On a Budget? 22 Travel Hacks to Try for a More Meaningful Trip

Princess Anaviso

Princess Anaviso

Last updated April 23, 2024

Planning to book a flight to that island paradise you’ve had your eye on for a while? Whether you’re planning to spend your vacation in or out of the country, there are many ways you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank.

With a bit of help from a few travel bloggers, we’ve listed travel tips and hacks to help you get the most out of your trip. Pack your travel essentials and arm yourself with these budget travel hacks so you can stay financially secure while enjoying your trip.

General Travel Hacks to Save Money 

travel hacks - general

Traveling on a budget? It’s easier to follow travel tipid hacks when you already live by certain basic principles. If you’re going for a low-cost travel experience, these general travel tips for beginners and seasoned travelers alike will make budgeting a breeze:

📌 Take to Heart the Purpose of Your Trip 

Know what to prioritize and what to compromise on. If your main goal is to just take in the beauty of your destination, deprioritize other expenses such as airfare, accommodation, and food. That way, you have enough money to splurge on attractions and activities.

Travel blogger Phil of Escapology.eu said, "Spend consciously. Really question every expense and ask yourself if you really need it at that moment. Let that sit for a few minutes, and usually, you'll realize you can actually do without it. I would also strongly advise keeping a journal to track your expenses. It makes budgeting so much easier."

Read more: Sama All This Summer: Best Outdoor Activities in the Philippines for ₱3,000 or Less

📌 Go Where Your Money Can Go a Long Way

If you’re planning to fly out of the country, go somewhere your peso has a higher value, like Vietnam and Indonesia.

If you intend to explore the local landscape, many tourist destinations in the Philippines can also give you your money’s worth. It’s just a matter of choosing the perfect place where you can maximize your budget.  

📌 DIY Your Travel Itinerary

Forgo travel agents and package tours that cost more without necessarily offering greater value. Cut the middleman altogether and plan the trip yourself.

You can find everything online if you comb through each website to get the best deals. Also, with a do-it-yourself (DIY) trip, you can personalize everything according to your preferences.

📌 Get Travel Insurance

Even if you're going to a destination where travel insurance is not required, it's always a good idea to get one. It might seem an unnecessary expense, but it's a small price to pay in case the worst happens. 

Medical costs abroad can get particularly expensive. Make sure you're financially covered in case of hospitalization or even death, plus other emergencies such as canceled flights and lost luggage.

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Read more: Travel Without Worries: What is Travel Insurance and Where to Get One

Travel Hacks for Cheap Flights and Accommodations

Below are some easy travel tips and hacks in the Philippines to help you shave a few bucks off your airfare and accommodation expenses:

📌 Consider All Options

travel hacks - cheap flights

Research and compare different airlines and flight prices. For example, check out this Cebu Pacific vs. Air Asia review to see which offers better promos.

The same goes for your place of stay. Many comparison websites offer different options.

Just make sure to go for budget airlines and cheaper hotels that still tick the boxes for safety, comfort, and convenience.

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📌 Go Incognito When Browsing

Your search history, cookies, and cache can affect your search results. If the algorithm detects that you’re searching for flights or rooms, prices can go up when you visit certain booking websites.

To avoid this, try this creative travel hack: go incognito when browsing. That way, your search information won’t be a roadblock to finding the best deals.

📌 Book Off-Season and Ahead of Time

Everything is more expensive during peak seasons like Christmas. So if you can, book off-season when ticket prices are reduced and hotel rooms are on sale. Flexibility pays off, so try to be open to various options to find the cheapest one.

Also, if you already know your preferred schedule, book ahead of time as prices rarely go down the closer you get to the date of your flight or hotel stay.[1]

Dani of Globetrottergirls.com added, "Book well in advance. This goes for pretty much anywhere in the world and isn’t limited to flights. This will often save over 70% of the price you’d pay if you just walk up to the ticket counter. It’s always cheaper to take advantage of online early bird offers."

Read more: Fly for Less: How to Find and Book Cheap Flights

📌 Be Flexible with Your Seating Arrangement

Looking for travel hacks for flying? This is surely one of the more practical ones.

If you’re traveling alone, this is a no-brainer. If you’re with your partner or group of friends, this is still a smart choice, as you’ll be apart only for a few hours.

However, this hack won’t work when you’re traveling with a child or someone with special needs who has to be seated next to you.

