Why Staying Outside A City Might Not Get You The Deals You're Hoping For

When you're planning a vacation, it goes without saying you'll want to get the most bang for your buck and save money wherever possible on your trip. After all, you don't need a large budget to have the vacation of your dreams. Things like traveling during shoulder season, finding the most affordable local restaurants, and researching whether that pricey tourist attraction is really worth it (spoiler alert: the Space Needle is hardly the best view of Seattle) all come to mind. But there's one hack that may not be the great deal it appears on the surface: staying outside the city you're visiting.

At first glance, this seems like an excellent way to save money. Hotels outside the city are often significantly less expensive than those in the center of all the action and popular sites. But the money you'll end up spending on transportation to and from the city can quickly cancel out the lower price tag of your hotel. Public transit may be unreliable or unavailable at the times you need it, which means those taxi and ride-share fees will add up quickly. Plus, you could potentially waste valuable sightseeing time sitting in traffic.

The perks of staying right in the city

When you're visiting somewhere new, it's usually because you want to get the fullest, most authentic experience possible. And immersing yourself in the city's way of life — both during the daytime and nighttime — is the best way to do that. Although it's always smart to have an itinerary, one of the best ways to soak in a city's culture is by simply wandering and exploring — you're likely to stumble upon underrated spots that aren't full of tourists.

Plus, staying in the city means that you'll be right near all the main attractions and sites that are staples on your itinerary. You can either walk to them or take a quick ride on public transit or in a taxi. And who among us hasn't left a hotel to start our day only to realize we forgot something we need, like a camera or medication? No one wants to waste valuable vacation hours traveling back outside the city to retrieve something.

There are other ways to save money while traveling

Of course, none of this is to say that when we're on vacation we should behave as though money is no object or adopt the attitude that traveling dollars don't count. Rather, it's best to use money-saving hacks that still allow us to make the most of our trip.

Taylor Harrell-Goodwin, CEO of Lively Co. travel agency, suggests traveling during the week when hotel and flight prices tend to be lower than on the weekends. "Fly out by Saturday morning for U.S travels," Harrell-Goodwin told Real Simple. Speaking of accommodations, the earlier you book, the more likely you are to get a better deal.

"For vacation rentals, book your stay as early as possible. Whether you've been dreaming of a tropical vacation or are planning to head home for a specific holiday or event, book early," Kristin McGrath, shopping expert for RetailMeNot, advised Travel + Leisure. She also suggested plugging in a variety of different travel dates to see when the best deal is available.