20 Genius, Money-Saving Travel Hacks You've Never Heard Before

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Compare flights. Travel on off-peak days. Book an Airbnb, and do a grocery run as soon as you reach your destination. Chances are, you already know a lot of tricks to get the biggest bang for your travel buck. That's why we reached out to travel bloggers, professionals in the travel industry, and personal-finance pros (i.e., people who know bargains) and asked them their best secrets. What we uncovered were tips that were eye-opening, surprising, and — best of all — seriously money-saving. They're also tips you likely haven't heard before. So, yes, absolutely keep comparing fares and avoiding baggage fees. But take your travel game to the next level by incorporating these tips.

From booking airfares for under $50 to traveling within a city like a local to dining at five-star restaurants, consider this your travel cheat sheet on the cheap. Even if the only traveling you're doing is your annual pilgrimage to your relatives, the cash you'll save can go toward the trip of a lifetime. Click on for the 20 best tips, and enjoy the extra cash — you've earned it.
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Sign Up For Airline Emails
Time to create a new Gmail addy specifically for #travelgoals, suggests Katie Niemiec, a Chicago-based travel blogger at One Little Black Blog. She recommends signing up for major deal sites like Airfarewatchdog, but also to make sure to sign up for individual airlines as well.

"I just took a trip to Denver purely because I saw a flight from Chicago to Denver for $45 on Southwest...how could I pass that up?" says Niemiec.
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Spend The Weekend Flight Shopping
New research from Expedia suggests that weekends are actually the best time to book flights, says Sarah Gavin, Expedia's flight expert. This is a shift — in the past, Tuesdays and Wednesdays tended to be the least expensive days to book.

That said, Tuesdays still follow close behind for least expensive days to book flights. Bottom line: Don't wait until downtime on a Friday to finally pull the trigger on scoring a flight.
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Be Sweepstakes Savvy
Someone has to win, right? Carolyn Wilman, who tweets tips on major sweepstakes at ContestQueen, has won 17 trips in her life, including one to Harry Potter studios and one to help judge a Hawaiian Tropic contest.

The personal-finance site The Balance has an ongoing list of vacation sweepstakes, including international, U.S.-based, and Disney. Worth a shot!
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Be Flexible On Your Mode Of Transportation
"If you have to fly somewhere and can't seem to find a cheap flight to get there, look into flying to a neighboring airport out of the way and taking a train or a bus to your final destination. I do this all the time when flying from Boston to St. Louis," says Kristen Kellogg, a travel writer at Border Free Travels.

"Flights are way cheaper to Chicago, and I like going on the Amtrak. It has Wi-Fi, so I can get work done. I did this just this week, when I saw the ticket from Boston to St. Louis was $364. Instead, I got a $132 flight to Chicago, spent $5 on a ticket to the Amtrak station and $27 on the train ticket. I saved almost $200!"
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Consider One-Way Tickets
"The myth that round-trip tickets are cheaper is something that keeps circulating around the travel blogs, but it's not always true. Buying a one-way ticket can save you hundreds in potential fees incurred if you change your ticket. Plus, it allows you to access current sales," says Val Bowden of Backpacking Africa for Beginners.

"For example, I couldn't find any cheap flights from the U.S. to South Africa. But I was able to find a discounted ticket to Ireland in honor of St. Patrick's Day. So I flew to Dublin, drank a few Guinness beers, then took another one-way ticket to South Africa. The total cost was less than a direct trip there, plus I really enjoyed my layover. On the way back, I was able to score a ticket from Africa to the U.S. for only $355 (including taxes!), which is incredible! That's because I found a deal that Saudi Airlines was promoting. Which, by the way, using small or often unknown airlines is another great tip to save money."
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Rethink A Hostel
Forget about bunk beds and shared dorms — some hostels have private rooms and amazing amenities like pool access, an on-site bar, and transportation to must-see activities at a fraction of the cost, says Matt Kiefer of Hostelgeeks.com, where you can search ratings and reviews.