📌 Pack Light to Avoid Overlimit Fees 

travel hacks - pack light

Be conscious of your luggage weight when flying out. Follow travel hacks for packing to maximize your luggage space and avoid incurring additional fees. Save space by using different folding techniques and keeping your clothes in vacuum bags. 

📌 Don't Eat on the Plane 

Food served in-flight can be quite expensive. One travel hack for long flights is to have a proper meal before flying out. This way, you won’t be tempted to pay a hefty price for airplane food.

📌 Choose Your Accommodation's Location Strategically 

travel hacks - cheaper accommodations

To get this right, you need to do a lot of research. What you want is a place that is not located smack-dab in a tourism hub but just somewhere near it.

That way, you won’t have to pay for expensive lodging marketed to tourists, but you’ll still gain quick and easy access to tourist spots without wasting any petty cash on transportation.

📌 Prioritize Practicality Over Luxury 

Don’t spend more on your hotel fees than you need to. Unless you’re planning for a luxurious staycation, one hotel hack to save money is to book a place that’s just comfortable enough to sleep in.

Plenty of hostels, inns, homestays, and apartments can provide the comfort you need without costing a fortune.

Marek of Indietraveller.co said, "Don't let glossy TV shows or travel marketing tell you where or how to travel. It's your trip and you can often have more or just cheaper travel experiences by following your own instincts. Be willing to let go of certain comforts and notions of 'status.' Stay in alternative neighborhoods, not just the ones everyone goes to. Be open to local food and experiences."

📌 Get a Place with a Kitchen 

Looking for tipid food for your outing? Just buy something from the local grocery store or market and put together a meal at home. You can also minimize your food spending if you reheat leftovers from when you eat out.

Travel Hacks for Cheaper Food, Transportation, and Other Expenses

Check out more travel tips and hacks to save money on daily expenses after touchdown:

📌 Look for Free Activities for Tourists

You can do plenty of exciting things that’ll cost you close to nothing. Sometimes, the activities that you can do for free are the ones that’ll really let you soak in the culture of a place. Look up these activities online or ask the locals themselves for recommendations.

📌 Use a Credit Card with a Low Foreign Transaction Fee

travel hacks - use a credit card with low foreign transaction fee

Carrying a credit card around when traveling is convenient, as you no longer have to use cash for transactions. To avoid messing up your budget, just make sure your credit card charges a low foreign transaction fee.

Some cards also let you win travel rewards such as airline vouchers, hotel discounts, cashback, and frequent flier points. Sign up for one to maximize the benefits you can get.

Here are some cards with the lowest foreign currency transaction fees:

💳 UnionBank Cebu Pacific Platinum Credit Card
UB Cebu Pacific Platinum
  • Foreign currency transaction fee: 2%
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    • 1 Go Rewards Point for every ₱200 spend
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  • Travel perks:
    • Early alerts to Cebu Pacific seat sales
    • Free airport lounge access
    • Up to ₱10 million travel insurance

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💳 Metrobank World Mastercard®
Metrobank World Mastercard
  • Foreign currency transaction fee: 1.85% (until April 30, 2024)
  • Rewards:
    • 1 point per ₱20 spend
    • 2  points per ₱20 spend abroad
  • Air miles earn rate: 1 air mile per ₱17 foreign currency spend
  • Travel perk: Free airport lounge access

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💳 Security Bank Platinum Mastercard
Security Bank Platinum Mastercard
  • Foreign currency transaction fee: 1% Mastercard assessment fee + 1.5% service fee
  • Rewards: 2x points per ₱20 spend 
  • Other travel perks:
    • Dual currency billing
    • Free airport lounge access in over 500 airports worldwide
💳 BPI Signature Visa
BPI Signature Card
  • Foreign currency transaction fee: 1.85%
  • Rewards: 2 BPI Points per ₱20 spend
  • Travel perks:
    • Up to ₱20 million free travel accident and inconvenience benefit
    • Free access to the PAGSS international lounges in NAIA Terminals 1 and 3
    • 50% off deals on hotels, resorts, and more
💳 PNB-PAL Mabuhay Miles World Mastercard

