We asked 18 travel pros to share their best tips for saving money on vacation: Here’s the result!
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Blog: Fitting In Adventure
“We bring snacks, which sometimes simply helps if you cannot get to food when you are hungry. The protein bars become meals if we have a bigger meal planned, too. Depending on our accommodations, we may hit a grocery store for fruit and such to make easy meals between our splurges.
“Also, check Groupon at your destination for activities. I live in Vegas, and I think people would be surprised to see some of the favorite Vegas activities on Groupon for super-cheap.
“I think people overlook getting off the main tourism corridors when visiting high tourist areas, too. Getting off those areas allows you to find better restaurants and often better prices.”
Blog: The Travel Tart
“For cheap flights, I find anywhere in the world, flying immediately after a holiday period usually means much cheaper prices. As an example, within Australia (I live here), I always fly in February. It’s still great weather, and flights are cheap because everyone has blown their money over Christmas and New Year’s and are back at work, which mean airlines have seats to fill. Basically, try and fly in off-peak times as much as possible. I’ve found that avoiding holiday periods anywhere like the plague always leads to lower prices if you plan ahead. Also, travelling on a Tuesday or Wednesday seems to work well, too, because of reduced demand.”
Blog: BRB Gone Somewhere Epic
“Make a connection with the locals in the countries you’re travelling … stay at a Homestay accommodation, or make new friends at a restaurant where the locals eat. By getting to know the locals, more often than not, they are extremely friendly and helpful, and not only will they help you avoid getting ripped off by taxis, touts, and scammers, they will also find the cheapest places (and best) places to eat and discounts on day trips and excursions. Some will even offer additional nights’ stay for free.”
Blog: San Antonio Love List
“Take advantage of happy hours! You’ll be able to get great cocktails and good eats on the inexpensive side. Ask your hotel or search on Instagram for the best happy hours near you and you’ll find a great selection.
“Stay in hostels or do house-sitting. If you’re brave, try couch-surfing. I did hostels when I traveled and looked at staying in larger rooms — you can often find a bed for as low as $5 a night.
“Go to a market, buy food, and make it at your hostel, house (that you’re house-sitting), or Airbnb. You don’t need to eat every single meal outside — pack a lunch. You’ll feel less guilty about splurging for dinner.”
Blog: Healthy Travel Mom
“Save money by having breakfast in your hotel room. If your hotel doesn’t offer free breakfast, buying this meal every day can really add up, especially if traveling with kids! Instant oatmeal packets are filling, nutritious, taste good, travel well, don’t need refrigeration, and are very easy to make! Simply heat up water in your room’s microwave or coffee maker and add to the oatmeal mix. (However, DO NOT put the oatmeal in the coffee pot itself; that’s just rude to the next guest. Nobody wants their coffee to unexpectedly taste like oatmeal remnants!)”
Blog: Culture Trekking
“Query airline flights in private mode: When you query airlines and flights in a non-private mode, the tracking cookies note that you are interested in that flight. If you revisit the next day or revisit the site, the flights can change.”
Blog: Uncovering PA
“One way I always save money while on vacation is to walk as much as possible. While this works better for city vacations than for rural ones, walking not only saves money, but it also allows you to explore parts of the city that you might not otherwise see or would only see while passing through. While walking, you can pop into small shops, explore beautiful streets, and really get to know the destination you are visiting, all while saving money along the way.”
Blog: The World Was Here First
“We always try to stick to a tight budget while travelling and are very aware of saving money whilst on the road. Because I do this for a living, I’ve picked up a number of helpful tips that can make my hard-earned travel money go further.
“I also recommend keeping track of the latest exchange rate on an app like XE. Here, you can download currency conversions offline so you know exactly how much you’re paying in your home currency even if you don’t have access to mobile data.
“And finally, I always recommend keeping track of all of your expenses daily in a spreadsheet. Writing down what you spend not only helps for you to have a better idea of how much money you have left but also gives you a better idea of where you can maybe cut back if you want your cash to stretch further.”
“If you don’t plan ahead, you will end up wasting a lot of money. I have probably spent thousands of dollars on ATM fees, foreign transaction fees, and at money exchanges. I would avoid exchanging money abroad, as you’ll never get the best rate. If you use your credit card, the bank will get the best rates, and these rates will be passed along to you. You can avoid ATM fees altogether if you are with a major bank and use one of their international banking partners.”
