101 Tips to Help You Travel Cheap
Perhaps this seems like a “well duh” kind of tip but you would be surprised how frequently people dive head long into a trip with virtually no clue of what they are getting into. Depending on the location you are travelling to, the amount of research you should do can vary. Traveling to Orlando and you’re from Atlanta, well, then it may just be a good idea to look into some cheap or free events to attend. Traveling from California to Vietnam? The more you educate yourself, the better time you will have. Google is your friend; scour it before you even start packing.
2. Pick Somewhere Weird
Paris? Sydney? New York City? Of course, everybody wants to go to the sparkling, exciting cities but because of these cities popularity, they can afford to charge an arm and leg for virtually anything from a cup of coffee to a ride on the Metro. So, try some place weird instead! Ask friends, look online, and pick your travel destination from a book or movie you once saw. The world is a big beautiful place and you don’t have to break the bank to see it. Get creative and think outside the box.
3. Be Flexible
Do people call you a control freak? Relate a little too much to Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Vacation? Well, stop it. If you want to enjoy your vacation and save some cash you are going to have to take advantage of situations as they arise and let things go when your plans don’t follow through. Being flexible with your expectations while travelling will be rewarding and you won’t end up spending money you don’t have because you are determined to make something work out when perhaps the universe is telling you to just let go. Just breathe man, chill out and go with the flow.
4. Be Creative
When you are preparing your inexpensive excursion, toss everything you experienced as a kid out the window. You don’t have to pay for a fancy hotel room, instead, why not rent a yurt in the Redwood forest. Don’t waste your day buying plastic trinkets to take home? Go to a park with pencil and paper and draw your own postcards for your friends. You don’t have to eat the overprized airport food, you can bring in your own! Being creative allows you to think up cheap, fun, and exciting things to do while traveling that will stretch your budget way farther.
5. Always be Prepared
This goes hand in hand with tip numero uno: research. And by being prepared that does not mean over packing your suitcase with six different potential outfits for a single day. Being prepared means understanding potential situations that may arise, prioritizing the likelihood of those events, and bringing along tools that may be helpful in case of those circumstances may occur. Travelling some place where it rains a lot? Bring an umbrella instead of having to buy one last second. Things like sewing kits, tape, extra batteries, and snacks are all examples of ways you can bring items along with you that will prevent you from incurring unneeded costs.
6. Want vs. Need
Oh boy, this is one of the hardest things to keep in mind while travelling and in your normal day to day life. While travelling however, this is one of the most effective ways of saving money. Shopping while on vacation does not have to be built into having a good time. Actually, you don’t have to buy a damn thing and you still will have a wonderful time. Remember, that the kitschy knick-knacks you think you will treasure for the rest of your life, are not as valuable as a treasured memory. Save money by avoiding shopping so you can DO more things rather than COLLECT more crap.
Hostels are amazing. They will save you a ton of money and are a great way to meet people while travelling. But let’s say you don’t fancy sleeping in a dorm room with a bunch of strangers? Travelling with your partner and don’t want to sleep in separate rooms? Cool, no worries, MOST hostels have private rooms which essentially are the same as a hotel room. So who cares that you may have to share a bathroom or that the room doesn’t have a TV? You won’t be spending any time there anyway; you’ll be out seeing the sites.
8. Public Transit
If you have never taken public transit before, it can be a little intimidating at first, especially if you are in a foreign country. You have to overcome your fear though and thinking of the money you will save is a great motivator. You will save loads of money and because you will have cheap access to parts of the city you never considered seeing before, you really are getting the most out of your vacation. Additionally, by doing as the locals do, you will be able to soak up some real genuine culture. Stock up on bus/metro/subway maps before you leave and try to get a grip on stops and routes beforehand so you do not have to figure it out all on the spot.
