How AI Can Save You Money on Travel

Woman Holding Smartphone with Online Ticket on Screen with ChatGPT Logo and Google Bard Logo

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Woman Holding Smartphone with Online Ticket on Screen with ChatGPT Logo and Google Bard Logo
Cheapism/Morsa Images/istockphoto

Put the Robots to Work

Maybe you’re already using Chat GPT, Bard, and another large language model (LLM) to do everything from writing your marketing proposals to jazzing up your resume and teaching your kid how to speak a foreign language with the help of artificial intelligence, so why not use AI to help you save money for your next vacation?

Granted these AI-powered platforms aren’t foolproof or without their pitfalls, so there will be some fact-checking involved. But what you get gives you a good place to start and it’ll save you a bunch of time so you actually look forward to taking that vacation.

Related: AI Can Decrease Your Cost of Living: Here's How

Screenshot of Question Asked to Google Bard AI, 'Stopover Programs in Major Global Cities'

Enjoy a Multi-City Vacation Without Paying More for Your Ticket

Many travelers don’t realize that you can stop over in another city without paying extra for your ticket if you are willing to book an indirect flight on certain airlines — the trick is to travel through their capital city or airline hub city.

This response from Bard, while comprehensive, left out a few popular stopover programs that ChatGPT unearthed like Singapore Airlines (Stopover: Singapore), KLM (Stopover: Amsterdam), and Finn Air (Stopover: Helsinki). The winner though has to be Icelandic Air who provides you with a full 7-day itinerary.

Related: Here’s How to Visit Iceland Without Spending a Fortune

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, '10 Most Visited Cities in the World, Off-Season Travel'

Plan Your Visit Off-Season

This one is a no-brainer, off-season travel is always cheaper. Get ChatGPT to help you cull down the choices to cut down on research time and surface unexpected new suggestions. To make this answer more useful, furnish your prompt with your budget expectations, estimated dates of travel, and recommendations for hotels and restaurants.

Related: Fall for Less: Cheap Destinations for Off-Season Travel

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Which Days Are Cheapest to Fly Between New York and Paris?'

Double Check That You Aren’t Flying on the Most Expensive Day

LLMs aren’t built yet to include real-time data so asking about the cheapest flight option won’t be of much help. Google Flights will still give you better, more accurate flight prices and data but what ChatGPT does is to give you suggestions to start you off the research-booking process. But with more AI-powered plug-ins being rolled out, watch this space as Expedia,, Priceline and Kayak amped up their AI capabilities.

Related: Here's When to Book Airline Tickets for the Cheapest Prices

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Price Comparison of New York and London Airports'

Compare Nearby Airports to Save Money on Tickets

Flying into a city’s biggest airport is not always the best idea. It often costs more (ticket-wise), clearing security and immigration can take a while if it’s busy, and sometimes – like in Paris – the secondary airport Orly (OLY) is actually closer to the city center than the main airport Charles De Gaulle (CDG). For London, airports like Stansted and Luton may be further out but they’re also home to budget carriers like EasyJet, Ryanair, and Wizz, which typically offer tickets for cheap.

Related: 15 Worst Domestic Airports, According to Travelers

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, '10 Best Airports to Have a 12-Hour Layover'

Transit in Airports That Have Free Stuff

If you had a choice to fly into Kuala Lumpur or Singapore for a 6-hour layover, which would you choose? The airport that gives you a bunch of freebies like Singapore’s Changi Airport or one where your only option for a shower will cost you $10 with few entertainment options? For the record, there aren't free showers in Changi Airport but the Pay-Per-Use showers cost $3.60 (one-time use). Other airports worth noting include Incheon International Airport in Seoul, Doha’s Hamad International Airport, and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

Related: 16 of the Most Passenger-Friendly Airports in the World

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, '10 Lowest Fee-Based Airport Lounges Globally'

Get the Lowdown on Airport Lounge Passes

For travelers with travel-specific credit cards, lounge passes are usually included as part of the card’s perks but if you don’t have one, get ChatGPT to find out which lounges are on a pay-by-use basis and what’s included. If you’ve got more than 2 hours to spare, it might be worth shelling out for some free food and a dedicated place to rest vs. spending on inflated-priced snacks and killing time with duty-free shopping.

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Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Airport Transfer Options'

Pre-Vet Your Transfer Options

Don’t you hate it when your airport transfer costs more than the price of your air ticket? Before you hit book on that budget airline ticket, make sure it doesn’t cost you upwards of $21 (train) or $52 (taxi) to get into the city.

Related: 11 Mistakes To Avoid the Next Time You Book a Flight

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Less Common Routes When Flying from Sydney to Europe'

Get AI to Do Your Research

Traveling on a budget usually requires a bit more research – so put ChatGPT to work to get the planning started. What you may find are some routes or airlines that offer a good deal that you never previously considered. But do check if the airline is still in business!

