9 Tips to Save Money on Travel So You Can Afford More Trips

The secret to more frequent travel? It's simple: Plan ahead, research your options, lean into deals, and time it right—you'll be amazed how far you can stretch your vacation budget.

Do you find yourself daydreaming of your next vacation...right after your last vacation? Whether you long to explore far-flung cities, relax on sandy beaches, or gather with family at a lakeside cabin; traveling more often is possible—and no, you don't have to become a millionaire to pull it off.

The secret to more frequent travel? It's simple: Spend less money on each trip, and you can stretch your annual vacation budget into more frequent trips. Learn how to plan ahead, research your options, lean into deals, and time it right, and you'll be amazed at how much you can get out of your vacation budget.

Whether you're planning to hit the open road or the friendly skies, check out these easy ways to be a frugal traveler and get out of town more often.

01 of 09

Travel during the off-season.

One of the easiest ways to be a frugal traveler is to travel during the off-season. Airlines and hotels often slash their prices when you visit vacations destinations during non-peak travel dates.

For instance, Florida's off-season is July to August (which may seem strange since it's known as the Sunshine State, but there is such a thing as too much sun). The main Florida tourist season runs from December to the end of April, so vacationing during the extra-hot summer will save you a ton if you can take the heat and humidity. Flip this script if you want to visit, say, Myrtle Beach; This South Carolina beach town's peak season is summer, so rates plummet during winter.

Pinpoint off-season times that are cheaper but still safe: That is, you don't want to head to a destination when it's prone to hurricanes or sandstorms just because it's cheaper. This requires a little research, but is definitely worth the effort.

While it takes a little planning, off-season travel saves you money and, as an added benefit, you avoid crowds, too.

02 of 09

Use travel sites to book cheaper hotels.

Rather than booking directly with the hotel or airline, check out travel sites such as booking.com and priceline.com for cheaper rates. For example, you can compare multiple hotels at once, helping you find the best deal for your destination.

Plus, if you sign up for these websites' rewards programs, you can save even more and earn perks. It takes only a few minutes, and the member-only savings are solid. You can even win free upgrades and free nights at hotels. The best part? Even if you stay in different hotels, the points count each time you book.

These sites are excellent for pet owners, too, because you can filter results for hotels that are pet-friendly.

03 of 09

Stay with family to save on hotels.

Another great option to save money on hotels is to stay with folks you know. Got a long-lost cousin with extra space in a fun city? What about that college roommate who's always saying "my guest room is your guest room"? Skipping hotels entirely can cut your vacation costs by hundreds.

More than likely, you have family or friends in many different locations who would be happy to host you, so why not book a fun get-away and see your favorite aunt while you're at it? Just make sure you consult with them well in advance about the length and timing of stay they're comfortable with.

Pro Tip: Don't invite yourself to stay with friends or family who have kids, unless they've specifically said that you're welcome.

04 of 09

Book flights at the right time.

Using travel sites can save you serious money, but you can double your savings by booking flights at the right time. According to a 2023 study by Cheapair.com, the prime booking window is between 1.5 months and 5.5 months in advance of your travel dates.

The study also found that it didn't really matter what day you book your flight, but rather what days you travel. For example, Wednesday was the cheapest day of the week to fly, averaging $100 in savings, followed by Tuesdays and Saturdays. To travel frugally by flying when it's cheapest, skip flights on Sundays and Fridays.

05 of 09

Opt for a kitchen.

Frugal travelers can save a ton of money by opting for a hotel or vacation rental that comes with a kitchen. Of course it's fun to dine out, but you can save quite a bit if you cook just one or two of your meals every day.

It doesn't have to be fancy; grocery shop for a continental breakfast or a big scramble. Even packing sandwiches for midday rather than hitting a lunch spot can save you $20 a meal.

06 of 09

Find low-cost and free things to do.

The biggest way to be a frugal traveler and travel more often is to find fun, low-cost, and free things to do on your trips. While planning (or even after you arrive), do a quick search online for affordable activities at your destination such as local parks, historical museums, and botanical gardens.

Also, research your destination in advance to time your trip to coincide with free events or festivals. For example, many beach destinations schedule music festivals and other events during summer.

07 of 09

Find discounts on top attractions.

Check for discounts on top attractions, whether it's a theme park you're dying to try or the aquarium your kids are clamoring for. Sites such as CityPASS and DestinationCoupons can save you up to 50 percent off experiences like these, which can often be more expensive than you bargained for. Search the state or city you're visiting on these sites for epic deals on must-sees.

08 of 09

Find affordable vacation destinations.

This tip is obvious but not to be overlooked: Simply find a more affordable destination. Smaller cities, lesser-known towns, and off-the-beaten-path beaches are usually much cheaper than major destinations; allowing you to skip the tourist crowds and enjoy a location's unique charm.

Do you always head to Daytona Beach? Try New Smyrna Beach for a less crowded and less expensive option. Do you think Nashville is the only place for live music? Travel to Memphis and halve your hotel costs. Do you love to sail? Instead of paying Miami's sky-high boat rental prices, visit Annapolis, Maryland. The list goes on...

09 of 09

Use a rewards credit card.

Of course, it's best to save for your vacation and not rack up debt. That said, most of the time you use a credit card to reserve hotels, flights, and other travel expenses (unless you're paying with Bitcoin, of course). So use a card to benefit you financially and earn those perks.

Get a credit card that offers rewards and travel miles, so you can earn free stuff for your travel adventures. While you're at it, find a card with no annual fees and lower interest rates too.

Was this page helpful?
Real Simple is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy.
  1. Cheap Air, Annual Airfare Study. Accessed March 2, 2023.

Related Articles