Top 10 Ways to Save Money While Travelling
So you want to go traveling but you’re not sure you have the funds necessary? Perhaps you’re already on the road and you’ve checked your bank account after weeks of avoiding it? You’ve now realised that you are going to have to cut the trip short or make some significant changes if you want to continue with your travels. Here are some tips that I’ve found to be invaluable during my travels. Traveling doesn’t have to, and nor should it break the bank. Let’s get started. Here are my top 10 ways to save money while travelling (I’ve added 2 bonus tips, so it’s now the top 12 ways)
There are better things to spend your money on while travelling. I’ve met so many people who have had to cut their travels short because they ran out of money. The single biggest thing that will help stretch your hard-earned cash is to limit your alcohol intake.
The way I see it is this: I could drink anywhere, but I can’t swim with Whale Sharks off the coast of Australia anywhere. I can’t go bungee jumping over rivers and canyons or skydive over a volcanic lake anywhere. I can’t even do something simple like a walk through the rice fields in Bali or climbing a mountain in New Zealand. I can’t do any of this if I spend all that extra money on drinks or nights out.
Let’s get the biggest cost out the way: flying. Flights can be expensive. But there’s normally a cheaper option for you. Open your browser *use incognito or private browsing* and open two tabs. Open Skyscanner and then Google Flights on the second. Enter your departure and destination but rather than choosing a date, choose a month. This way you’ll be able to choose the cheapest options and you can plan around this instead.
Better yet, don’t even choose a destination. Set it to search everywhere and find a destination in your budget. This is what I love to do. When we were in Thailand we found that Vietnam was only £30 to fly to and so that’s where we spent the following month.
Travel in the “Low Season”
By avoiding the peak busy seasons you’ll avoid the higher prices in flights, hotels and even activities. Plus you’ll find that it’s more enjoyable visiting places when you don’t have to fight the crowds to see the attractions. Tour experiences will be better with fewer people as you only share the tour with a handful of others rather than a boatload of them. We visited Ha Long Bay in September. The trip was nearly half the price. The boat was half full and the bays were blissfully empty.
I book 90% of our accommodation through booking.com. Due to the number of rooms that I have booked on booking.com, I am now a “genius member” which gets me 10-15% off of each booking. When you’re travelling your accommodation is one of the biggest cost factors and this 10% adds up drastically.
In Vietnam, it was significantly cheaper to book a boat for Ha long Bay through booking.com. This was cheaper than booking direct and that was even after the company offered us their own 10% discount code.
Here are some more accommodation tips to help you save money while travelling.
Plan your room location – make sure you’re within walking distance to where you want to be. The rooms outside of the main tourist spots are often cheaper but you’ve also got to consider transport costs. The cheaper outside of town room can quickly become equally if not more expensive if you’re in a place with limited transport options.
Book a room with a free breakfast. That’s a meal a day saved.
You also need to remember that your room doesn’t need to be the nicest luxurious place because you’re only going to sleep there. I always choose the cheaper places, so long as the reviews aren’t nightmarish.
Avoid your home sim card’s roaming fees. Pick up a local sim in the country you’re visiting. Don’t go to an official sim store, and definitely avoid the airport sims. Those have marked up prices just for tourists. The roadside ones have fared us better. Just be wary to make sure it’s at least somewhat official and will last more than a few days.
Just don’t buy stuff. By practising minimalism you become a more conscious consumer. Those market trinkets and souvenirs will quickly lose their worth. Focus on experiences over possessions. I like to think to myself – “Do I really want this? Will this money be better spent another way?”
Track Your Spending
One thing I like to do is withdraw the amount that I am budgeting myself for the week. This way I have a constant reminder of how much I have left for the week. When you pay for everything by card it’s easy to forget about how much you’re actually spending because you can’t see the physical amount reducing. Similarly, by making regular smaller withdrawals, you’re disconnecting from the larger sum that you’re spending.
This ties in nicely to my next point. Use a no-fees travel card. If you’re English you can use Monzo, Revolut, and Starling as travel cards. The first two have fee-free overseas ATM withdrawals up to £200 and the latter doesn’t have a limit at all. These cards all have apps that also give you a notification with every transaction. This makes it extremely easy to track those online purchases.
Use a Transport App
Check to see if the country you’re visiting has a transport app similar to Uber. These give you prices in advance and you don’t have to deal with any “taxi mafia” who don’t use the meter and charge outrageous prices. In much of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia there is an app called Grab. It is seriously a game-changer.
It’s not easy to organise these from airports though. For that, I recommend searching beforehand if the airport operates a shuttle bus. More often though, I book a private transfer to be waiting when I arrive. This is more expensive than the bus but it helps you avoid the taxis who charge overpriced fixed rates. It also means that you can get to your accommodation much quicker. I use Klook when I’m in South East Asia.
Don’t Dine Out For Every Meal
This is especially true in Western destinations. It might be manageable in South East Asia where street food costs £1. But in places like Europe, New Zealand and Australia you need to be “eating in” if you want to save money.
I don’t think you need to live off of instant noodles but I do think that food costs are something that you need to watch out for while travelling.
Think Like a Local
Just because it’s cheap for you, doesn’t mean that it is worth the price in the country that you are in. For food, you shouldn’t be paying Western prices in a country where you can find meals for a fraction of the price. The same goes for purchases at markets, the first price is never the price you should pay.
If You Can, Fix it Yourself!
When we were in Australia we had a car. In order to sell it, we had to fix a shattered headlight. I went to a mechanics and he said that he could source a replacement for $120AUD, and charge another $120 to fit it. I said thanks, but no thanks.
Instead, I found a replacement online for $90 and fixed it myself in a deserted carpark with a YouTube video and a spoon acting as my flat head screwdriver. All it cost me was a few hours of my time and I learnt a new skill in the process.
Most of us have adopted the mentality where if something breaks we will just replace it. A lot of the times we could fix it for a fraction of the price or with just a bit of time. My girlfriend carries a little sewing kit with her and she’ll sew up any holes or rips we get in our clothes rather than buying new ones.
I cracked my camera screen, and the repair quote was horrendous. Instead, I found a replacement screen on eBay and again, a YouTube video and 20 minutes of my time later I fixed it myself.
Find a Travel Partner
Travelling with someone splits the cost of transport and rooms in half. It also means that you have someone to travel with, and so you don’t feel the need to do every organised hostel night out to meet people.
Choose wisely though, remember that you’re going to be with this person 24/7. The last thing you need is someone who wants to do completely different things to you. That is a conflict waiting to happen. Travelling can make or break a friendship or a relationship. Either way it is a wonderful way of truly getting to know someone.
Lastly, sunscreen is always cheaper at home.