You have two perfectly useful legs and have plenty of time…so why are you renting a car? Most large cities in the world, especially in Europe, are designed for pedestrian use and even if the walk is a little far, just take a quick cab ride rather than renting a car for the entirety of your trip. Walking lets you take in a city up close and personal, find hidden little stores or cafes, and really feel the vibe of a place. Walk whenever you can while travelling, it saves money, the environment and will help burn off some of the decadent food you’ve been downing.
10. Go Alone
There is something exciting about doing “group” activities solo. If you have ever eaten at a restaurant alone or seen a movie alone, you probably know that it can be a little weird at first but somehow ends up being really freeing in the end. So expand upon that idea even further and travelling sans partner works the same way. Not only do you save money because you don’t have to compromise with anybody on food or activities, you have a good chance of making friends while traveling. Buddying up with a local is a GREAT way to save money and depending on if you are single or not, can get you some unexpected perks too.
11. Make No Plans
A good trick to saving some cash is allowing yourself to have a “free day”. By constantly jam-packing your days with activities you forgo the opportunity to accidently stumble into something exciting, new, and of course cheap. Sticking to a budget does not always mean planning out every little aspect out of your trip, by just hitting the pavement on a sunny day you can discover new things and are not forcing yourself to spend money on any one thing in particular.
12. Look for Free
If you go into your holiday expecting to spend lots of money, then you probably will. Have the opposite mind-set and keep an eye out for free! Ask the receptionist at your hostel or hotel if there are free city tours, join a free members group, or scan the Internet for free deals. Often times museums, zoos and other attractions have a “free day” during the week or month and just knowing the right time to visit can save you the price of a ticket.
13. “Pregame” Before Going Out
You do it at home so why wouldn’t you do it while travelling? The age old money saving trick of getting a little tipsy at home before going out. This term is lovingly referred to as, “pregaming” and it will allow you to save some money by spending less at the bar. Extra tip: travel with a wine key so you don’t have to Macgyver the bottle open in your hotel room. Here is this just in case though.
14. Do What Locals Do
Being targeted as a tourist makes you more vulnerable to scams or being pick-pocketed. Depending on where you are visiting, blending in can be harder than it sounds though, but imitating customs and behaviours of locals can help you stay clear from swindlers. Additionally, if you pay attention to where locals are shopping, eating, and doing for fun there is a good chance you will save a pretty penny by steering clear of tourist traps where prices tend to be inflated.
15. Nature is Free
Hooray for parks! Hooray for hiking! Hooray for picnics! You can plan an entire vacation around seeing the beautiful and FREE out-of-doors that will save yourself a boatload of money at the same time. Rather than spend your day looking for an affordable and tasty restaurant, stop by a market to pick up some local produce and take your snacks to a park where you can people watch, take in some nature, and enjoy your inexpensive meal. Take advantage of plazas, benches, and other public common places where you can spend as much time as you please and do not have to worry about the price of admission.
16. Take the Train
The train is just cool. It is peaceful; kind of old fashioned, and lets you really see the landscape in an amazing way. You can make an entire holiday out of riding the rails and zigzag across the US or take advantage of the amazingly cheap train systems of Europe, the Eurorail, and stun yourself at how much dough you will save. This eco-friendly method of travel may take a little bit longer but, who has ever wished their holiday was over faster?
17. Ride Share
So you can’t really hitch hike safely any more which is a bummer but ride sharing is the next best thing and it is really easy. You can go through websites like Craigslist or Ridejoy to find another traveller who is heading your way or design a road trip yourself where you can meet up with fellow riders along the way. Whether you are going near or far, ride shares is a great way to meet new people and save money.
18. Buy Plane Tickets at the Right Time
Not too early, not too late, there is an actual sweet spot to purchasing your airline tickets. Often we think, the earlier the better but this is somewhat of a misconception. By checking a variety sites such as Kayak and Bing Travel you can narrow down the days and times that work best for your budget. This may seem like a time consuming effort but it will feel like striking gold when you are able to nab a ticket for nearly half the cost of what most people are spending.
