Learn the ropes on how to save money while travelling
We live in the age of experiences and millennials are the ones who seek them more. Travel has become their middle name and, being the hustlers they are, it is safe to say that millennials are the ones who make sure they stretch their dollars the most while on the road. While millennials love to travel and are projected to travel 35% more than 2016 this year, the truth is that they earn about 20% less than what their parents did. And, this is why, they are always looking out for ways to save money while travelling.
Truth is that it doesn’t take much to save a few bucks while travelling. And, saving on stuff doesn’t mean that you’ll have less fun. It is all a matter of mindset. Once you break out of the shackles of travel advertising and Instagram aspirations, you’ll realize how easy it is to have an amazing trip without spending a ton of money.
So, to get you started, here are 101 ways in which you can save money while travelling.
101 Ways To Save Money While Traveling
1. Make a budget and stick to it: The first step of planning a trip is making a budget and knowing how and on what you’ll likely be spending. Check out how to easily make a realistic travel budget that will work irrespective of where you’re going and how long you’ll be staying.
2. Plan in advance to get better deals: Planning your trip in advance not only gives you more time to research better, it may also end up in cheaper tickets and better deals. Experts say that booking your tickets at least two months in advance will fetch you the best prices.
3. Look for indirect flights: Look for various combinations while checking out tickets. Direct flights are always more expensive than those with more stops. Finding cheaper options with multiple stops will require research & will take more time while travelling. But the money you save on the flight can be used at your destination for making better memories.
4. Travel midweek: Weekend tickets are the most expensive for all modes of transportation. So plan your trip to start and end on weekdays. Surveys have found that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to travel on.
5. Avoid holiday, peak season travel: Okay, you may be like, then when do we go? But, the truth is that you will end up spending the most if you travel during peak and holiday season. Off-season trips mean cheaper flights, cheaper hotels, cheaper food and less crowds.
6. Travel light: Nowadays, most carriers charge extra for check-in baggage. Try to travel light and fit all your stuff into a carry-on bag to avoid these exorbitant rates.
7. Be flexible with your travel dates: To get the best prices, you’ll have to be ready to make some compromises. Not on just how you’ll get there, but also on when you’ll be travelling. Having a flexible itinerary helps you secure better deals.
8. Subscribe to travel newsletters: Although, it may appear spammy at first, travel newsletters often have interesting giveaways and deals that you can take advantage of. Take a look at the best travel newsletters listed by travel blogger Frugal Travel Guy here.
9. Fly during unpopular hours: If you’re someone who wants to make the most of your vacation at your destination and are ready to sacrifice a bit of your comfort while travelling, try travelling early in the morning or late at night.
10. Book your tickets at the right time: Although, we may have started sounding a bit superstitious about this whole booking thing, studies have found that travellers who booked their flights on Tuesday around midnight have saved more than 6% on their flights. Worth a try, isn’t it? The point being look at prices at different times of the day and week before you finally book.
11. Compare prices on different search engines: Let’s just make it simple. Not all search engines show all carriers and each of them have different commission rates. So try a few of them to get the prices. Some of the best ones are Skyscanner, Kayak, Google Flights, Skiplagged and Momondo.
12. Join a frequent flyer program: A rewards program is the best way to earn great deals on flights and, sometimes even, hotels. Join a program that works for you and collect miles while you travel to score free flights or huge discounts. Find the best ones here.
13. Skip the in-flight snack option: Forgo the food and refreshments on the flight and save money by packing your own food with you. We all know that most of the time airplane food sucks! So here are tips to pack tasty and healthy food onboard.
14. Travel overnight: While travelling by bus or train, overnight options will save you money for a night’s accommodation.
15. Clear browser cookies before booking tickets: Although there is a lot of debate going on about whether this works or not, we think it’s a great way to trick the system and get away from dynamic pricing. Some people prefer to use an incognito window instead. Try both, we would say.
