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Clever Travel Hacks to Save You Money in 2023

Dreaming of traveling more but put off by the costs? With a few simple tricks, you can slash your travel spending and make your budget go further.

This in-depth guide covers 30+ clever travel hacks to save you money on flights, lodging, transportation, food, activities and more in 2023. With tips for booking cheap plane tickets, scoring deals on hotels, packing light, finding free attractions and cutting food costs, this post has everything you need to travel on a budget.

I’ve used all of these budget travel tips myself on trips across 6 continents. So grab your wanderlusting friends and get ready to globe-trot while keeping cash in your wallet!

Flight Booking Hacks to Find the Cheapest Flights

Finding affordable flights is an art unto itself. With so many factors affecting airfare prices, booking plane tickets can be frustrating. But armed with these insider tricks, you can unlock deals and slash your flight costs.

Use flight search engines like Google Flights and Skyscanner to compare airfares across hundreds of sites. Unlike airline sites which only show their own fares, these search engines aggregate prices across different airlines, online travel agencies, and websites. Seeing all your options in one place makes it easy to find the best deal. Be flexible with dates and nearby airports to get the lowest possible fares.

Sign up for email price alerts from flight search engines. Once you’ve found a route you want to book, set a fare alert. You’ll then get notifications right in your inbox anytime the price changes. This lets you swoop in and book when airfare deals pop up for your chosen dates and route.

Follow flight deal services like Scott’s Cheap Flights (rebranded to Going) which use advanced software to uncover mistake fares and incredible international flight deals. Subscribing gets you email alerts on deals like $500 roundtrips to Europe and 50%+ off business class seats to Asia. These steals sell out fast so you have to act quickly!

Book domestic flights mid-week, as weekends tend to be pricier. Airlines know leisure travelers prefer flying on Fridays and Sundays, so they raise fares on those days. For cheaper airfare, book Tuesdays-Thursdays when business travelers are more likely to fly.

Search for flights on a private/incognito browser window if you’ve already been browsing a lot. Many sites use cookies to personalize results based on your search history and may show higher fares if you’ve been looking at a route frequently. Open an incognito window for a clean slate.

Delete browser cookies and try alternate dates to trick flight sites. Clearing your cookies resets your search history. Coupled with flexible dates, this makes flight sites think you’re a new user searching for the first time (i.e. not a repeat visitor they can charge more).

Be flexible and search entire months using calendar view on sites like Kayak. It lets you easily see the cheapest travel days, which are often mid-week. Flying a day before or after your original dates can yield big airfare savings. Don’t limit yourself to the same old search.

Follow these flight booking hacks to unveil hidden deals and score incredible airfare prices for your next trip!

Lodging Hacks to Save on Accommodations

Lodging is often one of the biggest travel costs. But with some savvy tricks, you can save substantially on your hotel or vacation rental bookings.

Use free cancellation bookings when possible, to rebook at lower rates if prices drop. Opt for fully refundable rates or those with free cancellation outside 24-48 hours. This gives flexibility to rebook the same room at a lower price if rates drop after booking.

Stay in vacation rentals like homes, apartments, and cabins instead of traditional hotels. Sites like VRBO, Airbnb, and Vacasa offer unique lodging with way more amenities and space for your dollar. You can find amazing deals by booking someone’s extra space.

Book hotels outside busy downtowns and travel in via public transit or rideshares to save significantly. Properties in buzzing city centers jack up prices knowing tourists want to be centrally located. Stay a train/bus ride away for cheaper rates.

Look for accommodations that include free breakfast, wifi, laundry, kitchenettes, and other perks. Getting some amenities included helps reduce your daily costs on the road. Airport hotels often offer great free breakfasts and evening happy hours.

Use hotel price tracking sites like Kayak Price Forecast and Hopper to watch for rate drops. Enter your target dates and let these sites monitor prices, sending you alerts when the rate changes or drops. This makes it easy to seize deals.

Join hotel loyalty programs like Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors, and Wyndham Rewards. Loyalty status earns you perks like discounted member rates, room upgrades, late checkout, free wi-fi, and bonus points to redeem for free nights.

Follow these hotel and rental hacking tips to save big on your lodging costs for any trip!

Transportation Tips to Get Around Cheaply

Transportation costs can wreck your travel budget fast if you aren’t careful. Avoid pricey taxis and rental cars with these tips for affordable ways to get around on your trip.

Take public transit like trains, buses, metros and ferries instead of taxis or rental cars. Local buses and metro systems are drastically cheaper (sometimes only a few dollars per ride) than alternatives. Apps like Moovit make route planning easy.

