- 1 How To Save Money When Traveling
- 1.1 Money Saving Tips
- 1.1.1 #1 Make A Budget
- 1.1.2 #2 Keep Track Of All Spendings
- 1.1.3 #3 Use Credit Cards Without Foreign Transaction Fees, and ATM Cards Without Withdrawal Fees
- 1.1.4 #4 Don’t Exchange Money
- 1.1.5 #5 Stay At A Hostel Or Airbnb
- 1.1.6 #6 Buy Groceries and Cook Your Own Meals
- 1.1.7 #7 Take Public Transportation
- 1.1.8 #8 Take An Overnight Train or Bus
- 1.1.9 #9 Use Couchsurfing and BlaBlaCar
- 1.1.10 #10 Use A Foreign SIM Card
- 1.1.11 #11 Travel During Low Season
- 1.1.12 #12 Avoid Checked In Luggage
- 1.1.13 #13 Download Google Trips
- 1.2 Final Thoughts
- 1.1 Money Saving Tips
How To Save Money When Traveling
There’s nothing wrong with spending lots of money when you’re traveling. If you’ve been working hard all year, saving up money at home, and now you’re finally on the trip of your dreams, go ahead and do whatever you want! Treat yourself to that fancy restaurant, and stay at the 5-star hotel. You deserve it! There’s nothing better than spoiling yourself every once in awhile, and no better time than when you’re traveling. On the other hand, saving money when traveling is great too, especially if you’re traveling for a longer period of time.
Currently, I’m on a five month long Europe trip, and while I have enough money saved up, I don’t want to spend all of it, so I’ve been careful and gained lots of experiences and tips on how to save money when traveling, and I want to share them with you here.
Money Saving Tips
#1 Make A Budget
If you’re going to save money, you need to know how much money you’re willing to spend. The best way to go about this is to do some travel research. Depending on where you are going, look up about how much the housing will cost, how much it would cost to eat out versus cooking, how much tours and activities cost, and how much transportation will be. Once you have an idea, you can estimate how much you would spend a day, while also being able to do the things you want to do during your travels. I think it’s best to have a daily estimate, how much you plan to spend each day on average.
On my current trip, I’m traveling with my girlfriend, and we estimated that for the first few weeks, we’d be spending about 100 euros a day on average, not including airplane and bus tickets between cities. We looked up Airbnbs, how much groceries would cost, metro ticket prices, and also prices for tours and tourist sites entrance tickets. On average, an Airbnb would cost about 30 euros, which left us with 70 euros to spend on groceries and tourist activities. Now we wouldn’t be spending exactly 100 euros every day, some days we’d spend more depending on what activities we would do, or if we ate out at a restaurant, and other days we’d spend less. But on average, we’d spend about a bit over 100 euros a day.
#2 Keep Track Of All Spendings
Once you have a budget, you need to be able to stick with it. And in order to stick with it, you need to record all your spendings! Don’t try to just do it in your head, you’ll never remember it, and try to record your spendings in the moment, otherwise you might forget to record it later. You could do this however you want, old school with a pen and notepad, with the notes application on your smartphone, or even an application that’s designed for tracking expenses. The most important part is to just remember to do it.
I personally use the Notes application on my iPhone. Each day, I create a new line with the current date, and then each line below, every time I spend, I write the amount I spent, and the name of whatever I spent the money on, on a new line. At the end of the day, I add it all up to see how much I spent. And every week or so, I’ll check the average of my spendings to see if I’m adhering to the budget, and adjust my future spendings depending on whether or not I am on track to meet my budget.
Keeping track of everything you spend also helps you spend less, and make smarter decisions. People tend to underestimate how much money they spend. A lot of times, you don’t realize how much money you’re spending. A water bottle here, an ice cream there, another bottle of water, a souvenir, and you’re already at $10, but you don’t even realize it. When you first start recording your purchases, you’ll be shocked at how much money you’re actually spending, and you’ll realize why your money always seems to disappear.
#3 Use Credit Cards Without Foreign Transaction Fees, and ATM Cards Without Withdrawal Fees
Make sure to bring a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. This fee is usually between 1-3%, so it definitely adds up if you use one of these cards. One card I recommend is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, which has no foreign transaction fees, and great perks for traveling such as 2x points on travel and dining.
As for ATM cards with withdrawal fees, I use Charles Schwab Bank. This card is great for using when traveling abroad, as well as use at home. I can withdraw with any ATM, and though there is a fee at the time of withdrawal, every month, Schwab Bank rebates me all the fees I accumulated. It’s awesome!
#4 Don’t Exchange Money
ATMs always give you the best exchange rate. Currency exchanges are a business, so they are definitely making money off of you when you exchange currency. You should just withdraw money from your bank account. There is no way you will find a better exchange rate at a currency exchange.
If you use a Schwab Bank Card, you can withdraw foreign currency abroad from any ATM with no withdrawal fee, and the exchange rate you get is always the highest possible.
#5 Stay At A Hostel Or Airbnb
There’s really no reason why you should stay at a hotel. Hotels are usually very expensive, and should be your last option. While they are nice, with daily cleanings, room service, big tv, etc., did you really go traveling to stay in your hotel room? Most of the time, you will only be in your room to sleep, so as long as there is a bed, you shouldn’t be spending too much money on accommodations.
If you’re traveling alone, it’s usually most cost effective to stay at a hostel, as you pay by bed, and hostels are designed for budget travelers. Staying at a hostel is also a great way to meet other people.
