8 Easy Ways to Save Money on Travel in the USA

Try these surprising tricks to cut your travel budget during your next vacation.

Whether you're discouraged by the big cost of airline tickets or haven't been able to stash as much cash as you'd hoped for your next vacation, the good news is that traveling on a budget may be easier than ever. Here are some insider tricks to help you save big bucks and travel in America on a budget.

  • 01 of 08

    Book Flights Two Months in Advance

    Man standing with outstretched arms at sunset.
    ••• Your dream vacation in the USA may not be as expensive as you think. Getty

    If you have made up your mind to take a vacation, then the best time for you to book your ticket might be now. The earlier you book your flight, the greater your chances of getting a good discount on prices.

    Expedia confirmed that purchasing a ticket two months in advance is generally the cheapest. In fact, it can lead to a savings of 20 to 31 percent on popular domestic routes when purchased around 57 days ahead of time.

    Additionally, the Daily Mail reports that prices of tickets booked on Sunday can be as much as 13 percent more than if booked on a Friday.

    Worried that you might miss out on cheaper fare when you book in advance? Travel sites such as Expedia, Priceline, and Orbitz all offer price guarantees that can assist you in getting refunds if you discover a lower fare later on.

  • 02 of 08

    Look For Coupons and Deals

    As a result of the high competition in the travel business, there are always coupons or deals on almost everything from flight tickets to hotels to car rentals. Before you purchase anything, search the web for coupons for things such as hotel accommodations with free parking, car rentals, airport shuttle, and other types of discounts. You might also get better rates if you book things together, such as with a hotel room and car rental package. 

  • 03 of 08

    Travel During April and Other Shoulder Periods

    A creative way to save money on vacations is to be innovative in terms of timing. Regardless of your destination, if you decide to travel during the "shoulder periods," or the time immediately before and immediately after the peak travel season, you're likely to bask in the best deals and avoid the crowds. April, according to Travel and Leisure  is an ideal shoulder period for ski resorts in the Americas, for example.

  • 04 of 08

    Leave the Toiletries at Home

    Hotel toiletries by sink.
    ••• Many hotels have basic toiletries so consider not packing them. Getty

    With rising checked baggage rates on airlines, every ounce of weight counts against you. Lighten your load: You don’t need to pack basic items like conditioners, shampoos, toothpaste, or soap when going on a vacation. 

    Most of these items are not only available in most hotels; they are also available for the taking. Apart from getting to save money on reduced baggage weight, you also get the additional benefit of preserving your own stash for future use.

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  • 05 of 08

    Seek Out Cheaper Eats

    While it may be convenient to grab breakfast at your hotel, it will probably save you some cash to walk around the neighborhood to find a local café where meals are bound to be cheaper.

    Alternatively, you can also search for discounted meals and entertainment at restaurants, bars and grocery stores through sites like Groupon, Yelp Deals, Valpak and LivingSocial.

    It is also a wise choice to pick up one of those guide books about the location you're going to, because they're often packed with coupons that can be used for discounted meals and entertainment.

  • 06 of 08

    Opt for a Night Train or Bus

    City night lights
    ••• Traveling by train or bus at night can save you money and help maximize your travel time. Getty

    If your journey is going to be long, consider taking a night train or bus to save money on accommodations and several hours of travel time spent awake when you could be seeing the sites. Apart from the benefits of traveling by road over traveling in the air, hopping on a night train or bus can definitely help budget travelers save some cash. Amtrak has some good information on how to book night trains and sleep during the ride.

  • 07 of 08

    Download Apps for Finding Deals

    While popular apps such as Scoutmob and Foursquare can assist you in locating one-off discounts, there are several free apps that can help you to save a lot of money during your vacation, such as LuckyTrip and Flio. Another to try: Happy Hour Finder, which lists all the happy hours in the neighborhood. This is a great way to discover discount drinks, including occasional free meals, without needing to travel too far.

  • 08 of 08

    Try Renting An Apartment

    For family and group travel, renting an apartment can be much cheaper than getting a hotel for the same number of beds. Renting an apartment is an especially excellent option in smaller destinations where hotels are in short supply, or in major cities where hotels can be extra-expensive. Websites such as Airbnb, homeaway.com, interhomeusa.com, and resortquest.com, are great for searching for listings in the United States.

    According to Life Hacker, “Priceonomics looked at the average price of a hotel room versus the average Airbnb listing price in dozens of US markets, and found that you could save close to 50 percent over a hotel room by renting a private room on Airbnb, and close to 22 percent by renting an apartment over a hotel room.”

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About the Author

Laurynas Skupas is the co-founder and CEO of ChameleonJohn, one of the largest coupons & discounts websites with more than 100,000 stores.