19. Understand Foreign ATMS
ATMS have fees for withdrawal and these fees can quickly add up. Learn which ATMs where you are travelling are going to have the lowest fees so you can prevent wasting $5 every time you need to get some cash. It is generally a good idea to pull out large sums of money all at once rather than small amounts over a long time. Just avoid keeping those large sums of cash on your person. Even if you can’t stop by your hotel to deposit the large amount of money you just withdrew, keep some on yourself and have your travel partner keep some, that way in a worst case scenario, only some of the money would be gone.
20. Avoid Other Tourists
They are called tourists traps for a reason. Their explicit purpose is to waste your money and take advantage of your assumed ignorance of costs. Avoid areas that are geared towards tourists and you will be less likely to waste your money. It isn’t just about money either though, you have to think of your vacation as an investment and by sticking to the well-travelled, tourists populated sites you are going to be seeing what every joe-schmoe has seen and your investment isn’t worth as much because it is the same as everybody else. Be brave, be unique, do you really want to embarrass yourself by eating at the McDonalds in Paris when you could easily find a beautiful café? Don’t do it, you didn’t plan this vacation out so you could be surrounded by other annoying tourists.
21. Know the Price of Things
A good bottle of wine in Spain shouldn’t cost €30.00. A pint of Guinness in Dublin shouldn’t cost you €7.00. The cost of a steak in Europe may shock you, however, if you are accustom to American prices for similar goods. But how would you know any of this? Do a little research before you leave because knowing the price of things will help you when making purchasing so that you do not accidently end up spending way more than you should. Keep this in mind especially when shopping in areas that geared towards travelers, since often times merchants will take advantage of assumed ignorance.
22. Be Friendly
Save money by being friendly? Huh? This may seem kind of round out about but it really does work. By being polite, courteous and friendly to others you are far more likely to make a good impression on locals as well as avoid being targeted as the “rude tourists” who service peoples may feel more inclined to take advantage of. If you don’t want spit in your soup it is always a good idea to be extra friendly to those who prepare you food, especially if they are bombarded by foreigners who treat them like servants all day. Smiling and being just your normal pleasant self will prevent others from lashing out and they may in fact, give you something a little extra special for being so darn nice.
23. Tell Your Bank You are Travelling
By alerting your bank that you are travelling you will prevent yourself from having your card locked down for suspicious activity and putting a major kink in your travelling plans. Nothing is worse than being stranded in a foreign country with no access to your money. When you call to inform your bank of your travel plans, take that time to inquire about the specific fees they charge for using your debit or credit card with vendors and at certain ATMs.
24. Tell Your Cell Phone Provider You are Travelling
You can accidently rack up some massive roaming fees if you are traveling in a foreign country without knowing it. With a simple call to your cell phone company, they can turn off certain features of your phone so this doesn’t happen. It is quick and easy and will prevent an unwelcome surprise when you get your next bill. 25. Bring a Book Books will save you money while travelling because they give you an excuse. Sit in the café longer, go to the park on a sunny day, enjoy an ambling train ride without getting bored. Just slow down and soak in your holiday and avoid buzzing around throwing your money away on frivolous things! Take a book to a beautiful plaza or garden bench, park yourself on a down, and read for a while—it’s free and relaxing! Oh, and reading is super cool.
26. Don’t Buy Travel Size
Instead of wasting your money on buying new tiny shampoo and lotion that comes in airplane safe size bottle, just put your existing toiletries in empty travel size bottles (which are far less expensive) and reuse them on your next vacation! Or even better yet, you can use old pill bottles or film canisters instead of buying new tiny bottles. Just look around you will be sure to find something you can use. Also, depending on where you stay, you also can bet on the hotel or even hostel having some things, like soap and lotion at the hotel too.
27. Bring Your Camera and Use It
Along with books, cameras provide you with the opportunity to create your own, free adventurous outings. Rather than take an expensive guided tour with a group of other tourists, challenge yourself and your creative skills by exploring the streets with just you and your camera. Whether you are a novice only armed with the camera on your phone or you have invested in a DSLR to capture your memories, collecting photographs is an excellent way remember your journey and share it with friends without spending a dime.
