Skip To Content

    19 Smart And Practical Ways To Save Money On Vacations, According To Budget-Obsessed Travelers

    Anyone else dreaming of vacation?

    If you love to travel, you're probably always dreaming of your next trip or vacation.

    A woman sits at a water-front vacation house, near a boat working on her laptop
    Getty Images

    Luckily, you don't have to spend a fortune or deplete your savings in order to take that long-awaited getaway. We talked to six experts who shared their best and smartest money-saving travel tips — for when we can all travel safely again.

    Before we dive into the tips, let's first meet our travel experts:

    A jar labelled 'travel' filled with coins.
    Getty Images

    They are:

    • Brittany Roberts, Teacher, Blogger, Trip Leader for Traveling Teachers

    • Sahara Rose De Vore, Wellness Travel Coach and Founder of The Travel Coach Network, author of travel mindset book Hey You, Just Go! on Amazon

    • Erica Carroll Forrest, travel educator and founder of Trip Scholars

    • Sebastian Costa, founder of travel blog and guide Travel Done Simple

    • Rax Suen, travel writer and podcaster at NomadsUnveiled

    • Matt Rafat, founder of travel consulting and marketing company Lononaut

    Here are their best tips and tricks for traveling without breaking the bank:

    1. Fly into major hub airports rather than smaller localized ones — even if it means a longer drive to or from your final destination.

    A crowded check-in area at an airport
    Getty Images

    “Hub airports are main international airports that are usually located in large cities (especially capital cities) around the world. It’s best to find your nearest main airport hub and fly out of there, even if you need to take a coach bus or train to get there," says Sahara Rose De Vore. 

    For instance, if you're planning a trip to Tuscany, Pisa might be the closest airport, but flying into a major travel hub like Rome International Airport will save you cash.

    2. Enrich your trip by studying up on your destination's history before you go — via books, documentaries, podcasts, or online courses.

    Travel books and guides arranged in a library
    Moonstone Images / Getty Images

    "You will save money because you won’t need to hire a guide or buy a guidebook on site," says Erica Carroll Forrest. Instead, she says to turn to library books, travel guides, field guides, documentaries, podcasts, virtual tours, or movies. You can also use Duolingo to study the language, or sign up for a free trial of educational streaming services, like Wondrium or FutureLearn.

    3. Considering ridesharing as a cheap and comfortable way to travel between cities.

    A group of people wearing masks and using a ride sharing service
    Getty Images

    “Not to be confused with ride-hailing such as Uber or Lyft, ridesharing is more like carpooling or formal hitchhiking. You can find drivers that are traveling between cities and have room in their car and coordinate with them to save you a seat,” says Sebastian Costa.

    Apps like BlaBlaCar can help you connect to drivers. "The amount you pay for a rideshare is typically lower than any train or bus ticket," Costa adds. "Plus you get to meet someone cool while also getting a comfier ride, too!”

    4. If your travel dates are set but your locale isn't, enter your details into Google Flights — but leave the destination blank.

    A screen shot of Google Flights.

    “One of my favorite ways to find great flight prices is by playing around with Google Flights," says De Vore. "Check off 'everywhere' as your destination and change your travel timeframe to the 'entire month' option. Set your search to a one-way flight at first because it helps with the quick research. You'll get a good idea of prices for different destinations, even if you’re eventually going to book a round-trip ticket.” 

    Or if your travel dates are set in stone but your getaway location isn't (yet!), leave the destination field blank. You'll be presented with several trip options, sorted by price.

    5. Pack your own lunch when you go on sightseeing tours so you don't get stuck at an over-priced restaurant.

    A woman eating a sandwich outside.
    Getty Images

    If you're on a group tour with a guide, he or she might try to bring you to an over-priced, touristy restaurant. But you can always avoid being in this situation if you come prepared. “I always pack my own lunch and choose a scenic spot to have a picnic,” advises Rax Suen. “Packing your own meal is not only budget-friendly, but you can choose a spot with great scenery to enjoy a nice picnic," he mentions. 

    6. Stay in a neighborhood that is near the city center, but not directly in it.

    A aerial shot of Qingdao city in China
    Cheunghyo / Getty Images

    “When most people travel, they overpay for central accommodations, see what everyone else sees, and ignore public transportation," warns Matt Rafat. However, convenience carries a big price tag. 

    Rather than stay right in the city center, try finding a hotel or rental 20 or 30 minutes outside of the city and take advantage of public transportation. "By using more public transportation, you are more likely to have a more authentic travel experience and also save money,” Rafat says.

    7. For free or discounted lodging, try house or pet sitting.

    A woman sitting near a brown dog on a grey couch.
    Justin Paget / Getty Images

    House sitting or pet setting is a great way to travel on a budget. “There are several sites like Trusted House Sitters that allow you to save money on accommodations by helping someone else take a vacation. For a small fee, and a little bit of time, you can stay at amazing homes around the world,” says Roberts.

    8. Travel like a local by taking city buses, tuktuks, trains, or even ferries.

    TukTuks lined up on the sidewalks
    Jean-claude Soboul / Getty Images

    “It’s easy to hail a cab or book a short flight these days, but when you’re traveling on a budget, try traveling like the locals," De Vore advises. Not only does this help cut travel costs, but it also gives you a unique cultural experience and perspective, which is what travel is all about in the first place." 

