For those of us with Wanderlust our thoughts often turn to how we will fund our next trip, how to make your dollars go further, how to squeeze the most out of every last little bit of your savings. I have written before on how to save money to travel, but this is more about how to save money while travelling to make sure you don’t spend too much on your holiday.
Now I am not a scrooge or a party pooper, I think that holidays are a time for splurging, for indulging, for doing things you wouldn’t normally do so I do advise you to budget in some money for exactly these things. But that is the key – budget it in and find other areas to save in so that you can enjoy your holiday. Here are my 10 best travel savings tips.
READ MORE >> How to Plan Travel
1. Research Your Flights
Flights are usually the most expensive part of travel so be sure to do your research and get the best deal you can. It may mean reversing your itinerary to fly into and out of different cities, choose a different nearby city, get return flights rather than different arrival and departure cities, booking separate flights from A to B then B to C to get to your final destination (indirect flights can sometimes take more time but cost less – your call), mix your airlines rather than sticking with one. Consider travel on a different day, less popular days (like mid-week) can have cheaper flights. Pre-pay planned excess baggage rather than paying inflated prices on the spot.
2. Travel Off Peak Season
A bit obvious but it has to be said, if you travel when everyone else travels, known as the high or peak season, you will pay higher prices as demand outweighs supply. Little economics lesson for you there. Yes, it is peak for a reason – school holidays, better weather, famous festivals and so on – so you will have to decide what is more important, saving money or going at the peak time. I prefer to travel in the shoulder season not just for the better prices, but you will usually get the tail end of the best weather and there are less crowds everywhere you go.
Earlier this week I wrote a post on how to plan travel and a huge part of that is to budget. You can read more on the areas you need to make sure that you cover but the most important thing is that you have a budget before you go, you track it and stick to it while travelling. In your planning stages before you go, look into how much it costs to buy a meal, take a taxi or grab a coffee and be prepared so there are no shocks during your trip. I have run into countless travellers who are just clueless to the cost of living in the country they are in, and many who have had to abandon their trip when their money runs out too quickly. Don’t forget to watch ATM withdrawal and conversion fees.
READ MORE >> My Travel Savings Tips
4. Discover Somewhere New
You might have your heart set on a certain destination but if you simply have the travel bug and the need to go somewhere, anywhere, try and think outside the square. Do some research and discover somewhere new. For every destination (well, most) there is usually a cheaper version elsewhere in the world that is comparable. It might be just a city or two over, or it could be in another country. Be open minded when doing your initial planning.
5. Think Smaller
Don’t get into the trap of adding more and more to your trip. We have all been there – oh but x is so close to y, we could just duck across there for a day or two then … Try and stay in one small geographical area and do it well. Staying in one area saves transport costs and longer accommodation bookings means cheaper rates too. Pick a place to stay and do day trips out from there. Completely immersing yourself in a destination makes it so much more memorable too.
6. Travel Less
Don’t panic – don’t do less travel in the broader sense just less travel at your destination. Stay somewhere central so you can walk most places, use public transport or catch free tourist transport. Try and think outside the transport square as well and consider alternatives – hire a bicycle, catch a train (sleeper trains are great double up in transport and accommodation!), hire a car and drive yourself, what about a bus, a ferry, and sometimes even flights. As much as possible try to book in advance for cheaper rates.
7. Use Small Businesses
You can save money if you try to avoid big hotel names, tour companies, restaurants etc, but do your research to make sure you are still using someone reputable. This one can be tricky as it is a fine balance between boutique and small business. I’m not as extreme as couch surfing, I haven’t tried house sitting and I find hostels with kids can be tricky, but I do like using ‘airbnb’.
8. Free Entry
You will obviously save money if you can get things for free. Major sights and museums often have open/free days or cheaper rates on certain days. I know that by visiting certain places on public holidays or weekends has scored us free entry. Think beyond the popular tourist sights and find out about local events and activities that are going to either be free or cheaper. While not free, you will get discounts by using the tourist multi-passes, but consider carefully if you will be getting the value out of it before purchasing.
9. Don’t Always Eat Out
You don’t eat every meal, snack and drink out when you are at home, imagine how expensive it would be if you did! It’s the same on holidays, yes spoil yourself, enjoy it, but don’t eat out for every meal. Visit a supermarket and stock up on snacks to carry in your bag. Eat what is in season locally. Consider getting an apartment instead of a hotel so you can cook some meals at “home”. You can save money on meals by making lunch your main meal as it is more often than not cheaper than dinners. Try not to eat in overpriced tourist areas, go a street or two back for cheaper options (which usually taste better anyway!).
10. Use Free WiFi
We all like to keep in touch, share our adventures, let loved ones know we are ok, research the next days adventures, book tickets and backup our photos. To do this, you need the Internet and luckily it is everywhere now. The trick is to look for free WiFi. Try and be sure to include it in your accommodation search, otherwise look for local cafes or libraries or other free hotspots you can use. If travelling abroad I’d advise you turn off your data services on your phone or it will likely cost you a small fortune.
Share your best travel savings tips with me.
At the end of a trip, do your holidays usually come within budget?
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