28. Ask Questions
Nobody likes to feel ignorant or out of control but is one the joy of travelling…experiencing things for the first time. In order to really enjoy yourself however, the moment is going to come where you have to swallow your pride and ask a damn question. Once the flood gates have opened, why not go full tilt and ask lots of questions! In your head you may feel stupid or annoying but that is actually far from the truth. As long as you are polite and courteous, locals will actually find it refreshing that a tourist is curious about their culture.
29. Bring a Language Guide
If you plan on traveling to a country where you do not speak the language it is important that you stay in the loop by being able to translate words on the spot. The more educated you are in every facet of your travel the more likely you are to be able to find good deals and avoid being scammed. Locals will be friendlier when they hear you are at least making an attempt, no matter how poor it may be, at speaking their native tongue. Purchase a used phrase book shortly before you depart and make a point of looking up words like “inexpensive” “ lunch special” and “cheap.”
30. Make Connections
So you are staying in a quirky, fun hostel and you find yourself chatting it up with a kid from the UK and you two are getting along more and more each day. You are invited out for drinks but before you say yes, you remind yourself that you barely know this person and that you don’t need to make any new friends. Don’t be shy! Don’t hold back! Make friends and live it up while you are traveling. Two heads are always better than one and you will probably end up saving a bit of cash thanks to the tricks they have learned that you have not, and getting a good friends out of a vacation is a major upgrade from getting a t-shirt.
31. Go Slow
This is hard but if you really want to discover some good hidden gems in a city, it requires a good long look. You cannot observe the important details while travelling at a metaphoric 100 miles per hours. Take a nice long stroll through a part of a city you didn’t plan on visiting and who knows what amazing little café you will discover that ends up being half the cost of the Starbucks you have been shelping to everyday.
32. Avoiding Visa Fees
Visas are unavoidable while traveling which can kind of be a wet blanket, depending on where you are traveling to. Be up to date and educated on what the process is for the country you are travelling to and better yet, unless it’s your LIFE LONG DREAM to visit a certain country, avoid places that require an entry fee for a tourist visa.
33. Don’t Get Mugged
“Easier said than done,” you may be thinking, but unless you are going somewhere exceedingly dangerous, you can easily prevent being mugged. The ever even keeled Rick Steves gives some of the most practical advice on how to avoid being a target. An important thing to keep in mind is that just because you are in a far off, exotic land does not mean that the people you are around are suddenly all evil thieves. Most of them are just like you, albeit they may be poorer than you, they aren’t all chomping at the bit to grab your watch. Also…don’t walk around with your Rolex on!
34. Understand Tipping
Did you know that you are not expected to tip in many countries? Some countries actually take it as a sign of disrespect and so it is a great idea to learn what the customs are for the country you will be spending time in. Don’t get embarrassed at the end of the night when you leave a wad of Euros on the table and your server looks at you like you are out of your mind.
35. Learn about Taxi’s Before Getting in
Depending on where you are traveling, you may suddenly have to totally to change your understanding of what a taxi is. No longer are they defined by big signs and bright paint jobs but are now can be tiny three wheeled Tuk-tuk’s or even just look like regular ol’ cars. Be sure you research what to look for BEFORE getting in what you think is a “taxi”, and then end up being scammed or possibly kidnapped.
36. Shop Small and Light
In reality, who actually cares about souvenirs? Unless you are buying trinkets for six year old there is no real reason to buy junk while traveling, memories and photographs are the best things to take away. Let’s say you absolutely MUST purchase something so rare and unique and you just can’t help it, well, simply keep weight and size in mind. Being slammed with an overweight baggage fee on your way home is not fun. So consider things like tapestries, jewellery, prints, or any small handicraft that is not going to weigh you down when you are out shopping.
