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7 ways to save on your next vacation

7 ways to save on your next vacation
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Charis Brown |
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Who doesn’t love to travel? Seeing the world is a passion for many people. You get to visit amazing places, experience new things and create priceless memories with loved ones.

However, traveling can be extremely expensive. But it doesn’t have to be, if you plan it right! Here are seven money-saving tips to enjoy traveling on a budget.

RELATED: 14 inexpensive & essential items to bring on your trip

Here are 7 great ways to get a great deal on travel!

Book a cheap flight

When buying airfare, timing is everything! According to the data scientists at ARC and Expedia, the cheapest fares for domestic and international economy flights are booked on a Sunday, while September is the cheapest month to book an economy flight within the United States. The cheapest days to book an international economy flight are Thursday and Friday. For the best deals on flights, make sure to book at least 30 days in advance.

However, finding a cheap flight that is actually cheap can sometimes be a challenge. Though airlines such as Frontier and Spirit often offer very low airfares (sometimes as low as $20), you’ll likely pay extra for items such as checked bags and seat selection. For major airlines like Delta and American Airlines, you’ll typically get a complimentary checked bag and the option to choose your seat when you book your flight, unless you book a basic economy fare. Costs for extra checked bags range from $20 to around $30 per bag each way.

Here at, we often post deals for Southwest Airlines since they include two checked bags and a complimentary drink and snack during the flight. Southwest also offers open seating, which means you pick your seat once you get on the plane. When booking your airfare, remember that economy fares may not include checked or carry-on bags, so you’ll want to take those additional costs into consideration.

To find the best deal on a flight, use Google Flights, Kayak, and also check Southwest Airlines for the best prices on airfare. For international airfare, check out Scott’s Cheap Flights.

RELATED: The best day of the week to book a cheap flight

Get a city pass or use Groupon to save on fun

Finding fun things to do and enjoying the city you’re visiting is a must while on vacation! Activities can really add up, but you can still find ways to save. Whenever you are planning a vacation in Los Angeles or Paris, Groupon is one great way to find fun things to do on the cheap, from mild to wild. You can find deals on spa trips, tickets for extreme sports like sky diving and more.

Another way to explore cities around the globe is to take advantage of city passes. City passes bundle the most popular tourist attractions to offer them at a significant discount versus the cost of buying each activity separately. You can buy city passes for New York City, London and dozens of other popular destinations!

Use cheap transportation

When you get to your vacation destination, you’re going to want to get out and enjoy what the city has to offer. But, renting a car can be expensive. Currently, apps such as Uber and Lyft have made it very affordable and easy for vacationers to get around without having to rent a car. (Clark surprised loyal listeners by testing both as a driver!)

Uber and Lyft allow you to request a ride from wherever you are. Simply download the app, allow it to use your location and enter the address you want to go. Uber and Lyft will then find you a driver to pick you up within minutes and take you to your destination. To save the most money however, you’ll want to keep tabs on the estimated fares. During popular times of day or during big citywide events, the cost of ridesharing can jump significantly.

As another alternative, one of the best and cheapest ways to get around on vacation is to use the public transportation system if available in the city where you plan to visit. But, if only a car rental will do, you can often find great deals on car rentals through Costco.

RELATED: Taking Uber or Lyft? Read these 7 safety tips before getting in the car

Score a deal on a hotel the Clark Smart way

You can save a TON of money on lodging by using websites like Priceline or Hotwire. These websites offer “mystery” hotels for much less than you’d spend booking directly through a hotel’s website.

But how do you get a bargain and avoid a bad hotel? Clark typically books four-star properties with high ratings. Though he doesn’t know the exact hotel he’ll be staying in before purchase, Clark says this strategy works for him 100% of the time and he’s never had a bad hotel stay.

If you’re crunched for time, another way to save money on a hotel is to use the Hotel Tonight app. This app finds last-minute discounted hotel rooms for much less than you’d pay booking direct.

RELATED: Clark’s secret to finding the best Priceline and Hotwire hotel deals

Consider Airbnb or VRBO

Hotels can be overpriced and overcrowded, especially during busy seasons. One way to cut back on the cost of lodging and enjoy a more comfortable stay is to use a home sharing app like Airbnb or VRBO. These companies allow you to browse a network of homeowners or “hosts” that are renting their homes out for travelers to stay during their vacations. The sites can be accessed through an app on your phone, making it very user-friendly. This allows travelers to lodge like the locals and also enjoy a more homey atmosphere, all while saving money. According to Expedia, the average cost of a week’s stay in an Atlanta hotel is $162 per night, while on Airbnb, the average cost per night is $92.

RELATED: How to book the best — and safest — Airbnb

Don’t forget trip insurance

When travel plans go awry, trip insurance can be a big help. But, when do you need trip insurance? If you’ve booked a cruise or tour and you’d rather not lose the hundreds or thousands you spend due to illness or inclement weather, trip insurance might be in order.

Clark recommends avoiding booking trip insurance with the cruise, tour or vacation planner. He says these types of policies are designed to protect the travel company versus the consumer. Instead, Clark recommends for trip insurance. Additionally, you might want to check to see if you credit card offers any travel protections.

RELATED: Trip and Travel Insurance Guide

Remember Clark’s #1 tip

Finally, whether you are wanting to take an adventure far, far away or stay more local, Clark’s #1 tip has served him well and saved him thousands of dollars over the years: Find a great deal first, and then figure out why you want to go there! Most people start with the end in mind, but to save the most money, you’ll want to opt for a little bit of mystery when it comes to your travel plans. Clark has seen the world using this strategy, and created many great memories along the way!

RELATED: The #1 rule of cheap travel