24 Times You Thought You Were Saving on Travel, but Weren’t

Traveling appeals to almost everyone. Whether it’s spending a life’s savings on a blowout vacation or taking a budget-friendly trip, traveling works its way into people’s hearts and minds. Experienced travelers understand tactics for saving cash while traveling and don’t fall for foolish offers that promise savings but don’t yield the results. Newer travelers may succumb to these attractive savings tips and dole out more money, thinking they’re getting a deal.

1. Lowest Cost Option

map with sunglasses, flamingok, and palm tree say cheap flights
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Most people have the same preferred method for traveling long distances: flying. However, airlines, like people, appear in all forms, with many promises, but the same end goal: to get a passenger from point A to point B. A budget airline may charge less than $100 per passenger, but what does that include? Is the baggage fee, snack fee, in-flight WiFi, or in-flight beverage included? Are passengers crammed into their seats, unable to shift in their sardine cans? This poses another question: is spending more on an airline that includes bags, drinks, WiFi, snacks, and legroom a better option overall? Yes.

2. Staying Outside a City

New York City, New York
Image Credit: Luciano Mortula – LGM/Shutterstock.

On a trip to the Big Apple, I stayed in a New Jersey neighborhood right outside New York. On the face of it, the hotel cost one-third of the price of those in Manhattan and was a decent place to stay. However, arriving at the hotel after a turbulent three-hour plane ride, two trains, two subways, a bus, and a 20-minute walk provided no sense of relief since I knew that if I wanted to get back into the city at an affordable rate, I’d need to repeat that process or grow wings. Staying outside the city saved me more upfront but cost me more in transportation fees.

3. Cheaper Airport

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, US - Jun 17 2017: Tom Bradley International Airport departure terminal duty free shops in Los Angeles, US
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Cheaper airports trick people with affordable fares, sometimes saving individuals $200 or more on airfare. Again, this seems nice on paper — until you arrive at the cheaper airport and learn all the hoops you have to jump through to get into the city.

4. Long Layover

Long flight layover at an airport
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

During a 10-hour Las Vegas layover, I met up with a friend, and we gallivanted for 480 minutes before he dropped me back off at the airport. On the flight, I met a woman who told me about her 23-hour layover. She stayed in the airport and spent over $100 on meals during her wait. Both of us spent much more than if we’d invested in a direct flight or a two-hour layover.

5. Connecting Flights

going -search cheap flights
Image Credit: Going.com.

This tip is a little like the long layover. People looking to book flights should be aware that the cheapest option may not be the best option. Sometimes, a cheaper flight includes a very tight connection. Now, airlines and Mother Nature can’t communicate emergencies in advance, so a connection that worked at the time of booking might fall apart on the day of travel.

6. Cheaper Routes

map with sunglasses, flamingok, and palm tree say cheap flights
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Imagine a flight from Texas to California. A more expensive trip leaves from Texas and goes directly to California without stopping. Cheaper flights may send the plane from Texas to New York before it doubles back and arrives in California. Why? Who knows? For some unknown reason, these flights cost less than direct flights yet produce more carbon emissions.

7. Longer Routes

Woman tired in an airport, woman with head hung in defeat
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

I spent a few nights in London a few years ago, where I met a jovial New Zealander who returned from a four-hour Uber from Paris. He approached me and my friend and told us his funny story. He didn’t want to pay for a plane ride between London and Paris, so he hopped on a bus. Karma bit him back when the bus broke down on the way back to London. The airport closed for the night, and Uber surfaced as his sole option. He gritted his teeth and spent too much money on the Uber back to London.

8. Skipping Meals

Hotel breakfast
Image Credit: J o – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Instead of skipping meals, getting hungry, and spending too much money for dinner, find a hotel or lodge with a free or affordable breakfast, eat a big lunch, then have a small dinner. Never skip meals while traveling. You need the energy.

9. Buying Cheaper

A woman on an airplane with a pink neck pillow and pink eye mask.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

My college roommate’s mom collects neck pillows. She purchased cheap, uncomfortable neck rings and stacked them on top of one another for a little comfort on flights. My college roommate got tired of this behavior and invested in a high-quality, expensive neck pillow she still uses.

10. Giving In To Duty-Free

cash flying out of wallet
Image Credit: Billion Photo/Shutterstock.

Many foreign airports offer duty-free (tax-free) portions of the airport. This final stop in the terminal allows guests one last chance to purchase items specific to that area. Thousands of travelers shop in the duty-free section daily, but do they need everything they buy? Or do they fall for the allure of spending less money in a foreign country for better quality items they don’t need?

11. Exchanging Money at the Airport

Money Exchange
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Here’s a tip that new travelers need to consider. Airport money exchanges tempt tourists to get quick cash and speed up their first day in the new place, but the rates aren’t favorable. Although this method could save on transportation costs, you’ll spend what you would to get to a local exchange station on the exchange at the airport.

