Five Cheap Travel Tricks

Everyone SHould Know

You don't have to travel far or often to benefit from these five easy tricks. From best flight search engines to getting in on mistake fares, this list can serve as your basic guide to planning your next trip. Happy savings and safe travels!

1. Cheap Flights

Scott's Cheap Flights says, "Instead of an arbitrary day, the best timing to get cheap flights is by booking in advance. Cheap domestic flights are most likely to pop up 1-3 months before travel, while cheap international flights are most likely 2-8 months in advance."

  • February flights are generally cheaper than July flights
  • Tuesday flights are usually cheaper than Friday flights
  • Flights to Mexico are normally cheaper than flights to Peru

It’s important not to overlearn trends, though; Tuesday flights are usually cheaper, except occasionally when they’re not. LeBron is favored to win every time he steps on a basketball court, but that doesn’t mean he never loses.

2. Sleepin' on the Cheap

Calling vs Booking online - Book flights online, but pick up the phone for your hotel or cruise. Many airlines charge an extra fee for booking through the phone these days, but (!) hotel or cruise employees are able to give you a discount or upgrade over the phone just because they like you, unlike your computer screen.

My favorite hotel search engine is Tripadvisor to find the hotel that's the perfect combination of low price and maximum awesome-ness. When I find the one, I head straight to that hotel's website to book online or call - many hotels are happy to give you a discount or room upgrade so they don't have to split the profits with Expedia, so it's a win-win!

I used to book through whichever booking website was the cheapest or try to build up my Expedia points...but then Expedia screwed me over after the pandemic and kept almost $2k of my money after countless hours and emails, chats, and phone calls with them. Turns out hotel employees are much more able and willing to help refund, reschedule, discount, upgrade, or whatever it takes. Once on a trip to San Jose, the hotel manager upgraded us to a suite because we were in town for a wedding (it wasn't even our wedding??) and when I called to book our honeymoon cruise, the girl on the phone gave us a discount because we were friendly and excited, and when she found out it was our honeymoon, she threw in some free chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne. Hallelujah.

Hotel Alternatives Where you have options, you have power. Never forget to compare your hotel choices to alternative options like Airbnb, hostels, and couchsurfing. These options may seem obvious for young backpackers in Europe, but can even be a fantastic option for traveling within the States.

Airbnb While there are always precautions you should take, Airbnb is widely considered a safe and legitimate choice. Airbnbs can be a lifesaver in a big city where hotels are over-budget and also want to charge you $50/night for parking. Airbnbs can save you money in more ways than one - many have free parking and have kitchens so you don't have to eat out every meal.

Hostels If people are still skeptical about Airbnb, you can bet they still don't trust hostels. In Europe, I stayed in both hotels and hostels. I had instances of being pleasantly surprised at fantastic, inexpensive hostels, whereas I once called my mom crying because of how dirty a hotel room was. While hostels haven't taken off as much in the U.S. they can still be found and be a great alternative. Check out the best hostels in the U.S. here.

Couchsurfing If you're really desperate to save money and don't mind making new friends, there's always Couchsurfing. This is the one method I'm still skeptical of and would never try alone as a woman, but it's out there and tons of people have had great experiences with it.

Hotel Tonight If you're looking for a hotel within the next 100 days, give the Hotel Tonight app a try. I haven't been able to find any truly budget options but I have found good last minute deals on nicer hotels.