25+ ways to save money on your next vacation

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This year promises to be exciting for travelers. If you’ve postponed your first solo trip or a long-awaited family vacation, this might be the year it finally happens! However, since inflation is likely to wreak havoc on your budget, these tips and tricks can help you reduce those travel costs.


Scott’s Cheap Flights

Flights are one of the biggest expenses that travelers face. While flying can certainly be expensive, there are a number of ways to find deals that can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your next trip.

Here are some tips to make sure you don’t get stuck paying too much for international flights:

  • Subscribe to flight alerts: Free services like Scott’s Cheap Flights and Pomelo Tourist attractions, scour the web for sales and price drops. Signing up for their mailing lists can help you save hundreds on your next flight if your travel dates are flexible.
  • Track flight prices: Hopper is handy for this, as it uses historical price trends to predict the best times to book. It also notifies you when a tracked flight increases or decreases the price.
  • Be as flexible as possible: If you don’t have a specific date or location in mind, Skyscanner will find the cheapest routes from your destination. Its “Search Anywhere” feature lets you find the cheapest flights to destinations around the world from any airport on specific dates, within a date range, or even throughout the year.
  • Don’t forget low-cost airlines: When comparing flight prices, always check Momondo. It will search for tons of different airlines, including low-cost carriers, which most larger sites don’t.
  • Book outside strategic airports: The big airports, like John F. Kennedy International in New York, tend to have the cheapest flights, and chances are you’ll pass through one at some point anyway. You can save money if you book your international flights from a major airport and your flight from your hometown separately.
  • Sign up for a rewards program: It won’t save you anything upfront, but you should never take a long flight without earning miles through a free airline rewards program. Over time, these miles accumulate and can cover the cost of a future flight.


hot wire

Your accommodation is often the second most expensive part of your trip. A hotel that costs more than $200 per night eats up a big chunk of your travel budget.

Here are some tips for finding more affordable places to stay on your vacation:

  • Refuel at noon: Many restaurants around the world offer lunch dishes much cheaper than dinner. Try to plan your biggest meal around lunchtime and see if you can find a restaurant that offers plenty of food at a good price.
  • Consult the guest rooms and rentals: Airbnb and VRBO might offer better deals than a hotel, especially if you’re traveling with a large group. A kitchen area will also allow you to cook your own meals, which can save you even more money.
  • Consider a hostel: It is true that this type of accommodation is not ideal or comfortable for everyone, but it is not reserved for twenty-somethings who are backpacking through Europe. Staying in a hostel can save you a ton of money if you’re willing to sacrifice some amenities and some privacy. start to hostelworld.com and be sure to read reviews of any place before booking. Always call ahead if you are concerned about location security or to make sure the accommodation will work for you or your group.
  • Couch surfing: This is another option that won’t work for everyone, but if you’re traveling alone and on a very tight budget, you might want to check it out couchsurfing.fr. Instead of renting a room or their house, some people let vetted travelers sit on their couches for free, hoping that the favor will be reciprocated in the future. It’s a fun way to meet new people and save a lot of money.
  • Call your international friends: If a friend or family member lives where you’ll be visiting and has already invited you to stay with them if you’re ever in town, let them know. At the very least, it never hurts to ask, and they’ll most likely be happy to have you.

while you are here

A man walks in the mountains


It’s easy to splurge on shopping and attractions while you’re on vacation, and nearly give yourself a heart attack when you get that credit card bill after you get home.

Here are some ways to control your expenses while having fun:

  • Walk as much as you can: If you can, try to follow your steps instead of taking the bus or taxi. You will have the best view of the place you are visiting, as well as plenty of exercise. Plus, you’ll save money on tickets and fares.
  • Use public transport: Not all places have a good public transport system, but most major cities, such as London, New York, Paris, and Beijing, have train and subway systems that are much faster than battling traffic in a vehicle. The subway fare is also much cheaper than taxis or ride-sharing services, such as Uber.
  • Buying food at a grocery store or market: Eating out is a great way to explore local cuisine, but all those restaurant visits can quickly add up. Instead, try to buy ingredients from a local market and cook your own meals once or twice a day.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle: Although tap water is not drinkable everywhere, you should be able to refill your water bottle at your hotel in most first world countries. If you are concerned that the water is not safe, get a LifeStraw Bottle—it kills 99.9% of bacteria and parasites.
  • Eat at food stalls or local fast food outlets: You don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant to get good food. In fact, the cheapest places are usually some of the most popular with locals because they offer some of the best (and most authentic) food in the area.
  • Take free guided tours: Yes, many tour operators offer free tours. They’re usually limited to a few hours, and you’ll have the option to tip your guide at the end (which you definitely should). However, it is a fantastic and inexpensive way to see a city with some guidance. You can find many of them via TourScanner.
  • Learn to barter: In many countries, haggling over prices is part of the culture, especially in street markets or in shops where prices are not indicated. Tourists are often offered a price three, four or even five times the actual value of a product. If the price seems too high, don’t be afraid to offer something cheaper. Remember that there will always be scammers in these places, who are just trying to get as much money from you as possible.
  • Avoid shopping in tourist areas: We’re not saying you should avoid tourist areas altogether (they’re popular for a reason, after all), but try to spend as little money as possible in these places. Shops and restaurants will be much more expensive there. If you head a few blocks, you’ll likely find lower prices everywhere.
  • Search tourist cards: City Pass, like the I card Amsterdam and the Oslo Pass, offer discounts on attractions, museums, public transport, restaurants, etc. Just make sure you plan to do most of the included activities, so you get what you pay for.


Two people stand near the suitcases

Amazon Basics

There are several other ways to stick to your budget on your next trip. While some may not be feasible for you, even one or two of the following tips can save you even more money:

  • Use a travel credit card: Many credit cards charge foreign transaction fees when you use them in another country. You can avoid them if you have a card designed specifically for travel that won’t penalize you when you use it abroad.
  • Look for free admission days for attractions: Museums, historic buildings and other attractions usually have a free admission day once a week (or month). Yes, they will be more crowded on those days, but it’s still a good option for those looking to save some money.
  • Talk to locals: Go to the tourist office or local tourist office, or make a friend at a bar. Locals will often be happy to recommend a more affordable and fun restaurant, venue, or tour than what you find on your own.
  • Seek help from budget travel experts: You’re not the only one looking to save money on vacation. In fact, many travellers, like Matt Nomad, have made a career out of it. So check out their sites and see what other tips you can find.

There is no doubt: traveling is expensive. However, there are plenty of ways to save money on your next trip. Armed with these tips, you’ll be less worried about going over budget and more focused on enjoying yourself.

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