37. Pick Airlines without Bag Fees
Yes, it’s real. Your dreams have come true (well sort of). The most well-known of these airlines is Jet Blue but there are other smaller regional companies that have no or much cheaper bag fees in comparison to the larger companies. It just takes a little investigation on your part to find which service near you is going to give you the most bang for your buck.
38. Hotwire and Priceline
When you are told over and over again that something “will save you money” it is easy to become jaded and shrug it off. Hotwire, Priceline, Kayak and other similar websites actually do work and the more of them you use to compare costs the more likely you can find the cheapest rental, hotel, or flight.
39. Check the Weather
Do not assume that it will be sunny in Arizona or Italy. Do not think you can handle the cold of Warsaw with just a sweater. Know what you are getting into when you set out for a stroll. Being suddenly shocked by a rainstorm can leave you desperate enough to purchase an overpriced umbrella on the street corner when your hotel or hostel would have let you borrow one for free. Same thing with heat, don’t get stranded somewhere without your canteen and be forced to buy $5.00 bottle of water because you had no idea it was going to be 105 in the shade.
40. Festivals are Free!
There are thousands of festivals happening globally at any point during the year. Whether they are agriculturally based or religious or just to party, most of them are free and you most certainly can take advantage of that while you are planning your holiday. Investigate specific festivals to discover which seems most interesting to you, do your research, and revel in the fact that you aren’t wasting money in a casino or on a boring cruise ship, but having an authentic, unique, and CHEAP experience. Extra Tip: Look into lesser-known festivals. Carnival or Mardi Gras may technically be free but are so popular that the cities can jack up the price of things during these seasons.
41. Haggle if it is the Norm
Haggling can be really awkward and uncomfortable for the more timid of us, but it is totally normal in many countries. Vendors will take advantage of the fact you don’t know any better or are unwilling to try and trust me, they have no problem watching you waste your money. Smarten up and do some research, ask others what the customs and manners of haggling are. Remember, you get more flies with honey than vinegar so don’t be a jerk just because you realized you can argue the price of a ceramic mushroom down by a few cents.
42. Wear your Heavy Stuff
If you are seriously worried about an over-packed bag and don’t mind being a little warm on the plane ride, layer up baby! Make a point of wearing your heavier shoes, sweaters, and coat(s) before getting onto the plane so you do not have think about the extra weight it will add to your physical luggage. Thankfully, the airlines have yet to put a weight restriction on people.
43. EAT EVERYTHING
Seriously, don’t turn up your nose at food just because it is different, you aren’t a little kid anymore. Trying new, crazy foods is a cheap thrill and you might learn something new about yourself, like that fried scorpions are actually really delicious and a cheap healthy snack. By having an open mind and moving beyond the McDonalds you will learn about the culture in which you are traveling and save yourself some cash. Beggars can’t be choosers as the old saying goes and if you want to see the magical, amazing world you live in but aren’t a millionaire, you can’t be a picky eater too, it just doesn’t work.
No, we are not suggesting you bark at the locals, but if you do desire a SUPER affordable way to see the world, defiantly look in Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms aka WWOOFING. Sign up for an inexpensive membership and be connected with thousands of farms throughout the world where you trade labor for free room and board. Everything from tending bee’s in New Mexico to being a sheepherder in Israel, if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and want to have a unique travel experience, then this is a the best inexpensive travel option for you.
45. Lunch Specials
Lunch is your friend when travelling. Dinner at a restaurant tends to be the most expensive of all the daily meals and in many countries, especially Europe, you will discover that they offer HUGE discounts for lunch specials. Don’t fill up on small little snacks throughout the day because after a while, they start to really hurt your budget and you will be shocked that you spend 30euros just buying small, silly treats. The lunches are big, cheap, and the one meal you should eat out for a day.
46. Don’t Buy Food on Planes/Trains or at Events
Ever notice that when you are “stuck” somewhere that the price for food and beverage sky rockets? We know this isn’t fair but time and time again end up paying $4 for a box of crackers on the plane. All this takes is a little forethought and being a tad sneaky at times. Bring sandwiches, beer, salads, candy, or whatever with you and save yourself a pretty penny. Sidenote: the food on planes/trains is awful. Upgrade and buy some awesome street food to go and chow down while travelling on something way better than lukewarm seafood gumbo.