16. Book local travel options domestically: As mentioned above, dynamic pricing is location-sensitive as well. So try booking local travel options once your reach your destination, or…
17. Use a VPN: Websites can detect where you’re booking from, thanks to your unique IP address. A VPN masks this and uses a virtual network address located in a different country. It’s not too hard to use a VPN. Learn how to do so here.
18. Book tickets from your phone: According to price discrimination studies conducted at Northwestern University, it was found that lower prices were offered for smartphone users as compared to desktop users.
19. Buy two one-way tickets: Contrary to popular belief that round-trips are cheaper, many travel bloggers and service providers now suggest that it may be cheaper to book two one-way tickets instead. It could prove even cheaper if you try two different airlines. Also try booking the return ticket from a nearby city different from the one you flew in from.
20. Try bundling flight, hotel and taxi: Many travel service providers have package deals on flights, hotels and even taxis at different destinations. Compare prices and you may end up with a good deal by bundling these together.
21. Prebook airport parking: If you’ll be leaving your car at the airport, the best way to save money is by prebooking the parking slot. Try both the airport’s website and those of price comparison sites.
22. Weigh your luggage: Before you leave from home, make sure you weigh your luggage and see to it that it doesn’t exceed airline regulations. If not, you may end up paying extra baggage fees or even buy a new bag to split the weight.
23. Set price alerts: This is something that works during the planning stage. Once you’ve set your mind on a destination, set frequent price alerts to your email. You would be surprised at the price changes and would be able to jump at the best deals quickly enough.
24. Know your rights: We’ve spoken about this before. Know your rights as an airline traveler. You’re eligible to be compensated for delayed and/or lost baggage, flight delays, cancellations and overbooking. Learn how to make money from these travel woes here.
25. Be smart with your visas: Know what kind of visas you will need and research about all the benefits of holding a certain visa. For instance, a long-term UK visa offers you a visa on arrival in many European countries. So be aware of the possibilities and plan accordingly to make the best use of your visa.
26. Travel to places that don’t need a visa: Visas are quite expensive and it involves some waiting time and tonnes of paperwork. What about finding some place that don’t require a visa or offer a visa on arrival? Use this awesome new service VisaDB to find destinations you can travel to without a visa.
27. Stay longer: Most hotels and accommodations offer better rates if you stay for a longer number of days. It also helps to travel slowly and take your time at the destination, ending up with more money to spend on other interesting attractions.
28. Check individual night rates: If you are staying at hotels, check their individual nightly rates instead of checking the price for the whole duration of your stay. You may find that some nights are cheaper than the rest for the same room and booking each night separately may save you money.
29. Stay for free: Try free accommodation options via sites like Couchsurfing.com, Global Freeloaders, Hospitality Club or Stay4Free. These options not only saves money, but also lets you meet locals and make new friends. Or, stay with your friends and family.
30. Or use cheaper accommodation options: Get cheap accommodation options via sites like Booking.com and Expedia. Or try alternate options like serviced apartments via sites like Airbnb, 9Flats and HomeAway.
31. Stay at hostels: Hostels are a cheap and efficient option to stay in bigger cities. Although you may have to share your room with others, you get good prices, complimentary food, free entertainment options and can make a lot of new friends. Some hostels also provide single or private rooms at much cheaper rates than hotels.
32. Look for offbeat accommodation options: Farm stays and monastery stays top the list of such offbeat options. Most of them tend to be cheaper than hotels, especially for longer stays, and offer a completely different experience. Check out some offbeat, immersive ideas here.
33. Try WWOOF: A worldwide movement that links volunteers with organic farmers, WWOOF is a great option to save money and also learn from other like-minded people around the world. You’ll be living on farms and working with your host to learn and experience an organic lifestyle.
34. House swap or house sit: If you don’t want to do any of the above, why not try house sitting a local’s house while they are away travelling or even swapping or exchanging houses with them. Find such listings on sites like Mind My House, HouseCarers, Home Exchange and Luxury House Sitting.
35. Or try out other free accommodation options: If none of the above options appeal to you, try out the extreme by living in the nature on your own. Camping or living in the open via programs like Airbnb’s Roam Free may be worth a try.
