While dreaming of a getaway is free, getting on a plane, staying at a nice hotel and going on tours are not. Nowadays, it is easy to look for cheap travel and accommodation prices over the web, but extra legwork has to be done to make sure that you save as much as possible on hotels, attractions and airfare. This is where travel hacking comes in. Travel hacking is more than just accumulating points to get freebies; it’s about being able to go somewhere while bringing travel costs as close to zero as possible. Here are 25 travel hacks you may want to take advantage of:
Get a Tourist Card.
Not only do tourist cards offer huge discounts to customers when they visit attractions, but they may also save you money on transportation with special fares and sometimes even free fares.
Look for eat-all-you-can restaurants.
If you want the most food for your buck, then buffets is where is at. Sure the food may not be the best, but the fact that you get to eat for as much as you want for a small price (usually about $15 USD) makes up for it.
During the lunch hours, restaurants offer lunch specials where dishes are offered at significant discounts.
Dress to impress
Though its difficult to quantify this statement, there have been some reports of travelers receiving airline upgrades solely on the basis of their attire. So skip the sweat pants and dress to impress on your next flight, you just might end up in first class.
Quick and cheap, food sold by outdoor vendors can save you time and money.
Military / Student discounts
If you are in the military or are still a student, be sure to ask whether a particular establishment offers a discount. This includes things like the Euro passes and some entertainment venues.
Free? You bet!
Some museums offer major discounts or even free entrances depending on the day and time you. Always check a museum’s website for details.
Get a city tourist card.
If you plan on visiting many museums, historical sites, or other attractions then a tourist card is an easy way to save up to 50% off on these attractions.
The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)
This organization is in constant need for laborers and for a few hours of farm work a day, they’ll provide you with meals and a place to stay.
Go Camping in a Garden.
If you are a camping junkie this may be for you. If your travels take you to the UK, consider camping in someone’s garden. It’s affordable, simple, and guarantees you a unique experience.
If you do not like the idea of working for a hostel consider doing some house-sitting. This involves cleaning and watching over the home of someone while he/she is away, and getting a place to stay in that city in exchange for your services. Among the sites you can visit if you want to go for this option are Mind My House, House Carers and Luxury Hotel Sitting.
Work to get free accommodation.
Some hosts around the world will let you stay in their place in exchange for labor. This is not as bad as you think.
Get sweet hotel deals.
One of the best and easiest ways to hack your accommodation is by getting sweet hotel deals. Try visiting sites like Hotwire or Priceline and join the auctions on rooms. When you use it as a baseline, it will be easier for you to look for rooms that suit your budget. This travel hacking strategy also lets you get huge bonuses and earn points that you can redeem for free accommodation.
Stay with locals.
You could also use sites like Couchsurfing, Global Freeloaders or Hospitality Club to look for locals who can offer you free accommodation. Through these sites, you can find a local who will be willing to host you throughout the entire course of your visit.
Though you cannot really get a free flight by purchasing miles, doing so could help you get a cheap business class flight. There are several airlines that offer 100% bonus on miles that you purchase for up to 100,000 miles, which normally cost $1,300 USD. That means getting a business class ticket for a price that’s about as much as an economy class ticket.
Try a mileage run.
There is this travel hacking strategy that travel ninjas call a “mileage run.” This involves finding more affordable airfares or special bonus mileage offers and then taking that flight for a weekend getaway. Flying around the country in a day to get a cache of bonus miles is nothing compared to achieving that elite status for a year. It’s certainly worth it.
Take the 10,000-point challenge of American Airlines.
The 10,000 point challenge of American Airlines is ideal for those who are about to take long trips. For paying only $300, you get the chance to take this 10,000 point challenge which involves accumulating 10,000 points in a matter of three months to get a one year platinum status. This status lets you get automatic upgrades into business class when you travel.
Sign up for a non-airline credit card.
Non-airline credit cards like Starwood American Express lets you get 10,000 points upon signing up. These points offered by non-airline credit cards have corresponding mile equivalents. For instance, if you convert your 20,000 points into miles, that is already equivalent to a 5,000-mile bonus. After earning enough points you can go to the airline of your choice to redeem your discounted or free flight.
Watch out for special promotions.
Sign up for all possible airline mailing lists and regularly watch out for special deals such as 2-for-1 mile deals. Some airlines also have special card offers that help passengers earn extra miles. One example is British Airways which gives a person 100,000 miles just for by signing up. Recently, Delta also gave away thousands of miles to those who watched a certain video about Bose headphones.
Sign up for a branded airline credit card.
You have a broad range of airline credit cards to sign up for—Oneworld, Jetblue, Star Alliance, Delta, and a lot more. These carriers have branded travel credit cards that give you as much as 30,000 points the moment you make a purchase. Having such a good mileage balance is a good starting point to earn more credits.
Use flier miles
Frequent flier miles allow you to fly for free (kind of). This travel hacking strategy involves earning as many airline points necessary to cover for the full price of a flight ticket.
Check the airline’s foreign website to find cheaper airfares.
If you have already found a good airline, the next thing to do is to check if that airline has a foreign website. Sometimes, you will find that an airline offers lower prices in another website because they are offered in cheaper currencies.
Check alternative routes.
In most major airports, taxes differ depending on the route taken by the carrier. To cut down on your transportation cost, you may want to look into alternative routes. For instance, if you are coming from Europe and want to go to the United States, you may want to take a flight to Dublin first before taking a flight straight to London.
Check with global aggregators to get more results for your cheap flight search.
Skyscanner and Momondo are good global aggregators to check. These sites compare prices of different airlines around the world giving you more options.
Sign up for a site that offers cheap flights online.
To make looking for cheap flights online a lot easier, try signing up for sites like Airfarewatchdog. Having an account in such travel sites will let you stay alert to affordable flight deals in your area.