Travel is amazing, I think we can all agree on that. The unfortunate part about it is that travel costs money – often times a lot of money! We came up with this list of 30 easy actionable items to save you money on your next trip. Have anything to add? Comment below – we would love to keep adding to the list!
Planning your Travel
#1 – Travel in Shoulder Season
Changing the time you travel by a month or two could save you significantly on flights and accommodations. By shoulder season, we mean times that are close to high season but not during high season. For example, flights and accommodations are much cheaper in Europe during May, June, September, and October than they would be in the peak seasons of July and August.
#2 – Hack your Points
One of the easiest ways to minimize cost is to use airline and hotel loyalty points. As it turns out, these are very easy to obtain. There are thousands of travel hackers worldwide that travel for very little simply by building up airline points – one credit card sign up often gives enough points for a round trip flight. On an average year, I earn about four round trip flights through Point Hacking!
#3 – Review Foreign Exchange Rates
Remember, a dollar today and a dollar next week in all likelihood won’t be worth the same amount. Take a look at Foreign Exchange charts and see where your currency is and what it is strong against, for example – right now the US Dollar is faring well against every currency in the world. There’s no better time to book a trip to a foreign country than 2016 if you are American.
#4 – Avoiding Foreign Exchange Fees
Make sure you have a Credit Card in your portfolio that doesn’t charge you any extra fees for paying in a different currency. It will be too late once you’re in another country, and this tip could save you hundreds in banking fees.
#5 – Choose a Low-Cost Destination
On the ground expenses can form a significant portion of your overall trip expense. Of course, some countries are much cheaper than others. Some countries that are very cheap to visit include Hungary and Indonesia, both of which you could easily find good accommodation for under $100 a night and eat a nice meal for less than $5.
Booking Your Flight
#6 – Book at the Right Time
A general rule of thumb is that 6-8 weeks prior to your flight is the cheapest time to book. If a good deal comes up before then, snag it of course. But be aware that this is generally the sweet spot for booking. If you take a look at our deals, this principle applies – most of the deals we post on StealthTrips is for travel in the next couple of months.
#7 – Be a Flight Bargain Hunter
There are plenty of great tools to help you find the cheapest possible flight. Of course, we suggest you follow Stealth Trips and Like us on Facebook so you don’t miss one of our deals, but we also suggest you search for flights using Google Flights which generally provide a good idea of the cheapest fares being offered. Once you book your flight, most airlines will allow you to cancel for a full refund with 24 hours – so keep your eye out for a better deal in that time frame to ensure a better deal does not come up.
#8 – Consider Hidden City Flights
Hidden City flying is probably the thing most hated by airlines around the world. It is legal, but airlines will be upset. An example would be if it cost $300 to fly from New York to London, but it only cost $250 to fly from New York to Copenhagen with a connection in London. You’d simply book that fare, don’t check a bag, and walk out of the airport once you arrived in London. This is described in more detail here.
#9 – Consider Discount Airlines
If you are someone that is loyal to booking companies such as Expedia, you may be missing out on huge flight savings. Discount carriers servicing North America now include Norwegian Air and WOW Air, these airlines do not appear in booking agency searches but can have amazing fares. For example, we posted a deal just a few days ago to fly from Los Angeles to Denmark for under $300 Round Trip!
#10 – Look for Currency Gaps
Because Foreign Exchange rates are changing all the time, sometimes booking sites do not always equal and there is a gap that it is cheaper to book in some currencies than others. For example, right now on Norwegian Airlines website it is much cheaper to book using NOK than USD or CAD.
#11 – Don’t pay extra for Premium Seats, Use SeatGuru
SeatGuru.com is an amazing website which was bought out by TripAdvisor a couple of years ago. This website has a database of every plane flying just about every route in the world. It can tell you which seats are good, which seats are normal, and which seats to avoid. Generally, you can just choose a Good Seat for free that doesn’t fall within Premium Economy.
Booking Your Accommodations
#12 – Use Priceline or Hotwire
This tip is only relevant if you don’t have a loyalty membership to a chain of hotels and for travel within North America. With Priceline and Hotwire you could get deep discounts on big name hotel chains that are looking to sell additional rooms. Priceline offers a model where you could Bid for an unknown hotel, or buy a Secret Hotel and Hotwire also uses the Secret Hotel model. Great way to save money, but you will not earn any loyalty points, and generally you are last on the list to get a room upgrade.
#13 – Use AirBnB
AirBnB is a great way to save money on accommodations. Rather than renting a hotel room, you could rent a room in someones house for a fraction of the cost of a hotel. I personally have never used AirBnB but I’ve heard nothing but good things from those that have used this service!
