I have spent enough time on Greyhound buses that smelled like tuna fish and in airport terminals relating too hard to the song title “Everything I Own Fits in This Backpack” by The Wonder Years to feel justified in giving travel tips. So let’s just get right into it – this will cover everything on how to save money and I may do other installments on getting the most out of destinations / trips and doing so stress free.
Sky Scanner, Google Flights, and Southwest Low Fare Calendar
If you are flying these are my 3 main tools. Sky Scanner is great because they do not take commission and let you book right through the airlines sites once you find the deal you want. You can also set price alerts for a certain route / dates and get a notification when the price drops. If you don’t have specific dates in mind you can look at the price range for an entire month and also include nearby airports to get you the best deal – this is really helpful for the east coast where many airports in cities like NYC and DC are very close to each other. They also can search for hotels and car rentals!
Google Flights is similar and good for a quick overview but I find they exclude some airlines and make you book through their site which can be confusing.
Southwest Low Fare Calendar is my go to because I find their rapid rewards system to be the easiest to actually earn and spend points with. I actually have their credit card and I got so many points after opening it that I flew between Baltimore and Chicago probably 6 times for free by booking with points. But basically the calendar lets you look at an entire month of flights either by points or currency. Sometimes I will book one way with points and the other with money to save money. Southwest is nice because there is no crazy fees – 2 bags fly literally free. It isn’t the most glamorous airline but as long as you check in on time you usually can get a window seat and nothing is extra cost. If you’re super about comfort for like a long flight maybe not the best but I have used them for 4-5 hour flights and honestly never had an issue. A neck pillow and some snacks are your best friend.
This site works literally anywhere in the world so it’s great for international travel. Compare your options: plane, train, bus, car, ferry, bike share, driving and walking directions all in one search.You’d be surprised how often it is cheaper to take a bus or train over flying and if you have the time because it could save you over $100. Also really helpful if you just want to visit a nearby town or take a day trip.
I can’t remember the last time I stayed in a hotel because my default is now Airbnb. I think this saves money not only on upfront cost / fees but on food; most Airbnbs give you access to a full kitchen so you can save a lot of money by grocery shopping, bringing your own food, or being able to save your leftovers when you do eat out. Also many Airbnb hosts are great locally resources who can recommend you local spots and tell you whether or not typical tourist stops are worth your time and money. If you refer friends or use it for the first time you can usually get a discount so here is my link for $40 off! Airbnb now lets you book Experiences as well as Homes, and Restaurants. https://www.airbnb.com/c/hannahh7338?currency=USD
If you read my LA post you’d know how much I enjoyed using Turo. Basically you are “renting” someone’s personal car and you do not have to be 25 to use the service. Pick up the car or get it delivered, wherever you need it. I actually got mine right at the airport which was very convenient. In major cities that lack public transportation, using lots of rideshare like Lyft is great but can definitely add up. Having your own car even for a few hours allows you a lot more freedom to make stops, visit nearby towns, and not have to worry about waiting. For $25 off your first booking use this link https://turo.com/c/hannahh417
I think Groupon is very underrated when it comes to travel. If you don’t know about Groupon it is an e-commerce marketplace connecting subscribers with local merchants by offering activities, travel, goods and services. Basically you can buy discounted offers based on a city. So you can put the city you are traveling to in the search bar and find deals for like restaurants, museums, concerts, spas, and all sorts of experiences like wine tasting or axe throwing.
Pack snacks and bring a water bottle
Might seem obvious – but airport water and food is expensive but TSA does allow food through as well as empty water bottles.
If you do need a meal while at the airport, this app let’s you see the different options in one place before deciding what you want / what is in your budget then just order and pick it up.