While traveling is a big part of my life now, it’s also important that I don’t exceed my spending limits two weeks into my trip and find myself short. I truly believe that anyone can travel and have an incredible experience even when you have a tighter budget. These are my top tips, big and small, to help you save money while on the road so that you stay on budget and make the most out of your money.
Don’t Go Overboard On Souvenirs
The rush of energy you receive from a new place is like nothing else. It can place this pull to go and buy small things to remember your trip by, but will only end up getting misplaced or thrown away in the long run. As a photographer, most of my memories come from photos, my favorite way to document things, that I will one day decorate my home with. For a physical memory, I purchase small flag patches of the countries I have visited and plan to decorate my backpack with them. If you enjoy having something physical, choose one thing that you can use long-term and only buy that one item whenever you travel. You can purchase mugs, art, magnets, or the classic postcard, just make sure you do not impulse buy so that you can have meaningful items.
Trust me guys, you’re not going to lose your memory of a place for not buying that $25 t-shirt.
Cook Your Own Meals
Going out to eat can literally burn a hole in your pocket if you’re eating out three meals a day, every single day of your trip. One of my favorites parts about traveling is trying the unique restaurants, so if that’s you as well, try to choose one meal per day to cook yourself instead of going out to eat. You can invite friends you’ve made on your travels and get together for a nice meal, or you can go solo with it. Cook your favorite meal from home, pop on some Netflix and relax for the evening. This can especially help if you’re feeling homesick and you can fill your belly with a meal that takes you back home. I usually enjoy spaghetti and garlic bread; my personal favorite.
Pick A Destination Where Your Money Goes Far
If you’re looking for the cheapest option in terms of travel, Southeast Asia is going to be your best friend. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful places in the world where I can enjoy dinner for $1-2. With other places, it is possible to travel them on a budget. I recommend Asia to get the most for your dollar because you don’t have to make sacrifices. My favorite budget-friendly destination in Asia is the Philippines by far. As most people tell you, the most expensive part is getting there. To help you find cheap flights to Asia and beyond, you can use my guide to cheap airfare.
Take Local Transportation Or Walk
What better way to get to know the place your traveling than to walk around the cities and get around like the locals do. I feel like we miss a lot just by speeding around in the car to get from place to place. There are times where I have passed by an area multiple times and still found something that I missed! The plus side of local transportation is that it’s so much cheaper than taking a taxi everywhere and it’s a fun way to interact with new people.
Travel With A Group Or Partner
Divide and conquer; am I right? Although I do love solo travel, going with friends is an amazing way to split the cost of almost every aspect of travel. You can get so much more for your dollar by dividing the price between 2-4 people and splitting the cost of accommodation, dining out, tour guides, and transportation to and from areas. Plus, you get to make amazing memories, build stronger bonds, and make friends all while lowering the cost of your trip. It’s a win-win.
Purchase A SIM Card
Depending on the type of traveler you are, this may be an extremely lower expense, or it may be an unneeded extra expense. Personally, this comes as a lower expense for myself and it’s a great tip so I knew I needed to include it. Whenever I am traveling alone, I like to have the security of having my phone readily available instead of waiting to be in wifi in case something happens. While some phone companies offer free international plans, mine costs around $10/day just to use my phone. Now I do take longer trips, so for my phone use only, it would be $300+ to use my phone. The best way to ditch that expense is to buy a SIM card for the country you’re going to. This gives you a flat rate for the time that you’re there and you can purchase a plan customizable for your needs for a fraction of the price. Or if you don’t use your phone all that much anyways, put that baby on airplane mode and take advantage of the free wifi.
Ditch The Hotels
With the explosion of Hostel World and Airbnb these last few years, finding cheap unique places to stay is only a click away. Hotels are more often than not extremely overpriced and they’re in the touristy locations where everything else is going to be overpriced as well. I like to use Airbnb a lot because you can find cottages in the French countryside, bungalows right on the beach, or even camping spots in the mountains of Switzerland all for a fraction of the price of a hotel room. Using this site also helps me get inspiration for my next travels because there have been times where I have decided I wanted to go somewhere solely based off of a cute Airbnb! I also have a special code for you guys to use that gets you $40 off your next adventure when you use this link!
Take Advantage of Free Breakfasts
Not all places you go are going to offer this amenity, but for the ones that do, take advantage of this! It may not be the breakfast buffet of your dreams, but free is free. You could also use the free breakfast every other day, or you can use the free breakfast for your next meal or snack. When I visited the Isle of Skye, I bought groceries for breakfast and then using the bread, peanut butter, and jelly from the breakfast options, I packed pb&j’s for lunch so that we wouldn’t have to eat out. Score!
Avoid Touristy Areas
This tip can be a bit more challenging if you are looking towards visiting popular attractions in the place you’re traveling to, but in regards to eating and finding accommodation, going a little bit outside of major cities is going to open up your options, lower your expenses, and you’ll get a better feel for local life. Often times in touristy areas they jack up the prices because they know that people are going to be constantly traveling there and they know they can raise the price and people are still going to pay for it.
Designate A Daily Budget
This is a great option for someone that only has a certain amount of money to spend, or if you’re not trying to spend a ton while abroad. The most important thing to remember is to formulate your own budget with what will work for you, and what you’re comfortable with. Some people are comfortable with daily spending as low as $20 and for some, it’s $75. Research your location and find what is feasible for you.
While you’re on the road, a helpful app called Nomad Budget will help you keep track of your spending in all sorts of categories so that you’re not stuck writing down every single expense. It allows you to choose your home currency, the currency of the destination, and it lets you make your own categories for easier organization.
Bring A Reusable Water Bottle
For myself, this is the travel hack of the century, and it helps reduce plastic waste in the environment. Instead of constantly having to buy a plastic water bottle time and time again, with them generally being $0.50-$3 per bottle, purchase your own reusable bottle and ask restaurants if they will fill it up for you. Depending on where you go, more often than not it will be free and you won’t be harming the environment!
I like to use my Hydro Flask because it holds more than a liter of water and it keeps your liquids cold for 24 hours.
Travel In The Off Season
Traveling to an area when everyone else is as well is your last route to saving money on the go. Peak seasons in most places means higher prices in all aspects of planning your trip, so your goal is to go to places in shoulder seasons or the low seasons because there will be a lot fewer people there, which helps you enjoy your surroundings, and the prices won’t be as high.
Take Longer Trips
I know what you’re thinking. More days = less money? How can that be? Well, from the countless night of searching and searching for cheap airfare, I have found that whenever you travel in places for longer periods of time, the flights tend to be way cheaper than if you were to only stay for a week. Also, guesthouses and other accommodations give weekly and monthly discounts depending on where you stay which will slice a small percentage off that expense. Traveling longer also means traveling slower and not spending so much on transportation costs.
Thank you all for listening and I hope these tips help you save bunches on your next travels. Let me know which of these tips worked for you and what tips you hope to implement on your next trip.
Until next time,