When you find amazing deals on travel, it will likely put you in a giddy mood before your next vacation. Nothing beats saving your hard-earned cash to stay longer, do more activities and bring home more souvenirs.
You may be wondering where’s the best place to start when trying to save money on your next trip. Two unavoidable expenses you should always investigate are your flight and accommodations. These two things alone take a massive chunk of your budget, and it’s wise to penny-pinch if you can.
Although they’re usually out of range for budget travelers, rental cars are another place to earn some hefty savings.
Below, I’ve detailed a list of some of my favorite resources to help you score some amazing travel deals for your upcoming vacation.
Where to Find the Best Flight Deals
Flexibility is the key to finding the best deals on flights. If you’re fixated on leaving a specific date and like using only one airline, you’ll struggle to uncover amazing travel discounts.
There are several quality resources to discover last minute cheap flights to reach destinations all over the globe. Although I have my favorite search engines to rely on, don’t be afraid to explore every option.
Remember, your flight ticket is almost always the most expensive part of traveling. This is where you should be relentless to find the best deal possible and take your travels farther.
My #1 source for finding the best flight deals is Skyscanner. I think it’s easily the best source out there for finding the most affordable ticket for your desired route.
If your dates are flexible, then you’re more likely to discover a lower price than having a pre-determined departure and return date. One of my favorite tools to find travel deals on Skyscanner is the ability to search flights month by month. This lets me compare different months for my route to see which one is more financially feasible.
Flight tickets are usually the largest expense when finding travel deals, and I like to get creative when planning air travel on Skyscanner. If you only enter your city of origin and final destination, you may miss out on a cheaper way to get there.
Find the hub with the lowest fares to your destination and book your first flight there for a cheaper connecting flight. For example, flying from New York could take you to around a dozen European airports for a layover. I’ll browse through the rates on Skyscanner and book the combining flights that get me to my destination for the lowest price.
The only risk you this entails is that airlines will not be liable if you miss the connecting flight. So, book wisely!
While I tend to open Skyscanner first when looking for flight deals, I’ve found Google Flights to be just as reliable in terms of flexibility. You can enter your origin and destination, and a detailed list of flight prices shows you the cheapest days to depart.
While convenient, the prices that show up will likely be too expensive. Instead, I’ll use Google Flight’s calendar tool to uncover the cheapest options to nearby hubs. Normally, it’s more affordable to reach my destination when connecting from a larger hub on a separate ticket.
As mentioned, booking two separate tickets is risky in case of a layover. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to spare in case your first flight gets delayed. I purposely give myself a lengthy layover of 10+ hours and just hang out at the airport if the first flight is on time.
The primary reason why Google Flights is my second option is due to Skyscanner showing more budget airlines in their searches.
Although I don’t use Momondo as often as the first two search engines for flight deals, it’s a top choice for many travelers. Its layout neatly illustrates price trends of reaching your destination to find the appropriate time to travel. This makes it easier to discover the best offers when your travel plans are flexible.
If you’ve noticed, my primary theme to finding the best flight deal is booking separate tickets to reach your destination. Momondo does a neat job showing Mix & Match fares that let you combine separate one-way flights to get you there.
This takes a lot of the leg work out of finding the best combination to get you to your destination.
Where to Find the Best Deals on Lodging
For those traveling on a budget, hotels are usually not feasible when looking for amazing travel deals on accommodations. You’ll see lots of advertisements flashing huge savings on your next booking, but the price is often still too much.
My advice to worldly travelers hoping to save more is to expand your horizons of where you might stay. Don’t be afraid to venture out, share rooms with other travellers, or even live temporarily in someone else’s home.
I often travel on a shoestring budget and staying in a hostel is always my top choice when frequently on the move. While you can google hostels in your location, Hostelworld is a reliable source that gives you all the info needed to make a smart booking decision.
You can find dorm beds, private rooms and every option that meets your budget when booking a room. It will also show all the amenities and services provided by the hostel staff.