36. Travel in a group: The best way to save money while travelling is to travel with others. You’ll end up sharing and splitting expenses on food, travel and accommodation.
37. Stay at a place with a kitchen: It is best to look out for accommodation options with kitchens or cooking facilities available. It is likely that you may not eat out every meal every day and it is cheaper to cook in, too. Most hostels and Airbnb apartments offer this plus some free basic groceries as well.
38. Or, book breakfast included: The next best option is to book a place that offers free breakfast. This will save both time and money, and will let you start your day on a pleasant note.
39. Stay over on Sundays: If staying in a paid accommodation, it is always better to check out after the weekend rather than on Sunday afternoon. Because, most hotels offer cheaper Sunday rates as leisure travelers usually check out on Sunday afternoons and business travelers on Friday afternoons.
40. Travel around by public transport: Once you reach your destination, it is best to travel around by public transport. Taxis prices are steep in most countries and most often you’ll be able to find some public transport ticket deals. Research the various ways to go about and download local public transport apps and maps to take you around.
41. Don’t stay at the city centre: Staying right next to all the sights, attractions and entertainment may prove quite expensive. Stay away from the din of the town, in a location that is accessible and well-connected to the city centre.
42. Never eat near tourist spots: It goes without saying that everything is more expensive near tourist spots. Cafes and restaurants are priced steeper here. So try to eat at least six blocks away from tourist attractions.
43. Walk as much as you can: You’d surprised to find how pedestrian-friendly most cities in the world are, especially in Europe. Try walking around the city as much as you can. You will get a different perspective of the place, save money and can also spot more interesting attractions on your way.
44. Or, rent a bike: This is the next best option. Most cities around the world have separate cycling paths and free cycling routes are available online. Renting a bike may turn out to be cheaper than even public transport at times and what’s more, you are your own boss here.
45. Eat out during the day, eat in at night: Try to eat a big meal during the day, most preferably lunch. Because, almost everywhere eating out for dinner is more expensive than lunch. So try cooking dinner at your hostel or apartment.
46. Buy locally: Shop at local farmer’s markets, flea markets, grocery stores and supermarkets and cook with these ingredients. You will not only find cheaper options, but also be able to eat local specialties.
47. Try street food: In many countries, street food is easily available and more affordable than eating out. Especially in Asian countries, it offers a lot of variety, lets you enjoy local delicacies, saves time and money.
48. Buy alcohol and drink in: Try buying alcohol from local stores, where they are much cheaper than at restaurants, and drink in before you go out at night. You can start the night with some zing and also save a lot of money.
49. Use cards with no or low international fees: Make sure that your ATM and credit cards have no or very low international fees. Also, research whether it’ll be better for you to pay in cash or card at your destination, depending on the exchange rates and bank charges.
50. Shop where the locals do: Try staying away from tourist traps. Research and speak to locals about where they shop and get some advice on this. Even basic things like bread and groceries may be priced very differently near tourist spots.
51. Research WiFi spots: In this day and age, you should never have to pay for using the internet. Before you step out, research WiFi spots available in the city using services like Facebook’s Find WiFi.
52. Do some free stuff: In most places, there are a ton of free things to do. Free attractions, free events or free classes to attend. Find such free entertainment options and have fun without spending any money.
53. Use ATMS to get local currency: Most travelers already know this. ATMs almost always offer better exchange rates than foreign exchange conversion kiosks. Stay away from such conversion points that charge high commissions, especially at airports.
54. Ask if the bread is free: While dining out, make it a point to find out if the bread and sides that were brought to you without placing an order are, indeed, complementary. Else, you’ll end up paying a huge cover or service charge for such ‘extras’.
55. Look for possible tax refunds: Do not forget to claim your tax refunds when shopping abroad. You could get up to 25% back in most European countries.
56. Look for free entry days: Did you know that the Louvre Museum in Paris offers free entry to anyone below 26 every Friday evening. Even on first Sundays of every month, entry to the Louvre is free for all. Research, find and take advantage of such free entry days to famous attractions around the world.
