Growing up we’re always told to create a life we don’t need a vacation from. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think this is overly realistic for most of us; I personally look forward to taking a little break from my everyday life, whether it be halfway across the state or halfway around the world. I’ve come to realize, however, that no matter the distance or duration, traveling expenses add up quickly. Being a person who loves to travel, I’ve found ways to significantly cut the costs of my trips, making it possible to travel more frequently while still having a great time.
Below are 8 of my favorite money-saving hacks. I hope that they can save you as much money as they’ve saved me, and give you the freedom to travel more often.
- Check One Way Tickets Before Booking a Round Trip
Pretty self explanatory, yet surprisingly many people don’t even bother to look. This might be due to the fact that one way tickets used to be much more expensive than round trip tickets, however, in recent years one way ticket popularity has increased whereas round trip ticket sales have decreased. Buying one way tickets also gives you more freedom when choosing flight times, and is a great option if you don’t have set travel plans. So, next time before purchasing that round trip ticket, take a few minutes to do your research – it could pay off.
- Pack Lightly
This is my biggest struggle; when I start packing my bag I have such good intentions to only pack what I need. As I go I start wondering if I need just one more sweater, a pair of shorts, another swimsuit, etc. All airlines charge to check in a bag, but only some charge for a carry on. Fitting all of your belongings in a carry on will save you $25-50 each way, and you won’t have to worry about the airline losing your luggage. It also speeds up the airport process as you don’t have to stand in line to check in, nor wait in baggage claim to collect your belongings from the carousel.
- Bring and/or Buy Your Own Groceries
It’s no secret that one of the most expensive (and enjoyable) aspects of traveling is the food. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go out and enjoy the local cuisine, but packing some of your own groceries can really save a lot of money. If you’re flying, you’ll be able to pack some dry, packaged foods such as popcorn, granola bars, and trail mix, that you can snack on at the airport and throughout the flight. Airport food is extremely overpriced, and the last thing you want to do is start spending before your trip even begins.
When driving to my destination, I always pack a cooler with breakfast essentials such as eggs, bacon, and pancake mix (if the hotel doesn’t offer a continental breakfast), and some snacks such as hummus, veggies, and fresh fruit. My number one item I pack for all of my road trips is a big bottle of tequila and some margarita mix. It is amazing how much happy hour in your room, instead of at the hotel bar can save you – plus it’s a more intimate, comfortable setting.
When flying, bringing fresh produce, liquids, and alcohol is obviously not permissible, so I encourage stopping at a store on the way to your hotel to stock up on such products. Additionally, hitting a local farmers market can be less expensive than a typical grocery store, and it gives you the opportunity to try local produce.
- Book a Hotel Room with a Kitchen
This goes hand in hand with bringing your own food; when you have access to a full kitchen you have the freedom to use it as much or as little as you want. At the very least I would recommend having a microwave and coffee maker (or bringing your own) so that you can always make some oatmeal and coffee, or have the option to reheat leftovers.
- Plan your Transportation
Do your research and calculate the costs of renting a car, taking Lyft (it’s cheaper than Uber), or using public transportation. It all depends as to where you’re traveling and how spread out all of your destinations are. If you are going to a heavily populated city, I would recommend forgoing the rental and walking, taking the bus, or scheduling your day out so you only have to take a few Lyft rides. Parking is typically not free, and can be extremely hard to come by when you’re not familiar with the area. That being said, if you want the rental, consider finding a hotel a further distance from the city, as it will be less expensive.
- Consider Airbnb
Live like a local with Airbnb housing options: apartments, condos, houses, guest houses, and even some non traditional housing such as yachts, campers, and tree houses are available to rent. It is a more cost effective and authentic way to travel, as well as more intimate – some places even allow pets with no extra fee. I would strongly recommend sticking to the “super hosts,” as they have proven time and time again to provide great housing. Reading through the comments will also give you a better idea of how they run their property, and what the benefits to each place are.
- Find Free Activities or Plan Ahead with Groupon
No matter where you’re traveling, every destination has free attractions. Always check out TripAdvisor and see what there is to do; they list museums, nature exhibits, and popular tourist spots, as well as guided tours and their prices. If you see an activity you know for sure you’ll want to participate in, and it’s not free, check Groupon to see if they have a special deal. After purchasing a voucher, it will be valid for use in 24 hours. Groupon is great to use for vacations because they have deals for just about everything, ranging from spa days to day tours to even bar crawls at night – all for a fraction of the retail price.
- All Inclusive Resorts and Cruises
There are many different levels of resorts and cruises, just as there are with hotels. They are rated based on a 5 star system, making these trips accessible to everyone no matter their budget. The total cost is paid upfront and typically includes the room, all food and drinks, and occasionally the flight or additional transportation as well. This is a very popular choice when working with a tight budget because there are no hidden fees – you pay once and that is it. Unfortunately, the excursions from the cruise ship or resort cost extra, but those are usually listed as options when booking so that you are prepared to pay additional fees if you are interested.
I hope you found these money-saving travel hacks helpful and can put them to good use during your next vacation.