These days, saving money while traveling seems impossible. Along with the price of goods, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that airline tickets have shot up by 18.6 percent, while the consumer price index for airline tickets skyrocketed to 25 percent. The increasing prices may turn travelers away from crossing off their bucket list destinations, but of course, not all hope is lost.
If you’ve been meaning to scratch that travel itch, there are still ways to save money while exploring the world. Here are just a few hacks:
Be flexible with your travel dates
As nice as it is to travel when everyone else does, it’s not the cheapest option. Flights, accommodations, tours, and even food are typically at an inflated price point during high seasons or holidays, so you can’t expect to save money if you choose to fly during these times.
If you really want to stick to a budget, it’s better to travel off-season when there are fewer tourists. Those months are also the best times to score deals, as you can take advantage of discounts offered by hotels, hostels, apartments, ferries, tours, and more. It’s also worth noting that it’s usually cheaper to travel on a weekday than a weekend. Flying during off-peak days and times can potentially save you hundreds in fares, especially if you’re traveling with a big group.
Capitalize on mistake fares
Airlines and travel agencies can sometimes run into pricing blunders, and when this happens, travelers can take advantage of mistake fares and fly for way cheaper than the original cost of the ticket. Error fares are typically caused by human error (fat fingers, anyone?), currency conversion glitches, and accidental omission of taxes and fuel charges. They’re hard to spot and come less frequently than they used to, but when they do pop up, you have to pounce—fast.
You can get help scoring them with services like Dollar Flight Club, which delivers the best deals straight to your inbox. A premium plus subscription nets you lifetime access to flight deals in business, premium economy, and economy class, and that includes domestic deals, international deals, and mistake fares from your home airports. You even get to enjoy perks and discounts from their partners, including Babbel, Acanela Expeditions, Huckberry, and more, to enjoy more savings. For a limited time, this 4.5/5-star rated lifetime subscription is on sale for just $99.
The idea of being spontaneous and hopping on the first flight you can book sounds exciting, but barely anyone can save money and fly be the seat of their pants. For budget travelers, planning ahead is key, especially if you want to keep your expenses as low as possible. Traveling on a budget requires some intricate planning and number crunching, from airline tickets to travel dates to the cost of food per day.
Even before you book that flight, you should see to it that you have a clear idea of what to expect at your destination, including the train fares, the average price of groceries, entrance fees to tourist spots, and more. The last thing you want is to be blindsided by unexpected spending, so it’s best to plan whatever you can ahead of the trip.
Cook your own meals
Traveling is the best time to unleash your inner Gordon Ramsay. While there’s nothing wrong in splurging a bit on a handful of notable restaurants throughout your trip, you’d save more money preparing your own meals than eating out all the time.
You may want to make the effort to shop at local grocery stores and markets to source ingredients and prepare meals wherever you’re staying. Sure, it takes away time from actual sightseeing, but what’re a few minutes compared to saving more cash? Even making your own tea or coffee can go a long way budget-wise, as opposed to buying a cup from the corner cafe every single day.
Find free things to do
You probably can’t dodge paying fees at famous tourist destinations, but there are likely as many activities you can indulge in without spending a dime. Prior to your trip, do some digging and find out if there are free walking tours you can join. This lets you do sightseeing without additional cost and make friends with fellow travelers while you’re at it.
There are also probably places in your destination that allows tourists to visit for free. Think museums, churches, parks, and galleries. More often than not, these attractions have days where they allow visitors to come for free or at a minimal fee. Make sure to explore these attractions to avoid breaking the bank.
Packing light is a skill—one that all budget travelers should have mastered by now. Packing light doesn’t seem like it would make a world of a difference in relation to your budget, but it actually lets you dodge checked bag fees, all while giving you extra flexibility when you’re exploring.
With lightweight luggage, it’s easier to go from point A to point B and ride public transportation without worrying about lugging a lot of stuff. As a bonus, it even makes you less tempted to hoard souvenirs, seeing as you have less space to squeeze them in.