57. Use your student/ discount cards: Get a student card or ISIC card if under 26 and get discounts on most tourist attractions. Even seniors, military personnel and other such groups can avail special discounts at many attractions.
58. Use group discounts: If travelling as a group or family, ask for and avail group prices and discounts.
59. Carry your own bags: Most stores around the world will charge you to get bags once you’ve shopped. Carry your own bags to use whenever required.
60. Use ride-sharing apps: Stick to local ride-sharing apps or other popular ones like Uber and BlaBlaCar to cut down costs of moving around.
61. Use apps to communicate to those back home: WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, IMO, Tango, Rebtel, Hike… the number of apps that lets you call and message for free to anywhere in the world has only gone up. Use them!
62. Keep track of your finances: Track your spending with Wallet and check if you’re going over budget. Take a look at what you’re spending at and make adjustments to stay on track.
63. Look out for sightseeing deals: Most often, tourist destinations offer discounted prices or club together a few spots on a single ticket and help you save on sightseeing. Research such options and check how long they are valid for, because in Europe some tickets are valid for a year and you can avail these discounts on multiple visits.
64. Check out free events happening when you visit: Go to Eventbrite or similar sites to know about free conferences, exhibitions, screenings, festivals or concerts happening around the time of your visit.
65. Try hitchhiking: The adventurous can make new friends and save money on taxis, public transport and other modes of transport by just hitchhiking a ride. This might not be for everyone, but if you’re up for it, it can save you a lot of money.
66. Use Facebook groups: Join Facebook groups related to the city you are visiting to be in the know-how of upcoming events, cheap accommodation options or just to make some friends when you get to your destination.
67. Try Meetup.com: Instantly make friends and find your gang by attending meetups at your destination. This is the easiest way to meet locals, who have similar interests and get their recommendations for affordable things around town.
68. Use travel apps to save money: You already know this. The list of travel apps that will save your money on the road is growing by the day. Some good ones worth trying are TripAdvisor, Zomato, LoungeBuddy, Google Translate, Google Maps, Triposo, Gasbuddy, Turo and so on.
69. Visit offbeat attractions: Research about offbeat spots and skip the mainstream for a different, almost always, cheaper travel experience. For instance, in Prague where BudgetBakers is based, while most tourists flock to guidebook destinations like Prague Castle and National Gallery, some of the most beautiful and interesting attractions like Lennon Wall and Vysehrad cost nothing to visit.
70. Consider travel packages: If you prefer a shorter, faster vacation and don’t want to plan on your own, consider travel packages that club together different cities and attractions. This might prove cheaper than booking every destination separately.
71. Follow travel brands on social media: Nowadays, travel brands host giveaways, competitions and discount deals on social media platforms, especially Twitter and Instagram. So it would help to follow them to avail such offers on time.
72. Make travel checklists: Travel checklists save time, money and help you stay organized. Get the three most essential travel checklists here.
73. Pack medicines even if you think you don’t need them: You may not be someone who falls ill easily, nevertheless, carry some basic medicines when you’re on the road. You don’t want to waste time and money looking for pharmacies or finding the same medicines at your destinations.
74. Shop for travel insurance: Don’t settle on the first available travel insurance. Check out different options online, with your employer, with your bank and/or with your credit card provider. If travelling with children, check out companies that offer free travel insurance for children.
75. Try Ouibring: The next time you travel, share your spare luggage space and make some extra money. Learn how to do so here.
76. Unlock your phone and use local sim: If you’re staying for long, it may be cheaper to carry a phone that can be unlocked so that you can use a local sim card. Local plans offer cheaper rates and better mobile internet options.
77. Make use of free tours: Many tourist destinations offer free walking tours. These are done by locals and is a good way to get an authentic introduction to the city. Make the best use of it.
78. Bargain or negotiate for better prices: Do not be shy to bargain or negotiate for a better deal. Most often you will get better prices just by asking.
79. Bring your own entertainment: Carry your own books, music or better your Kindle to stay entertained during transit or public transport rides. Magazines and music can be quite expensive abroad.