Blog: Megan Starr
“My biggest tip for saving money is to check out your daily habits and how you can cut back there. I’m an avid coffee drinker, but constantly going to cafes to get my caffeine fix is really pricey when I’m on the road. So I bring my own Aeropress and hit up the local cafe for a bag of beans and I make my own at home with the local roasted beans I purchase at the destination. It is the best of both worlds — I support a local business and save a few bucks in the process with the Aeropress!”
Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Blog: Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
“Plan ahead! My wife and I have an emergency kit that keeps us from needing to buy overpriced essentials marked up at airports or hotels. The kit includes hand sanitizer and wipes, an extra iPhone charger, cheap headphones, gum, hair ties, Chapstick, painkillers, tampons, cold medicine (which can also be difficult to find abroad), Band-Aids, and instant coffee and tea bags. Depending on the destination, we may add more essentials.
“Book directly with the hotel! Most hotels will match the rate of third-party sites, and when you book directly, you’re eligible for rewards programs.”
Blog: Passport Explored
“My best tip for saving money while on vacation would be to stay in hostels instead of hotels. There are two reasons why this will save you money: Hostels are always cheaper than hotels, and they generally offer free breakfast that’s included with your stay.
“You can actually find hostels that are just as nice as hotels and reserve either a bunk bed in a dormitory or a private room, both of which will be cheaper than staying at a hotel. Additionally, making use of the hostel’s free breakfast every morning means that you’ll be spending significantly less money on food throughout your vacation.”
Miguel A. Suro
Blog: The Rich Miser
“If you’re staying at a hotel, don’t just look at the total price when booking. Rather, look at the price per each night, which can fluctuate greatly. Sometimes, it makes sense to split a stay between two hotels.
“Don’t order room service. If you want to eat in your room, look into delivery apps like Uber Eats or DoorDash. Many times, you’ll find cheaper and better food.
“For attractions and tours, check sites like Groupon before booking. Often, you’ll find steep discounts!
“If abroad, remember to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Also, always insist on paying in the local currency (rather than in your home currency). So-called dynamic currency conversion (where you’re allowed to pay in your home currency) virtually always is more expensive.“If you have a legitimate complaint at a business (especially a hotel), complain politely. Often, you’ll be compensated financially.”
Blog: Travel Fam Life
“Whenever possible, stay in a suite with a fridge so you can go to the grocery store and buy some bread, lunch meat, salads, precooked chicken, etc. You can save a lot of money eating in or taking your lunch with you when on a hike or on the beach.”
Blog: Roaming Nanny
“My money-saving tip while on vacation is to stay in hostels. They’re affordable and often offer free meals and things to do. I stayed at a hostel in London that had free homemade dinner on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights!”
Blog: The Jetsetting Family
“International travel: When you pay abroad with a credit card, you will often get an option to pay in the local currency versus US dollars. Always choose to pay in the local currency! Your bank will offer a better exchange rate than what the store offers, so it’s a good way to save a few dollars on a purchase.
“Domestic travel: Some airlines (primarily budget airlines) now have packaged deals that they’ll try to sell you which include luggage, seat selection, a meal, and early boarding. Never pick those! Early boarding isn’t really worth it, and you can pick everything that you need à la carte for a lower overall price.”
Blog: The Five Foot Traveler
“Vacations tend to be that time of year when couples choose to splurge. It’s the time when most people can justify going all-out, but I was never able to do so myself, as I learned from an early age that a little can go a long way. Rather than eating out every night, I recommend looking into luxury apartment rentals or studios with a kitchenette so that you can have your own breakfast in bed or pack a lunch if going out for the day. The money that you can save by not eating out 3x a day is incredible! Then, you’ll savor that delicious dinner out that much more.
“Same goes for alcohol. Alcohol costs add up fast. Ask yourself, ‘Do I really need that fourth drink?’ If you and your partner/friends answer ‘no,’ you will be saving yourself quite a bit of money in the long run….
“Research your destination prior to arrival. The better you know your destination and plans, the better you can prepare beforehand! Packing well and with the items necessary to make the most out of your experience is crucial! The little things that people tend to forget to pack will likely cost you much more once you reach your destination.
“Use public transportation whenever possible! Many vacation destinations in the world have absolutely fantastic public transportation. Rather than being quick to hop on Uber, have a look on apps like Rome2rio to see what your other options are. Chances are, you’ll likely find an acceptable option for a fraction of a ride-share or taxi.”
“One of the very best ways to save money on a vacation is to find a house/pet-sit. They are all over the world — we use TrustedHousesitters, and we have saved thousands in accommodation costs. You sit for free, but then your accommodation and bills are free! Find a sit where you are just looking after a cat and your time is basically all yours.
“House-sitting along the way makes travelling cheaper than living at home for us!”