47. Grocery Stores
First of all…going to a grocery store in another country is SO FUN! Secondly, it saves you a ridiculous amount of money. Rather than eat every meal out, stock up on simple foods at the grocery store and make your own meals. If you have a kitchen where you are staying, great, you can do whatever you want. If you are without a kitchen well then you can make aallllllll the sandwiches you want. Things like local fruits, sliced meats, and deli items are also good options to keep around so when you want to eat you don’t have to spend half of your day’s budget.
48. Create your Gifts
Remember being a little kid and the birthday card you made of macaroni for your parents was their FAVORITE gift ever? Well, why not keep the lovingly handmade gift trend going and rather than buying your bestie a keychain, press some local flowers in a book or do an awesome sketch of people sitting in a café. Get creative with your gift ideas and the fact you took time and put thought into your present will mean that much more to your friends and family.
49. Work while Traveling
This may seem like a pointless endeavor and utter contradiction to some, but to others, this makes sense. Telecommuting and freelancing professionally allows for a lot of people to work from wherever in the world they may be. If you are not one of these lucky few, you can always enquire at your job about part time positions where you could take advantage not having to physically be in the office. Working while travelling allow for much longer stays because you well, you are making money while on vacation. Other examples of working while traveling are being involved with NGO’s or PeaceCore. Organizations like these make it so you can see the world and do some good all at the same time.
50. Know Where You are Staying
One of the absolute first things you should do upon checking into your hotel/hostel is grab one of the convenient little business cards they keep by the front desk and keep it with you. The card comes in handy when you are directing taxi’s or when you are hopelessly wandering in circles looking for home base and you can flash it at a local, hoping they can point you in the right direction. Sometimes taxis will intentionally milk tourists for extra fare by “getting lost” or “not understanding.” Having it written down in the language they know will prevent having your money and time wasted.
51. Learn How to Pack a Suitcase Well
So we understand that packing light is important, but knowing how to pack WELL is just as vital to being a savvy, budget conscious traveler. By learning some quick tricks, such as rolling garments rather than folding and keeping your earrings tidy with a button, you can bring more of what you need and stay organized as well.
52. Get Lost
Generally one tries avoid getting lost while in a foreign city, but sometimes it is just the thing needed to insert some excitement and wonderment back into your vacation. By throwing caution to the wind and tossing away your map, you may just unintentionally discover the coolest little dive bar or charming little park. Many things in life that are both beautiful and cheap are well hidden and the best way to find them, is to let them come to you.
53. Street Food
A food cart in your home town is one thing but seeing the street food in a foreign city can really raise your eyebrows. Don’t fret too much over what it is or the conditions in which is made, literally go with your gut and if something looks tasty and there are lots of people eating it…TRY IT! For many people, street food is where they have most of their meals, especially in Asian countries and it therefore is far less expensive than a restaurant. Put your judgments aside and be daring while saving money at the same time.
54. Go When It’s Slow
You don’t mind the cold? Sweating is no big deal? When you are planning your next travel destination, consider picking a place you would not mind going during the off-season. Places like Las Vegas or Hawaii are so seasonally priced towards tourism that if you research what months are more likely to be slow, the cheaper things in general will be.
55. Go Far on the Bus
Buses may be a less glamour form of travel, but boy oh boy are they inexpensive. Services like BoltBus are incredibly cheap and not that terrible of a way to travel. Make the best of a situation and instead of dreading taking a long bus ride, bring a book, bring a friend, and enjoy the view. Once you arrive at your destination and are able to go out and have way more money to spend doing what you like because you saved by taking the bus, it won’t seem like a bad trade off in the slightest.
56. Get Travelers Insurance
Plan on travelling somewhere and doing some craaazzzyyy stuff once you arrive? You may want to invest in travellers insurance because no matter what, the cost of a simple 50-100 dollar plan is going to be more affordable than a trip to the ER.