PNB-PAL Mabuhay Miles World Mastercard

  • Foreign currency transaction fee: 2.50%
  • Air miles earn rate: 1 point = 1 mile
  • Welcome gift: 2,000 Mabuhay Miles for new cardholders
  • Travel perks:
    • Additional free 10,000 Mabuhay Miles when you spend at PAL
    • Year-round discount on select flights booked via the PAL website
    • Priority check-in at PAL Business Class Counters
    • World Assist travel and medical concierge service
💳 Maybank Visa Platinum
Maybank Visa Platinum
  • Foreign currency transaction fee: 1.80%
  • Rewards: 1 TreatsPoint per ₱25 spend
  • Rebates: 1% cashback on overseas transactions (up to ₱12,000 savings per year)
  • Travel perks:
    • Golf privileges worldwide, including access to 100 golf clubs in 23 countries
    • Exclusive discounts and privileges in the Philippines and abroad
    • Instant SMS notification for every approved transaction anywhere in the world

📌 Use Wi-Fi to Avoid Roaming Charges

Airports and hotels sometimes offer free Wi-Fi. Take advantage of that when browsing the web.

Consider renting or purchasing a pocket Wi-Fi or a travel SIM card before your trip, especially if you need access to certain navigation apps. This is a safer option than public Wi-Fi when it comes to data privacy.

With this international travel tip, you won’t be sharing a network with potential hackers who might get access to your confidential data when you log in to your social networks and mobile banking apps, for example.

📌 Eat Local and Authentic Food

travel hacks - eat local food

One way to soak up culture without spending a fortune is to explore local cuisine. Sometimes, nothing tells a story better than food prepared locally.

Look up different types of authentic dishes worth trying, or just wing it and ask any local to point you in the right direction.

Sabrina of Justonewayticket.com advised, "Travel like a local. Eat where the locals eat. That way, you can stretch your budget. It will also give you the opportunity to learn about each place and really dive into a foreign culture."

📌 Cook More and Eat Out Less

Food costs add up pretty quickly. You’ll realize that sooner than later if you tend to eat out all the time.

To stretch your travel budget, prepare a simple home-cooked meal instead of wining and dining at a fancy restaurant every night. This also gives you a chance to try out different local ingredients and spices available in the market.

📌 Carry Snacks and Water Outside

It’s inevitable for hunger and thirst to strike when you’re out hopping from one place to another. To avoid wasting your money on overpriced snacks (a luxury when traveling on a budget), shop for local snacks at a grocery store before heading out. Buy special treats only if they’re unique to a particular area and you can’t get them anywhere else.

Another tip is to bring your own water tumbler, so you won’t have to overspend on bottled water. This way, you also help save the environment by lessening your carbon footprint.

📌 Take Public Transport

travel hacks - take public transport

If cultural immersion is one of your travel goals, you shouldn’t miss out on trying mass transit options in the area, especially if you’re visiting a foreign country.

Public rails are usually a good starting point. If the country you’re visiting has its own version of the Philippines’ tricycle and jeepney (such as tuktuk in Thailand and Cambodia), try those out to understand how the daily commute works in that location. Just avoid drivers who charge high fees!

📌 Join a Walking Tour

Plan your itinerary properly to save on transportation costs. When your route covers places near one another, just walk from point A to point B and take in the view from the ground on your way to your destination. You’ll also get to see a glimpse of the place from a local’s perspective. Nothing beats that kind of experience.

For Miriam of AdventurousMiriam.com, research is key. "I've saved so much money on checking which cheap places to visit before I went to a new destination. In bigger cities most sights are free and often you can join a free walking tour. If you research first, you'll be able to find it."

📌 Rent a Vehicle for Your Group

Transportation can be quite costly. If you’re traveling with a big group, it’s more practical to rent a van that can take you anywhere. Weigh all your options to see if this is the best option for you. 

Potential savings aside, it's also a good way to make the trip your own because you can explore as one big group together. You also have more control over your time when touring around. 

Final Thoughts

Traveling doesn’t have to be a budget wrecker. Remember that you still have a life to get back to after your adventure. It’s best to secure your finances while out on a trip—and as you've seen above, there are many ways you can do that. 

The travel hacks above won’t take any enjoyment away from your outing. In fact, some can even enrich your overall experience and multiply your opportunities to have fun without worrying about overspending. Try them out and see for yourself if you can travel the same way ever again.

Avail of a travel insurance policy via Moneymax

Source: [1] The Joy and Benefits of Traveling Off-Season (Paste Magazine, 2022)

Princess is a seasoned writer with over seven years of experience in digital marketing and corporate communications. She took master's degree units in Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines Diliman and graduated with a bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature from Saint Louis University. Beyond writing, she enjoys reading novels, watching series, and crocheting. Follow Princess on LinkedIn.


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