Airfare and lodging costs can be the difference between a cheap trip and an expensive one. As my friends and I are still relatively young with little expendable income to spare, our collective trip planning is the following questions: "Can we drive there?" And "Do we have somewhere free to stay? "As a result, most of our trips take us to nearby cities where friends and acquaintances live-which is an effective solution, but one to which many times to Pennsylvania and Connecticut and little else.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to save money on flights and lodging that do not involve eschewing them altogether-life hacks I did not even realize existed until I started reporting this story. Like, did you know you can download apps that will alert you the moment the price goes down on that flight you had your eye on? Or that hotels will often offer you better deals on rooms you've already booked if you find that room for some other site? The list goes on. And here it is:

How to save on airfare:

1. Always, always, always compare flights in incognito mode.

" I make sure to use incognito mode on Google Chrome when searching for flights to keep my computer from tracking my history. Sites like Kayak, Expedia, and Priceline can raise the price of the same flight every time you search for it, and incognito mode keeps this from happening. " -Mona Molayem, 28, a travel blogger who takes five international trips a year

2. If your schedule is flexible, play around with different flight dates and times until you find the cheapest option.

" I track flights with minor dates and time variations so I can figure out the absolute cheapest time to travel. If you're flexible-say, if it does not really matter, you can not resist. " -Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, 40, a travel blogger who spends half the year traveling

"I like to travel mid-week, because flights are usually cheaper then. I'm also pretty flexible, so I'll pick up an earlier or later flight based on what's less expensive. " -Krysten Dornik, 30, a food blogger who took 22 trips last year

3 . Use a service like Priceline to compare flights for you.

"With Priceline, you can input your ideal price range, departure time window, preferred number of stops, and favorite airlines, and let the website do the work for you. It’ll find the cheapest available deal based on the criteria you’ve given it, and you can manipulate it further until you find the flight you want.” -Mona Molayem

4. Set alerts with services like Skyscanner and Next Vacay as you know. ASAP when flight costs go down.

"My favorite service for flight monitoring is Next Vacay. It's super simple to use: All you have to do is input your local airport, and Next Vacay will send you daily emails alerting you to flight deals at that airport and the other nearby." -Andi Eaton, 38, a travel writer who travels about once a week

"I always set alarms on Skyscanner to places where I need or want to visit in the near future. It lets me know when prices go down, so I can take advantage of great deals and save money on flights. It also lets me know when prices go up, so I can either catch them before they turn up the back-burner for now. " -Inma Gregario, 34, a travel blogger at least one trip a month

5. Keep an eye out for the last minute deals-on Twitter.

" I follow @ SecretFlying on Twitter to keep up with last-minute deals. They are some of the cheapest fares I've ever seen (including a $ 247 round trip ticket from Boston to New Zealand), and they update their feed daily. " -Tania Elliott, 35, an allergist who loves to travel and takes about 15 trips a year

6. Cheat the system with "hidden city" tickets.

"You can use a website called Skiplagged to find discounts on one-way flights by searching for 'hidden city' tickets. Basically, you are buying a ticket that has your destination as a stop-over on a multi-leg flight (thus making it a 'hidden city'). These flights are often cheaper than direct flights to those destinations.

But warning: You will not be able to check any bags. Since you're getting off the flight before it reaches its final destination, any checked bags would head to the next stop without you. You should also avoid using your frequent flyer account number; airlines frown upon this money-saving method, and might cancel your return flight if they discover you doing this. " -Mona Molayem

7.

“When traveling abroad, I usually fly out of a different airport than my ‘home’ one. I live in Indianapolis, but I’ve discovered that flights to Asia and Europe are way less expensive from Chicago. It's about a three-hour drive, but I save almost $2,000 by flying out of Chicago, instead.” -Lori LeRoy, 45, a travel blogger who takes at least six trips a year

8 . If you do not want to miss out on a good flight deal, but you're not completely sure about your plans, take advantage of 24-hour cancellation policies.

“If I'm not totally sure about a trip I want to book, Expedia.com has a 24-hour flight cancellation policy, which has proven super helpful. Plus, if you book on a Friday, you have until Monday to cancel your flight because the policy only runs on business days—meaning you have a whole weekend to sort out your plans.” -Mona Molayem

[Ed. note: We've also seen 24-hour cancellations on Orbitz.]

9. You can put towards travel.

"I save up miles using my Chase Sapphire Reserve card; I get three points per dollar spent on travel and restaurants, which I can then use to save money on travel. I actually just booked a July trip to New Zealand and paid for it fully with miles. " -Kim Kessler, 43, a PR representative who spends about five months each year traveling

10. Play travel roulette: Let's get the best deals out where you go.

"I. I use the TravelPirates app and follow The Flight Deal on Facebook to stay abreast of the latest travel deals. When a cheap ticket pops up that sounds amazing, I book it right away and plan later. I'm sorry, I do not have any problems with making money. " -Jacquelyn Kyle, 28, a writer who takes at least four trips a year

How to save on lodging:

11. See if there are any Hotels.com gift cards on sale on Amazon.

"Every now and then, Amazon will offer sales on Hotels.com gift cards-meaning you can get a $ 100 gift card for something like $ 80. I subscribe to Amazon Lightning deals so I know. (Other websites, like giftcardgranny.com, cardcash.com, and raise.com, also sells gift cards at a discount.) -Mona Molayem

12. Take advantage of hotels' best rate guarantees.

"A lot of hotel chains have a 'best rate guarantee' policy; if you've been booked a room and find a cheaper rate for it on a hotel aggregation site like Hotels.com, Expedia.com, or Priceline.com, give you cash, give you points, or offer you a discount on your stay. Every hotel is different, so familiarize yourself with the policy. Typically, you only have 24 hours to find and present them with the better rate. " -Mona Molayem

13. Book a private room on Airbnb, instead of the whole home.

"When I use Airbnb, I try to choose the 'private room' option instead of booking the whole home . These are less expensive, but they still offer you the privacy of having your own room. " -Latifah Al-Hazza, 25, a freelance travel journalist who takes at least four trips a year

14 . Use Hostelworld.com to find really inexpensive lodging.

"Hostelworld.com is my go-to site for finding somewhere to stay. It has a huge inventory of hostels, bed and breakfasts, and hotels, giving travelers tons of affordable options to choose from. The site includes the options that are the safest, cleanest, and most welcoming. " -Trang Pham-Nguyen, 29, a travel blogger who used to live abroad and now takes full advantage of her vacation days

15. Spend no money on lodging by couch-surfing instead.

Couchsurfing.com is like Airbnb, but free; instead of paying for one's couch. The hosts are usually locals who just want to tell you more about their hometowns. And Couchsurfing holds meet-ups so you can meet other locals and travelers in the city you're visiting. " -Trang Pham-Nguyen

16. Plan everything yourself, instead of hiring a travel agent.

“The best way to save money on travel is to plan the whole trip yourself. DIY means more work, but you can typically save money on things like hotels, flights, and tours if you don’t go through an agent. - Jamie Harper, 36, a family travel blogger who takes about 20 trips a year