By Beth Whitman, on January 14, 2014

Money-saving travel tips

Don’t let the increasing costs of travel dissuade you from adventuring out. With a little planning there are some ways that you can cut down on expenses affiliated with your travels. Here are some of my favorite money-saving travel tips.

1. Book your hotels and car rental as early as possible. Prices are lower the further out you book and you can usually cancel up until the day of your reservation without being charged a fee.

2. While it’s possible that airfares will go down the closer to your departure date, it’s far more common for fares to go up. Therefore, I recommend booking your flights as soon as you know your schedule.

3. Before booking your flight, check to see what the airline’s checked baggage fees are. You may be getting a lower fare, but if you have to pay $100 to check a bag, you may not be saving any money.

4. Fly into smaller nearby airports. Often you can save some money if you fly into a smaller regional airport rather than a larger one (like San Jose, rather than San Francisco, for example). You might have the added benefit of getting a cheaper car rental, too.

5. Carry your own food on the flight. Pack a sandwich bag of healthy snacks and carry an apple and a protein bar and you’ve got a far healthier meal than what the airline will serve you. And I guarantee it’ll be cheaper than what you can buy in the airport or in-flight.

6. When possible, purchase tickets to museums and other attractions in advance. Often the ticket price will be cheaper and you won’t have to stand in long lines at popular sights, such as The Louvre or Sagrada Familia. Also, Eurail Passes are often discounted on their website if you make an advanced purchase.

7. Once you’re at your destination, walk or take public transportation rather than shelling out for taxis. It’s better for the environment, too! 

8. Choose hotels that include breakfast with the accommodations. Even if it’s a small add-on to the cost of the room, it’s likely cheaper than if you purchased breakfast that day or ate out at a local restaurant.

9. Rather than ordering room service, purchase food from a local grocery store and enjoy a simple meal in your room. Salad bars are great for this, as are cereal and milk if breakfast isn’t included in your room rate.

10. Eat a big lunch. Make this your main meal as it will be cheaper than having a large dinner. And if you’re traveling solo, it’s often easier to cut down on your food because you don’t have to worry about three squares a day – several snacks might do you just fine.

11. If you’re renting a car, decline coverage if you already have car insurance as damages will be covered as long as you have a policy with your own car. Also, return the car with a full tank of fuel. Some car rental companies charge as much as $9/gallon (true!) if you don’t bring the tank back full.

What are your best money-saving travel tips?