If you’re someone who loves to travel, then you know it can be expensive. From the cost of food to accommodation expenses, it adds up quickly. If you’re wondering how to make the most out of your next adventure, here are some of the best money-saving travel hacks straight from the mouths of seasoned travel experts.
Be Flexible with Your Travel Plans
The more flexible you are with your travel plans, the easier it will be to find discounts and deals.
“Rather than selecting the destination and figuring out what it will cost, look for a bargain. I traveled to India when I found an outrageous special on Jetsetter.com,” says Janice S. Lintz, a consumer education and travel writer and a non-practicing attorney.
If you don’t have your heart set on a destination, sites like Skyscanner allow you to type in “everywhere” to your flight search and find the best rates by destination. Using this search option will give you an idea of the travel cost associated with each location.
Do Your Research
When traveling, it’s important to research not only transportation and accommodations, but also visa entry requirements, cultural norms, number of pages you need in your passport, travel warnings, local embassy contact information and more. You can find a lot of this information on the Travel page at the U.S. Department of State‘s website.
Even the savviest travelers can forget to read up on the countries they’re visiting. Having minimal knowledge of the place you’re visiting could leave you in a sticky situation and cost you a lot more than your budget allows.
Set Up Price Alerts
Setting up price alerts can help you monitor price fluctuations affecting your bookings. Sites like Kayak and Travelocity allow you to set up price alerts to keep an eye on the flights you’re interested in booking.
“If flying, start with Google Flights. It’s a wonderful tool to find the best flights at the lowest price. Flexibility is the key to finding the best fares,” says Jen Hayes, founder of Smarty Pants Finance.
Having an open mind about travel dates, airlines and airports can cut fares by hundreds of dollars. Many booking sites allow you to search one-way flights so you can get a low one-way fare, too.
For example, if you’re traveling to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, you might want to research the airports available in the surrounding area, like LaGuardia Airport. LaGuardia might offer cheaper one-way fares, so you don’t have to buy a more expensive round-trip ticket out of JFK. Purchasing one-way tickets could end up saving you money.
Develop a Credit Card Reward Strategy to Maximize Your Miles
Sean Messier, credit industry analyst at Credit Card Insider, advises, “If you’re a frequent traveler with no brand preference when it comes to airlines or hotels, seek out a general travel credit card that provides a variety of perks.”
Try to find a travel rewards credit card that offers benefits like complimentary delay reimbursement, rental car insurance, lost luggage protection and maybe even airport lounge access. Some credit cards even let you transfer earned points to different airlines or hotels. This can be helpful when you’re always on the go.
If you’re loyal to one airline or hotel brand, try to find a co-branded credit card. You generally will receive a higher reward rate for purchasing with these specific brands.
Catch the Local Transit Everywhere You Go
Chizoba Anyaoha is the founder of TravSolo, a travel app that helps you create your itinerary on-the-go and update your travel blog easily.
“Using public transportation is by far the best way to really save. It may not always be the most reliable but at least you will have more money to spend for food, drinks and activities,” recommends Anyaoha.
This is a great opportunity to relax, enjoy the scenery and even make new friends. However, you will need to factor in the additional time it will take to get from point A to point B. If you find yourself feeling unsafe, it may be wise to spend a few extra bucks on a cab.
Carefully Select Your Accommodations
Similar to buying a house or renting an apartment, travel accommodation options come with their own sets of pros and cons. You can choose from hotels, hostels and apartment rentals, or you can opt for couch surfing and house sitting. While hotels may be more expensive, they offer privacy and quiet. Hostels are more economical, and they can provide a social environment and the opportunity to meet other travelers.
“Another option to strongly consider is an Airbnb rental, where you get the privacy you need combined with the option to hang out with the local who rented you a room, if they are free to do so,” Anyaoha adds.
Every traveler is searching for a unique experience. You must determine what accommodation requirements are most important to you when jaunting around the world. If you’re up for an adventure you may want to try to split your time between multiple accommodation options to add variety to your trip’s dynamic.
Jennifer Fontaine is the managing editor of Outdoor Families Magazine and she’s a family adventure travel expert.
“Invest in a regulation carry-on and pack light. This will save precious time, both at check-in and when you arrive at your destination, and eliminates any chance of lost luggage, so you have less to stress about,” suggests Fontaine.
Packing light can also save you a lot of money. Some airlines offer free carry-on accommodations. Check your airline’s luggage policy before you book your flight to ensure you can bring your carry-on free of charge.
Consider Purchasing Travel Insurance
While you’re busy planning your itinerary, you could overlook the possibility of illness. This might not be a big deal if you’re traveling domestically, but if you’re venturing abroad you may want to have a plan in place just in case you contract something.
“Prior to traveling, I suggest travelers do their homework on their destination, read up on any recent health outbreaks, and make an appointment with their nearest travel medicine location to get appropriate shots or medications,” recommends Suzanne Garber, Health-Tech co-founder.
To protect yourself against additional costs, you can consider purchasing travel insurance as well. Not only does travel insurance help pay for medical costs, it also offers trip coverage for interruptions, lost or delayed baggage, theft, service provider failures and much more. Before purchasing a policy, make sure your credit card company doesn’t offer complimentary travel insurance. This will save you some money and stress.
“I recommend evaluating the risks of the travel destination, the planned activities and your personal health situation. Travel insurance is not always a necessity and, in many cases, you’ll get quality care that’s much more affordable than what you’d pay with co-pays back home,” adds Garber.
You may find that the cost of care outside the U.S. is less expensive – even without insurance. However, taking preventive measures may be one of the most cost-effective methods if you want to avoid extra medical costs.
The Bottom Line
Take it from these seasoned travel experts: Saving money when traveling is simple with a little research and flexibility.
What are some of your money-saving hacks? We want to hear from you! Please leave your answers in the comments below.
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