10 Secret Ways Frugal Travelers Can Cut Costs

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The recent holiday cold snap that froze much of the country has probably had you dreaming of traveling to warmer climes. Before booking a trip, be sure to research ways to save.

By tapping into the wisdom of the most experienced and thrifty globetrotters, you can lower your travel bills now or any time of the year when planning a vacation.

Here are some of the secret ways frugal travelers are cutting costs.

1. They are lightweight

Traveler with a backpack
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Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has traveled all over the world – to Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand and Russia – but has rarely taken anything other than carry-on.

This saved him the baggage fees and a lot of unnecessary hassle. For more on why it’s limited to a backpack – and tips on how you can do the same – check out “How can you go to Europe for 10 days with just hand luggage?

2. They embrace the dreaded stopover

Happy woman in an airport
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Most travelers despise layovers and much prefer direct flights. But there are times when layovers can be your frugal best friend.

Jeremy Scott Foster, CEO of Travel Freak, told The Associated Press that sometimes you can book a cheaper flight with a stopover to where you really intend to stay. He uses a website called Skiplagged to find such flights.

As Foster explains:

“I took advantage of the Skiplagged website on my trip to Dubai and booked a flight from Los Angeles to Bangkok with Dubai being the stopover destination. And I just (intentionally) missed the second leg of the flight .

The Associated Press warns that if you use this technique too often, airlines may flag you. But Skiplagged says it saves an average of $128 per ticket.

3. They stay in places with kitchens

Airbnb Kitchen
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Eating out every day during the holidays quickly gets expensive, not to mention the deleterious impact on your waistline and overall health.

However, booking a hotel or Airbnb with a kitchen allows you to create healthier meals at a cheaper price.

Be sure to do a little math on this one. It is even possible that by paying a little more to have a room with a kitchen, you will get by financially.

For more tips, see “10 ways to save money on food while traveling.”

4. They go to the countries where their dollars stretch the most

Couple taking a selfie while traveling
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Sometimes travelers know exactly where they want to go. But in many other cases, they just want to get away to somewhere new and exotic.

If you fall into the latter category, you can save a lot of money by going to places where travel is cheaper.

Each year, the Price of Travel website publishes its Backpacker Index which ranks the main destinations in the world by price.

Cities are ranked by the daily cost of paying for:

  • A bed in a dorm in a good cheap hostel
  • 3 economical meals
  • 2 journeys by public transport
  • 1 paying cultural attraction
  • 3 cheap beers (as “entertainment funds”)

Some cheap places to visit in this year’s ranking of 136 worldwide destinations include Vientiane, Laos ($16.82 per day); Delhi, India ($21.78); and Quito, Ecuador ($24.99).

Compare these prices to Boston ($149.80); Zurich, Switzerland ($133.65); and Tel Aviv ($97.42).

5. They buy the right travel products

Happy woman in hotel

If you travel a lot, it’s worth investing in travel products that save you time and money. For example, a global travel adapter will allow you to plug in ungrounded portable devices in locations around the world. Then you don’t have to worry about buying a different adapter for different destinations.

To learn more about these must-have items, check out “17 travel products that save you time and money.”

6. They don’t park at the airport

Parking garage at San Antonio International Airport, Texas
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The cost to park your car at the airport is enormous. In fact, if you’re planning a long trip and you get a great airfare, you may end up paying almost as much in airport parking fees as you paid for your flight.

Getting to the airport or taking public transport is usually a better option.

Otherwise, try to park in one of the “park and ride” car parks located away from the airport itself. Fares here are almost always much cheaper than what you would pay for the convenience of being close to the terminals.

7. They use the right credit card for travel

Woman paying for groceries or food with credit card
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Having the right credit card in your wallet can save you money when you travel. If you’re going to Europe, make sure you have a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, for example.

Other credit cards offer perks – such as frequent flyer miles or cash back – that allow you to accumulate rewards before you travel. You can then use these rewards to reduce the price of your trip.

Stop by the Money Talks News Solution Center and look for a excellent credit card with travel rewards.

8. They find free activities when they travel

Aerial view of Central Park
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There’s nothing wrong with paying to see special things. If you’re going to New York, go there and hit up a Broadway production.

But you can balance out these splurges by finding inexpensive or even free activities to do at other times. For example, in the notoriously expensive Big Apple, walking through Central Park will cost you nothing.

Or go for a free day at Rockaway Beach. Even the Staten Island Ferry – with its views of the city and the Statue of Liberty – is free.

9. They eat before arriving at the airport

Woman eating a ham sandwich
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As any experienced traveler knows, the markup on food inside an airport is downright ridiculous. Instead of wasting money here, grab a bite to eat at McDonald’s or another restaurant before heading to the airport.

Or even better, eat something at home or make yourself a sandwich to take away.

10. They discover ways to travel for free

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Finally, the ultimate example of being a frugal traveler is to travel for free. If you’re flexible and think outside the box, you can discover plenty of ways – from volunteering to babysitting – to get away from the daily grind for next to nothing.

We share some ideas in “7 ways to travel for free.”

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