Every cent counts for budget travelers, and the internet is full of helpful tips for saving money. There are so many, in fact, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by it all. Here we’ve pulled some of the most helpful suggestions for strategies and tech to use while you are out on your adventure so you can save up every last dollar (or Euro, or peso…)
Financial Institutions and Credit Cards
1. Open an account with a financial institution with no ATM fees or with international partners so you can withdraw money for cheap, wherever you are headed.
2. Make sure you are using a credit card that gets miles that can be used easily — i.e. there are no blackout dates or restrictions on which airlines you can use. Travel-themed credit cards also often give huge mileage bonuses when you sign up, so be sure to do your research to see which one has the best deal.
3. Subscribe to airline newsletters so you are the first to know about sales or special promotions. Airlines like Alaska, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest and Virgin offer promo codes and special deals through email notifications (though sometimes you must register for their frequent flyer program to receive the alerts).
4. Follow flight deal accounts, like @TheFlightDeal and @FareDealAlert, on Twitter and check in regularly for information on sales and the occasional mistake fare.
5. If scheduling allows, fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Even better, take the 6am flight. The less popular the flight, the cheaper you are likely to get it.
6. Look for flights on Tuesday — this is still the traditional best day to buy U.S. domestic tickets because it is the day that airlines are matching their competitor’s deals and offering lower prices.
7. Don’t wait until the last minute (the belief that airlines offer last-minute bargain deals is mostly a myth). Book at least 1.5 months out for most destinations, though some U.S. domestic fares are still good through about two weeks out.
8. Clear cookies on your browser before looking for flights (or check on an incognito window). Airlines and booking websites like to keep tabs on you, and if you search for a flight multiple times, it will bump the price because it knows you are likely to buy.
9. Having a single favorite airline or booking website may cost you — sometimes checking the same flight on a different website can yield a significant price difference. Check a couple price comparison sites, like Kayak, Momondo, or SkySkanner, and then once you have a general idea of the flight you want, check the airline’s own website.
10. Take a little extra time and be creative with how you look for flights. “Hacker” fares — combining two one-way trips or booking two round trips with a “layover” in between — can save a lot of money, but you’ll need the patience to try lots of different options manually.
11. Compare hotel prices on Gogobot to make sure you are getting a good deal. (Duh!)
12. Traveling with a big group? Consider a vacation rental — it can be cheaper than booking multiple hotel rooms, and give you a more authentic local experience. Plus, you’ll have a kitchen where you can cook your own meals and save a little more dough.
While You Are Traveling
13. Get a collapsible water bottle. You can take it through security at the airport, and it will pay for itself pretty quickly when you don’t have to buy a $5 bottle of water at your gate. Plus, you can keep it tucked away in a purse or backpack and refill it on your travels to save even more.
14. Take public transport as often as possible. Especially in foreign countries, it can be daunting, but grab an app for your phone (or print a public transportation map) before you leave to make things easier. Google Maps can be viewed offline if, while you are still on WiFi before you set out, you type “ok maps” into the search bar to save your current view. MetrO (for iOS and Android) is another great app for navigating public transport around the globe.
15. Bring your student ID card to get discounts at attractions. Even if you graduated a few years ago, many student IDs don’t have expiration dates.
16. Do a bit of research on when the local museums and attractions have free or discounted days to save on entrance fees.
17. International data plans for your phone can be pricey. If you don’t plan on needing much data (and can mostly stick to WiFi), a basic international plan with your carrier might work. If you need to take internet with you wherever you go, try a mobile option like MiFi or Tep Wireless. You can also use apps like WiFi Finder to map out where you can grab free WiFi while you are out and about.
18. How easy is it to accidentally buy twelve too many gelatos in Rome and end up throwing your travel budget out of whack? (Really easy, for the record.) Manage your finances while you travel with easy-to-use apps like Trail Wallet (only iOS).
19. Do not — we repeat, do not — use the phone in your hotel room to make international calls (or any calls, for that matter). There are lots of apps that you can use over WiFi to call for free or cheap, like Skype, Viber, and more. Need to make a local dinner reservation or book tickets for an event? The hotel concierge or front desk will often do that for you, so you don’t have to pay for the call.
20. Street food should be your go-to meal. Empanadas in South America, kebabs in Turkey, samosas in Mumbai — these foods are cheap, easy, and delicious.
21. Shop at local grocery stores. This is, first and foremost, a cultural experience — you’ll get to see what new and exciting foods and drinks stock the shelves (and guess at what they might contain if you don’t speak the language). It’s also considerably more affordable than eating out for every meal.
*Article source courtesy of Alix Farr of the Huffington Post.