Planning a vacation is work. And when you’ve got a budget to stick to, it’s hard work.
To help you save time and many, we’ve rounded up 12 travel websites, blogs, and apps. They’ll help you find ideas for where to go next, tips for how to keep costs down, and tools for finding the best deals.
By the way: We know Kayak and TripAdvisor are great. You probably know it, too. So for this roundup, we focused on stuff you might not know about.
6 blogs and websites with money-saving tips for travelers
Lucas Peterson spends as little money as possible exploring destinations in the U.S. and internationally. Then, he reports on his journeys in his Frugal Traveler column, sharing cost-cutting secrets discovered along the way.
On a recent Baltimore visit, for instance, Peterson visited a quirky ‘duckpin’ bowling alley where you can bring your own beer and wine. The columnist recently compared travel search sites, too, to uncover which ones save you the most money on flights, hotels, and packages.
The Frugal Travel Guy blog, which is actually written by three women, is a great resource for money-saving travel tips. Recent posts worth reading include “Tips for Getting a Free Airline Upgrade” and “How to Find Free Wi-Fi (Almost) Anywhere in the World.” The blog’s rookie tips and FAQ is another must-read.
The Penny Hoarder blog has a dedicated travel section, full of tips and resources for stretching vacation dollars. You’ll find tons of practical suggestions in posts such as “Pay for Your Dream Vacation: A Saving Strategy that Works,” “6 Ways to Save Money at Disney World,” and “The Infrequent Flyer’s Guide to Finding the Cheapest Flights in 2017.” The blog also has sections on deals and ways to make money.
Author of the best-seller “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day,” Matt Kepnes is also known as ‘Nomadic Matt.’ His website includes a travel blog and tools for trip planning and researching destinations. The site also maintains active community forums that can help you, say, find a traveling companion. And there’s an extensive travel site resources page.
Frommer’s Budget Travel is another site worth bookmarking, with articles and slideshows about budget-friendly trips for families, foodies, wildlife and nature fans, and adventurers. There’s also a section for travel tips.
The Points Guy started as a blog about maximizing airline reward points. Over the past few years, it’s expanded into a website with travel news, flight and hotel reviews, deal alerts, and a breakdown of the credit cards offering the best travel rewards.
6 free money-saving apps for travelers
Note: Several of the apps below also have websites.
Frequent flyer points don’t go as far as they used to—which is why it’s even more important to maximize the points you have. AwardWallet monitors airline and other reward programs and automatically sends balance updates and point expiration alerts.
Gas prices aren’t nearly as high as they were a few years ago. Still, no one’s giving the stuff away. So if you’re planning a car trip, download GasBuddy, which helps you locate the cheapest gas by distance or price.
Need a last-minute hotel room? Make sure HotelTonight is on your phone, as the app posts last-minute hotel deals. Even if you’ve already reserved a room, it’s worth visiting the app a day or so before check-in, to see if a less expensive room has become available. Just make sure you can cancel your existing reservation without penalty.
Skiplagged helps you find ‘hidden city’ airfare deals. A hidden city ticket is when you book an itinerary with a layover—only, the layover is your real destination.
Let’s say you want to fly from San Francisco to New York. But it’s cheaper to fly from San Francisco to Toronto. With a hidden city itinerary, you buy a ticket from San Francisco to Toronto with a layover at New York’s JFK airport. When you get to JFK, you leave the airport instead of boarding the Toronto flight.
Hidden city tickets aren’t for everyone. Since you’re not traveling to the final destination on your ticket, you can’t check bags. And if the airline catches on to your plan, you might incur its wrath. “Carriers are likely to freeze the frequent-flier accounts or travelers who use the technique or to strip them of miles,” Bloomberg warned.
There’s no shortage of apps and websites for finding the lowest airfares. Hopper is worth downloading because it uses data to predict future airfares, then alerts you when it’s time to buy. There’s also a price tracker tool.
Skyscanner is ideal when you’re looking for inspiration. The app will show recommended destinations from your nearest airport and the best deals by month for getting there. If you want to go somewhere in July but don’t know where, and you don’t want to waste time searching for flights you can’t afford, Skyscanner is your app.