How to Save Money While Traveling to a New City | 21 Helpful Travel Tips!

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If you’re heading somewhere new, don’t miss these helpful ways to save money while traveling!

hand reaching out over city skyline

It’s time for a getaway without giving your bank account away.

The costs of your getaway may be interrupting the actual fun of a vacation, so we’re sharing helpful ways to save money while traveling.

Getting away is so much fun (until the costs start adding up). Regardless of where your travels take you, read on for these smart and easy ways to save money on activities, restaurants, transportation, and more, so you can enjoy your trip without limiting your experience!

Here are 21 ways to save money while traveling:

1. Be flexible with your travel dates.

google flight results
Of course, you should be conscious of what time of year or month you want to travel; however, I always take into account the Google Flights calendar since it shows you the cheapest times to fly.

This tip is super valuable because it even suggests which day of the month is the cheapest. I used it to fly to Italy last September, and I only paid $400 roundtrip!

For example, the first week of April may be significantly cheaper than the fourth (or during spring break, but more on that later). So, if you can, try to find the cheapest time of the month you’re looking to travel and book for that timeframe.

2. Browse deals on websites Skyscanner, Hopper, and more.

skyscanner flights
Websites like Skyscanner, Expedia, and Travelocity are some third-party websites that allow you to book flights and hotels through them instead of directly with an airline or resort. Sometimes, the prices are significantly cheaper than directly on the website itself, so be sure to check these out.

Hopper is also really helpful because it’ll tell you the best time to purchase a flight or hotel. I’m not sure how they do it, but in my experience, even if I don’t book with Hopper, I always use it to give me some insight on booking. The timing is almost always accurate, but be mindful that it doesn’t always include all airlines.

My Hip sidekick Shane always recommends this tip because you can find some killer deals! I often use Hopper and even scored a $4 (yes, you read that right!) one-way flight during a huge sale they had!

3. Consider whether or not low-cost airlines are for you.

people in seats in an airplane

Low-cost airlines including Allegiant, Spirit, and Frontier only allow you a personal item, and the fees for checked bags, carry-on bags, and seats are substantially high compared to other airlines. Even Jet Blue has been following a similar model recently. This choice makes the most sense if you’re traveling with friends or solo since you can definitely layer up and fit as much as possible in your bag.

If you have luggage and are traveling with family you want to sit together, do a price comparison because airlines like Southwest and Delta already include the things low-cost airlines charge extra for, and it may be cheaper or the same price if you keep all these things in mind.

“I’ve been booking with Frontier Airlines a lot lately and always opt to add their 1st tier ‘Perks’ package. It’s around $50, but it includes the cost of the seat plus both a carry-on and checked bag. It ends up being $10 more than a decent seat cost alone, which is usually $25-$40. And paying for a carry-on or checked bag alone is usually $40, so it’s really a no-brainer to bundle.” – Emily at Hip2Save

4. Try not to bring a carry-on.

wonhox travel back pack

As mentioned above, there are a few low-cost airlines that charge a ridiculous amount of money to bring a carry-on item. I always recommend this travel backpack from Wonhox because it fits an insane amount of products inside it! It also fits perfectly under the seat in front of you.

If you have a small purse and backpack, make sure you stuff that purse into your bag because if you have more than one item they will try to charge you at the gate!

5. Think about renting an Airbnb or VRBO instead of a hotel.

cabin airbnb

The majority of the time, Airbnb and Vrbo will have options that are way cheaper than hotels and have more space. Our Hip Sidekick Shane found one in Phoenix, Arizona for just $30/night! As long as you research the neighborhood and area as well as view the reviews, you’ll find a ton of helpful information and save a ton!

Always look up your rental on Google Street View to peek at the neighborhood. Usually, rental photos are very glorified, so it’s nice to see a realistic photo of the property.

Check out how to save big on Airbnb!

6. If you’re going the hotel route, look for free breakfast and/or airport shuttles.

peeled oranges

One reader mentioned a great point about looking for hotels with free breakfast! Meals can get expensive when traveling, so this is just another way to save money. Plus, you can grab some fruit as an afternoon snack!