57. Bring out Your ID
You do it at home all the time and there is no reason you should not give it a try while traveling. The number of discounts you would be missing if you did not bring out the good ol’ student ID is just ridiculous. Whether it be a museum, a café, or a hostel, there is money just asking to be saved by using your student ID.
58. Use Groupon for Local Deals
Don’t use Groupon just at home—use it while you travel too! There are plenty of amazing deals just waiting for you to take advantage of, wherever you may be and it is just a matter of doing a little digging. Use Groupon to discover new restaurants or shops in your holiday city and save money at the same time.
It’s the little things that count and we all know that bottled water, especially in airports, is a ridiculous expense we are guilty of paying ENTIRELY too much for. That can really add up after a while. Rather than drop the $2.99 for h20, buy a stylish and eco-friendly canteen so you can simply fill it up as you go, instead of constantly buying a new bottle. Additionally, while hoofing it about certain cities you may suddenly realize that they are in short supply of water fountains like they have back home. So, keeping a canteen on you at all times is just a smart idea.
60. Free City Tours
Not all guided tours are created equal and many of them are pretty terrible. But, cheap and or FREE is always good! Depending on the level of hand holding you want you can even download an App to your smartphone, like Offline City Guide and it will point out the sites for you. If you prefer a more human experience, investigate online or with the tourism office where you are visiting to see if there are any free tours available.
61. House Sit
Ever considered house sitting or even a house exchange as a way to travel? Think outside the box and suddenly a whole new world can open up to you. With plenty of websites available for searching for potential places to go, you can swap your services as a house sitter and gain a wonderful new cultural experience in a foreign country. Many of the house exchanges or house sitting services require no money and all you have to worry about is getting your ticket there. Talk about saving money.
62. Know Local Laws
Don’t fancy yourself a night in a Kazakhstan jail? Well don’t snap any pics at the local airports then because it is illegal! That is an example of just one “weird” law an outsider may be completely oblivious of while traveling. If you know the country you are visiting has stricter laws than where you are from, it is a good idea to make a serious point of brushing up on your facts because getting bailed out of a foreign jail does not sound like an exciting, or affordable way to spend part of your holiday.
63. Pack Light
It isn’t just about HOW you pack, it is just as important WHAT you pack. Discouraging your inner impulse to bring three pairs of shoes for a two day trip is just something you have to do if you want to travel on a budget. Overweight luggage fees are SKYROCKETING and you do not want to suddenly dish out $50 to $100 extra bucks just because you couldn’t decide which of the nine books your packed to leave at home.
64. Consult with Friends Who Have Been
It can be hard to admit to friends that you don’t know as much as they do, but when it comes to travelling on a budget you should suck your friends dry for any and all information. They have learned the hard lessons for you already and there is no reason you should not take advantage of their knowledge. More likely than not they are going to know some cool underground spots or even be able to hook you up with a couch to crash on rather they wasting your precious dough on a hotel room.
65. Money Belt
While traveling you may be in situations that you normally wouldn’t encounter in your daily life (that’s kind of the point, right?) Well, thinking logically you should quickly realize that you may be a target in the city you are traveling in because well, people who can afford to travel definitely have more money the poor kids selling gum on the street corner. While riding crowded subways or jostling through bazaars your wallet is at risk if it is just hanging out in your back pocket or in your purse. Use a money belt and keep your precious cash safe and close!
66. Don’t be Paranoid
Many of these tips have to do with your mind set, which may seem like an unrelated aspect of retaining a budget. The two are intrinsically linked however. There is such a thing as overcompensating and many people while travelling, especially to a culturally different location, assume EVERYBODY is out to get them. It’s just not true, people are people no matter where you go on the planet and giving everybody a suspicious glare is only going to isolate yourself. Often times the best deals on goods and food are in the poorer neighborhoods that are less popular and if you want to take advantage of getting some great deals, you are going to have to realize that every kid isn’t a pick pocket and nobody wants to kidnap you.