    9. Always search incognito and clear your browser cache when booking hotels and flights.

    A woman typing on a laptop.
    Getty Images

    If there's one easy way to save money on booking, it's clearing your cache or turning on private browsing. “Some airline websites track cookies and displace a more expensive price when you search for something repeatedly, explains Suen. “It makes the consumer think prices are increasing and causes a sense of urgency to buy a flight or hotel before it gets more expensive.” 

    10. Rent a home with a kitchen so you can cook your own meals — or take advantage of free hotel breakfasts.

    A woman cooking vegetables.
    Getty Images

    Eating meals out adds up when you're traveling. So Forrest suggests taking advantage of meal perks that come with your lodging, whether it's continental breakfasts or free happy hours at hotels. Or if you're renting a home, use the kitchen. If you're staying at a hotel, load up on snacks from a grocery store and take some with you in your day bag when you explore. When you do want to eat out, seek out street food: It's usually the most authentic and affordable and speedy, so you can get back to sightseeing. 

    11. Some hostels will let you stay for free if you work a few hours per day.

    A hostel sign.
    Getty Images

    “Hostels typically won’t take on volunteers for less than a week (most require two- to four-week commitments), but if you’re traveling long-term, working at a hostel can be a great way to travel while saving money on accommodations," Costa says. He explains that tasks may range from reception work to changing beds to working the bar. Contact hostels directly, or use the website Workaway to find opportunities.

    12. Always look up the currency exchange rate online before you exchange currency or take out money.

    Someone exchanging US dollars for foreign currency.
    Getty Images

    If you're planning on exchanging money, do your own research ahead of time to ensure that you're being offered a fair exchange rate. “There’s nothing wrong with waiting to make a decision and going to several vendors or currency exchange kiosks to ask what the exchange rate is," De Vore says. "Remember, every dollar counts when you are traveling on a budget!"

    13. Make managing your rewards points a part-time job.

    A woman paying with a credit card.
    Getty Images

    “My family and I have saved many thousands of dollars by paying every bill we can with the credit cards that offer the best travel rewards points," Forrest explains. He also suggests choosing a hotel chain (like Marriott) and a rental car company (like Hertz) and remaining loyal in order to accumulate points quickly.

    14. Take advantage of free walking tours when traveling to cities.

    A cute street in Montmartre, Paris.
    Marko Geber / Getty Images

    If you do a bit of research you can find free walking tours — like Sandeman's New Europe Tours — in many cities. “These tours are budget-friendly, and they are a great introduction to whatever destination you're visiting," says Suen. He also suggests chatting with your guide to get hyper-local intel and recommendations for hidden gems that you probably wouldn't find in travel books. (Just remember to tip well!)

    15. Remember that last-minute travel deals can save you money.

    A person with a passport and suitcase.
    Getty Images

    Many people assume that booking a flight or hotel months out is the most affordable option. But according to De Vore, you can find many last-minute travel deals. “Booking too far in advance can potentially lead to some problems should you have to change your plans or decide you want to stay in a destination longer than you expected," she cautions. 

    16. Save on booze by bringing your own.

    Someone drinking a glass of rosé on a dock.
    Getty Images

    Hotels make tons of money on booze. Rather than post up at the lobby bar, make a stop at the local liquor store and stock up on your favorite cocktail ingredients. If you're going on a beach vacation, Forrest even recommends bringing a small blender. “You can get a cheap blender for $20, which is basically the cost of your first two drinks at the hotel bar." 

    17. Check for tourist or city passes, which can save you time and money when visiting popular attractions.

    A room at a Museum in Paris.
    Getty Images

    “In popular tourist destinations — like Paris, Barcelona, and London — cities may have tourist or city passes available for purchase. These passes offer discounted bundle entry into popular attractions in addition to perks like transportation credits, discounts at shops, skip-the-line priority entry and more. It is particularly common in Western Europe cities," explains Suen. 

    18. And do your research to determine if a city pass is a good match for your travel needs in the first place.

    A long queue of people waiting outside, some holding umbrellas.
    Getty Images

    If you're planning on visiting a number of popular attractions, a museum pass or city pass might be a good value option for your travel needs. “We have saved so many hours while traveling by avoiding long lines," Forrest says. "If you plan to visit enough sites, a pass costs less money than buying individual tickets, and you will also often get to skip the lines." 

    19. If you are traveling to multiple countries in one trip, start at the farthest-away destination and work your way back home.

    An airplane landing at sunset.
    Getty Images

    "As a general rule, the first flight to whatever region you're visiting will be your largest expense. From there, it will be easy and affordable to travel around when you’re already in that area," De Vore explains. For instance, if you're doing a big European trip, book a flight to Berlin or Prague first, then rely on budget airlines or the Eurorail to hit the other cities you want to visit. 

    What are your best trips for saving money while traveling? Share in the comments below!

    Disclaimer: This article was written to provide travel recommendations or suggestions; however, it’s important to keep in mind your own health, community health, and COVID-19 exposure risk.

    Sign Up For The Bring Me! Newsletter!

    The latest travel tips, off-the-beaten-path experiences, and inspiration delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form