Many hotels also offer complimentary airport shuttles; this way, you save on a cab and have reliable transportation. Some hotels will even supply transportation to popular tourist locations! When browsing on sites like Travelocity and Expedia, there’s usually a feature where you can filter the results to include these amenities.

7. Check Groupon, Atlas Obscura, and/or LivingSocial for your destination.

couple using groupon and sightseeing

You probably already use sites like Groupon and LivingSocial to find deals on restaurants, activities, and entertainment in your own area, so why not do it elsewhere, too? Scope out highly-rated spots and attractions without paying full price!

Atlas Obscura is another, out-of-the-box tool you can use that offers more unique things to do in a new city. Even better, most of the ideas are free or really cheap!

8. Check if your city offers free walking tours.

walking tour in a city

Each city has an official website, and sometimes they offer free walking tours for different areas! These websites are also a great guide to which hidden city gems to visit.

9. Enjoy free access to museums when you’re a Bank of America cardholder.

museum access

Bank of America cardholders can enjoy free access to a variety of museums on the first weekend of every month! There are 225 museums and institutions to visit, and you can find a full list of the museums state-by-state on their website.

10. Download the Entertainment App.

entertainment app

The former Entertainment Book has gone digital, and it comes filled with online coupons and mobile coupons featuring local restaurants, coffee shops, entertainment and retail spots, grocery stores, and lots more! This book can easily pay for itself with just one use and is one of the easiest ways to save money while traveling.

11. Read up on local subreddits.

hand writing notes on a slip of paper

If you’re not familiar with the popular forum website Reddit, it’s a massive compilation of smaller forums on just about every topic imaginable. You can search for specific city Subreddits to get recommendations for local hot spots and frugal ways to get around town, all from actual locals! Comment on the discussion and share your experiences to help out other travelers in their search, too.

12. Scroll through Pinterest for ideas.

 scrolling through pinterest for vacation ideas

Whether you’re looking for packing tips, travel must-haves, or hidden gems in popular cities, Pinterest is bound to have just what you’re looking for! Head over to the Travel section on the site and start scrolling, or type in search specifics to narrow your results.

13. Check out CityPASS for discounts.

a city skyline from an observation deck

CityPASS is great if you’re headed to a bigger city with lots of tourist attractions. These awesome discount booklets include tickets to the best museums, zoos, and more — all for up to 50% off what you’d pay at the ticket booth! You can even plan out what you’d like to do during your stay by using their packages as an itinerary.

14. Scope out the Kids Eat Free Days at local restaurants.

child eating pancakes

Yay for free food! There are loads of restaurants offering free (or cheap) kids’ meals, so you can grab a bite to eat without breaking the bank. Chains (rather than local establishments) tend to feature these offers, but call the restaurant ahead of time to verify details. It’s a super-easy way to save money while traveling, but know these promotions may vary greatly by region and/or franchise.

15. Avoid restaurants near tourist sites.

man checking his camera as he walks along the street

The great thing about restaurants in tourist locations is the convenience they offer given their proximity to big attractions. The bad thing is that convenience comes at a cost. The menu prices tend to be a bit higher (even at chain restaurants) so they can cover their own extra expenses due to their location. Look for places off the beaten path, and you may find a more local, authentic dining experience, too!

16. Seek out yummy food trucks.

food truck with two men standing nearby

Food trucks are a great way to save money while traveling; they’re fast, fresh, and frugal! You can feed the whole fam without having to worry about hungry kids (or parents!) losing their patience, and it gives you more time to spend on the real attractions you came for. Look up some local food trucks on social media for the schedule of their usual stops.

17. Talk to the locals for recommendations.

inside of a crowded bar

Who else would know more about the town you’re visiting than the people who actually live there?! When you pop into a coffee shop for your morning caffeine, politely ask the barista or a guest if they could offer some recommendations for dining or sightseeing. You could also ask your Uber/taxi driver, hotel concierge, Airbnb host, or cashier at a convenience store. You may even want to ask for the common prices for certain goods or services, all so you don’t get taken advantage of.

