Top Ways to Save Money on Travel
Travelling can be expensive but with a few helpful tips & tricks, you will be well on your way to saving up for your next big adventure. I personally use each and every one of these tips to keep my travel costs to a minimum so I can enjoy more days on the road. So here they are my top 10 tips and tricks to save money on your next trip and every one after that! Save money on travel!
Must have Browser Plugins
Ebates (also has an app)
Honestly, do yourself a favor and install this plugin. Ebates allows you to earn a percentage back on every purchase made with one of their partner retailers at no additional cost to you. They will mail you a quarterly check… Yes, that is cash money! Use the links below for a free cash, $5CDN or $10USD signing bonus when you spend your first $25 at a partner retailer. You would be surprised how many retailers are partners with Ebates (including Amazon!), you can save money on gear, hotels, excursions, and more for just buying things you would anyways.
Honey is another extension that I swear by you can sign up through this link. I use it mostly for the coupon codes. When you are checking out honey gold will pop up and ask if you want it to automatically search the Internet for known coupon codes, the best part it applies them to your cart automatically. I’ve seriously saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars just by having it installed… I literally did nothing but hit yes. Honey has a similar cash back program to Ebates but I find Ebates offers better cash back bonuses so I just ignore this aspect. They can also both be used together (the coupon code with honey and cash back with Ebates). Sign up HERE!
No fee bank account
You will be very surprised how much money can quickly disappear every time you need to withdraw cash at the ATM while traveling. Most banks charge from $5 to $10 per withdrawal. When you are visiting multiple countries and switching denominations often you can end up spending hundreds of dollars on bank fee’s alone. These types of fees can be completely avoided by choosing a bank that does not charge for withdrawals at other banks. In Canada, that is Scotiabank and Tangerine, are a part of a Global network of over 500,000 ATM’s, I have yet to come across a country that did not have one of their partner banks. I would highly recommend Tangerine because you pay nothing for their accounts and they often have special interest rates from 1.3-2.4 %. Use my Orange key 39653366S1 when you sign up to get $50 instantly in your account when you deposit you first $100. Bank of America is the international bank in the US. You can find a full listing of the networked banks HERE.
Credit card with no foreign transaction fee’s
You may not have known this but most credit card companies actually charge you a percentage of your total purchase as a foreign transaction fee above and beyond the straight currency conversion. They hide these fees’ in with the conversion of currencies so it just shows up as one amount on your credit card statement. It pays to give your provider a call and ask if they charge a foreign transaction fee or not. Again it will pay off quickly to have a credit card that does not charge an additional percentage above the usual conversion rate of that day. An example of such a card is the Marriott Rewards card by Chase (available in both Canada & US) plus you get up to 5 nights free hotel stays.
There are a ton of ways to save money on accommodations these days if you are okay with varying sleeping spaces you might want to try Couchsufing.com. I have had lots of great experiences couch surfing but nowadays I value a good night’s sleep a little more than my College days and no longer use the service.
Another awesome way to save some money on accommodations is to search for a hotel on Expedia or something similar then call the hotel directly. Tell them you were going to book on Expedia but since you know they charge 20% of the booking price, you thought you would see if they would offer you the room for 20% off if that seems to steep ask for 10% off- this way everyone wins. I find this works best with smaller independent hotels, not the big chains.
I really like hotels.com for booking a room in advance of my arrival especially if I arrive at night. I like that they have a rewards program where you get 1 night free every 10 nights you book through them, within 1 year. There are a ton of filtering options so it is easy to find what you are looking for. I always choose a room with at least a 3.5 user rating, free breakfast, as close to the city center as possible. You can also find a selection of hostels on this site if that is more your cup of tea. The best part of booking through hotels.com is that it is compatible with Ebates so you can get cash back from your hotel stay!
Having a car while traveling can be a very freeing experience as you are completely independent to explore the way you want to, but car rentals can be very pricey if you don’t do it right. The best way to save money on car rentals is to book through the countries site that you will be visiting and pay in local currency. They may not offer English as an option on the local site so you may find yourself on Google translate often, but trust me it will be worth it. I have saved myself thousands of dollars over the years by doing this. For example, our last time in France we rented a car for 10 days, for me to book on the Canadian English site they wanted $627CDN but I booked through the French site directly , which cost me 213 euros. This is massive savings for just a little bit of work on Google translate.
If you can’t be bothered with my local website trick you should most definitely search for coupon codes for whichever car rental agency you prefer. If possible don’t rent cars right from the airport, they are often substantially more per day, for a small convenience. Most car rental agencies will pick you up for free at the airport and drop you off when it is time to go home.
Always, always, always, clear your cache and cookies when looking for flights. Even better use incognito mode on chrome to avoid the prices from getting higher and higher as you look for flights. Not doing this is one of the biggest mistakes people make when looking for flights. Generally, you see the flight price increasing with each search and end up buying your flight without proper research, simply out of fear. If you browse incognito you will see the real price, allowing you to make an educated decision.
So you know how to search; now when do you buy? There have been many studies on when you should buy and the cheapest flights come up repeatedly Tuesday around 3pm. The weekends are always the most expensive time to buy. I always also check to see if 2 one way tickets are less than a round trip and also check prices at nearby airports. You would be surprised how much checking nearby airports and one-way tickets can save you on flights.
Credit Card Hack
While I have yet to fully reap the rewards of credit card hacking, there are people who have traveled long term and never paid for flights as a result – so it is certainly worth looking into. Currently, I have 3 credit cards on the go to get enough points for a flight to Asia. Nomadic Matt has a really great post on exactly this, you can find it here.
Packing- Carry on only
By now I think you should know I am a huge advocate for going carry-on only. It is a great way to make life easier while on the move, and to also save some cash. Extra bonus, no more waiting at the baggage claim, hoping your bag made it. Most airlines are now charging for each checked bag usually, upwards of $50 each way. Not sure how to even start thinking about doing a trip carry-on only? Take a look at my post on how to make it a reality Carry-on only packing guide (Women).
Rewards Programs & Points Cards
I would recommend you sign up for every rewards program you come across and start collecting points. Airmiles and Aeroplan are the biggest in Canada but don’t forget all the hotel and other airline rewards as well. Over time these points can add up and you can get free upgrades, rooms, or even entire flights. I look for rewards programs that allow me to transfer that balance into Aeroplan miles so they accumulate even quicker. If you are going to be spending money with these companies you might as well get something extra out of it.
Have any other helpful hints to save money on travel? Which do you think will save you the most time or money? Comments? Thoughts? Share them below.