Smarter Getaways: Money Saving Travel Tips From the Experts

Dive into Knack's unique, cost-saving travel tips and tricks. Without relying on points or loyalty programs, we'll show you how to travel smart and save big. Our top 10 travel savings tips cover everything from airfare to accommodations and car rentals, revolutionizing your travel experiences. Explore more for less with Knack!

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how to save money on travel

Here at Knack, we’re all about carrying less and experiencing more. We’re also a bunch of travel enthusiasts who, just this year alone, logged hundreds of thousands of air miles crisscrossing from Knack bases in Rhode Island and Oregon to 30 different States (yep, Hawaii too!) while jetting off to awesome places like Iceland, Nicaragua, and Australia. But since we're also a small, family-owned business, keeping travel expenses in check is always high on our priority list. Over the course of our many adventures, we picked up some fantastic money-saving travel tips and tricks to share with you to make your getaways a little smarter!

A quick heads-up before we dive in: our list assumes you're not piling up a gazillion points on travel rewards credit cards or on airline and hotel loyalty programs. We're also guessing that you're already a pro at planning ahead for low fares and rates, and you've got the flexibility game down when scheduling travel times. Since these are all no-brainer ways to save cash on your upcoming trips, we won't bore you by repeating them. Instead, our list of travel savings tips has some unique gems you might not find elsewhere, so check them out!

Here are our top 10 travel savings tips to help you travel for less:

Top 10 Tips Travel Savings Tips

How to Save Money While Flying

  1. Use Booking Hacks to Get Low-Cost Airfare
  2. Save on Airport Parking
  3. Eat on the Cheap
  4. Save on Checked Luggage

How to Save Money on Accommodations

  1. Avoid Hotels
  2. Book Hotels Directly with the Property
  3. Use Extended Stay Hotels
  4. Prepay Hotel Stays

How to Save Money on Rental Cars

  1. Avoid the Under-25 Charge
  2. Skip Major Auto Rental Brands

How to Save Money on Flying

While not exactly a trick for savings, here's a pro tip for your trip-planning playbook: kick things off by diving into airfare research and booking. Your departure date, return date, and flight times, along with the overall cost of your flight, will dictate the rest of your travel game plan. With that said, here’s our favorite ways to save as much cash as possible on your upcoming flights.



Use Booking Hacks to Get the Lowest Cost Airfare

First, here’s what not to do: don’t believe the old wives’ tale of booking on a Tuesday or clearing your cookies to get the lowest airfare. It is simply not true. What does matter when saving on airfare is your travel day. According to Google Flights, you can save 12% on average if you fly on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays versus the other days of the week.

Next, believe it or not, there are optimal times to book a trip before flight. Again, according to Google Flights, on average, the cheapest time to secure a Christmas flight is 22 days before your departure while it’s 52 days before your Thanksgiving departure. For you Spring Breakers out there, you should book your flight 28 days before you plan to leave if you want the best deal.

Finally, we all know that booking flights with stops, as opposed to non-stops, saves money. However, Keith, Knack’s Chief Digital Officer, takes it to the next level with “end-on-end” ticketing. The basic idea behind “end-on-end” booking is combining two separate round trips to get to your ultimate destination instead of buying one round trip with an intermediate connection.

On a recent trip to Nebraska, Keith saved a ton of money by booking “with Alaska Airlines to a nearby major city, serving as a stepping stone to my final destination. Subsequently, I secured another round trip on United Airlines from the intermediate city to my ultimate stop.” And, being the smart guy he is, Keith understands that even using end-on-end ticketing with the same carrier to get the lowest cost airfare is not against airline rules (as opposed to other booking hacks like back-to-back, nested, or skiplag ticketing).

>>MORE: How to Make a Long-Haul Flight More Comfortable



Save on Airport Parking

Chad, Knack’s founder, is a big fan of pre-paying for airport parking in order to keep the overall cost of flying low. Almost all major US airports provide online reservations for on-site parking and many allow purchases up to 30 days before departure. The best thing about reserving and paying in advance is the significant savings you get versus driving up to the same garage and parking in the same space on the day of your flight. On a recent flight from Boston to Kansas City, Chad told us he paid “$25 a day instead of $41 a day parking in Logan’s Central Parking lot just by reserving a spot online.”


Eat on the Cheap

It’s rare to be served free meals on any flight these days. It’s even rarer to not have to take a loan out to buy a meal at an airport. To make sure you never get hangry on a flight, Rachel, Knack’s head of customer service, recommends bringing your own food and water when traveling: “I always bring an empty water bottle and sealed snacks like granola bars and nuts when I fly. Airports have water bottle filling stations at just about every water fountain. And as long as the food is solid, I’ve never had a problem getting it through TSA checkpoints.” While TSA defines “solid” food as anything that isn’t a liquid or gel, you can get the detailed run-down on the TSA website.

>>MORE: Tips for Staying Healthy When Traveling


save on checked luggage

Save Money on Checked Luggage

Something that all Knackpackers agree on: NEVER check your bag. Not only is there a chance it will get lost, especially during busy holiday travel, it also costs a fortune to check a bag. Today, the average checked bag fee on US domestic airlines is around $30 to $35 per bag each way!

Unfortunately, airlines are getting wise to people carrying bags onboard to avoid checked luggage fees and have started to charge certain fare classes a fee for carry-on bags. The best way to avoid all these fees is to travel with a Knack Pack. US airlines consider a Knack Pack backpack to be a personal item on almost all domestic flights and personal items are always allowed onboard for free.

Knack Packs not only have a compartment for daily use items, like your computer and other tech gear, they also have a separate, patent-pending, hidden, expandable suitcase compartment that allows you to turn your everyday bag into a fantastic travel bag. Check out which size Knack Pack is right for you and start saving on checked bag fees.

