10 Unique Ways to Save Money While Traveling

Saving money while traveling can be easier than you think.  Here are 10 unique and easy ways to save on your next trip.

Be Flexible

One of the easiest ways to travel inexpensively is to be flexible.  Flexibility with where you want to travel, when you go, how you get there and how long you stay.  A majority of the trips I take are booked 1-7 days before I actually leave.  I’ll have a general idea of the destination(s) I want to travel to, but nothing is usually set in stone.  The general consensus is that last minute flights and hotel rooms are overly expensive, but I find the complete opposite to be true assuming you can be flexible.  Monitor airlines, Kayak, Google Flights, and Hotel Tonight for last minute deals.  Not only can last minute trips be cheaper, but the thrill of the unknown only adds to the excitement of your travels.

ALWAYS use credit cards with a rewards program

I’m no financial expert, but there are a few things I’m adamant about and that is how to use a credit card.  Credit cards with reward programs give you purchasing power.  The more you use it, the more perks you get whether it’s free flights, hotels, upgrades, or cash back.  If your credit card offers you rewards, there’s no real reason to use it.  If you’re buying something, you might as well get rewarded for it while building up your credit, right?

Have your employer pay for the bill

This might not apply to everyone, but some companies offer to pay for destination conferences.  If you’re lucky enough to have an employer that does so, take them up on it!  Compensation will vary from employer to employer but if they’ll cover your expenses for a 3 day conference in London, extend the trip by using a few vacation days and now you’re seeing Europe for a fraction of the cost.

Write the trip off as a business expense

One of the benefits of being a contractor or having an LLC is the ability to write certain things off as a business expense.  Traveling across the United States for a business meeting or conference?  Write it off!  Similar to my previous point, while you’re out there for business it couldn’t hurt to extend that time into a vacation.  Although you can’t write the whole trip off, you’re still cutting down the cost of your trip.

Open reward cards with everyone

Yes, I said everyone.  Assuming the cards are at a $0 cost to you, there’s no reason not to have a reward cards with every company that offers them.  By having multiple reward cards you can stay at a Hilton one trip and a Marriott on another, all while gaining points each time.  Although it will obviously take longer to accumulate points for each hotel, you can be more flexible about where you stay.

AAA discounts

At the cost of around $100/year, AAA is a no brainer.  From discounts on hotels and rental cars to restaurants and your cell phone bill, AAA pays for itself and much more throughout the course of a year.

Camping or Hostels

If you’re more of the adventurous type, camping or staying in hostels can save you a boat load of money.  Primitive campsites are typically free but usually don’t provide any amenities.  However, for just $10-$40/night you can usually find campsites that offer bathrooms and showers.  Hostels obviously provide more amenities with costs ranging from $20-$70/night.

Crash with a friend

After college I had a lot of friends who moved around the country and the world.  These friends are almost always excited to see a familiar face even if you haven’t talked in months.  Although I don’t always crash with my friends while I’m traveling it’s nice to have it as an option and is a great chance to catch up with them.

Hotels with kitchenettes

If your goal is to try as many eateries as possible while on vacation, this might not be the best option.  But if you’re on a tight budget, figure out how much you would typically spend per day eating out and put that money towards a hotel room with a kitchenette and cook for yourself.

Rental cars with relocation offers

Companies like Hertz and Enterprise will give you an extremely discounted price if you pick up one of their cars in a specific city and drop it off somewhere else.  For example, Hertz is currently offering their compact rental cars for $9/day if you pick up in CO, NV, UT, or northern CA and drop it off at any one of their AZ locations.  To put that in perspective, if you picked up that same rental car in San Diego, LA or San Francisco, and returned it to the same location you would be looking at $22/day.  Other one way rentals not included in their special can easily cost you over $75/day.  Once again, this is one more time where being flexible with your travels can save you a lot of money!

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