Another advantage of hostels: You have the opportunity to meet other travelers and hopefully buddy up on costs. "If you're already planning on buying stuff to make dinner or to wash your clothes, offer to split the costs with other hostel guests. It's a great way to save some money and make friends in the process, too. You can also use this strategy if you decide to go out at night and catch a taxi home. In some cities, if you split the cost of a taxi between a big group, it might actually be cheaper than using public transportation. We teamed up with one of our followers and fellow travelers and traveled from Amsterdam to Haarlem to Utrecht, splitting costs — win-win for everybody," Kiefer says.
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Use Costco For Rental Cars
It may seem random, but it's worth it, according to Clem Bason, CEO of hotel-search site goSeek.com.

"Nobody knows this one. And usually nobody cares because rental car is often an afterthought when planning your trip. But Costco delivers whopping discounts, nearly all the time, for name-brand rental agencies like Avis, Budget, and Alamo. Even better, all the reservations are fully refundable. And even better yet, you get an additional driver for free," says Bason.
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Look For Public Transportation Apps
Monica Weintraub, a travel blogger at Wok Like Me, saves major cash by finding local apps that help navigate the subway system. Google maps can work in a pinch, but she says that it's best to do a bit of research for the destination you're visiting — especially if it's abroad.

"The first thing I do before I arrive in a new country is look for subway routing apps. One of the most expensive costs, aside from a plane ticket and a room, is getting around. Even in less developed countries like Vietnam and Thailand, where taxis are still cheap, you run the risk of getting lost and overcharged more frequently," says Weintraub.
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Use Hotel Coupons
Here's another one Bason says he wishes more people would take advantage of.

"We all use online coupons for things like clothing and food delivery, but not on travel. Well, we all can and should! The Expedia Inc. family of companies, including Orbitz, Travelocity, and Cheap Tickets, offers coupons on a daily basis that deliver you an extra 10-20% off the price of a hotel," points out Bason. "The coupons don’t apply to big brands like Marriott and Hilton. But they do on smaller brands like Hyatt and Best Western, as well as every independent hotel in the country."
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Ship Your Stuff
Heading home for the holidays or visiting friends with a ton of presents? Consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch suggests travelers skip baggage fees by shipping stuff to your final destination.

Same goes for sending gifts ahead of time, rather than bringing them on board. "You can take advantage of Free Shipping Day deals on December 16th, when thousands of retailers will offer free shipping with no minimum purchase required and guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve."
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Choose Restaurants In Advance
If there's a local restaurant you're absolutely dying to try, sign up for their newsletter as soon as you know you're heading that way, says Abigail, travel blogger at Where Abigail Went.

"You'll be the first to know about any special dinners that they may be having so you can book ahead, or you can also find out about amazing deals before you go. If you want to do Michelin-starred food in London, some of them, like Gordon Ramsay's Maze, regularly send out mailers with promotions," she says.

"In Singapore, wine tends to be very expensive, but restaurants like Fumee do amazing pairing dinners for under USD 70. Think international dishes with Singaporean flair and free-flow wines from some of the best vineyards around the world. That way, you can have a fantastic meal without breaking the bank."
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Update Your Foursquare Account (Really)
It might sound surprising, but the travel experts we spoke with agree: Foursquare is a super-handy tool to find cool places to hang out — and also score deals.

"We love Foursquare!" says Hostelgeeks' Matt Kiefer. "You can search for places with special offers, like a free drink by checking in, or 10% discount on the daily menu. In Barcelona, we got lots of free coffees and other drinks at restaurants thanks to Foursquare."
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Book Transport In Advance
Yes, it's good to go with the flow, but even a day or two in advance can save you money and wait times, according to Kiefer. "In Croatia, we got a 20% discount on the ferry simply because we booked it online."
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Skip The Souvenir Shops
Have family members who are begging for random tchotchkes from whatever city you're visiting? If they must have that snow globe, skip the souvenir stand at the airport and stock up in the city's Chinatown.

