It's no secret that traveling can get expensive, so it's important to save money when and where you can, but you also don't want to make huge sacrifices and miss out on exciting experiences during your travels — otherwise you'll leave with regrets. Luckily, you don't have to. There are several ways to save on travel without cutting a ton of corners or missing out.
Here are eight easy ways to save on travel:
1. Don't fly on the weekend. There's a constant debate on what's the best day to buy your airfare at its lowest price— one I'm not sure anyone can truly answer — but it is a fact that flying on a weekend is more expensive than if you were to fly during the week. For example I've found that booking week-long trips leaving on a Tuesday and returning the next Tuesday (or Wednesday to Wednesday) are typically A LOT CHEAPER than flying any time between Friday and Monday.
2. Only pack a carry-on. Don't waste money on checking baggage if you can avoid it, because it can really add up when you're flying round trip. Most airlines will let you bring on a small piece of rolling luggage that you can store in an overhead bin and I suggest doing this whenever possible, because not only will it save you around $100, it will also keep your luggage from getting lost.
3. Pack snacks. While you can't take any sort of drinks through TSA while flying, you CAN take snacks in your carry-on. So pack a few snacks like a granola bar or my personal favorite Cheeze Its, and avoid paying for that $7 bag of chips at the airport store. Throw an empty water bottle in your bag, too. Most airports also have water filling stations for passengers to use to fill up their bottles. I always carry a Swell bottle, because it's lightweight, keeps my water cold, and the cap always stays on tight so I never have to worry about leaks. Bindle Bottles and Corkcicles are other popular options to use.
4. Go in the off-season. Now, this tip doesn't work for every location, because you definitely wouldn't want to visit a city when it's -30 degrees out, so be sure you research the area before booking, but for a lot of places there are many perks that come along with an off-season visit, including cheaper airfare and hotel prices, and missing all the crowds. As far as accommodations go, always check AirBnb to see if there are cheaper options than local hotels — even in the off-season. I've rented an amazing place in the mountains for less than $50 a night DURING PEAK LEAF SEASON when I just needed a quick place to crash for a sunrise shoot (see photo below), so I can only imagine how low the prices are when it's not peak season. Here are tips on how to find the perfect AirBnb.
5. Take advantage of free entry days. Believe it or not a lot of museums, art galleries, and National Parks in most cities offer free entry days. Just do a little research and you're sure to find a few places that offer this option in almost any city you're visiting. If you're a Bank of America customer you can take advantage of free entry at a ton of museums around the country on the first weekend of EVERY month. Seriously! All you have to do is show your Bank of America, Merrill Lynch or U.S. Trust credit or debit card and a photo ID to enter. Here's a list of places in each state that have partnered with the bank and offer free general admission.
6. Join reward programs. If you always stay at the same hotel brand then go on their website and sign up for their loyalty rewards program. For each night you stay in one of their hotels you'll accumulate points toward a free stay — and you'd be amazed at how quickly you'll rack up points if you travel often for business or pleasure. Some airlines and car rental companies also offer these programs.
7. Ask a local where to eat. I learned this tip while studying abroad in Paris when a lovely woman struck up a conversation about where we should eat during our stay. She suggested that if we wanted an authentic French meal without the astronomical price tag that we should avoid all of the well known restaurants on the main streets and go to a lesser known part of town that was frequented by French college students. Sure enough, once we got to the restaurant she suggested we dined like royalty on a five-course meal for less than $30 USD — and it was absolutely the best food I had the entire time I was in the country. And yes, I ate escargot, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. When in Rome, right?! So to this day any time I am traveling I ask a local for recommendations on local staples and always find the most incredible restaurants without the $$$$$ price tag.
8. Use Ebates. I discovered the Ebates website a few years ago and am so glad that I did, because I can get up to 15% cash back on a lot of my travel expenses like hotel stays and car rentals. I recently got back $40 for using Ebates while booking a car rental on Orbitz. It's simple and easy to use once you've signed up and downloaded the Ebates extension to your web browser. Whenever there's the opportunity to get cash back Ebates will pop up and let you know. My Ebates' wallet currently has over $150 waiting for me to cash out from getting money back on recent travel purchases. (It also works with most major stores, not just on travel.) You can sign up here and get $10 cash back after your first purchase just for signing up.
For other ways to save on travel read my article on ways to save money on flights and score unbelievable airfare deals.
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