How to Save Money on Travel: 17 Proven Tips

Traveling isn’t cheap, but it doesn’t have to break the bank, either. The following tips should help you save money on travel so you can justify going on more adventures.

Money concerns put an end to people’s travel plans more than anything else. After all, it isn’t cheap! And financial times are tough right now.

A recent Nerdwallet report found that 20% of Americans traveling this summer will go into debt to pay for the trip. Likewise, 22% of people avoiding a vacation that involves flights or a hotel say it’s because inflation has made everything too costly. And over 90% are taking steps to save money, such as driving instead of flying.

Ready for the good news? From sneaky strategies to tried-and-tested ones, there are many ways to make travel more affordable.

After almost a decade of traveling on a tight budget, here are the best tips I’ve come across for saving money on everything from flights to accommodation.

1. Stay as Flexible as Possible

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Being flexible with when and where you travel isn’t always possible. But if you do have that luxury, you can save thousands of dollars.

For example, it means you can avoid peak season, when everything’s most expensive. You can also depart on the date with the cheapest flight. And you can pick a destination renowned for affordability (e.g., Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia).

2. Set Flight Price Drop Alerts

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Flight prices fluctuate constantly. Furthermore, airlines make mistakes. An occasional airfare will slip through the net at a crazy discount, whether through human error or a computing glitch.

Setting a price alert for your desired route is the best way to catch the cheapest possible flight. Websites like KAYAK and Skyscanner let you set them up. They’ll track the prices and notify you when they drop.

3. Sign Up to Cheap Flight Newsletters

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Automated price alerts are helpful, but there are also entire businesses that track the cost of flights to hundreds of locations, searching for the cheapest fares. They have teams scouring the internet for deals, which they pass on to subscribers/customers.

Jack’s Flight Club (JFC) and Going are two examples. I know people who rave about JFC and the testimonials from customers on Going suggest they’re an excellent service, too.

4. Avoid Last-Minute Flights

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There’s a prevailing myth that waiting until the last minute to book flights can save you money. It makes sense – and used to really work. Airlines would want to fill empty seats, so they’d slash prices to attract last-minute customers.

Unfortunately, the opposite can happen nowadays. Airlines realized business travelers had money (the company pays, after all) but no time. They’ll pay a premium for a seat if it means they can make their last-minute meeting or conference or whatever. As a result, prices go up.

5. Don’t Book Flights on Fridays or Sundays

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Avoid flights that depart on Friday or Sunday. Competition for seats tends to be highest on these days, driving prices up.

On Fridays, people go away for a long weekend; on Sundays, people come home before work on Monday. You should find cheaper tickets on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

Take note: This doesn’t mean you should wait until those days to look for flights. It means you should book flights that depart on them.

6. Aim for Shoulder Season

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Peak season has the best weather and usually falls in school holidays. The crowds are huge as a result, and prices are extortionate. It’s the exact opposite in the off-season. The weather is at its worst, but there aren’t any crowds, and prices are at their lowest.

Shoulder season strikes a happy balance. The weather is good but not great. There are other tourists, but it’s not overwhelming. And the prices drop considerably, meaning you can enjoy an affordable trip.

7. Take Sleeper Trains and Buses

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Anyone exploring multiple places can save lots of money by traveling between locations on sleeper services. Whether by bus or train, these overnight journeys are common on long-distance routes and are a fantastic option when you’re short on cash and time.

You kill two birds with one stone. Not only do you avoid wasting a precious day in transit, but you also save money on a hotel (or hostel, Airbnb, or guest house…).

8. Try Couchsurfing

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Couchsurfing involves finding a host in your chosen destination who is willing to let you sleep on their couch. It’s totally free. The hosts do it out of kindness, a desire to meet like-minded people, and/or to pay it forward, having been hosted by others in the past.

You can find hosts via the Couchsurfing website. You might get lucky and find someone with an actual spare bed for you to sleep in! Still, this definitely isn’t luxury travel. But if you want to meet locals, have unique experiences, and pay nothing for accommodation, it’s hard to beat.