12. Arriving at the Airport Too Early

Man in business suit checking his wristwatch, late, appointment, cell phone, smartphone
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Early doesn’t mean two hours early. Early means six hours before boarding commences. My dad tends to arrive at the airport long before he needs to, and he spends money on anything he sees. Stick to arriving two hours prior to departure.

13. Third-Party Websites

third-party website advertising
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Ads repeatedly show traveling materials that look great on paper but are shady in real life. During a college break, I left school and headed to Disney World with my roommate. We booked a hotel through a cheap, third-party website. When we arrived, the hotel didn’t have a reservation for us. After an hour of arguing, they assigned us an extra, unlisted room for $100 more than our booking rate.

14. Airbnb

Image Credit: Ink Drop / Shutterstock.com.

Airbnbs work for those who are neat and quiet at all times and leave almost no proof of staying in the temporary room. There are also many news stories surface about scams, weird loiterers, and safety violations prevalent in these rented homes. Look for hostels or hotels.

15. Traveling With Others

Group of young people with suitcases traveling
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

When they’re all on the same page, traveling with others is the best experience of seeing the world. Still, the bigger the group, the higher the percentage of arguments or disagreements. Maybe you and your friend want to go to an ice cream museum in Chicago, but no one else wants to “waste” money, so they decide to return to the hotel and watch Netflix. Perhaps a group member despises pizza, but since they’re in Chicago… why not? What happens when these minute disputes cause the group to split up into different hotel rooms? It’s something to consider when you’re looking at ways to save money when you travel.

16. Splitting Costs

Friends at dinner paying the bill, men, women
Image Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock.


Never split costs with someone you don’t know or trust. Have you ever encountered a person who assures you they’ll pay you back, but a year later, you ping their Instagram, asking where the payment is? Maybe they can’t afford to pay you for their portion of the hotel, so you put it on your credit card. They enjoyed their trip, but still, no payment. Months later, your credit card accrued interest, and what was a $500 payment turned into $700.

17. Booking Out

Booking flights
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Booking in advance helps globetrotters plan their upcoming itineraries and schedules, but we’re human. Things happen. I once booked a trip three months in advance, determined to see a music festival in Colorado. The week before the festival, my friend texted me that they had COVID. I’d already paid for the trip and the hotel, but my mom had also suffered a nasty bout of long COVID and could not risk any potential exposure. I did not invest in travel insurance, so I lost about $1,000.

18. Getting Sale Prices

Flight App
Image Credit: NaMong Productions92/Shutterstock.

Say a man wants to travel somewhere tropical in the next two years. He notices a huge sale on a popular airline’s website. He thinks about the potential purchase, maps out the dates, and clicks the green “buy” button. However, when he goes to find lodging and a rental car, he realizes his mistake. He can’t afford the rental car or the lodging, but at least he has a ticket. Remember to review every aspect of the itinerary before purchasing anything.

19. Not Renting a Car

Man driving a rental car
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

You’ll struggle without a car unless you’re going somewhere like New York City or London. What you pay for the rental equals the money spent to public transportation, especially in large cities with long distances between landmarks.

20. Staying in a Tent

Tent campground
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Extreme spendthrifts may decide pitching a tent in a public park is the optimal version of lodging. They neglect the back pain, want a secure, safe stay, and the chiropractors they’ll need to visit back home. Animals, harsh weather conditions, and rocky ground might also disturb the tent’s peace and send its inhabitants into somewhere with a roof.

21. Walking Everywhere

Young woman walking instead of driving a vehicle
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The hotel my group stayed in for last year’s Lollapalooza was about a 20-minute walk outside of the music festival. We walked the route the first day, excited to immerse ourselves in live music. We enjoyed our time inside the festival but that night, we grumbled on our walk home. We stopped frequently for water and the food we already had in the hotel room, and we groaned about walking to the festival the following day.

22. Wearing Cheap Shoes

Murray Walker Blue Suede Shoes
Image Credit: Isles Yacht Club – CC BY 2.0 / Wiki Commons.

At a Delaware music festival in 2022, I brought an off-brand pair of running shoes. I knew the muddy terrain would destroy my chances of taking my shoes home, and the weather forecasts promised rain. I laced up the shoes with and sprinted to the barricade for My Chemical Romance. Within 15 seconds, I rolled my ankle and limped the rest of the way. I tossed those shoes right after the boys exited the stage.

23. Groupon

Groupon Website
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Groupon is a coupon website that allows users the option to purchase an activity at a lower cost. The company pairs with local businesses and shops for a few random, discounted events with expiration dates. Groupon takes a generous amount of money from the businesses they pair with and they take advantage of their fine print.

24. Staying Longer for a Cheaper Rate

Woman sitting on hotel bed excited for an extended stay deal for cheaper cost
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The vacation begs you to stay just one more day in paradise, so you hit the computer and look at the options. One promising offer pops up: a flight three days later costs $50, while the other flights border on $300. You extend your flight and contact the front desk happily. They extend your stay (an additional $450), and you call the rental car company to do the same (an extra $300), and you still have to pay for food, attractions, and souvenirs.


The Fugutive
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


+ posts