Since I’m always working on the road, I always look for three things when booking a hostel. I only book a hostel that has reliable Wi-Fi, free breakfast and security lockers. This allows me to complete my work, be thrifty on food, and travel stress-free knowing my belongings are secure.
You’ll uncover hundreds or thousands of reviews of each hostel on the platform, and I recommend going through the reviews of other travelers before booking.
On the occasions where I don’t stay in a hostel, I’ve found Booking.com to be the most reliable source. It’s one of the most popular travel sites out there and there are a lot of last minute deals. It has millions of listings all over the world ranging from hostels, hotels, apartments, bed & breakfasts, cabins and more. If you’re looking to get out of the city and into nature, you’ll likely discover accommodations in gorgeous locations.
There are plenty of filters to organize what you’re looking for, and you can browse through listings in order of price or rating. I always like seeing the cheapest options first, but I never book without checking out the reviews. You can even narrow your search to only show accommodations that fit within your budget.
Before reserving a place, always ensure it has free cancelation in case your travel plans change. I’ve lost money several times by having reservations that couldn’t be canceled under any circumstances.
If you’re really looking to save money on travel accommodations, then why not consider house sitting via MindMyHouse.com? This mutually benefits homeowners who want to have someone watch their home or take care of their pets while they travel abroad. Homeowners won’t lose money on pet boarding fees, and you don’t have to pay for a hotel.
You’ll find house sits in some of the world’s coolest cities and out in nature. When you create a house-sitting profile, the smart thing to do is set alerts to areas you wish to travel. This ensures you’ll be one of the first applicants the homeowner sees to increase your odds of winning the gig.
Although TrustedHousesitters is the site that dominates the house-sitting world, membership is extremely expensive at $119/year. I recommend using MindMyHouse to find a gig if you want to delve into house sitting.
Membership is $20/year and it will show you places all over Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and more!
Where to find the Best Deals on Rental Cars
Bottom line, renting a car is an expensive endeavor when traveling on a budget. I only rent a car when it’s the only feasible way to explore a country with gorgeous scenery.
You must be careful when reading the fine print of a rental car. If you don’t understand the policies of the rental agency, you could end up paying hundreds more.
Often, the insurance for a rental car is pricier than the daily fee. To eliminate this added cost, always book your rental car with a credit card that offers primary CDW coverage so you will be covered in case of an accident.
Expedia is a huge booking platform where you can review flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises and rental cars. The site includes daily rates for a variety of car rental companies like Enterprise, Hertz and Sixt.
If you have an Expedia rewards account, booking through the platform can help you build points for future bookings. Plus, you’ll be offered some nifty travel packages to save money on your next vacation.
If you want to see the most car models on your rental search, AutoRentals.com is the best place to start. The site has an extensive database of prices directly from rental agencies and other search engines.
An important feature is where the site indicates if a rental location is at an airport or off-airport. Car rentals are always more expensive at the airport, and it’s important to know where to get the best prices outside of the airport.
This handy search engine is more famous for finding cheap airfare, but you’ll often discover good rates for vacation packages and rental cars. Kayak browses through numerous car rental agencies, and you can easily filter the results to find the best car for you.
You’ll often notice different prices to book now or pay at the counter, and you should note which rentals require online payments. If you don’t mind the uncertainty of opaque booking, Kayak’s “Surprise Agency” feature will likely save you money compared to other booking sites.
Most Important Lesson
Ultimately, the best way to score amazing travel deals is to always be flexible with your travel plans. After traveling to three continents the past two years, I’ve learned that plans can change at the last minute. Also, being open-minded when deciding on your next destination can take you to the world’s most exotic locations, and you’ll meet lots of interesting people during your journey.
Don’t be afraid to change your plans when you find an unbeatable deal and have an adventurous spirit if it leads you to a place you would have otherwise never thought of visiting. It’s ok to have a plan for the important things you would like to see, but make sure to give yourself some free time to explore and relax.