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Cheapest European City to Visit During the Summer'

Use AI to Give Guide Prices

Budget is often a prime deciding factor when choosing where to travel. Rather than combing through numerous websites, and watching endless YouTube videos, use ChatGPT to serve up options. The more specifications you can give it (budget, dates, hotel prices) the more detailed its results will be, just keep in mind it's still working off 2022 data so you should double-check its findings.

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Cheapest Eastern European City to Visit During the Summer'

Agitate It to Give You More Detailed Recommendations

“It is a time saver since it will pull out information from all over the internet and give it to you in a clear, condensed form, but it doesn’t do all the work for you.” shared Marina Guastavino, CEO of Directo Chrome Extension, a travel hack tool for finding direct bookings in an interview with Yahoo about ChatGPT’s capabilities. 

And that’s true in this case, having some knowledge about certain destinations will better inform your findings, as a language model it is only as good as the information you feed it – so do some homework and get specific.

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Top Tourist Scams and Overpriced Experiences'

Don’t Fall Prey to Tourist Scams

The power of LLMs means you’ll always have the answers to questions, and instantly, if you know what to ask for. The answers given by ChatGPT were spot on, especially Donkey Rides in Santorini and restaurants handing tourists different menus with inflated prices in Italy.

Related: How To Stay One Step Ahead of Pickpockets and Scammers While Traveling

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Italian Towns That Pay Visitors to Visit'
Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Financial Incentives of Italian Towns That Pay Visitors to Visit'

Push It to Give Details of Financial Incentives

Now that you’ve prompted it a little more and asked for URLs, checking if these offers are legitimate will be much easier, and seeing as ChatGPT works like a conversion, you can inform it of what you find as well.

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Lesser Known Senior Travel Discounts Globally'

Score Discount Passes

Who doesn’t love a discount — and when, in this case, Transilien Senior Card (France), can give up to 25% off train travel (valid for 62 and older with identity documents) that just means more money for wine and Champagne!

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, '5 Cheapest Countries in Asia to Visit'

Use Credible Sources to Refine Your Findings

Giving ChatGPT a persona or a reference point to pull data from will greatly enhance the information it gives you. Here, you can basically trust the data as you’ve nominated known media brands who specialize in budget or travel in Asia.

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Write Code for Dynamic Pricing to Be Alerted When the Price Drops on Flights, Hotels, and Excursions'

Ask It to Write Code to Scrape Data

Multiple price alerts get annoying after a while. This prompt requires some level of programming skills but if you happen to know what you’re doing, ChatGPT can come up with some usable code to get you the information you’re after. Do note that it does give the following warning: “Unfortunately, most travel websites like Kayak, Hopper, and Google Flights don't provide open APIs for public use due to commercial and privacy reasons. Therefore, writing code to access or manipulate their data directly would likely violate their terms of service.”

Related: Is Spirit Airlines Safe, and Why Is It So Cheap?

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Airbnb Listings for Central Rome Under $150 a Night'

Ask About Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods

Staying away from popular tourist areas usually brings down the cost of accommodation but how do you know which is a good neighborhood and what’s in the area? Prompt ChatGPT to give you some options and make sure to tell it what deets to include otherwise it’ll just give you non-useful generic info.

Related: Cool Under-the-Radar Destinations for Art Lovers

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Hotels for Central Rome Under $150 a Night'

Get It to Recommend Trusted Hotels

Chances are it’s not going to give you the newest hotels but the ones it recommends are likely tried-and-tested properties with a decent Google rating. Hotel Artemide is a good suggestion, it’s close to the Spanish Steps and walking distance of Termini Train Station. If you want to prompt it further you can also specify the type of room (balcony, view) and even the number of Google Reviews it has.

Related: What It Costs To Stay at the Nation’s Best Hotels

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Hotels and Resorts for the Florida Keys From January to March Under $150 a Night'

Weed Out Hotels with Expensive Resort Fees

Ah… The resort fee — the hotel property’s sleight of hand to squeeze a little bit more out of you (typically $25 and up per day) to make up for their “affordable” rates. Avoiding them in popular tourist spots like the Florida Keys is tricky. Instead of going through the complete booking flow to see if there’s an add-on fee, use AI to cull down the options. While the first resort mentioned is no longer in service, it did suggest non-resort fee properties and even found an option for under $100 a night.

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Discount Snorkeling Tours for Seashell Beach Resort (Marathon) and The Pelican (Largo), the Florida Keys'

Use Their Database to Suggest Vetted Local Excursions

Sure you can use Viator or Groupon to book an excursion but is the business reputable, or will it pull a fast one on you? While information pulled from ChatGPT is limited to 2022, this is actually a plus point, it means the business has some reputation to be recommended. And a quick check on their suggestions turns up stellar sites like Sombrero Reef that’s between 2-30 feet deep and easily navigated by beginner snorkelers.

