32 Money-Saving Travel Hacks Every Traveler Should Know
There are an infinite number of ways you can save money on travel. Here are some of our best travel hacks for finding cheap flights, accommodation, transport, and on the ground travel related costs.
1. Use your credit card to pay and earn reward points
Use your Membership Rewards Card to pay for your travel expenses. Set up a direct debit from your bank to pay off the balance each month. We recommend paying it off in full! I can’t tell you how much I save on travel + how many perks I get for following this strategy. It’s almost like money for nothing as you’re paying for these expenses anyway!
2. Clear your cache, enable private browsing
Airlines track your behaviour via cookies, which means if you return at a later date to grab that cheap flight you found in your flight search, they’ve noted your interest through the cookies previously and so will, this time, return a slightly higher price for your flight. #cheeky You can get around this by clearing your cache or enabling private browsing.
3. Use a VPN
Flights can be different prices depending on which country you book from. Use a VPN – a Virtual Private Network – which makes it look like you are in another country.
You can select a VPN from the US, UK, Germany, Japan, etc. to find the lowest price and book through that VPN. It may take time, but you could save a substantial amount on flights.
4. Use search engines
Use search engines like Skyscanner, Adioso, and Google Flights who will scan the airlines for you and bring you comparative rates. You can purchase the best deal directly from them. OR, after finding the best deal, go direct to the airline’s website to see if you can get a better deal.
You can then also check to see if you can reduce the price or get free upgrades with your frequent flyer or membership points. Check your favourite airline first. If the price is right, it’s always best to fly your favourites and stockpile those points each time you fly.
5. Use Frequent Flyer or Membership Points
I can’t tell you how many flights I’ve paid for using frequent flyer points. You can collect them each time you fly – as long as you’re a member of that frequent flyer program. Or, you can collect them using our first travel hack – use your credit card to pay for all expenses. You’ll be surprised how quickly they accumulate.
6. Book during the right time of the week
By looking at historical data and watching trends over the last several years, you’ll notice that sitting down to book flights in the middle of the week, Tuesday - Thursday is most economical. FareCompare.com did a study and said Wednesday at 3PM is the best time to book flights.
7. Find off-peak flights
Most people need to fly home on Sunday afternoon to get back to work on Monday. But if you have more flexibility, why not fly home off-peak hours? Nobody wants to fly on Saturday night, or on red-eyes, or super early in the AM. Be sure to use the +/- 3 days button on Kayak.com to see what day is cheapest, and you can save a fortune.
8. Follow Sales Days
Some airlines have certain days of the week where they will release their sale fares. For example, Virgin Australia has its Thursday Happy Hour, which is an exclusive sale for discount flights that you can access only by signing up for their email alert and Jetstar has Friday Frenzy with great sales to domestic and international locations each week.
You can also do this through websites like Airfare Watchdog and CheapAir.com, which both offer fare-track alerts that let you know when prices drop.
9. Set flight alerts
Search Kayak for the flight you want, and check the price predictor. If the flight is more than 3-4 months away, set a fare alert, and watch the price.
When you find a price that works, try to book it on a Tuesday or Wednesday when prices are typically lower. To make the hack work even more in your favour, head over to American Express Travel and pay the flight with as many points as you have. If there’s a balance left over, use your American Express card to pay for it and collect more points!
10. Get bumped
If you’ve got plenty of time up your sleeves, this is one of my favourite travel hacks. Plenty of airlines overbook their plans with the hopes some people won’t show up. If they’re too full, they ask for bump volunteers. They’ll get you on the next possible flight as well as giving you perks like free flights, credit and accommodation vouchers if the next flight is not until the next day.
11. Chauffeur driven transfers
Travelling business or first? Top tier airlines such as Qantas and Emirates offer complimentary chauffeur driven transfers to and from the airport on selected major flights.
If you have a big travelling party, it might even be worth you investigating the price of this in comparison to other forms of transport. Go lux for less when you can!
12. Ask for upgrades and best price
Don’t be shy to ask for an upgrade when you check in. We often get upgrades without even asking. Hotel chains will often upgrade you if they have space as they want their customers to have incredible experiences.
Golden Rule – be kind, courteous and friendly. It’s just karma baby!
Ask the accommodation what is the best price they can do. They can often reduce the rate for you if you book directly with them. You’d often get the kids thrown in for free! If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
13. Find the deals
Two for the price of one, discounted rates, kids stay for free – there are multiple ways to find cheap accommodation. Travelling outside of peak times will give you the biggest chance.
Stay connected to your favourite hotel chains and search engine providers via email or social media to quickly grab the deals as they come through.
14. Use Airbnb
Airbnb is my favourite way to book cheap accommodation. Plus, you get to live like a local and have the facilities to cook your food and save more money.
Apartment rentals often come with free Wi-Fi, are in good locations, and other perks, like tea and coffee, use of kayaks and bikes, and a local’s guide to the area.
