Who doesn’t love saving money? It’s probably true for most people that they’d rather spend as little as possible when traveling, while still having an enjoyable experience. Luckily, there are very easy ways to accomplish this. So many of the things we naturally do while traveling are costing us a little more here or there and that really adds up! It’s time to make conscious decisions to spend less while traveling and in the end, we’ll have more money, which means more traveling! It’s a no-brainer!
We’ve gotten very good at saving money during our travels since Jacob is the budgeting master and I’m always on the hunt for good deals and ways to save. We’ve accumulated some great tips to help you save money and travel for cheap!
1. Find Free Activities
This probably seems super obvious, but I don’t think people realize just how many free opportunities there are while sightseeing. For example, most places have free city walking tours that you can take and at the end you can “donate” whatever you thought it was worth in the form of a tip to the guide. You just have to know to look for them. This is a great way to see the city and save on those overpriced hop-on, hop-off bus tours.
Another thing to be aware of is that so many museums have either student discounts or lower priced tickets for young people. In most of Europe, if you’re under 26, you can get huge discounts or free admission. That’s how we managed to go to the Louvre for free!
Also, many places have certain hours when admission is free. The Prado Museum in Madrid, for example is free every evening after 6 p.m. and on Sundays and Holidays from 5-7 p.m. Do a quick search first to see if the places you want to go to have free hours before dishing out unnecessary money for entrance.
2. Book a Room with a Kitchen or a Refrigerator
So many times while traveling, we have been able to utilize a refrigerator and buy groceries to have breakfast in our room before heading out for the day. This really cuts back on our food costs for trips.
Obviously one of the best parts of traveling is trying all kinds of new food. I wouldn’t recommend eating all your meals in your room, but if you can do this at least once a day, you’ll be surprised how much you can save.
Be sure to also bring some snacks or buy them at a local grocery store. This way you can save if you get hungry between meals. Again, something like this should be a balance. Find what works for you so you can fully enjoy yourself and save at the same time!
Some planning will have to go into this one. When you are looking to book where you’ll stay on your trip, decide first what things you plan to do and see while you’re there. If you can find a place that’s affordable within walking distance to all of them, that may be your best bet.
However, if you’re going to be in a large city or the things you plan to do are more spread out, I recommend opting for a place a bit outside the city. The further you go from the center, the cheaper the stay will be.
Then, you can purchase a tourist pass for the public transportation. Just make sure there is a station close by that you can walk to. It may take you some extra time to get into the city every day, but the savings will be worth it in my opinion. We have done this several times while traveling in Europe. Chances are, you will need to buy the tourist pass anyway, so why not use it to save on your stay? This actually brings me to my next point.
4. Use Public Transportation
This one is extremely important if you are traveling to a city or a place that has public transport. When you arrive, go to a subway station and check out the deals for tourist passes. Sometimes there are even booths at the airport that can help you purchase them. We’ve managed to do this in every city we’ve been to. Usually you will get unlimited travel throughout the city for a certain number of days. Sometimes it even comes with additional discounts at restaurants or tourism experiences. Obviously, take advantage of these as well.
Taking Ubers or taxis everywhere you go when traveling is a definite way to rack up the overall cost of your trip. Using the subway or buses is so easy and affordable. Usually you can even enter your destination on your phone’s maps app and it will tell you step by step how to get there.
Sometimes though, I’ve found that smaller cities’ transport systems are not supported on my Apple Maps, so I downloaded another app called Moovit and I’ve been able to use it everywhere. It is also very helpful as it has updated schedules for when trains or busses will arrive and accounts for traffic or any delays in the schedule. This app was so useful to us when we were in Paris and the transport workers were on strike. I highly recommend using this to make your traveling experience a breeze.
5. Look for Alternatives to Flying
While it’s true that sometimes flying in unavoidable, finding different ways to travel, when possible, will save you a ton of cash. Many times when booking trips I’ve found that trains and even busses are by far the cheapest ways to travel. Sure, these methods can take longer to get to your destination, but there’s no denying that they can help you save big time.
Personally, I’ve gotten to the point now where I would much rather take a train somewhere than fly. I believe trains are more comfortable and more enjoyable. You get to see so much more of the place you’re traveling through this way. When on a plane, you mostly just see clouds and while that is cool, it gets old real fast. Then there’s the long lines for security, boarding and then waiting on the runway for upwards of an hour (one time, we actually waited on the plane for two hours before even taking off). Not my cup of tea!
Busses and trains don’t usually have these problems and besides, I firmly believe that the journey to and from is all part of the traveling experience and should be embraced and enjoyed. We’ve had some pretty fun experiences taking busses to Lisbon and London!
6. Be Flexible with Your Dates
There are obviously times when this isn’t possible, but if you can, try to travel during off seasons. You can save hundreds on your flight or transportation by planning your trip during less busy times. Some other pros to this are that there will be less other tourists around and everything else will also be cheaper.
If you don’t have the option to travel during different seasons, it’s also helpful to just be flexible with the days of the week on which you book your flight. Some days are cheaper to fly so it could be worth it to fly on a week day rather than on a weekend. This can still save you a considerable amount of money.
7. Don’t Eat in Tourist Areas
It might seem like a good idea to hop right over to the nearest restaurant after doing some sightseeing. Often times these restaurants will have some fancy looking menu, making you think the food is authentic. This is almost never the case.
When you are in popular tourist areas, like near the Eiffel Tower, all of the restaurants will be expensive in price and cheap in quality. It may take more time and be less convenient, but it’s worth it to walk a few blocks away to find more affordable and authentic places to eat.
8. Be Aware of Foreign Transaction Fees
Many banks these days will charge you a foreign transaction fee for anything you buy that isn’t in US dollars. It’s a good idea to check with your bank before leaving for a trip to see if this is the case with any of your accounts. It may apply to certain accounts and not others.
For example, I have a debit card and a credit card with the same bank and if I use my debit card abroad, I am charged fees, but there are no fees for using my credit card.
The fee is usually a small percentage, but if you’re purchasing everything with that card, those fees can certainly add up. I suggest planning ahead and making sure you either have an account without any fees or else you can apply for a travel credit card to use while you’re on trips.
Let me know your thoughts on these tips! Have you ever tried any of these before or do you have any other money saving hacks? Which ones are you excited to use on your next trip? Comment below!