14 Ways to Travel for Free (or at Least Get Pretty Close)
By: Victoria Moorwood
Summer is winding down and maybe you’re noticing that this season’s family or solo trip took a bigger chunk out of your wallet than you would have liked. Don’t panic! With a little extra planning and some insider tips, you can already start daydreaming about your next vacation without worrying about post-trip bank despair.
Be a Tourist for Free
You don’t have to splurge in order to soak up a destination’s rich culture and history.
- GuruWalk offers free walking tours hosted by locals in 64 countries and hundreds of cities. You can search by location, read reviews and go on an authentic walking tour for free.
- Did you know that you can reserve free museum passes from public libraries? If you’re traveling within the US, plan a stop at the local library or check it out online ahead of time to see if they offer free museum pass reservations to patrons. Some Boston and Chicago public libraries, just to name a few, allow you to check out passes to local museums, galleries and zoos.
- Also, if you want to be a tourist in your own city, don’t forget that Museum Day is coming up. Participating museums will allow free entry on Saturday, September 22nd. Here are some participating museums around San Diego.
- If you’re looking for a little after-dark fun, plan out a few nightclub stops and research them to see if they offer any deals with promoters. No Cover Nightclubs is a great way to find and put yourself on the guest list for hot clubs in Las Vegas without the cover charge! All you have to do is add your name to the list, arrive at the designated time and enjoy free entry and (usually) a shorter line. Use a D.D. and skip the bottle service—and you’ve got yourself a free night out! No Cover Night Clubs also works with club locations in Denver, CO.
Track Your Flight
One of the sure-fire ways to get the best price for your next plane ticket is to track it with apps and Google Flights.
- Apps like Hopper let you monitor your flight pattern and alert you when the cheapest flights go on sale. They also use a pricing prediction to tell you when your flight is as cheap as it’s going to get.
- You can also use Google Flights and set up email alerts to get notified on your flight price changes. Google Flights is a great place to start when looking for flights because it includes many budget airlines. You can track your flight’s pricing and see how expensive it’s been, how cheap it may get and pick the perfect time to buy.
- Budget airlines are the best way to go if you’re looking to save money and can be flexible on the length and time of your flight. AirAsia, EasyJet and Jetstar Airways are among the top-rated budget airlines in the world that can save you major bucks when you book your next flight. However, one thing to keep in mind for budget airlines is that they make money on offering you additional luxuries. For example, checking bags is usually pricey, you can pay to pick your seat ahead of time and priority boarding can be hard to come by or expensive. You can avoid paying for a seat selection and reject priority boarding, but fitting everything into a small carry-on can be a challenge. If you’re aiming for the big leagues in your budget-downsizing, you can roll up your clothes and only take necessities to fit into your carry-on. Although, if you’re just barely fitting everything into a suitcase that might be over the maximum size, in many cases it’s cheaper to check your bag online than do it at the airport while feigning surprise.
Choose the Right (and cheapest) Lodging for You
- Hostels are a great way to travel if you’re looking to save money. Hostels.com, Hostel World and Booking.com are the best ways to find your perfect hostel. Keep in mind that many hostels will rent out amenities—such as towels, soap, and shampoo/conditioner—so bring your own travel size toiletries with you. It’s also smart to bring an extra sheet and shower shoes for the sake of hygiene in shared spaces. If you’ve never stayed in a hostel before, don’t be afraid! Research customer reviews and compare prices throughout websites to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Also, not all hostels are advertised on every site. For example, I stayed at a great hostel in Santorini that was only listed on Booking.com.
Airbnbs are another cheaper option compared to hotels. Airbnbs are also great for families, since they tend to be bigger and you may pay less than at a larger room in a hostel. Plus, they usually have facilities for cooking. When you’re trying to save a few bucks, it doesn’t hurt to be able to store leftovers and cook up some grub to avoid eating out every meal.
- Hotels aren’t always hard on your budget, if you do them right. Staying at a hotel for longer period of time can actually give more bang for your buck than shorter durations and you can sometimes get a cheaper deal if you stay in a Sunday because hotels want to fill their rooms. Use websites like Dealbase that give you bundle airlines and hotel deals plus private hotel offers.
Cash Out By Just Being You
- Students can enjoy travelling perks with programs like Start The Adventure Travel, which offers exclusive deals on hotels, buses, tours and more.
- Seniors can get discounted flights on Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.
- San Diego veterans can find exactly what hotels, cruises, airlines and more offer special discounts for them and their families on Military.com
- You can also save money just by subscribing to travel newsletters. Travel Zoo offers a weekly Top 20 Deals list that compiles the best deals across 2,000 companies. Get clicking!
Now that you’ve got a few pocket-saving tips, you’re ready to see the world without breaking the bank.