I stayed in an Airbnb in LA, and the host even offered transfer services to the airport which were on par with Uber prices. She was also a wealth of inside knowledge, and it was way cheaper than staying in a hotel – by at least $1000 in total.
15. Rent a lux house
Grab your mates, your extended family or multiple families and rent out a luxury house. The initial price may seem huge, but when you split it per person, it will often end up cheaper than staying in a cramped hotel.
Now you’ll feel like the rich and famous; you can all throw in to share food costs, which means you can go a little more deluxe with your food choices.
16. Look into the free amenities you can access on a flight and at a hotel
Airlines and hotels often have free amenities for travelers — if you're savvy enough to ask for them.
Certain medications, alcohol, and grooming kits are often available for guests who ask on flights. Hotels also offer a slew of free amenities that range from phone chargers and adapters to games, workout gear, and electronics like Kindles or iPads.
17. Search for the cheapest form of transportation
Rome2rio is a trip planner that maps out all of the available transportation options between destinations.
Enter the name of any address or landmark to see the best available flight, train, bus, ferry, and driving options, with estimated travel times and fares.
"You may find that it saves hundreds to fly into a smaller airport and take a bus or boat ride to your final destination."
18. Skip the rental car insurance
A lot of private auto insurance policies and many major credit cards provide coverage for rental cars, particularly when rented for personal use (as opposed to for business).
Check their policies just to make sure, but the chances are good that you can skip the expensive insurance coverage offered by the car rental company.
19. Use travel cards
Many major cities will have travel cards. You buy a card and top it up with money to tap and go on various public transport. They will always be cheaper than buying a direct ticket.
Only worth it if you plan on using public transport for several trips.
20. City Passes and Student IDs
If you’re sightseeing, city passes or tourism cards often give you access to discounted prices and free transportation to a city’s best sites.
Bring along your student ID, even if you have already graduated. People don't usually check to see if you're still in school, and you get a whole bunch of discounts.
21. Explore by bikes
Why not get fit, follow your own path, and explore your destination by bike. It is my personal favourite way to get around and save money on expensive tours and sightseeing costs. Many cities now have these as an exploring option.
22. Google for the discount code
When you are trying to buy tickets (rail, excursions etc...) and they prompt you for a discount code, go google for the discount code (works for all online purchase actually)
23. Become your own tour guide with an app.
With all of the apps we have available today, taking overpriced tours can become a thing of the past.
Apps like Field Trip notify you when you hit a point of interest while walking. The app also scouts out offers and discounts that happen to be nearby.
24. Go to the suburbs
The suburbs is where you’ll find cheaper food, and accommodation, a more hipster and eclectic vibe and the opportunity to live like the locals. Ask the locals where the best places to go are and TripAdvisor is also a good place to find recommendations.
Spotted by Locals is an app full of local recommendations for places to eat and drink and things to see and do. You’ll find some great suggestions a million miles away from any Lonely Planet tourist guide.
25. Find deals on eating out
Check coupon books and local advertisements and keep your eye out when out exploring. You are bound to find a special deal somewhere for eating out. We take advantage of these all the time when travelling. Happy hours, eating earlier, kids eat free evenings, free drinks and appetizers. It’s a great way to taste the local flavours and walk away with more in your pocket.
26. Go for your big meal at lunchtime
Restaurants often reserve their best deals for lunchtime. Lunch prices can often be as much as 30% cheaper than what the same entree could cost on a dinner menu. Plus, you're likely to come across outdoor markets that offer delicious bites at reasonable costs.
27. Carry a water bottle
I was devastated the other night after forgetting to bring mine to the movies and was charged $6.50 for water. Carry your own water bottle and fill it for free. In countries where tap water is not safe to drink, carry a water filter. It will save you a LOT of money.
28. International phone calling
Use apps like Skype, Viber, Tango, and WhatsApp to phone your loved ones. Be careful of your data allowances as these can’t work without internet connection!
29. Turning off data roaming
Use free Wi-Fi (don’t forget to protect yourself with VPN) Get local SIM card or services like WiWander and Tep Wireless.
30. All-inclusive holidays
There are plenty of travel destinations or experiences (like cruises) that offer all-inclusive deals, which can be a great way get more for your money. You know how much to budget before you go, your food, accommodation, and sometimes alcohol and activities are all included.
All inclusive holidays are suited to those type of holidays where you don’t want to do too much but relax and spend time with those you love, rather than exploring, adventuring and tasting the local life.
31. Make friends
You meet people from all over the world in hostels, and people are much more open and friendly when travelling. The guy snoring across the aisle from you in your train? Next year you could be sleeping on his couch in Mexico City.
32. Free Travel insurance
Don’t travel without travel insurance. It could save you a lot of money. If you purchase your holiday on your credit card, you may be available for free travel insurance. Check with your provider.