There’s no doubt about it, travelling can be expensive, for first time travellers it’s easy to underestimate costs and blow your budget.
Many people focus just on finding a cheap flight, but that’s not the only way to save money on travel.
As a budget travel expert, I prefer to focus on things that are within my control. Travelling is a life experience and sometimes the experiences don’t cost you anything.
Labour Day may have marked the unofficial end of the summer, but it’s the start of low season when it comes to travel, so expect to find lower prices on flights and hotels.
Flying off peak isn’t the only way to save big, try these money saving ideas on your next trip.
Save money on travel before departing
Have a budget: Without a proper budget in place you run the risk of blowing your budget before even taking off. I recommend setting a yearly budget and then saving for it on a monthly basis; this way you know how much you have to work with and you can plan accordingly.
Does that vacation you want to take go over your budget? If so change your destination or look for other ways to save. Obviously taking a vacation on credit is out of the question so set a budget and stick to it.
Try Google Flights: All sites pretty much offer the same price these days, so I recommend using a travel aggregator to save money on travel. Google Flights is your best option here since they list every available flight path and the lowest price associated with it.
Stay with Airbnb: Airbnb is a popular hotel alternative that allows travellers to rent directly from the owner. This option isn’t just for budget travellers looking for a cheap room; families or groups of 3+ can rent entire apartments or houses for a fraction of the cost of a hotel.
If you want a more detailed breakdown on how to save money with Airbnb you can check out my post: Save big with Airbnb, what you need to know
Visit friends and family: If you have friends or family abroad, and they’re generous enough to invite you over then you need to go now! Do not wait. Nothing beats a free stay, so take advantage of these rare opportunities when they present themselves.
Save money while on the ground
Get cash at ATM’s: Although you’ll need to pay 2.5% mark exchange and possibly a small fee when using ATM’s, they still offer the best value when getting currency abroad. Banks usually charge closer to 10% when exchanging money, and despite their advertisements; travellers cheques are not widely accepted.
Use credit: Sounds odd, but one of the best money saving ideas is to use credit. Most credit cards charge a 2.5% fee when you charge a foreign currency to it. You can avoid this by using a credit card that has no foreign exchange fees, just remember to pay your bill in full and on time.
Haggle: If you plan on shopping at markets, especially the ones that cater to tourists then you should be prepared to haggle for a good price. It’s practically a tradition if not a custom to go back and forth on prices with vendors. That being said, all the famous tourist markets around the world are usually huge rip-offs to begin with; you’re better off going to the smaller markets where locals like to shop.
Travel like a local
Free attractions: Every city in the world has free attractions you can visit, so take the time to research before heading on your adventure. If you need some inspiration try checking out Tripadvisor.ca where they list the most popular attractions in every city. Remember it doesn’t have to be a physical attraction; you can travel like a local just by exploring a trendy neighbourhood.
Eat street food: Way too often do I see tourists head to the international fast food chains instead of trying out local foods. This is a huge mistake, if you’re visiting another culture you need to try their cuisine; the best place to do this is at food stalls on the street. Not only are you guaranteed a local experience but street food is always incredible cheap compared to back home.
One tip, avoid any vendors where there is an obvious amount of foreigners in line. Go for the vendors which have mainly locals in line, if you don’t know how to order just point at what others are eating, this is a guaranteed meal to remember.
Use public transportation: Taxis can be crazy expensive so try to use public transportation when you can. Subways are easy to use; generally speaking you just head in the direction of the last stop of the line. I recommend printing a map of the metro before you depart and be sure to research if there is any kind of unlimited transit passes that would benefit you.
Some cities offer an attractions / transportation pass but it doesn’t always offer the best value, so just check out what is included and decide for yourself if it is worthwhile.
It’s easy to save money on travel when you know what to look out for. So get out that passport and prepare for your next adventure.
Do you have any money saving ideas for travel? If so I’d love to hear them.
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