You’ll definitely want to specify that you’re looking for something on the frugal side so you don’t end up at a crazy expensive (yet delicious) 5-star restaurant. You may even want to check out more reviews of the suggested places on Yelp and/or Facebook.

18. Opt for an alternative destination that’s similar yet cheaper

lounge chairs at the beach

If you’ve always wanted a beautiful tropical vacation to Hawaii but cannot afford it at the moment, consider traveling to Mexico. While it’s a different experience, you’ll still be soaking in that Vitamin D by the beautiful ocean at around half the cost!

Another compatible location is opting for Montreal, Canada instead of Paris, France. While there’s no Eiffel Tower or Louvre, you still get to experience the French culture and see this beautiful city. Since both of these locations are in North America, they’re closer, cheaper, and, if you have an enhanced ID, you don’t even need a passport!

19. Try taking public transportation instead of taxis.

people standing on a public bus

Unless you rent a car, you’ll be Ubering everywhere, so consider looking into the local transit like buses, subways, or trolleys — you might even enjoy a scenic view en route to your destination! Of course, it depends on where you’re visiting, so make sure to compare prices.

20. Try renting a car with Turo to save a ton!


Turo is basically the Airbnb of car rentals. Compared to places like Enterprise, you can find Turo rentals for the same cars at the best price. For example, if you rent a Toyota Corolla or Camry for three days in Austin, Texas, it’s $73.95/day on Enterprise and $51/day on Turo.

21. Use the iSecretShop app to save up to $75 per meal.

isecret shop app on phone

iSecretShop makes finding local frugal (and free) dining opportunities fun. Before you head out on your trip, just open the app, type in the zip code of your destination, and see if there are any dining opportunities near you. If the offers look interesting to you, sign yourself up!

You’ll be expected to write a comprehensive review of your experience within 24 hours of your visit (and be sure to carefully read the instructions), but if you’ve got some time to spare, it’s so worth it for the free food!

We found 15 must-have travel products for your next trip — how many do you already own?

About the writer:

Kaitlyn has a Bachelor's Degree from St. John's University with 2 years of writing experience for LinkedIn, Celeb Magazine, and other various publications.

Join The Discussion

Comments 21

  1. Lolie

    At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art: Under current rules, visitors can pay as much as they please to get in, though the suggested donation price listed is $25. My Uncle is a retired New York history teacher and he told us this when we came to visit. It saved a ton of money as a family. There is also a side entrance where the lines are shorter.

    • Lauren

      This is for New York State residents ONLY. Our taxes fund this.

  2. acgold

    As a native New Yorker, I hate to write this. I want you to have a great time and no bad experiences. Please be super careful in the city. Keep your wallets secure. Keep some small amount of money and 1 credit card easily accessible, so you don’t have to take out your whole wallet. Consider a money belt or fanny pack. Do not hang your handbag off the chair. Be aware of who is around you. Hang on to your expensive iPhone. Take buses instead of subways when you can – you also see more above ground! Beware of Air BnBs telling you the correct neighborhood- some are a little sketchy. I take these steps when I travel to big cities across Europe and Asia.

    • Dee

      Your tips can apply to places all over the country and the world. My friend’s purse was lifted off the back of her chair in a mall in a midwestern city while she was having lunch. I’ve seen women leave their open purses sitting in the grocery cart while they walk away to look at produce. Try not to make it easy for thieves.

  3. Holly

    As an avid traveler a few extra tips:
    1. If you go hotel route always look for complimentary breakfast and free airport shuttle (remember to grab some fruit from breakfast for a mid day snack!)
    2. Some big cities also offer shuttle transportation to major tourist locations
    3. Remember Bank of America free museum entrance first weekend of the month
    4. Check out if the city you are visiting offers free walking tours (they have a website!)
    5. Check out Atlas obscura for more unique and interesting things to do- almost all of them are free (think famous people gravesites and odd art/museums)

    Another way to save money use Google flights! For our honeymoon 3 years ago, it didn’t matter where we went so I just plugged in the dates and it tells you the cheapest places to fly on those dates!