Related: 21 Adventures for Thrill-Seeking Senior Travelers

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'What U.S. Credit Cards Offer Free Access to the Most Number of Airport Lounges Globally'

Let It Find You the Best Travel-Based Credit Card

Thanks to ChatGPT you no longer have to sit through 10-minute YouTube videos of vloggers touting the benefits of a credit card and the minutiae details. Get it to serve you only the essential information that you want to know – and not the 20 other benefits that aren’t applicable – deepen your prompt with details like TSA access, travel insurance coverage etc.

Related: 12 Ways Credit Cards Can Save You Money While Traveling

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'How to Maximize Frequent Flyer Miles'

Get It to Game Plan Your Frequent Flyer Miles

Chances are you’ve amassed a pile of frequent flier points from 2020-2022 so now’s the time to put it to work and travel “for free”. Combing through the loyalty sites will take time (and a lot of patience) so put ChatGPT to work. While it did not detail what taxes are, it did give three different solutions that are definitely worth splurging 100,000 miles on.

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, '10 Countries Trying to Attract Digital Nomads'

Explore the Digital Nomad Route

The digital nomad today is what the backpacker was in the ‘80s – just that in most cases you need proof of income and health insurance. It’s a legitimate way to travel longer and for cheaper if you set things up properly. While there are a lot of digital nomad schemes, make sure you double-check the facts and the fine print, plus make sure you’re not missing out on the latest schemes: e.g. Spain’s Digital Nomad Visa launched in June 2023.

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Write a Message to My Airbnb Host to Extend a Special Discounted Rate'

Ask Your Airbnb Host for a Discount

If you’re shy about asking your host for a special rate, let ChatGPT do the persuading for you. Feel free to customize it with review excerpts from your profile or call out special skills you may possess (e.g. expert gardener will water your plants or killer baking skills will leave a basket of muffins).

Related: Airbnb Rental Scams to Watch Out For

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Visiting All of America's National Parks'

Visit National Parks for Free

Some of the most affordable vacations are the ones you spend outdoors. And with so many National Parks to explore, you’ll be missing out if you don’t take advantage of NPS Fee-Free Days (April 20, Aug 25 and Sept 28 are usually good bets). But if you can’t visit on those specific days, at least you have a rough idea of entry fees now.

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Visiting the Florida Keys in an RV'

Ask Chat GPT to Find an RV Park

Who needs hotels when you have an RV, your own traveling hotel room? Just as you prompted with hotels and Airbnb rentals do the same with RV resorts, be sure to ask how far in advance you need to book as the spots can fill up quickly in popular places like the Florida Keys.

Related: The Best RV Sites in Every State and When to Book Them

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Itineraries for a 10 Day Greek Islands Trip in August 2024'

Pre-Plan an Island Hopping Holiday

Want to island hop around the Greek Isles without overspending? Make this bucket list trip happen with the help of AI to pull together cost-effective itineraries that give you a sneak peek at what each island offers. This way you can make a more educated decision if touristy islands like Santorini, where costs can be higher, are really worth the extra budget.

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, '5 Cruise Plans Under $100 a Night (Interior Room) from Florida'

Cruise for Cheaper

Catching a cruise deal can be quite a hit/miss. Increase your chances of securing one by pre-vetting which sailings suit your preferences and budget. Learn about programmes like ‘Sip and Sail” (Princess Cruise Line) “Free At Sea” (Norwegian Cruise Line) which help save some money while onboard. For under $100 a night, we’re certainly game to spend time chilling on a private island!

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, '5 Repositioning Cruises from the U.S. in 2024'

Max Use of Repositioning Cruises

If you’re time-rich and budget-poor, a repositioning cruise may be a cheaper, and quite enjoyable way to get you to another continent. This prompt not only brought up attractive repositioning cruises from Alaska to Hawaii but also North America to Asia, it also tipped us off that late spring and early fall are peak periods for transatlantic sailings.

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, 'Itinerary Comparison of Disneyland Parks in Florida and California'

Do Disney on the Cheap

Is this even possible? For what’s at stake (and we’re not just talking about money), any money-saving, time-saving, organizing tips that AI can throw up when visiting the “Happiest Place on Earth” is more than welcome. This prompt not only pointed out some Disney-themed resorts to book in Orlando (Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, Disney's All-Star Music Resort, Disney's Pop Century Resort) but also a good suggestion to “watch out for conventions or other large events that might drive up local hotel prices”.

Related: 18 Expensive Mistakes to Avoid at Disney

Screenshot of Question Asked to ChatGPT, '10 Most Overpriced Disneyland Services/Experiences'

Sidestep Overpriced Experiences

Here, ChatGPT outdid itself by taking the initiative to suggest decent alternatives to pricey Disneyland experiences including tips on where to get free water (quick-service spots) and parking prices where the choice between Preferred ($45-$50) and Standard ($25) spots can mean someone gets an extra souvenir.