9. Try Housesitting

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Housesitting is another excellent option for travelers seeking free accommodation. It’s a win-win system that connects people who want somewhere to stay in a new place with homeowners who want someone to care for their home (and usually their pets) while they go away.

There are housesitting websites where the two parties can connect. Everyone has reviews (from past house-sitters or homeowners), so you have a sense of who you’re dealing with, and you’ll often interact/meet in advance to see if everything’s a good fit.

10. Know the 24-Hour Rule

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Flying to or from the US? Booking directly with the airline at least seven days before the flight itself? Well, the 24-hour rule is worth knowing about. Legally, the airline is required to offer either:

  • A free price hold for 24 hours, meaning you can secure the price and then buy the ticket within 24 hours or
  • Free cancellation for the next 24 hours.

Most airlines choose the latter (make sure you check), which is very useful for saving on flights. For example, imagine seeing a cheap ticket but not having secured the time off from your boss. You could book it anyway, check with them, then simply cancel the flight if they say no.

11. Book Accommodation Directly

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When booking a hotel or guest house, for example, try checking their website before booking on sites like Because marketplaces take a cut, accommodation providers often raise their prices accordingly.

It’s never guaranteed, but the same rooms could be available for a sizable discount via their own online booking system. Essentially, they’re passing on the savings to their guests.

12. Avoid Travel Guidebook Listings

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Although traveling with a Lonely Planet guide (or something similar) can be incredibly helpful, the downside is that everyone else is following its recommendations, too.

The restaurants, hotels, and tour companies featured in those pages can rely on a steady stream of tourists coming through the door. They put their prices up as a result. That’s why it’s often cheaper to put the guidebook aside and get off the typical tourist trail.

13. Book Accommodation Upon Arrival

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Most people book their accommodation before they leave, which makes sense. You get the peace of mind of securing your room and knowing where you’ll be. It reduces the chance of nasty surprises.

However, you can often save money by booking accommodation when you arrive. You realize there are more options than what you saw online, often with lower prices.

You could book the first few nights before you leave, then find somewhere else upon arrival. Obviously, if you’re traveling in peak season or going somewhere busy, it’s more sensible to book ahead.

14. Switch From Hotels to Hostels

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I can practically hear you groaning already. But hear me out! Not all hostels are for budget backpackers who want to party all night. You might be surprised at how a) nice they are, b) well-located they can be, and c) much cheaper they are than hotels.

A nice private room in a hostel can be equivalent to a typical hotel room while costing significantly less. At the very least, it’s worth doing some digging beforehand to assess the options and compare prices.

15. Get Travel Insurance

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Paying for insurance can be unappealing when you’re trying to save money on travel. But, when you’re going overseas, the financial risks of not getting it far exceed the short-term savings.

There are countless horror stories of travelers without insurance suffering accidents that cost thousands. Even minor issues that need treatment can be far more expensive than the insurance would have been. Don’t take the risk – you’ll have peace of mind and may end up saving masses of money down the line if an accident does happen.

16. Choose Airbnb Over Hotels

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Nice Airbnb properties are often cheaper than nice hotels – especially if you travel with friends or family and split the cost. However, even if the nightly cost is similar, Airbnbs have the added benefit of having a kitchen.

You might have no desire to cook on vacation! But at least the option’s there. It means you aren’t reliant on expensive restaurant dinners. It also gives you another incentive to explore local markets to buy fresh and unusual produce.

17. Make Sure Meals Are Included

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When booking accommodation, look for options with breakfast (and/or other meals) included. It seems like a minor thing, but when you’re worried about cash, every little counts. Likewise, the cost of breakfast and coffee stacks up – especially if you’re traveling as a family.

It’s one major benefit of all-inclusive resorts. It may be more expensive upfront. But with drinks and food thrown in, you can indulge as much as you want without worrying about how much you’re spending.


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Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including and news sites across the US.