80. Look for local offers/discounts/coupons: Log onto sites like Groupon, CupoNation or Amazon to reap local offers and discounts.
81. Skip the souvenir: Souvenirs are almost always overpriced, useless and most often not even produced within the place you buy it from. So look for cheaper or more meaningful items to keep the memory of your trip alive.
82. Research tip etiquette: Find out in advance about tipping in the places you are visiting. The norm there may be much lower than where you come from.
83. Skip the guidebook: It is best to avoid visiting places mentioned in guidebooks when you are out sightseeing. It happens that once it gets mentioned on such books, the prices go up. Instead rely on travel blogs to find offbeat destinations.
84. Make sure you’ve done preventive maintenance to your vehicles: If going on a road trip, make sure you’ve checked the engine, batteries, tires and fuel of your car, before hitting the road, to avoid unfortunate roadblocks and added expenses throughout the trip.
85. Try local delicacies instead of fast food: Although fast-food may be a safer option in terms of taste, make it a point to try out local delicacies and seasonal fruits. This may turn out to be cheaper.
86. Look for lunch menus & all you can eat buffets: In most cities, lunch specials are priced lower than ordering from the menu. Also, all you can eat buffets may prove cheaper if you’re really hungry or have a good appetite.
87. Carry a water bottle and refill it: The sad truth is that you’ll end up paying for water, even if from the tap, in most places around the world. The best way to avoid this is by carrying a water bottle and refilling it whenever possible.
88. Skip the restaurant, make a picnic: Try buying different kinds of food from local markets or stores and making a picnic in a park. This will save you money and also set the ambiance for an enjoyable meal.
89. Skip the mini bar: However tempting it may be, you know that everything in the mini bar is too small and heavily overpriced. Skip it to save money.
90. Make a shopping list: Even while travelling, it helps to make a shopping list before you step out to shop. In this way, you can avoid being carried away and spending excessively. Click here to make a shopping list on Wallet.
91. Skip the guided tour: At most tourist attractions, guided tours are available and are quite expensive. Opt instead for the cheaper catalogs or go online to get free information about the spot.
92. Visit the tourism information center: It’s a good idea to visit the tourist information center. You will get an idea of the special deals and events that are available in the duration of your stay.
93. Know the exchange rate: Have a good idea about the exchange rate, and try to pay by card or in local currency, so that you do not get tricked into paying more at shops.
94. Know your bank fees: Find out how much your bank charges for foreign withdrawals and shopping. Most often, it is cheaper to swipe your card at shops than to withdraw money and pay in cash.
95. Check out volunteering options: Voluntourism has picked up pace in recent years. Try out organizations like Earth Watch and Volunteer Alliance to participate in education and conservation projects around the world. Most projects offer free accommodation and food in their program.
96. Carry photocopies of all important documents: Make sure that you have photocopies of your passport, tickets, itinerary, travel insurance and visas on you. Pack them away from the originals. These can be crucial if you lose something and can save time and money in a stressful situation.
97. Carry passport-sized photographs: You may need this for taking public transport tickets, sim cards, discount cards etc. So keep some handy to save time and money.
98. Spend the change: Most often you will not be able to convert coins of local currency back to your own. So try to spend the coins first and save the notes for later.
99. Shop without a tour guide: If travelling with a tour guide, it’s best not to go shopping with them. It’s likely that they have deals set up with local shop owners and are ripping you off to get their commissions.
100. Be loyal: Be part of loyalty programs and carry them with you when you travel. You can now digitize your loyalty and membership cards on Wallet. Keep them handy and reap discounts and benefits off them.
101. Visit less expensive countries: This is a no-brainer. Of course, you’ll save money if you visit cheaper countries. Here is a list of affordable, yet absolutely stunning destinations.
Phew! So that was a long list.
And, we hope we covered everything!
The next time you travel, try some of these and see if they help. Do you have some tips of your own to share? We would love to hear from you. Till then, bon voyage dear friends!