Walk or rent bikes in smaller towns and cities. Not only is this free or cheap, but it also lets you experience destinations at street level while squeezing in some exercise.

Use rideshare apps like UberPOOL and Lyft Line to split costs by sharing rides with other passengers. You get the convenience of on-demand rides for less by adding a bit of time for others to be picked up/dropped off.

For long overland trips, take overnight trains or buses with sleeper cabins. You optimize time and costs by traveling while you sleep so no hotel or Airbnb needed. Night trains in Europe offer beautiful views too.

Consider budget airlines for short hauls. Airlines like EasyJet, Volaris, and Ryanair offer crazy cheap regional flights. Just watch out for extra fees and restricted baggage allowances.

Rent a car for road trips but look for better deals than big agency rates. Search rental sites like Kayak and rental aggregators like Auto Europe for the best price across companies.

Mastering affordable transportation options will keep your trip budget intact. Get around for less using these insider hacks.

Food Hacks to Save on Dining & Groceries

Food costs can devour travel budgets, but cooking more meals yourself saves big.

Grocery shop at local supermarkets, markets, and bodegas instead of eating out 3 times a day. Stock up on staples like pasta, rice, eggs, produce, etc. to fuel up affordably.

Stay at accommodations with kitchens like vacation rentals, hostels, and Airbnbs so you can cook your own breakfasts and simple meals. Access to a fridge and stove saves a bundle.

Pack non-perishable snacks like protein/granola bars, trail mix, beef jerky, and dried fruit. Having snacks on hand avoids having to buy pricey food at train stations, airports, etc.

Carry a refillable water bottle and coffee mug with you everywhere instead of constantly purchasing drinks out. Make the most of free hotel breakfast coffee too.

Eat street food from food trucks and stalls, which is fast, fresh, and much cheaper than restaurants. Just look for busy spots with high turnover.

Try using grocery delivery like Instacart if you don’t have a car. Get groceries delivered right to your accommodations.

Sightseeing Tips to Enjoy Activities Affordably

Seeing the top attractions is easy on any budget with these tricks.

Take free walking tours of major cities to learn about the history, architecture, and insider tips as you explore major sites. Tips are optional based on the quality.

Buy city tourist cards or attractions passes that bundle admission to multiple sites and tours for one discounted price. Often big savings over individual tickets.

Check Groupon and Travelzoo for heavily discounted local tours, museum tickets, shows, boat rides, and more. You can find some steals, but read the fine print.

Visit museums and attractions on free days or nights when admission is waived or reduced. For example, many Smithsonian museums in DC are free.

Search online events calendars for free cultural activities like outdoor concerts, theater performances, gallery openings and more.

Rent bicycles for easy and low-cost sightseeing, especially in cities with dedicated bike lanes and paths. Some cities even have bike share programs.

Money Saving Packing Tips

Packing strategically can reduce fees and costs during travel.

Pack minimal, lightweight belongings in a carry-on to avoid checked bag fees which run $30-50 per bag roundtrip domestically.

Use packing cubes, folds, vacuum compression bags, and roll-packing to fit more into carry-on luggage. Saucer packing maximizes hardside suitcase space.

Pack multi-purpose basics like black leggings that work for lounging, going out, hiking, sleeping, etc. Clothes that multitask extend your wardrobe.

Bring a foldable daypack or small backpack to use for daily side trips, hikes, and excursions so you have a handy bag.

Pack layers to deal with fluctuating temperatures and climates – they take up minimal room.

Additional Ways to Slash Travel Costs

Every penny counts when trying to save on travel. Use these extra tactics to trim costs.

Purchase travel insurance to protect against costly cancellations, delays, medical emergencies, lost baggage, and other issues. Better to pay a bit now for peace of mind later.

Withdraw cash from local ATMs to get better exchange rates and avoid pricey airport currency exchange desks and transaction fees.

Learn basic phrases in the local language before your trip using apps like Duolingo. Navigating conversations saves hassle and money.

Travel during shoulder seasons when the weather is pleasant, crowds are smaller, and prices are lower. Avoid peak tourist seasons.

Sign up for travel credit cards and airline/hotel loyalty programs to earn points, miles, free nights, and other perks that add up to huge savings.

Follow travel hacking forums, blogs, YouTube channels, and Instagram to stay on top of the latest industry deals.

The Bottom Line

Using tricks like flexible booking, public transit, travel rewards programs and more can add up to huge savings. Try some of these clever hacks on your next adventure to keep more cash in your pocket without sacrificing the fun.

What travel tips do you swear by? Share your best budget travel hacks in the comments below!