52 Money Saving Travel Tips: Save Before & On The Road

How to save money on travel is one of the most common questions we get asked.

Whether you’re looking to save up for the trip of a lifetime, or you want to stay budget conscious while on the road, the good news is there are many ways to keep costs down on travel.

caz posing with view of kalamata coastline behind her
Kalamata Greece

Like us, most people we know include travel high on their priority list each year, as they want to get away from life’s routines and create precious memories.

But most people don’t have money trees growing in their back yards – if you do, what’s your address??

It doesn’t matter where you are from or what age you are, we have all been in a place where our wallets have been pinched due to lack of funds, but we’re here to tell you not to give up on your travel dreams.

In this guide, we share 52 of our top money saving travel tips, to help you save up for your dream vacation and also make sure you don’t overspend on the road.

Table Of Contents
  1. How To Save Money On Travel
  2. How can I travel with less money?
  3. How can I save money for a trip in 6 months?
  4. In Summary
  5. Other Tips For Money-Saving Travel Tips

How To Save Money On Travel

Whilst increased competition between airlines and the ever growing accommodation options has helped lower travel costs, more and more people are finding themselves with less disposable income to play with each year.

We have a motto – Travel more. Create better memories – it’s something we are very passionate about and have been following that travel motto for the past 25 years, first solo, utilizing working abroad opportunities, then as a couple, and now as a traveling family.

Below are some ideas on how to save money on travel before you hit the road. Some will be obvious to some of you, but if you’re new to travel and new to our site, I’m sure you will appreciate the heads up on a few strategies to help you save money on the road.

Afterwards, we’ll share our top tips for how to save money while on the road. Be sure to check our Book your trip page with our favorite travel booking sites for finding deals and saving money.

1. Be Flexible with Your Flight Dates

hawaaiian airlines plane at terminal
Flying to Hawaii with Hawaiian Airlines

If possible, give yourself the best chance to capture any of the cheap flights when the prices fluctuate by searching a couple of days, or even weeks, either side of your preferred departure date.

A few flight search engines we like using include:

  • Skyscanner – provides instant comparison on flight prices for over 600,000 routes.
  • Kayak – another meta search site that compares hundreds of sites at once.
  • Vayama – specialises in cheap international flights.

2. Adjust Your Times for Flying

Flying at unpopular hours, such as the red-eye or early in the AM increases your chance of getting discounted flights.

3. Fly on a Midweek Day

When it comes to finding cheap flights, we find that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually the cheapest times to fly. Try and avoid flying over holiday periods as this is always expensive.

4. Go Directly to the Airline Website

Once you have looked at all the flight search websites and found the cheapest price, as a LAST resort go direct to that airlines own website and see if the prices are cheaper.

Many of the budget airlines have lower fares that you can only get when you book online at their site, or buy an e-ticket.

It’s also usually cheaper to pay for hold luggage this way too, which you do want to get in advance to save on expensive baggage fees at the airport.

Top tip: pack light and only travel with carry on! This way you can save on hold luggage fees.

5. Join a Frequent Flyer Program

Earn points towards cheaper fares, upgrades, and free companion tickets. It may take a while to accumulate points, but they CAN pay off big time.

I once used my points to fly round trip from the United States to South Africa.

6. Sign Up for e-Mail Notifications & e-Newsletter Deals

The best airfare and hotel sales can go largely unannounced, since they save their last-minute deals for their loyal newsletter subscribers.

Sign up for your favourite travel brands e-Newsletters. Special promotion codes can save you money and you can also be notified of last minute deals in this way.

We are subscribed to a few e-newsletter’s that produce a list of current deals available on the net for any given time period.

  • Travel Zoo– Subscribe to their weekly FREE newsletter of their Top 20 deals – editions for different countries.
  • Deal Base – Sign up for there free deal alerts. They have deals of unadvertised sales and offers you won’t find anywhere else.
  • Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) – this membership program (free and paid) will help you find those flight deals. Stay tuned to their email notifications and be ready to buy!

