How To Save Big On Your Next Trip, According To Travel Agents

Travel is only getting more and more expensive, but that doesn't mean you need to cut down on your vacations altogether. You can still have a great getaway if you know the right things to do and the right people to talk to —  particularly travel agents.

Travel agents are the best people to talk to when it comes to navigating the world of booking travel. They know all the best tips and tricks to land cheap flights and score amazing vacation packages. Having booked plenty of trips for themselves and their customers, these travel agents gave us some great advice on how to save big on our next trip.

Create a budget

Make a budget and make sure you stick to it by planning activities ahead of time so that you can minimize any surprise expenses. Mark Noennig, executive vice president at the Mark Travel Corporation, told Travel Pulse that by doing this, "you can manage how much money you and your family are willing to spend before you ever step foot on a plane, which can help make trips a lot less stressful. Pre-established budgets and plans let you focus on fun instead of your wallet."

Book last minute

It's common advice to book your vacation as early as possible, but leisure travel consultant Elizabeth Clyde of Signature Destinations, an independent affiliate of Travel Edge, believes you should do otherwise. She advised that travelers who have flexibility in terms of destination should look into last-minute deals at resorts or with cruise lines.

Don’t travel during the holidays

SmartFlyer travel agent Lauren Saiger Machowsky told us that it's best to avoid booking trips during any holidays. "You can take advantage of lower rates and less crowds at hotels, particularly for couples, as the hotels will be more adult-oriented at those times," she said.

Travel during shoulder season

Shoulder season travel is often overlooked and underrated, but Rob Harper told GOBankingRates that it's the best time to travel. "Here in Central America, the seasons are flip-flopped. December through Easter is our summertime and the peak weather dates to visit," said Harper, who is the director of business development at Namu Travel Group, a luxury travel agency network based in Central America. "'Shoulder season' months like May, June and the first three weeks of December offer the best combination of value — low prices and good weather."

Buy a travel package

Don't make one of  the most common travel mistakes of shying away from purchasing a travel package. You can find great value vacation bundles that include flights, hotels, a cruise or even a rental car depending on your needs. "For travelers looking to book single-day excursions or one hotel, better deals are likely to be had direct with providers," said Harper. "For those interested in longer trips — three days or more — or customized itineraries with several moving parts, discounted opportunities are much more likely online with agencies."

Use public transportation

Taxis, limos and other private forms of transportation can get pricey. Robert Miller, president of New Jersey-based travel agency Travel Advocates, told Reader's Digest that public transportation is not only the cheapest way to get around a city, but it's the fastest way too.

Book a hotel room outside the city

Isar Meitis, president of e-commerce at Turico Holidays told GOBankingRates that one hack for saving money on hotels is to stay on the outskirts of a big city. "You'll find more upscale hotels for around half the price and parking will be much more reasonably priced," he said.

Opt for a room without a great view

While a hotel room with a great view can be truly breathtaking, it's also often truly expensive. Shay Harrington, a travel agent with the New York-based Tzell Travel Group, suggests opting for a room with a lesser view in order to save. "We only spend so much time in our rooms while traveling, and at night it's too dark to see most views," she told Thrillist. "If a view is really important, go with the partial view instead. It's still a big money saver and you get the best of both worlds."

Use local currency

The dollar is still pretty strong in most countries, so if you find that the exchange rate is in your favor at your destination, stick to paying with local currency. Melissa da Silva, president of travel company Trafalgar USA, told GOBankingRates, "While it may seem easier to track your spending by paying in U.S. dollars, this could actually end up costing you an additional 5 percent on purchases for currency conversion."

Bring your own food

While you should definitely check out some of the fantastic local cuisine once you get there, try to bring along some snacks so that you're not constantly spending money on food and drink. "I always take packets of instant oatmeal with me," travel consultant Margie Lenau of Wonderland Family Vacations told Travel Pulse. "It saves money on breakfasts or a snack, and I won't go hungry."

Go where the locals go

Instead of ending up at a popular tourist trap restaurant, find out where the locals prefer to eat and drink. Michael Brozek, former destination manager for New York City at American Express Travel, shared with GOBankingRates that the best spots in his city were where the locals go about their daily life. "Local restaurants and bars are what make New York City so special, and there's so much to discover," he said. "So don't get trapped at an overpriced chain restaurant. Go explore something different."

Take a free city tour

One great way to learn more about a city and all its top spots is by taking a city tour, many of which are free. "Cities such as London, Paris, Venice and Sydney all have free walking tours", Wally Jones, manager of Phoenix-based Travel Leaders, told GOBankingRates. While the tour is free, he suggested that you should still tip your tour guide.

Have a staycation

You can seriously save big by having a mini-vacation in your own city. Travel agent Michele Savoir of Largay Travel suggests staying at home if you're on a tight budget, but that doesn't mean you can't have an awesome staycation.

Hire a travel agent

Just about any travel agent you speak with will tell you that the best way to save money is to hire a travel agent, as they tend to have access to all sorts of deals on airfare, hotels and excursions that the general populace doesn't. And that's just one of the ways that travel agents can save you a headache.