budget travel tips

Budget Travel Tips

Traveling on a budget can be challenging, especially in today’s expensive travel landscape. However, with the right strategies and tips, it is still possible to travel affordably and make the most of your trip. In this article, we will provide you with 22 budget travel tips to help you stretch your dollars and have a memorable travel experience without breaking the bank.

1. Use membership codes to save on car rentals

If you are a member of AAA, AARP, have a Costco membership, are a veteran, or work for a large company with a car rental discount code, make sure to take advantage of these memberships. You might be eligible for discount codes that you didn’t even know about. For example, AARP offers a 30% discount on car rentals at Budget or Avis.

2. Look beyond traditional car rental companies and locations

Instead of sticking to the usual car rental companies like Hertz and Avis, consider exploring off-airport locations or alternative options like Kyte, Turo, and Silvercar. These companies may offer better prices and more flexible rental terms.

3. Check credit card merchant offers

Before booking your trip, review the special merchant offers available through your credit cards. Many issuers, including American Express, provide discounts on dining, gas, and entertainment. Take advantage of these offers to save money during your trip.

4. Take advantage of free days at national parks

The U.S. National Park Service offers several days each year when entry is completely free. Take advantage of these days to visit popular national parks such as Glacier National Park and the Grand Canyon without paying the usual entry fees.

5. Stay outside the national parks

While it may be tempting to stay inside a national park, accommodation within the parks can be expensive and hard to book. Consider staying just outside the park boundaries, where you can often find more affordable hotels or use your hotel points to book a stay.

6. Download the T-Mobile Tuesdays app

If you are a T-Mobile user, download the T-Mobile Tuesdays app to access exclusive discounts on a range of travel-related services, including rental cars, gas, hotels, and theme park tickets. Take advantage of these discounts to save money during your trip.

7. Get discounted gas at Shell through the Fuel Rewards app

Download the Shell Fuel Rewards app and link it to other loyalty programs to receive extra discounts on gas purchases. Also, check if your credit card offers bonus points or discounts at gas stations to maximize your savings.

8. Save on theater tickets in New York and London

If you are traveling to New York City or London, check out the TodayTix app for discounted tickets to Broadway shows and West End productions. You can find discounted tickets for top shows and even take advantage of no-fee promotions.

9. Save on entrance fees with Bank of America

Bank of America cardholders can enjoy free general admission to more than 225 cultural institutions in various U.S. cities on the first weekend of every month. Take advantage of this Museums on Us program to explore museums and save money during your trip.

10. Use your library card for museum entry

Many libraries offer lending tickets for museums, allowing you to access free admission for a set period of time. Check with your local library to see if they offer this program. Additionally, some museum memberships come with reciprocity programs that offer free or discounted entry to other museums in the region.

11. Take a free walking tour

Sign up for a free walking tour on your first day in a new city. This is a budget-friendly way to learn about the city and get your bearings. Look online for options before your trip and sign up in advance if necessary.

12. Dine on the cheap with Seated

The Seated app allows you to earn cash rewards for dining out at designated restaurants. Simply let the app know you will be dining at a location before you sit down, and you can redeem the rewards for gift cards.

13. Fly on weekdays

Flying on weekdays, especially on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, can often lead to lower airfare prices. These midweek days have lower demand than weekends or Mondays, making them ideal for budget-conscious travelers.

14. Book vacation packages

Consider booking vacation packages that bundle airfare and hotels. Airlines have access to better deals and discounts due to their buying power and inventory. You can often find savings of up to 40% off by booking a vacation package.

15. Use a price monitoring tool

Use airline fare monitoring sites like Hopper and Google Flights to track prices and receive notifications when the best and lowest prices become available. Set up different combinations of departure and return dates to get alerts for all possible fare reductions.

16. Be flexible on destination

If you are not set on a specific destination, consider alternatives that may offer better prices. For example, if you are looking for Old World charm, you could substitute Quebec City for Paris. Being flexible with your destination can help you find better deals and save money.

17. Hold your deal

If you come across a great deal but are not ready to book yet, consider holding it. Some websites and airlines allow you to hold flights or hotel reservations for a specific period of time, giving you more time to finalize your plans before making a commitment.

18. Re-price your flights and hotels

If you have booked a hotel, car, or flight that can be canceled without penalty, make it a habit to regularly check for price drops. If you find a lower price, rebook your reservation to take advantage of the savings. This applies to both cash bookings and bookings made with points or miles.

19. Consider alternative airports

When searching for flights, be open to using alternative airports near your destination. Checking nearby airports can often lead to better prices and more availability. For example, instead of flying directly to New York City, consider flying to Newark or another nearby airport.

20. Use positioning flights

Positioning flights can sometimes offer better availability or pricing than flights from your home airport. Consider starting your trip from a different city or adding a short flight to reach a different airport. Be sure to leave enough time between flights to avoid travel headaches.

21. Use points and miles when appropriate

If you have accumulated points and miles through credit card spending or loyalty programs, consider using them to offset the cost of your trip. Use airline miles or hotel points to book flights and accommodations, reducing your out-of-pocket expenses.

22. Join AARP

Regardless of your age, you can join AARP to access discounts on travel. AARP offers various discounts, including reduced prices on flights and hotels. Take advantage of these discounts to save money on your next trip.

Traveling on a budget requires careful planning, research, and the use of available resources. By following these budget travel tips, you can make the most of your travel experience without breaking the bank. Remember to be flexible, take advantage of discounts and offers, and use your points and miles wisely to save money on flights, hotels, and other travel expenses. Happy travels!