7. Follow on Social Media

Go and “like” your favorite travel sites on facebook, Instagram, and “follow” them on X- twitter. It’s getting more common for travel companies to release hot deals directly through their social media channels.

Likewise, travel influencers on Instagram are also partnering with companies to offer deals. Keep an eye on their stories to see what deals you can get.

8. Check for Family Deals

Always ask about discounted rates, free meals for children, and an upgrade at check in – they can only say no.

9. Use Coupons

Do your research to find travel discounts and coupons for the areas you are visiting. Check out the brochure shelf in the lobby of your hotel.

Visit the local tourist information offices for free maps and ideas.

Use the following:

  • Tourist booklets and brochures.
  • Back of supermarket receipts.
  • Websites (local tourist boards and businesses and coupon sites).

10. Use Credit Card Reward Points

Check the program and benefits for your particular credit card, you might be able to use your points for accommodation costs and frequent flyer points.

We currently have an AMEX card that gives us three Qantas points for every dollar spent.

To become a pro and get a deep understanding of how to accumulate and use points for flights, go and learn from these guys – The Points Guy

11. Get A Travel Credit Card

Using pre-paid travel money cards or travel credit cards can save you on foreign transaction fees, withdrawal fees, and currency conversion rates (you can lock in a conversion rate).

It’s also a safe and convenient way to carry your money and allows you to access local currency without being ripped off by the extortionate rate that currency exchanges use.

Some travel credit cards also have travel rewards and other benefits, such as travel insurance, healthcare and more. Bonus!

12. Compare Your Currency

Think about traveling to countries where your currency is stronger and you will get more bang-for-your-buck.

For us as Australian’s, traveling to places like Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, and South Africa will allow you to make your money go further.

Europe and the USA is always changing for value, though you will find Mexico to be a pretty cheap destination for most people.

13. Compare Rental Car Prices

We use sites that search all the major car hire companies around the world checking which supplier is offering the best prices for the date you need it.

We use DiscoverCars.com as a price comparison, and they tend to have better deals than the official renter’s website.

Check out our tips for saving money on rental cars.

14. Improve the Efficiency of Your Car

family at picnic table in the bush beside car

When taking road trips from home, make sure your car is operating efficiently and is fully serviced. Traveling doesn’t mean getting on a plane and flying off on some other-worldy adventure, you can just take your car and drive.

Before you drive off, remember to:

  • Check the pressure of your car tires.
  • Drive slower.
  • Use the right oil to increase mile usage.
  • Watch your luggage – the heavier the car the more fuel you’ll use.
  • Pack inside your car not on top.

15. Shop Around for Travel Insurance

You can save a lot of money in shopping around for travel insurance. Use price comparison sites for the initial research, and then call them to see if they can offer a better deal if you speak to them directly (they would lose out on commission to comparison sites, so it’s in their interest to offer you a better rate).

Also, you will find most insurance companies will price match, so if you find a policy that looks really great but another company is cheaper – call them and see if they will match the price.

You can read how we did in this post on the best travel insurance for Australians travelling overseas.

16. Do a Home Exchange

The home exchange strategy is possibly best for families or retired people who are looking to base themselves in another country or state for an agreed period of time.

Just like the name suggests, you stay in their house whilst they stay in yours.

17. Sell some unwanted items

Go onto Craigslist and get rid of that unused ping pong table or the ratty old armchair that’s been in the house since you moved in.

Free yourself from as much bad debt as possible. You don’t want any unnecessary debt hanging over your head both financially and emotionally whilst you are on the road.

All the little things add up. Trim the fat and re-evaluate your living choices. This will be good practice for when you are on the road.

Self-discipline is key: if you have a big enough desire to do something, like travel around the world, small sacrifices in your spending habits want be too hard!

Do a good old fashioned garage sale clean out of your belongings and you’ll be able to add to your travel fund in no time.

18. Cancel Your Gym Membership & Work Out At Home

The gym may be a large part of your life and so this is really down to personal preference, but you can save a lot of money for travel by swapping your gym memberships for home work outs.

19. Travel During the Shoulder Season

In every destination, there is a peak season and an off-season. The off-season is not usually the best time to travel, since many hotels, tours and attractions close – hence the name, off season.