"Chances are, that keychain you saw at the tourist center for $5 can be yours for only a few cents to a dollar when bought in Chinatown," notes Marlon Uy, blogger at Frustrated Billionaire.

Or just skip the souvenir stands altogether, recommends blogger Angelina Zeppieri of Where Is Next. "If you really want authentic pieces and handmade goods that don't cost an arm and a leg, shop where the locals shop. I usually just ask around or use the Foursquare app to find the best places for the items I have in mind."
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Be Point Savvy
Here's proof that credit card points can really pay off: "I was able to stay for four nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo entirely 'free' using points. I was obsessed with visiting Tokyo and fixated on the particular hotel ever since watching Lost in Translation," says blogger Sher of Sher She Goes. "But, unfortunately, an average night at the hotel is anywhere from $600 to $1,200."

"Luckily, I picked up the Hyatt credit card from Chase, which gives a very generous sign-up bonus of two free nights at ANY Hyatt property worldwide. There are minimum spend amounts that you need to hit for most credit card point bonuses — but if you strategize and sign up for a card when you know you'll have some large purchases to make, it can be easy to achieve. Every morning in Tokyo, I went for a swim at the hotel with a view of the Tokyo skyline and, every evening, came back to a nightcap in the famous bar/lounge. It was an incredible highlight to an out-of-this-world trip," says Sher.
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Special Occasion? Mention It!
We're not saying to lie, but if it is your anniversary, a special getaway weekend with friends, or the first time you and your partner are traveling together, it's worth a mention, says Phoebe Settree, writer at Dreaming On 5th. "I'm telling you, it's pretty nice to arrive to a bottle of Champagne after a long day of travel!"
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Splash Out For Lunch
"Saving money doesn’t always mean you can’t dine at beautiful places. If there is a place my boyfriend and I really want to try while on vacation — maybe it’s the amazing view or the food is to die for — we usually make a brunch or lunch reservation. The prices are cheaper, it’s usually easier to get a table, and you’re still getting the experience," says Settree.
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Get To Know New Apps
BlaBlaCar, a European ride-sharing service, saved me a ridiculous amount of money. I needed to get last minute from Barcelona to San Sebastián, and all the trains were either completely full or insanely expensive. I checked the buses as well, and same story: full and/or expensive," says Kyle Boureston, founder of men's lifestyle site Mantelligence.

"Flights last-minute were over-the-top expensive. I’d heard about the website BlaBlaCar from a new acquaintance in Spain, and I pulled it up on my phone in a rush, expecting at least slightly better prices. But I ended up with a nonstop ride (which is way better than the stop-and-go train and bus schedule) for 350+ miles for 30 euros. I was elated, and only really upset that I discovered BlaBlaCar on the way to my last European stop. If I’d known, I would have used it the whole time.”
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Ask Locals For Advice
"There's a reason that restaurants around main attractions are more expensive: They have a captive audience! Sometimes it is just easier to slink into a bistro right off the square when you are tired and just need an afternoon pick-me-up, but good things come to those who wait — and ask," says Jennifer Stuart, founder of Explorateur Travel.

"Locals know the best places for affordable and authentic food. By asking your hotel, Airbnb host, tour guide, or random person on the street for advice, you may be able to save some cash and have a delicious meal all at the same time."
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Traveling This Year? Consider The Carribbean
Lindsey Epperly, a luxury travel consultant and the owner of Epperly Travel, points out that it's a great time to visit certain regions that have seen a drop-off in tourism due to Zika (provided, of course, that you don't have personal health concerns).

"As a specialist in tropics and exotics, I have seen a shift away from some go-to destinations due to Zika. But if Zika isn't a concern for you (you're not pregnant or trying to become pregnant and get the okay from your doctor), you'll find incredible deals right now! And the best part is that the Caribbean is a perfect year-round destination."
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