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Not being able to travel because you have no money is one of the lamest excuses these days – traveling is cheaper now than ever before, and I am always surprised when people still think a trip to Mexico has to cost $2,000 or more. So wrong! To help you travel more this year, I’ve put together 10 tips to save money on travel – some of them are relatively new tools, so you might not have heard of them yet – and if you have any to add, please share them in the comments below.
1 Be flexible
This doesn’t only go for your dates – I know that most people are restricted when it comes to the ‘when to travel’, by school holidays for example, but why not be more flexible with the ‘where’? When I used Google Flights (see below) to find out when flying to Colombia would be the cheapest, I discovered that flights from New York to the nearby Caribbean island of Barbados were only $79 one way – and it is high season! Barbados wasn’t necessarily high on my travel wish list, but this deal had me look up hotels and things to do in Barbados instantly, and it is now high on my list of Caribbean dream destinations for next winter.Another factor on how to decide where to travel: find out which country has good exchange rates at the moment. Colombia’s Peso and Mexico’s Peso are both weak against the U.S. Dollar right now, for example, making traveling in these countries super cheap (like $1 coffees and $1 beers, $3 meals, etc). Australia, usually known as quite an expensive country, also saw its dollar sink against the U.S. Dollar – now is the time to go! Don’t be too set on a specific destination – travel is always an adventure, no matter where you go.
2 Use coupons
There are so many coupons to be found these days – so why not use them? You can get different discount coupons for travel, hotels, flights and more. I am subscribed to several discount coupon sites and always skim through the emails they send me for good deals on package getaways and hotels. Recently I’ve found 4* hotels in Manhattan for as little as $120 a night (a steal for NYC!) and flight & hotel deals for a week in Israel for $999 on Groupon – also an amazing deal. Again, being flexible is key. There is also a large number of online discounts for travel gear and clothes and coupons online basically bring any discounted item right to you, even if you don’t live close to a store that offers the item you’re looking for, no matter if that’s clothes, electronics footwear or other items you need for a trip.
As I mentioned above, I am a huge fan of Google Flights. Not only does it show me the full calendar so that I can see when flights to my destination are the cheapest, but it also shows me how much it is to fly to a nearby destination. When flying to Europe, this is extremely helpful to save money, because you can always find a cheap flight on a budget airline when you get there. Say you want to fly to Rome to explore Italy – flights are usually around $800. But you can easily find flights to London for less than $500, and then hop on a budget flight to Rome for around $50. Which saves you $250 in airfare alone.
4 Find out what’s the cheapest & best way to get around
If I tell you to simply hop on a cheap flight to Rome from London, you might wonder: how do I know which airline has the cheapest flights to Rome? That’s where Rome2Rio comes into play, a website that tells you how to get literally anywhere. By bus? Ferry? Plane? Taxi? Whatever it is, Rome2Rio knows it – and not only that, it’ll also tell you how fast each method gets you to your destination, and how much it’ll cost you. Booking train tickets through Rome2Rio will also cost you less, and show you feasible combinations like flight & train. For traveling in Europe, GoEuro.com is another good option, offering a similar service, including all the European low-cost bus lines.
5 Use flight alerts
As soon as you know your travel dates, set up flight alerts for the dates of your choice. Right now, I am looking for a flight from Ecuador to Costa Rica in April, and as soon as I knew what date I’d like to fly on, I set up a flight alert. That means I get an email every day from Skyscanner telling me what the cheapest price for this flight as. As soon as the price drops to a price I am willing to pay, I’ll buy the ticket. Kayak is another website that lets you set up flight alerts.
6 Automatic online discount code add-on tool
If you’re like me, you’ve probably googled ‘discount voucher for website xx’ when you were about to check out on a website and saw the little field that says ‘apply promo code here’. If there’s a promo code online for something, I usually find it. But what a hassle! Luckily, there is a browser extension named Honey that does all the work for you. If you get to the check out in an online store and there is a valid promo store for that shop/website, Honey automatically finds and applies it for you. Why Honey isn’t used by every single person who shops online is beyond me! This is a great browser extension not only for travel, by the way.
7 Find cheap rental cars
I hope you are not one of these people who still check rental car rates on the website of their favorite rental car service – everybody knows that they are pricier than car rental aggregators, like BookingBuddy, Priceline or RentalCars.com.
These sites automatically compare the prices of all available rental car companies (Hertz, Avis, Dollar, etc) for you and give you the total price for each one.An extra tip: Do not buy rental car insurance through the company of your choice! They are usually an extra $10 PER DAY, which adds up quickly. There are companies that just sell rental car insurance – for a fraction of the price of a rental car company, like iCarHireInsurance, which I used the last time I rented a car. Also: if you have a credit card (and who doesn’t have one?): check your credit card company’s policy – usually they offer rental car insurance for up to two weeks, so you don’t need to buy any at all, unless you’re renting a car for longer.
8 Make (passive) money while you’re traveling
Now I know that this is not for everyone – but have you thought about renting out your apartment while you’re traveling? If you feel comfortable having somebody staying in your place while you’re gone, I recommend signing up for AirBnB. One of my friends in New York City finances every single one of her trips by renting out her apartment on AirBnB while she is away!
9 Save on accommodation
There are tons of websites that help you save on accommodation, offering hotels for less than on the hotel’s actual website, but what’s even better are services like Priceline’s Name-Your-Own-Price tool allows you to bid on a price for your hotel room. Just type in the name of the city and your dates and the price you’re willing to pay, and you’ll get a response soon if they accepted your offer. Priceline even shows you recent bids that were successful, so that you have an idea what a reasonable bid is, and there are several websites and forums (like Betterbidding.com) that focus solely on helping you bidding successfully, just google ‘Name your own price bids’. One of my friends scored two nights in New York City for $65 each (in decent 3* hotels!) with this method. Another way to save money on accommodation is LastMinute.com’s Top Secret Hotels option – here, you won’t know which hotel you’ll be staying at until after hitting the ‘book’ button – you’ll only know how many stars it has and in which area of the city it is located in. If you’re adventurous enough for this, you can save a lot of money – and I ended up scoring an amazing stay at a Kimpton Hotel in Washington D.C. for less than $70 with this method.
There is also a Name-Your-Own-Price for rental cars which I might just try for my next U.S. road trip!
10 Get started with travel hacking!
I’ve been talking about this before – there’s no cheaper way of traveling than traveling entirely for free! Free flights, and free fancy hotel rooms? Yes, please! I’ve shared my tips on how to get started with travel hacking here, so check them out and apply for a travel-friendly credit card right now. The sign-up bonus alone usually pays for a long-distance plane ticket or a couple of nights in a really nice hotel.