If you’re a couple or a family, try getting an Airbnb. Airbnb’s are much cheaper than hotels most of the time, and you can usually get way more perks, such as a kitchen to cook, washing machine and dryer, more rooms, etc. With the price you pay for a 100 dollar hotel room, you can definitely find a luxury Airbnb accommodation.
#6 Buy Groceries and Cook Your Own Meals
This is another big one. While trying foreign dishes is a big part of traveling, you don’t need to eat out every meal. Usually there are a few popular cultural dishes that I make an effort to sample, and for the rest of my meals, I’ll make something simple and cheap to eat. The money you save from cooking your own meals is astonishing! Not to mention healthier as well. Buying food from the grocery store, and cooking your own meals will cut the amount you spend on food by at least half.
It can also save you lots of time, as eating out in restaurants usually take around an hour, where if you make your own sandwich in the morning, and eat it when your out, you won’t lose much time you can spend sightseeing.
Also, find out if the tap water is drinkable, depending on where you visit. If it is, there is no point on spending money on water. Sure, a bottle of water is only 1 or 2 dollars, but it adds up every day, and it’s money you could be spending elsewhere.
#7 Take Public Transportation
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Taking an Uber or Taxi, while usually more convenient and faster, costs a lot more money. It’s also a bit more of a headache to figure out the public transportation system of a city location, especially when you’re visiting multiple places. But the money you save is significant.
Even in the most expensive cities, taking the metro or bus will cost you 5-10 dollars at most, and that’s usually if you’re crossing multiple zones. But a taxi for that same trip would cost you double or triple of what you would pay with public transportation. Also, taking a bus can be like a tour bus, and allows you to ride through the city and see all the sights. If you absolutely have to take a taxi or Uber, maybe when it’s very late at night or early in the morning, choose an Uber. It’s most likely cheaper than taking a taxi.
#8 Take An Overnight Train or Bus
Another way to save money when traveling is to take overnight transportation. If you take an overnight train or bus, you can save on a night’s living accommodations. I’ve done this multiple times, and I’m actually writing this article right now on an overnight bus to Glasgow. Depending on how much you usually pay for a room or hostel bed, the savings can range between ten to hundreds of dollars.
However, this method can be quite exhausting. If you’re a light sleeper, or have difficulty sleeping in uncomfortable situations, it’s going to be a rough night! And you’ll probably be really tired the next day. But hey, at least you saved some money, right?
#9 Use Couchsurfing and BlaBlaCar
These are two applications that can potentially allow you to crash at someone’s house or get a ride in their car for free or really cheap. Couchsurfing is a popular app that allows you to find hosts willing to host you in their homes for free. It’s a good way to meet people, exchange cultures, and save money when traveling!
There’s also a popular application called BlaBlaCar, which is a ridesharing program where people post rides they are giving. Usually these people are going somewhere, and have extra seats in their car, and are willing to let you ride for free or a low price. This can be a lot better than taking a train or bus, and sometimes the route is more direct as well.
However, these two options are less reliable than their conventional counterparts. Sometimes, or even frequently, hosts may cancel for no reason since there is no real money obligation involved.
#10 Use A Foreign SIM Card
If you’re like me and find it difficult to travel without having data on your phone, but don’t want to pay the exorbitant costs that your phone carrier charges for international roaming, get a foreign SIM card.
In all the countries I’ve visited, I’ve been able to find fixed-price SIM cards geared towards tourists. There is usually a certain price you pay for a few gigabytes of data. While these prices vary greatly depending on what country you are in, and what the carrier it is, the prices are most likely better than paying international roaming fees.
#11 Travel During Low Season
Travel during low seasons, which basically means don’t travel during the summer months or December. During these months, prices for flights and housing accommodations will double or triple, since there is much more demand. Tourist attractions are also much more busy, so queues are longer, and some events will be fully booked. If you do plan to travel during high season, make sure to book everything far in advance, otherwise you will be left with the expensive and less desirable options.
#12 Avoid Checked In Luggage
Another great way for how to save money when traveling is to avoid bringing luggage that you need to check in. Some low-cost airlines sell plane tickets that are very cheap, and allow you to save hundreds of dollars each flight. However, these tickets most likely won’t include check in luggage, and if you plan to bring check in luggage, it’ll cost you extra. So all you have to do, is fly with one of these airlines, and pack all of your luggage in a small personal backpack, and a hand carry luggage that fits in those baggage size checkers at the airport. My recommendation is the Osprey Farpoint 70. It’s actually designed to game this system; it’s a travel backpack with a detachable daypack, and the main compartment fits perfectly into one of those airport carry on luggage size checkers. You can read my in depth review of this bag here.
#13 Download Google Trips
My last tip is to check out an app for your phone called Google Trips. A friend recommended me this app, and it’s a great travel tool that lets you search for a city, and then for the city you select, it lists different options such as things to do, day plans, and how to get around the city. It shows you popular places to go, and allows you to save them so they appear on your Google Maps app.
But how does this help you save money? Well, recently, Google added a discount section to this app, and it contains a bunch of links to tour booking websites with discounts automatically included. So when you book a tour through their link, you automatically get up to 20% off on your tour booking! Recently I booked a tour of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, and the tour was 45 euros, but with the discount I got from using this app, I only paid 36 euros! If you are a big fan of taking tours, you will love this feature. I wish I had found out about this sooner, as I had paid full price for a number of tours before learning about this feature.
These are my top tips for how to save money when traveling, and hopefully they help you save money during your travels! If you’ve got some of your own that you’d like to share, please post a comment below. For more of my other travel tips, check out these posts here!
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