Peak season, also called the high season, is when the prices are hiked up and there are tons of other tourists around.

The best time to travel is during the shoulder season, which is the lovely time before and after the peak season when things are just starting to open up or close down.

You can usually find better deals, since hotels, tours and attractions are more desperate for your business this time, and there’s the added benefit of fewer people around.

How can I travel with less money?

Some people honestly think we are millionaires being able to travel as much as we do, if only.

But it’s mostly been about making smart choices, having different priorities, and using certain strategies to save money as we go.

As they say, a dollar saved is a dollar earned and it’s better off in your pocket than theirs. Why pay more when you don’t have to!

Below are some of our top tips for saving money while on the road.

20. Stay More Than 1 Night

Many hotels, hostels and certainly VRBO provide their best deals when you stay over more than one night. A few sites we like to search on include:

Booking.com is our first choice for accommodation. They have thousands of properties world wide including hotels, vacation rentals, and hostels. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.

We also like Hotels.com and Expedia.com for their OneKey membership discounts.

21. Call the Hotel Directly

A last minute phone call directly to a hotel, or hostel, asking about cheap rooms can prove fruitful. They don’t like having empty rooms so will discount.

22. Stay over Sunday

Many hotels receive Friday-Saturday night bookings from leisure travelers and Monday-Friday bookings from business travelers who stay during the days of the week, so there can be a void on Sunday nights and again they may discount.

23. Stay in Hostels

Hostels and apartments are usually quite expensive, but if you do find a good deal on an apartment, go for it! They are the BOMB for families or those looking for extra living space and a kitchen so you can save on food.

However, the best way to save on accommodation is to stay in hostels. It doesn’t matter if you’re a solo traveler, couple, or family, there is a room for you.

Solo travelers can stay in dorm rooms which is the cheapest way to stay, while families can take advantage of private family rooms. Plus most hostels have kitchens so you can cook. your own meals, another money saving tip for travelers.

Booking.com is the place to go to look for accommodation – they have the most options and great deals, plus you get discounts when you become a Genius member (no membership fee, just need to use the platform).

And use HostelWorld.com for hostel deals. It’s specifically geared towards hostels so is where you’ll find the most options.

24. Use Hotel Reward Programs

woman sitting at hotel desk on computer
INNSIDE New York Nomad – our favorite NYC hotel

Many brands have them and you can get perks like free nights or room upgrades. The Hotels.com welcome rewards program gives you one free night for every 10 booked through them.

25. Couch Surf

A great way to meet locals for a drink, a tour, and accommodation is by Couchsurfing. It connects travelers with local people in various cities that offer members a place to sleep.

26. Volunteer using WWOOF

WWOOF or WWOOFING stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is a world wide network of organisations and they link volunteers with organic farmers.

In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.

27. House Sitting

Make yourself at home with a spot of house-sitting.

House sitters provide their pet and house sitting services for free in exchange for the privilege of accommodation in the owner’s home.

What a great way to save money on travel! Read more tips on housesitting here. 

Trusted Housesitters is the best platform for finding a housesit and/or housesitters. We used it for our 4 week Europe trip to find someone to mind our cats. It was easy to use, we found a great match, and saved us money.

28. Go Camping

aerial view of RVs at Gilbert Ray campground Tucson Mountains
Camping in Tucson, Arizona

Camp in a National Park, or an RV park, or on the beach.

You’ve got to be prepared for roughing it a little, but hey camping is probably your cheapest option.

Read More: Here are our tips for tent camping + fun stories from around the world

29. Take Night Buses and Sleeper Trains

When travelling by plane, train, or bus, try and time it so you are traveling at night. That way, you don’t have to pay for a night’s accommodation.

30. Attend Time Share Presentations

Not our favourite strategy – these can be aggressive sale pitches of 90 minutes or more, but just say no at the end and thank you for the free accommodation for your troubles.

Over the years we have had free accommodation in Turkey, Daytona Beach, Orlando, and Key West.

