Traveling can be more expensive than you expected. The cost of accommodation, transportation and seeing the sights really starts to add up. But the onset of the sharing economy, discount sites and travel apps have allowed savvy travelers to visit destinations all over the world for a fraction of the cost.
Here are 10 hacks that will allow you to get major discounts while traveling, so you can save your money for the important things – like great meals.
Share a ride
The sharing economy extends well beyond accommodations and short-distance ridesharing services like Uber. If you need to get from one city to another, try BlaBla Car, the leading carpooling app in almost two dozen countries.
Forget paying for a bus or train. Sharing a ride is a way more economical way to get around these days, plus you can get some local insight or meet fellow travelers on the way.
Borrow a car
If you're not into sharing a ride with strangers, you can just share a car. Getaround is a peer-to-peer rental app that allows you to rent other people’s cars on a daily or hourly basis.
Similarly, Zipcar has company-owned rental cars parked in convenient locations throughout cities across the U.S., and lets members leave cars anywhere in a designated area without the hassle of dealing with picking up or dropping off at rental agencies.
Rent a moving van
Most car-rental companies charge crazy fees for one-way rentals, but you know who doesn’t charge fees? U-Haul.
It might not be the most comfortable option, but if your goal is to get from A to B in an affordable manner, without returning to A, it’s often best to use a company whose business model is based on helping people move by offering them cheap one-way rentals.
Red-eye flights are generally the cheapest way to fly, but they got their name for a reason: you'll arrive so tired you can't see straight.
However, in countries where train travel is fast and affordable (i.e anywhere outside of the U.S.), an overnight train ticket usually comes with a bed instead of a seat. So you can save money on a hotel room and arrive in a new city in the morning rested and ready to explore, rather than wasting a day traveling.
Get a travel pass
Some countries and regions offer a variety of inclusive train passes. Eurail is probably the best known train pass among travelers, and can be great for long-distance Europe travel with many stops. The value varies on a case-by-case basis, so make sure to do your research to see whether it's worth it for you.
Similarly, Air Asia offers an the Asean Pass which can be a good way to save money on air travel throughout Southeast Asia. But perhaps the biggest money saver is the Japan Rail Pass (must be purchased before you arrive in Japan), which will easily save you hundreds of dollars if you plan to do any significant amount of travel across the country.
Do your research on your destination to find comparable transportation packages.
Explore by bike
Riding a bike isn’t only a great way to see the city, it can also save you a bundle on transportation. While bikesharing programs once only existed in select European cities, they’ve now expanded to hundreds of cities across the world.
Renting a bike can be as cheap as a dollar or two, but it's pretty much always cheaper than paying for taxis or a full day of public transportation. Check the handy map below to see the details of the bikesharing option in your destination.
Avoid paying for museums
Museums in major cities across the world offer free admission on specific days every month. For example, national museums in Paris are completely free on the first Sunday of the month, all state museums in Rome have no charge the first Sunday of the month, and entry to some of New York’s best museums are free on various days of the week.
The Museum of Modern Art is free Friday evenings, the Brooklyn Museum is free Saturday nights and little known fact: the Metropolitan Museum of Art is donation only, so feel free to ignore that suggested $25 price tag to whatever degree you’re comfortable. Check your destination to see when museums offer free admission.
Be a tourist
People like to say, “be a traveler, not a tourist.” But sometimes it’s better to do things differently than the locals. New Yorkers don’t go to the Empire State Building or the World Trade Center, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't.
However, if you want to see the sites, be smart about it. The CityPASS offers discounted sightseeing packages in a dozen North American cities, while City Cards offer varying benefits ranging from free entry at attractions to free public transportation in more than three dozen European cities.
Use apps for communication
Regardless of your cell phone plan, you’re going to want to use apps to communicate with people back home. Even if you have a local sim or T-mobile, a phone call or text message back home will probably still cost you quite a bit if you're abroad.
As long as you have a local data package (or you're connected to Wi-Fi), you can use apps like Whatsapp or Viber for sending free messages or making free calls. You can also set up a Google Voice phone number for people to reach you on, or for you to make phone calls for free when abroad.
If you're not already using Honey, you’re doing it wrong. This toolbar add-on isn’t just great for travel, but for everyday shopping online. Just add Honey to your browser’s toolbar, and it will automatically scour the internet for any available coupon codes and add the best available options at checkout to save you as much money as possible.