17 Money-Saving Tips For Traveling Longer, Better, Cheaper
Money is probably the most heard of excuse for why people don’t travel. Yes, traveling can be very expensive, but if you keep these money-saving tips for traveling in mind, you too can become a travel expert and see the world without breaking the bank.
I have never been rich or even paid an average salary. I’ve always been bottom of the barrel broke, so if I can manage to travel, anyone can, by smart savings and adopting some of these penny-pinching ways to stretch your dollar further.
Accommodation Does Not Need to be Expensive:
Travel overnight. If you’re on the move, opt for overnight buses, trains and flights. By doing this you not only save on accommodation fees, you gain a whole day in your destination that would have otherwise been lost on transport. This is especially useful for long-tail journeys.
Ask in town for cheap accommodation. Look out for foreign backpackers working around town, they often know the cheapest places to stay that are safe and comfortable enough for western standards. Even though the ones listed in the guidebooks are usually good, they tend to also be more popular and therefore are not always the best deal.
Use alternative accommodations other than hotels and hostels. You can often get really great deals online and through
several online services such as:
- Airbnb; rent someone’s apartment for a night.
- Couch surfing; sleep on people’s couches (or spare beds) for free. Bonus: make a new friend abroad.
- Sublease an apartment; if you plan on sticking in the area for a month or two it’s often worth looking for a furnished place to stay.
- Priceline; place bids for great deals on hotels. Tip: use forums to find out what other people paid.
Work for your stay. There are so many opportunities these days to work abroad and be able to make money while traveling. Choose from many options and be able to live the dream of long-term travel without being rich.
- WWOOF; work on an organic farm a couple of hours a day in exchange for food and lodging all over the world. You’re not making any money, but you’ll save big bucks while learning something new, making new friends, and exploring like a local.
- Aupair; live with a family abroad and help them out with housework and childcare to receive free accommodation and potentially pocket-money as well.
- TEFL; teach English as a foreign language abroad and earn money while experiencing a different culture.
Eat street food. Street vendors often offer up the most authentic and most delicious food all over the place. Pick one where lots
of locals eat and you’ll likely eat something amazing.
Buy food from markets. Pick yourself up a picnic for an outing or the
beach, it’s a good way to keep the restaurant costs down. It’s also always good to stock up before a plane, train or bus ride to avoid buying from overpriced vendors on board.
Take advantage of free breakfast. Choose the hotels and hostels that offer complimentary breakfast. It’s usually pretty basic (bread, oatmeal, etc.) but it does the trick.
Cook for yourself. Most hostels and some hotels have communal kitchens, stock up on food and eat in as often as you need to. Keep an eye out for the free food bins, they tend to clean out the fridges once a week for forgotten food and sometimes you can score big.
Transportation is Cheaper Than You Think:
Take the local buses. When traveling between cities, take the local modes of transportation. You can often get an intercity bus for much cheaper than any tour operated ones.
Fly cheaply. In this era of information we live in there is no need to be flying at full price. Use the internet to research all your best options and compare and contrast to find the most suitable arrangement.
- Smaller carriers often have cheaper seats and give great deals, lookout for them when doing your research.
- Check all the alternative routes, even if you have to travel a little bit longer or make more stopovers, you can get a really great deal. I paid $300 from Ottawa to Hawaii from strategic connecting, it took 24hrs, but all other flights were $700+.
- Be flexible. Often if you are able to juggle a couple of days around it can save you hundreds of dollars.
Travel hacking. Keep up to date on all the airlines and reward program deals. If you aren’t already part of a rewards program, sign up today. Check blogs where the information is compiled for you and all you have to do is claim your miles:
- Flyer Talk; an online community to share tips with fellow Frequent Flyers.
- The Points Guy; a blog offering tips, news, and deals about travel hacking.
- Rewards Canada; this site offers great info into travel hacking specific for us folk up North.
Save Smart, Win Big:
Use a travel credit card with no international fees. There are many credit cards out there that don’t charge any fees for purchases made all over the world. Pick your favourite and use it while abroad to avoid unexpected fees and collect Frequent Flyer miles.
- Cards for Travel; a compilation of the best travel credit cards by one of the world’s best travel hackers, Chris Guillebeau.
Avoid buying souvenirs. Save yourself the hassle of carrying extra luggage around and take lots of pictures instead. Chances are you’ll never wear that beer t-shirt in the future anyway. When you get home, you can compile an album and make some DIY travel mementos to decorate your walls with.
Always remember to bargain. You need to come to terms with the fact that the vendors are likely to never give you the same rates as locals, but more often than not you can negotiate your way down to a fair deal. Just remember that they need to make money too.
Save While Touring:
Use your student ID to get discounts. You’d be surprised how often you can get student rates abroad, so hang on to your plastics, even after you graduate. The following places often have reduced rates if you show your student ID card, even if it isn’t advertised it may be worth is to ask:
- Museums and attractions
- Public buses and trains
- Some retail shops
DIY tour. I’m a big fan of making your own walking tour (or bus tour). Pick up a map at the tourist information center and choose your own path or get lost without being dragged along with a crowd (can you tell I hate tours?).
Choosing the Right Destination for Your Budget:
Say you want to go surfing, that doesn’t mean you need to go to Australia, Hawaii, or the South Pacific. Instead, search for places that are budget friendly while offering great surf and a new culture to explore.
A few cheap destinations that are safe for tourists:
- Southeast Asia; Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, India.
- South America; Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Chile.
Just go. If you want to travel, don’t let money stop you. My motto is to make sure I always have my little cushion of savings, but once I run low on cash more money can always be made.
I think we all let money concern us while traveling, I sure do sometimes. It’s stressful not having the comfort of a paycheck every two weeks, and fear of the unknown is a natural human condition. It’s about budgeting and making smart choices.
I want to know what do you do to save money while traveling? Do you allow yourself to splurge on some things and save on others? Do you actively track how much money you spend daily? Let me in on your secrets.