31. Walk as Much as You Can Walk

Walking across the pedestrian bridge in Nashville
Walking across the pedestrian bridge in Nashville

Get active and see things at a slower pace – walking is FREE. You can experience more just by wandering around a city and getting lost, talking with locals, and people watching.

Explore local markets, wander and take photos, or even hike to the top of a hill for an awesome view.

In fact, you can even join in on free walking tours, which is a great way to get to know a place and get those steps in.

32. Rent a Bike

Cheap price, more comfy than a bus, slightly faster pace than walking. BikesBooking.com is a great place to find bike, motorbike and scooter rental.

33. Travel Like the Locals

Use public transport where possible. You get great knowledge and insight by hanging with the locals, it costs you less, and is a more authentic travelling experience. We have done this extensively in Africa and Asia.

Listen to our crazy stories traveling this way in Uganda, Africa.

34. Share Transport Costs

When you do travel by other means, try and share a car with another traveller. Also, sharing an Uber, mini-van, and tours etc are all more cost-effective when there’s a group of travelers to split the costs.

35. Eat out for Breakfast, Lunch or Brunch, Over Dinner

Try and avoid dinner as restaurants raise prices. OR, have brunch instead of 3 meals a day.

Many restaurants offer lunch specials where items on the dinner menu are offered for a fraction of the cost you’d pay in the evening.

36. Eat Away from the Tourist Streets

Just go one street or one block over and it will usually be much cheaper and more authentic!

37. Have Picnics and BBQ’s

Purchase food in a local grocery store or a market and arrange a picnic in one of the city’s parks with great views. We’ve had picnics in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, New York’s Central Park, and BBQ’s world wide.

38. Self-Cater Where You Can

We make self-contained accommodation with kitchen facilities a priority. Purchasing your own supplies and cooking-in can save you big bucks – unless you are in Asia where eating out is incredibly cheap.

And take your own food on flights, buses and trains where practical.

39. Look For Accommodation With Breakfast Included

When booking a hotel or hostel look for one with breakfast included.

40. Eat Street Food

The real reason you should eat street food is because it’s cheap, you help the locals, and it’s safe  – you can see what is actually being cooked and is cooked fresh right in front of you. Pay attention to where the locals eat and what is popular.

Eat Street Food - 52 Ways on How to save money on Travel
Cheap street food in Thailand

Here’s why you should eat street food AND our favorite street food places in Bangkok.

41. Drink in Before Going Out

Just like eating, purchase your alcohol from a store. Then, take advantage of any happy hours and don’t drink expensive import stuff – give the local stuff a go.

42. Leave your ATM Card at Home

When out partying or out for dinner, only take a certain amount of cash, once it’s gone it’s gone. Your pocket, and your head, will thank you in the morning.

43. Bargain – it’s expected in many countries

But don’t over bargain. 50 cents is nothing to you, but may mean a days worth of meals to the person you are haggling with.

44. Avoid Shopping Outside Tourist Attractions

Shop for souvenirs, clothes and food where the locals shop. Look for weekend markets and outlet stores.

45. Do Your Laundry In The Sink

Wash as much of your laundry as you can by yourself by hand, instead of pumping money through laundromats or using expensive hotel laundry services. Better still, stay in apartments that have washing machines included.

46. Get An eSim Card or Local Sim Card (Not At The Airport!)

When you want to stay connected, the best way to do that is to either accept you’ll have limited WiFi and connect to the hotel’s free wifi, or get an esim card.

If you have an unlocked phone the best option is an eSim card. Airalo have the best rates and availability. They have great rates and you’re connected as soon as you arrive. If not, finding a local sim card will be your best option.

NEVER get one at the airport, it’s always overpriced and never the best deals. In cities and towns seek out free wifi spots at cafes, libraries and hot spots.

47. Stay Local

Travelling doesn’t have to involve long flights and extensive road trips.

A great way to bring more travel into your life is by exploring new areas in your local region. Climb a new mountain, visit a new cafe or market, go kayaking in a nearby river, take a day trip to a new town.

48. Do the FREE Stuff

The best way of saving money on the road are the many free things to do.