>>MORE: How to Best Organize a Backpack for Travel

Finally, for those times when it looks like you are simply bringing too much to carry on, think about saving money by shipping your items instead of taking them on the plane. Jay, Knack’s full-stack developer, is a big fan of which makes it really easy to ship your luggage. Not only is it convenient and stress-less, but in many cases, it’s significantly cheaper to ship your bag than to check it. Jay says “I simply pack my bag and ship it a few days before I leave town and it's waiting for me at my destination when I arrive.”

How to Save Money on Accommodations

Depending on your trip length, and assuming you’re not staying with friends or your family, accommodations may be your single biggest travel cost. So, here are our favorite ways to save money on lodging when planning your next trip.


avoid hotels stay in airbnb or vrbo

Avoid Hotels

Hotels and motels are still the most popular type of overnight accommodation for travelers, but the cost of staying in one keeps rising faster than inflation. According to hospitality industry data company STR, the average nightly price for a US hotel room in October 2023 was 3.5% more than twelve months ago and 21% higher than in October 2019, before the pandemic. That’s why Knack team members prefer to stay in short term rentals offered by services like Airbnb, VRBO, Vacatia, and FlipKey when we’re traveling. However, Jamie, Knack’s Director of Content, takes it one step further: “One great travel savings tip we've used for years is to book our holiday vacation rental directly through the owner or management company, rather than going through” short term rental companies.

Jamie continues, “with a little online research of your destination, you will find that not all, but many vacation rental owners and management companies have dedicated websites and/or social media pages to market properties directly to potential guests. These often provide additional property information including direct contact details.

As we’ve found out, remember to do your due diligence when booking directly. Check reviews, ask for references if necessary, and always ensure that the payment process is secure. This approach takes a bit more effort compared to using a large booking platform, but the savings are often worth it.”


Book Directly with the Property

If you prefer to stay at a hotel, there are still ways to save money. Many times, it's possible to get a cheaper rate by calling a hotel's front desk versus booking through their website. Hotel staff may have access to special promotions, discounts, or room options that are not advertised online. Additionally, they might also have more flexibility to negotiate rates or offer upgrades based on room availability when you call.


Stay in Extended Stay Hotels

There has been an explosion of extended stay hotels as national hospitality chains try to woo back consumers from the Airbnb’s of the world. If you’ve never heard of extended stay hotels, they are like “regular” hotels but focus on guests that stay for 7 days or more at a time. They are typically a bit less expensive per night; they accept nightly bookings like a “regular” hotel; they offer the same amenities as a similar quality “regular” hotel; but they also offer money-saving “home-like” features such as laundry and in-room kitchens.

The real savings benefits of extended stay hotels come once you stay longer than 5-7 days (based on the chain). Typically, these longer stays cost 10-30% less per night than staying the same amount of time at a regular hotel. Some of our favorite extended stay hotels include Candlewood Suites (owned by InterContinental Hotels Group), TownePlace Suites and Element by Weston (Marriott), and Homewood Suites (Hilton).


Prepay Your Hotel Stay

Prepaying your hotel stay when you book will typically give you savings of 10-25% over paying when you check in. It sounds like a total win, right? But, prepaying usually means no cancelations or refunds so it’s risky. Luckily, not any longer! There are several sites, like, that will offer you cash for your prepaid hotel reservations.

How to Save Money on Auto Rentals


car rental when traveling

Avoid the Under 25 Fee When Renting

If you’re under 25 years old and you plan to rent a car during your travels, get ready for sticker shock. The average surcharge most rental car companies charge under 25-year-old drivers ranges from $20 to $30 a day depending on agency. On top of that, depending on where you are renting your car (New York for example), you may be paying an additional $24.50 to $84 a day for your rental.

The easiest way to avoid the under 25 surcharge is to join AAA. Not only do AAA members of all ages get discounts on national car rental agencies’ published rates, they are also exempt from the under 25 surcharges from most rental companies. While AAA membership costs vary from location to location, expect to pay about $65 for a year. Depending on where you rent your car, you’ll get that cost back after just a one-day rental.


Skip the Major Auto Rental Brands

Another way to score some major car rental savings is to skip the major national brands and rent directly from a car owner. Online sites like Turo and Getaround operate in many cities across the country and facilitate the transaction between you and the car owner. Rachel, Knack’s head of customer service, loves Turo: “Turo is my go-to app for car rentals. You can sort by where you want to pick up/drop off the car. There’s a huge assortment of vehicles to suit your needs and it’s super easy.”

So there it is: the Knack team’s top 10 travel savings tips, covering everything from flying hacks and airport parking savings to affordable accommodations and smart car rental strategies. We’d love to hear your comments as well as your own ideas about how to travel for less. We hope you have a stress-free and wallet-friendly getaway!

Travel Cost Savings FAQ’s

Q: How can I get cheap flights?
A: While saving money by booking on Tuesdays is an urban myth, there are several ways you can improve your chances of getting a cheap ticket. The best booking hacks are to book ahead of time; travel Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday; and book end-to-end tickets.

Q: Is there any way to save money on hotel rooms?

A: One of the best ways to save money on accommodations is to skip hotels and rent from home-sharing companies like Airbnb and VRBO. If you are set on booking with a hotel, always call the property’s front desk to compare the rate they quote with a rate you got online. Usually, the front desk’s rate will be lower. Another money-saving hotel suggestion is to book an extended stay hotel.

Q: How can I save money on rental car costs?
A: If you are under 25 years old, you can get significant savings by avoiding the under 25 surcharges through a low-cost membership in AAA. Another good option is to rent a car from the car owner instead of a national car rental brand by using a peer-to-peer car rental site like Turo.

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