Planning to hit the open highway with friends or family this spring or summer? Dreaming of two weeks in Europe this fall? When you finally return home, your head and heart will be full of memories — but your wallet will likely be running on empty.
Vacation costs can add up quickly. Any way to trim that damage is likely welcome. So, we’ve rounded up nine of the best ways to save on travel costs in 2019.
1. Free cash back
Yes, you can often earn cash back when booking travel arrangements online just as you can earn cash back when buying stuff from online retailers.
Websites known as cash-back portals make this possible. Examples include:
By going to other websites through portals, you can earn cash back on purchases made on the sites of certain hotels, car rental companies and online travel agencies like Expedia and Priceline. We detail the mechanics in “3 Websites That Pay You for Shopping.”
2. Free checked bags on airlines
Free checked baggage used to be the norm on most airlines. While those days are long gone, one carrier is keeping the tradition alive.
Fly on Southwest Airlines, and your first two checked bags are free. Skis and golf bags also travel gratis.
You will generally pay for checked bags on other airlines, but many offer exceptions. For example, American Airlines allows free checked bags for travelers who hold certain of the airline’s AA-branded credit cards.
Many airlines also offer complimentary checked baggage to people who fly in business class or meet other criteria.
3. Free Wi-Fi on airlines and at airports
It used to be that many people wondered how they’d get through a two-hour flight without a cigarette. The modern version of that malady is trying to endure a couple of hours without internet access.
Fly JetBlue, however, and you won’t have to worry. The airline offers free Wi-Fi — dubbed “Fly-Fi” — on all of its aircraft.
Many airports also offer complimentary Wi-Fi service.
4. Free museums
If your idea of great travel includes arts and culture and you have a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card, you can get a great freebie on the first weekend of every month. That’s when more than 200 museums and cultural institutions that participate in BOA’s “Museums on Us” program offer you free admission.
5. Free U.S. national parks
The network of U.S. national parks is an American treasure. And if you choose the right days throughout the year, you can visit these crown jewels of the National Park Service for free in 2019.
Admission is free to 400-plus national parks — and other sites such as national monuments, battlefields and seashores — on the following days:
- April 20 – The first day of National Park Week
- Aug. 25 — National Park Service birthday
- Sept. 28 – National Public Lands Day
- Nov. 11 – Veterans Day
Helpful hint: Use these days to visit one of the more than 100 parks that normally charge an entrance fee. The other national parks are free year-round.
6. Free lodging
From redeeming loyalty program rewards to house-sitting, there are more ways to land a free room or sofa on your vacation than you might think. Try checking out “10 Ways to Score Free Lodging for Your Next Vacation.”
7. Free hotel services
So, be sure to ask about freebies the next time you’re looking to book a room.
8. Free travel apps
The right smartphone app can save you money when you travel. A few of our free favorites include:
- GasBuddy: This app lets you type in a city or ZIP code and find a list of local gas stations offering the lowest prices. It can also help you save on gas.
- Oanda Currency Converter: How many dollars in a euro, or a pound? With this free currency converter, you’ll never have to wonder again. It converts for more than 190 currencies and four precious metals.
- Google Translate: This app allows you to type in a phrase and instantly translate it into more than 100 languages.
9. Free tour guides
You know that nagging feeling: You’re in a new city, and probably missing out on all the fun things to do, or interesting facts about the area’s history. Thanks to several options, you can get the skinny on your vacation destination — for free.
The Global Greeter Network helps you find local volunteers in 200 locations who will show you around their home city.
If you prefer to tour on your own, check out free audio guides from services like iAudioguide.com.
Do you know of other great travel freebies? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.
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