  • See a street fair, concert, or cultural event.
  • Catch a magnificent sunset or sunrise
  • Take a walk or bike ride.
  • Play in the park.
  • Free movie screenings in local cafes and hostels
  • Swim at the beach or lake.
  • Climb a mountain.
  • Visit a market.

Hit the street with your feet and get lost in a city or town. It’s amazing what you’ll discover around every corner.

49. Get A Water Filter Bottle

Save money on buying bottled water by purchasing a water purifying water bottle.

Brands such as LifeStraw and Grayl have these great products where you can drink tap water. or river water and their cleverly engineered bottles will remove harmful bacteria and viruses.

Pretty cool tech, huh?

50. Use the Free Days

Such a simple tip I know but simple is always good. Visit museums or tourist sites on FREE days or when they are discounted or allow free admission.

Before you go anywhere, make sure you look on their website to find out if they offer free visiting hours or discounts.

You may also find the best rate on museums by purchasing a museum pass, if there is one available. Take a minute to work out whether there are any more museums you want to see and if it’s worth the investment.

51. Get Sightseeing Passes / City Attraction Passes

One way we save money visiting popular city destinations is via Sightseeing Passes or city attraction passes. You’ll need to carefully plan your trip beforehand so you know exactly which top tourist attractions and tours you want to do. Add up the price and then compare it with an attraction pass and see if you can save money with the pass.

They usually include the top tourist attractions, some local tours and quirky attractions and sometimes discounts at restaurants and shopping. If it aligns it can save you a lot of money on sightseeing. We use them all the time.

For places like New York City that have a lot of attractions, so a New York sightseeing pass will save you a lot of money – especially those that have fast passes. We also saved money using the New Orleans Sightseeing pass and on these top attractions in San Francisco. We’ve also used them in Europe, saving money on top attractions in London and Rome.

We love the Sightseeing Pass, which is mostly USA destinations, but they have London and Malaga

There are also USA Sightseeing Passes, which gives you access to attractions in multiple destinations. It could save you a lot of money. Click here to see more.

City Pass has mostly USA destinations. We’ve used their one in New York City before on a recent trip with our teens.

Go City have great passes for more global destinations. We have used them in London and Rome.

52. Talk to the Locals

This is how we travel. We love getting insider tips from locals. It can go a long way to good advice, a friendship and even a discount. 

A good ice-breaker is to ask for directions or simple advice (“where’s a good restaurant?”).

53. Spend More Time in Fewer Places

We LOVE slow travel. Instead of racing from one end of a country to another, or tearing through 6 countries in 6 weeks, get to know a region well.

Undertaking too many flights, bus trips, train journeys and driving long distances can really eat into your budget. So slow down, take more in, and discover all the cool free stuff. (It’s also one of our travel manifesto must.)

How can I save money for a trip in 6 months?

It’s totally possible to save for a big trip in six months, you just need to adapt your lifestyle a little bit and consider how much you need to save.

The best way to start saving is to plan a REALISTIC travel budget for the amount of time you’ll be away, for example, $50 USD per day or $100 USD per day.

If you haven’t traveled much before, consider the following items when putting your budget together:

  1. Saving for entertainment, tours and attractions on your travels
  2. Getting there and coming home
  3. Average Daily Costs for food, accommodation, transport, per Country
  4. Staying in touch
  5. Splurges and emergencies

Have a set amount from your paycheck automatically deposited into savings. If you are a couple, try living off one wage and saving the other. We did it.

Take your lunch to work instead of buying it each day and cut back the daily cups of coffee.

Cut back on luxuries like taxis, dinners out, subscriptions to magazines, and high priced drinks. 

You could also consider moving back in with your parents for a while, or take in a room mate.

In Summary

It’s totally possible to travel on a budget and to save up for a travel adventure in less than 6 months. Just remember to revisit your travel budget often during the travel planning process and whilst you are on the road.

Run various scenarios to see what your options are, and just know that you will always have options.

We hope you found this guide helpful and gave you some suggestions for saving money on travel.

Other Tips For Money-Saving Travel Tips

Need more money management tips about saving for travel? Here are some other helpful resources…

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