#14 – Stay in a Hostel
I know what some of you are thinking, but hostels really aren’t that bad. I’ve stayed in hostels all across Europe and have had a lot of fun. Rooms can be as large as 20-30 people or as small as 1-2 people. From my experience, it is a great way to meet some friends. HostelWorld is a popular portal to use when booking hostels.
#15 – Make a Friend to Stay With
Free is always the best option eh. Call up that guy you met at a conference 4 years ago, maybe he’ll take you in. Of course this won’t always be an option, but keep networking and you’ll always have a couch to crash on.
#16 – Subscribe to Hotel Loyalty Programs and E-mail Lists
Subscribe to all of the major hotel loyalty programs, I would suggest to start with the loyalty program for AccorHotels (iBis, Mercure, Novotel, Sofitel, etc), Starwood Preferred Guest (Sheraton, Westin, etc), Marriott, and IHG Group. Once you are subscribed you’ll get several sales e-mails throughout the year – just a couple of days ago both Accor and SPG offered some very good deals.
At the Airport
#17 – Consider Transportation
Airport parking fees are steep and quickly add up. Check out your local airport authorities website and the parking prices, then consider if it would be cheaper for a round-trip cab ride or parking fees + gas to and from. Of course, the best option of all would be a ride from a friend.
#18 – Buy Travel Sized Shampoo and Soap Bottles, Fill Them with Liquor
This is an essential tip for a long haul flight. You’re allowed to take small containers through airport security so long as they all fit within a 1L bag. If you fill several travel sized shampoo bottles full of vodka, it will save you money and boredom on your next flight.
#19 – Pack Some Food
Airports will take you for every cent you’ve got. As good as that $20 burger and $15 beer look, you’ll thank yourself for packing a snack for yourself.
#20 – Haggling an Overbooked Flight
If you’ve got a seat on a flight that has been overbooked and are flexible with time, see what the airlines will offer you to wait for the next flight. Sometimes you can get as much as a $1000 airline voucher for waiting an extra 3 hours at the airport. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
#21 – Don’t Test a Discount Airline
By “don’t test” I do not mean don’t fly. I love discount airlines as much as the next guy, but the guidelines they list on their website are very strict. Make sure you have all of the documentation they tell you to print and take along, and make sure your carry on baggage is within their limits. If it isn’t, you’ll be paying some sort of ridiculous fee.
#22 – Follow these tips..
This isn’t directly linked to money, but I had already written another Airport Hacks Article last year. While the tips in that article won’t directly save you money, there are a lot of good to know tips included.
On The Ground
#23 – Use Public Transit
If possible, use public transit whenever possible. In most major cities (especially in Europe) public transit it very easy to use and there are often special passes you can buy for unlimited rides during your stay in a city. It’s a more authentic way to get around a city.
#24 – Follow these Rental Car Tips
If you are going to a place where you’ll need a Rental Car, we suggest you check out these tips.
#25 – Check for Free Walking Tours
Many large cities offer free walking tours. My experience on these tours have all been fantastic, it is always a young engaging tour guide that is operating on a tip-basis. To find one of these tours just Google “Free Walking Tours *Insert City Here*”. If you’re staying at a hostel, the front desk also probably has some information.
#26 – Eat Away from Busy Areas
My rule of thumb is to find the most iconic landmark in a city, and get as far away from it as possible before settling on a restaurant to eat at. There are a lot of tourist traps in large cities, you are most likely to find a good local restaurant if you go off the beaten path a little bit. If in doubt, ask someone at a place you are staying for a nice local restaurant.
#27 – Stay Away from the Breakfast Buffet
If you are staying at a hotel that offers a buffet breakfast, just don’t do it. Some hotels will charge $50-60 a person to eat breakfast there. If you are staying near a grocery or convenience store, grab something quick and filling to start your day.
#28 – Don’t Use Those Stupid Foreign Exchange Booths
Yes, I called foreign exchange booths stupid – you lose too much. You will have better value by using your no fee credit card. If you do need cash, figure out which banks in the are affiliated with your own bank and use their ATM machines. For example, I am a customer of ScotiaBank and when in England I know ScotiaBank and Barclays have a no-fee agreement. I can withdraw money for free and only have to worry about the basic exchange rate.
#29 – Check for Discounts
Some cities are better than others, but most cities have discounts for their attractions for at minimum Students and Seniors. Other cities, like Paris try their best to find any excuse to give you a discount. Check out the cities Tourism Website to see what you can come up with. If not, your guide on the free walking tour (Tip #25) always gives out great advice for saving money.
#30 – Like StealthTrips on Facebook
How could I not throw in a shameless plug like that? Honestly though – we answer every e-mail, comment, and question we get. As long as you are a fan, you won’t miss any deals and we’ll answer as many questions as we can.
What do you think – did we miss any great obvious tips? Comment with tips that you use to save money while travelling and we will add it to the list!