Traveling is something that most people dream of doing. Whether it is a road trip across the state or a cruise around the world, there is plenty to see and do. However, the cost of traveling can make it difficult to take all the trips you’re dreaming of. Fortunately, it is still possible to travel even if you do not have a lot of money to spend. This guide is full of pro tips and life hacks that can save you the most money on travel, so that you can make your dream of a reality.
The Best Apps & Websites to Save Money on Travel
If you have started the process of planning a trip then you know that there is no shortage of apps and websites designed to help you with the process. Many of the travel apps and websites advertise that they can help you save money. There are some great travel apps and websites out there but it can be difficult to sort through the options. Two great websites – that also have apps – to get you started are Hotels.com and Groupon.
Hopper is an ingenious free app that can help travelers save money on flights and hotels. You’re able to tell Hopper where you’re hoping to go, define a date range, and find out how much flights and hotels will cost during that time period. Hopper will let you know if prices are expected to rise or fall, so that you know exactly when the best time to book your trip is. If you’re flexible, you can set up automatic notifications that will let you know when an exceptionally great deal becomes available for any of the destinations you’re interested in!
Hotwire.com is one of many similar services, like Expedia or Booking.com, that’s focused on helping consumers save money on hotel reservations and flights. Hotwire is especially great, because you can book “Hot Rate” hotels which are advertised anonymously, so you won’t find out exactly which hotel you’ve booked until its locked in. While this may sound scary, it’s easy enough to filter “Hot Rate” deals by reviews and ratings so that you can be confident that the hotel your getting is a good one. The savings are more than worth it, you can often get four or five star hotels for a fraction of the cost.
Hotels.com has been around for a long time. It is a website and app that helps you find the best rates on hotels and book them. Many times, you can find the cheapest rate for a hotel on this website. A less known feature of this site is that you can earn free hotel stays if you book through the website or app. If you travel frequently you can earn free nights to use for a future vacation. This is a great way to save money now and in the future.
Groupon is a deal website that offers deals of all kinds, including travel. You can find specials on hotels, trip packages, and activities that you will not find anywhere else. Companies put deals on Groupon as a way to market themselves and bring in new customers. This is a great site to check out if you are trying to decide where to go and what to do for you next trip.
The Best Methods to Save Money for Traveling
It is exciting to plan a trip and dream about all of the things you can do and see. However, after the initial dreaming comes the actual planning. When it is time to really start planning your travels one of the most important considerations is money. How will you pay for your upcoming trip? The ideal way to pay for future travels is to save up for them over time. If you have struggled to save for travel in the past, there are a few methods for saving that may help make the process easier for you.
Set aside your spare change
Setting aside your spare change at the end of each day or week is a simple way to start building your travel fund. You can put a jar somewhere near your front door and automatically drop the change in it when you walk in each day. Or, you can make or purchase a customized ‘vacation fund’ bank to use for saving your spare change. You can involve the whole family in this process in order to speed up your savings rate. Make it a rule that if anyone finds change in the washer or under the couch cushions that it automatically goes in the vacation jar. It can be fun to watch the jar fill up over time as you get closer and closer to vacation.
Round up your purchases
Rounding up the purchases you make each day with your debit card – and having that extra transferred into your savings – is a painless way to save money for your next trip. Many banks have the option of turning on roundups and transferring them to your savings account. The way this typically works is by rounding every purchase up to the next dollar and putting that amount of money into your savings account. For example, if you make a purchase that comes out to $2.50 it will be rounded up to $3.00 and the extra .50 cents will be sent to your savings account. If you make multiple purchases each day the roundups can start to accumulate into a decent vacation account in a short amount of time.
Have a percentage of each paycheck automatically put into savings
Saving automatically is one of the best ways to save money for traveling. When you do not have to think about saving every paycheck it makes the process easier. And, if you are consistent with saving, you will grow accustomed to living on less. If you get your paycheck deposited into your checking account each pay period you can get part of it deposited into your savings account as well. Talk to your employer or human resources department about setting up automatic deposits into your savings. You can choose a percentage of your check to be deposited every time you get paid. If you are nervous about how this will impact your take home pay, start with a low percentage such as three or five percent. You can always increase the percentage in the future. This is one of the quickest ways to save money for traveling.
The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards & Programs
There are a number of credit cards that offer points, rewards, and cash back for travel and other expenses. There are options that allow you to earn extra points when you travel and use those points to save on future travel. Two types of cards to consider in this category are hotel and airline credit cards.
Hotel credit cards
Major hotel lines offer their own credit cards. You can find options from brands such as Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy, and Hilton. If you have a particular hotel line that you prefer to use then you can earn extra points and free nights by getting a card through that particular brand. There are a number of different options to explore if you are interested in saving money by using a hotel credit card.
Airline credit cards
Another travel reward credit card option is to get a credit card through the airline you use most often. American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and others have branded cards that allow you to earn points and apply those points to future flights. If you travel frequently for work you can build up your airline miles and use them for a vacation in the future. This is a great way to save money on travel.
How to Save Money When You Are Traveling
There are a number of cool pro tips that can help you save money during your travels. Vacation is often a time when people let loose and spend a little more money than usual. However, if you are not careful you can end up spending your money on things that you don’t really care about and have to miss out on things you really want to do. As you plan your vacation, think about the things you really want to do to help you identify where you want to spend your money.
Prepare food ahead of time
Preparing food ahead of time is one way to save a lot of money while traveling. If you are staying in a rental that has a kitchen you can avoid the high cost of eating out and keep from spending a lot of time in the kitchen with a little bit of preparation. One option is to make and freeze several meals before your trip. If you are taking a road trip, you can put the food in a cooler or freezer bag for the drive. Once you make it to your destination you allow the dishes to thaw in the fridge or put them directly into the oven – depending on what the recipe calls for. Planning food ahead in this way allows you to be intentional about when and where you go out to eat. You can choose a more expensive place that everyone is excited about because you saved money by eating home cooked food for most of your meals. Or, you can include more activities on your trip because you spend less on food.
Travel during non-peak times
Traveling is most expensive when you do it during peak travel times. For example, traveling to the beach in June is going to be more expensive than traveling there in September. Flights, gas, and accommodations commonly have higher rates during peak season. If your travel schedule is flexible, you can save money by traveling during non-peak times. In some situations, the savings for adjusting your travel dates can be significant.
Traveling is possible even when you have a small budget. Saving money over time and making wise financial decisions while you travel will allow you to get to that dream destination sooner than you thought possible. Getting started today will put you one day closer to your next trip.
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