    Happy travels!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for the helpful list of tips, Holly! 💞

  4. Dee

    Ask about those free hotel/airport shuttles. They may only run during certain hours. My last flight got in late at 10 pm and the hotel shuttle stopped at 10, so I ended up Ubering anyway.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for commenting, Dee! Good to know!

  5. Melie

    My random travel tip, that we learned the hard way in Boston:

    Check out the hotel/Airbnb on Google Street View before you book it. This is a great way to see what the neighborhood is like and get a neutral view of the property, not just the most flattering views shared on the property’s website.

  6. Jen

    When my family of 5 traveled in 2019, we drove in from Ohio and stayed at an AirBNB on Staten Island near the ferry (FREE!), got public transporation passes (subway/bus) for everyone, used Groupon for food (maybe not the best, but it worked). Got cheap tickets from Sam’s Club (!) for a non-major Broadway play production and the Bronx Zoo. Rented a vehicle through Costco. It takes planning, but it’s worth it. We parked on the street for free. We could travel around Staten Island fairly easily without outrageous bridge/tunnel fees. Our first AirBNB was awful (the one we wanted wasn’t available the first night); the second one was perfect. Look for “Superhost” listings.

    • Angie

      You sound like an amazing planner. I want you to plan my next vacation. Thanks for the tips, Jen. 😀

  7. Tracey

    We just learned about Turo and rented a car through them when we recently took a trip to Florida. It was a lot cheaper and so much quicker to get the car (no standing in line waiting for paperwork, etc.) We did have an issue with the car as it reeked of cigarette smoke. I have asthma so even with the windows down it was awful for me. We contacted the person who we rented from and he was able to bring another car out the next day (he and his wife have 5 cars through Turo). Overall a really good experience (especially being able to walk out of the airport and straight to your car!)

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh wow! Good to know how much cheaper and convenient it was to get a car from Turo! Thanks for sharing your experience, Tracey! I’ll have to remember that for my next trip! 🙌❤️

    • spi_cy13

      Tracey, I’m glad you had a great experience using Turo in Florida. My family and I went to Orlando last month and had a horrible experience with Turo, even with the vehicle swaps from the owner! Renting with Turo is a hit and miss. I’ve used them almost a year ago in Houston, and had a wonderful experience! So, my fellow Hip2Savers, take heed to this warning!

      • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

        Oh darn! Thanks so much for the warning. Sorry to hear about that. Good to know that the experience can vary. ❤️

  8. Michelle Heyman

    If you are traveling with a fourth grader, sign up for the 4th grader access pass for all federal lands and waters. The pass admits all children under 16 years old and up to 3 adults free to all Nation Lands and Waters. It is part of the every kid outdoors program. This includes places like the Grand Canyon. FYI, since these are outdoor locations, most places let you bring your dog with you.

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Yes, such an awesome way to save! Thanks so much for mentioning that, Michelle! ❤️ We have a post on that pass here! 🙌

  9. Connie

    Any feedbacks on the iSecretshop? I’ve never heard of it. So is it like a mystery shopper type?

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Hey Connie! I haven’t personally used the app (but will try it out now thanks to this post 😉). When checking out the FAQ, it does seem that this is similar to a mystery shopping experience – where companies post “jobs” that you can assign yourself to and receive payment from each! Hoping this is helpful! ❤️

    • Becky

      I’ve used iSecretShop a few times at a grocery store restaurant in my hometown. I’ve never had any issues getting paid and it’s pretty easy and straightforward.

  10. Natasha-ai

    If you’re asking for restaurant recommendations, be mindful. The hotel worker may not be familiar with the local area. I received one recommendation from someone who worked in the area for about 3 years. Then I talked to someone who was a long-time resident. She gave me the side eye and a much better recommendation. (I tried both places.)

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