Travel can be a rather expensive endeavour but with these tips to save money while travelling you’ll be able to make your money go much further. You don’t need to sacrifice exciting adventures and delicious food, instead it’s about being smarter about how and where your hard earned money gets spent. I’d love to hear your tips too!
1. Cook For Yourself
Eating out for three meals a day (plus snacks!) can add up quickly, so finding a way to cook for yourself for at least some of your meals is a simple and easy way to save a whole lot of cash. This might be just buying some fresh produce to make sandwiches for lunch, getting some fruit or nuts to carry for snacks or picking up some eggs for breakfast. You don’t have to miss out on the exciting local foods either, exploring supermarkets and markets in foreign places is always super interesting (to me at least!) and you can always choose local alternatives to things you would buy at home. Staying somewhere with a kitchen is definitely helpful too!
2. Book In Advance
Whilst it can be possible to get good last minute rates on flights or accommodation if you’re travelling in off-peak times, most of the time booking in advance will give you both cheaper options as well as much more choice. For some things like long distance train travel, booking in advance can save you a lot of money – on this current trip I am taking an overnight train and by booking when it first opened (60 days prior to travel) it cost me a fraction of the ‘standard’ ticket price, with prices rising as it gets closer to the travel date.
3. Travel Like A Local
When you arrive at your destination the cheapest way to get around and explore the location is to travel exactly like a local would. This means relying on walking and public transport, and maybe even hiring a bike, and avoiding things like taxis as much as possible. Not only will it save you a lot of money but will allow you to see parts of the city you otherwise might have whizzed past in a car. Sure, you might get lost, but often that’s when you find some of the most interesting places!
4. Try Alternative Accommodation
Nowadays there are so many alternative accommodation options out there that can save you a whole lotta money when compared to your standard hotels, so they are definitely worth exploring. I’m staying mainly at Airbnbs on this trip which not only worked out to be heaps cheaper than hotel rooms, but also come with things like a kitchen and washing machine, saving me even more money along the way. Other options include Couchsurfing, Home Exchange and even WWOOFing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms).
5. Look For Discounts
Lots of cities do discounted or free entry days to their museums and galleries each month that are an easy way to save yourself some money whilst still getting to see all the sights. City passes can also be useful if they include places you were hoping to visit anyway, and often include discounted public transport travel too. I always recommend the Museumkaart to people visiting Amsterdam as a cheaper way to go to that city’s amazing museums, and similarly the Paris Pass and London Pass can save you a lot of money if you plan on visiting a few monuments, galleries or museums in each city. Look out for student discounts too if you happen to have a valid student card.
6. Eat Where The Locals Eat
When you’re planning a meal out try and avoid any heavy touristy areas as the prices are likely to be much more expensive, and the quality not always as good. Instead ask around or check online for the neighbourhoods where the locals eat, and follow your nose there instead! You’re likely to get much more authentic food at a fraction of the price, and might even meet some friendly locals along the way too!
7. Spend Time In Fewer Places
The two most expensive elements of any trip tend to be the travel between places and the accommodation, so by spending time in fewer places you’ll reduce the amount of travel you’ll be doing, saving lots of money in the process. It also allows you to really explore the places you’re visiting, and some accommodation even gives you a discount for staying longer, saving you even more money! You tend to lose a lot of time moving between places too, what with the checking out and checking in of accommodation, getting to and from the airport or train station, sitting around and waiting for departure times, not to mention the actual travel – I’d much prefer to go to less places and avoid all that when I can!
8. Be Flexible
If you can be a bit flexible on your travel dates then you can save yourself quite a bit of money while travelling, as certain times of the day and days of the week are much cheaper for flights and accommodation. Tuesday and Wednesday are best for flights, particularly long haul international flights, and Sunday night is often best for accommodation, so playing around with when you can go places is a great starting point. For me on this trip, by flying out of Dublin to Berlin early on a Monday morning instead of the Sunday night saved me over $150, even with the extra night of accommodation I had to book. Well worth being flexible for as now I can spend that money on something way more interesting!
9. Get A Local SIM
If you’re anticipating needing to make local calls or texts while travelling then picking yourself up a local SIM card is definitely a money saving idea. You can usually find a pre-paid version that includes calls, SMS and even data for a fraction of the price of using your own phone. Making use of free wifi to both jump online but also make calls and send messages (through apps) will also save you a lot of money, and thankfully it is generally easy to find in much of the world these days.
If you are using your own SIM then be sure to switch off data roaming to avoid a ginormous bill upon your return – roaming fees for data usage tend to be scarily high and many of our apps use data in the background if we’re not careful, and no one wants to come home to that!
10. Sleep While Travelling
If you have some long distance travel to do then try and plan at least some of them as overnight trips to allow you to combine both your travel and accommodation costs into one! I’ve caught a few overnight trains in Europe in the past (including one from Berlin to Budapest this trip) and if you book them in advance you can get yourself a proper bed in a cabin for a fairly reasonable price and whilst it might not be the most comfortable sleep you’ll ever have, you arrive at your destination with the whole day ahead of you and some extra money in your pocket.