Maximize Your Travel Budget: 8 Tools to Help You Cut Costs

If you’ve set up a Savings Goal in Money Clouds, there’s a good chance you’re saving for a vacation. In fact, vacations are among the most popular Money Clouds goals, with more than half of users saving for a vacation of some type. As the Money Clouds team emerges from another rain-soaked Seattle winter, we can relate. If you’ve been setting your hard-earned money aside in hopes of the perfect getaway, the last thing you want is to overpay for your trip or to miss out on chances to maximize your vacation budget. Keeping this in mind, we scoured the internet and the App Store to find the best tools to cut vacation related expenses and save your money on the things that cost most.

It’s no secret that airfare is often the most expensive part of a vacation experience, and cutting the ever-increasing cost of booking a flight is something we can all get behind. Apps and websites that help you search, compare, and book cheap flights are nothing new, though there are a few that stand out when trying to book budget-friendly airfare. My favorite of these tools is called Skyscanner. Skyscanner has a clean intuitive interface, and like other airfare comparison sites, searches prices directly from carriers and travel sites to show you the best current deals. You can set price alerts from trips you are waiting to book, cost-compare travel dates, or for the more adventurous traveler – set your home airport and search for the cheapest flight anywhere in the world by searching “everywhere.” In a recent test of flight comparison sites looking for flights from Seattle to Bangkok, Skyscanner was consistently the cheapest while still offering many different carrier choices.

Hostels have long been the budget travel accommodation of choice – but with so many to choose from, how do you make sure you get the best deal while still staying somewhere safe? Hostelbookers provides a list of hostels in your selected area complete with price listings and millions of detailed reviews. You can even check availability and book a bed straight from the app!

If hostels aren’t your thing but you can’t bear the thought of spending hundreds of dollars a night for a stay in another standard hotel room (or you just want to save money), you need to check out Airbnb immediately. A service that allows private homeowners to list their home for rental stays, Airbnb has cheap rental options in nearly every city you could dream of. Options range from shared rooms, to private rooms, to entire residences. Whatever your budget, you’re sure to find something that fits.

Billing themselves as “the ultimate travel guide”, Triposo aggregates the best travel information to provide you with a complete guide to your vacation destination. You can find top attractions, suggestions on where to eat, read reviews on things you think you’re interested in, and book hotel/hostel stays and in-country transportation. Triposo is even available offline in case you can’t find Wi-Fi. Leading to our next suggestion...

Wi-Fi Map
If you’ve ever traveled internationally, you know how easy it is to unintentionally rack up charges on your cell phone bill. Public wifi networks help this, though finding a free network close by can often be a challenge. WiFi Map helps you locate public WiFi networks near you in over 100,000 cities across the globe – problem solved!

Packing Pro
Have you ever arrived at your vacation destination only to realize that you forgot to pack certain essentials, or to discover you are completely unprepared for certain aspects of the climate or culture you have immersed yourself in? Paying to stock up on last minute items can really add up – and dig into the money you’ve carefully budgeted for your trip. Packing Pro helps you categorize every item you will need for your trip and even provides predefined packing lists based on your destination.

Gas Buddy
If you’re planning on doing any driving during your trip, this app is a must have. We all know how widely gas prices can differ around the country and knowing where to find the cheapest place to fill up is often a luxury reserved for locals. If you are traveling in North America, this app can save you some serious dough.

Connecting with friends and family back home has never been easier or more cost-effective! Viber lets users call or text anyone in the world – for free. Say goodbye to those pesky (and expensive!) international mobile fees with this free app, it’s another must have.

These tools will surely help you cut costs on you vacation, helping you to spend your money in the most effective ways possible. Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, we hope you have the trip of a lifetime!

How do you maximize your travel budget? We’d love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments!

Charlee Van Wagenen