to aggregate services that show us bookings from a range of companies and properties all at once. It’s a spectacular way to find what you need, but not necessarily the best way to get a good price. Instead, use these sites for research and then, whenever possible, book directly through the property website. You may find lower prices, and you may also be able to take advantage of discount or reward programs more easily.


5. Research Public Transportation
The Mapping Megan travel site has a nice little article on how to save money on transport while abroad, and you may notice it doesn’t say anything about renting your own car. With some exceptions – such as if you’re planning on road tripping from one place to the next – a car rental tends to be the most expensive option. Instead, do your research regarding public transportation at the destination. Buses, subway or rail systems, Uber and Lyft, and even walking around can all be excellent, affordable options depending on the destination. You can wind up saving quite a bit. Granted, you may have certain limitations as to how easily you can use public transportation based on the group you’re traveling with, but to the extent possible this is good tip to take advantage of.

6. Enjoy Local Food
This might be the best tip out there for how to save money traveling, because it also results in a better experience. Putting it simply, nice restaurants tend to cost a great deal more money than small, “hole-in-the-wall” places that typically showcase the best local cuisine anyway. So you may as well kill two birds with one stone, saving money on local fare and getting a taste for the more authentic and traditional flavors at the same time.

7. Avoid The Entertainment Traps
This doesn’t mean to avoid entertainment altogether, but there are certain things that are designed to get tourists to spend money. One good example is casinos, which tend to exist at popular travel destinations, and which can be incredibly alluring. If you must play these games though, there are versions of them for free that you can typically access online anywhere real casinos reside legally. Another example is theatre, where tickets can appear to be exorbitant. If you’re interested, avoid ordinary purchases and research secondary ticket markets. You get the idea. There are all kinds of workarounds for entertainment as it’s typically presented to tourists, and with a bit of diligence you can avoid unnecessary costs.

8. Stay Off The Beaten Path
Off the beaten path travel is actually extremely trendy these days. Innumerable travel blogs, as well as popular travel companies like Atlas Obscura, specialize in directing tourists toward the places and experiences that used to miss out on headlines. And more often than not, these are cheaper ways to enjoy wherever you may be traveling. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or enjoy similar highlights around the world, but it’s still a good way to fill up your time with enjoyable activities that won’t cost much!


Thank you Darlene for your guest post. Please consider subscribing to DQ Family Travel. I send monthly emails about my latest posts which include places we have visited and travel tips.

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