67. Rule 240
There is some controversy around the mythical, “rule 240” and if it is effective or not. The rule says if you have a cancelled flight for reasons such as mechanical issues or any other non-act-of-god type situation you can evoke rule 240 to the gate agent and they will provide you with some form of compensation. This can be a seat on the next fight out on any airline provider or a hotel room or free meal voucher. Some say this works, some say it only works on some airlines, either way…no harm in trying right?
68. Don’t Ask your Hotel Where to Eat
Just because something is convenient does not mean it is a good idea. Actually, when it comes to saving money while traveling, the convenience side of things often must be sacrificed in order to retain your budget. So when you are investigating where to enjoy a meal, don’t stop at the front desk. As nice and courteous as they may be, hotels will have a deal or contract with other local establishments regarding promotion. They may just be suggesting the place around the corner not because it is good, or inexpensive, but simply because they have to. Follow the locals or even use Apps like Yelp and do your own research.
69. Tourist Discounts
There aren’t actually many circumstances while travelling that being a tourists will save you money, not cost you money. In this case, it is simply a matter of asking. In larger cities if you go to certain retailers and ask if they have “tourists discounts” available, they will actually knock a percentage off your purchase. It is good to keep in mind however, that these discounts are generally only available in larger retail outlets and less likely going to apply in small mom and pop shops.
This handy dandy little website is key if you want to travel and stay some place other than the generic hotel or motel. Because this website hosts a slew of housing options, there are dwellings available in any budget range and if you are willing to get a little crazy you can stay in an igloo, yurt, or tepee for nearly half the cost of staying in a traditional hotel room.
71. Travel as a Family
Know how shopping at Costco saves you a lot of money because you are buying in bulk? Well, this actually applies for vacations as well. If you want to travel on a budget, less does not necessarily mean cheaper and there are many deals available for those travelling in groups. Look for “kids eat free” deals as well as deals at amusement parks and zoos where children may enter at a significantly reduced price.
Like Price and Hotwire, Kayak is going to help you find the best deals throughout the web. Kayak’s specialities seems to be in finding the cheapest airline tickets but the website also features comparison rates for hotels, cars, and all inclusive packages. Before you book be sure that you are covering all bases by thoroughly investigating Kayak and other similar sites.
73. Travel as a Couple
When you hear the word couple, you naturally think of a significant other but that does not always have to be the case. The point of traveling as a couple benefits not only romantic pairs but also friends and travel buddies as well. Being able to split the cost of things is a huge help if you are road tripping or sharing a hotel room. The old saying goes, two heads are better than one and when it comes to travelling on an airtight budget, getting creative with a friend or sweetheart is a major perk.
74. Altoids Survival Kit
Those little metal Altoids boxes always seem too useful to throw away but an actual use for them always seems illusive. Well here is one very handy use for the little mint tins, a travel size survival kit! Now the content of your survival kit is up to you. Anything you feel would be vital in a quick pinch and is going to fit in the kit is the only requirement. A few ideas of items to include: safety pins, tire puncture repair patch, or a mini flashlight, the list is endless. Keep it in your backpack while out hiking or simply walking about and it will surprise you how frequently you turn to it.
Many buffets include the advertisement: “all you can eat” and if you are travelling for cheap, well, this is just a no brainer then. Buffets are not just an American thing, specifically Vegas, they exist throughout many countries and are generally encompass the same philosophy throughout. It probably isn’t going to be the swankiest of dining experiences but you will be able to spoil yourself with options and seconds and thirds of whatever you desire. Read reviews and ask around about which buffets have the tastiest fair so you aren’t stuck eating platefuls of nasty mystery stew.
76. Focus on Few Places
Whenever people say, “I am spending a day in Paris” you can’t help but wonder why even bother? If you want to get the most out of your vacation that you have saved and saved for months for it is best not to spread yourself too thin. Having the desire to see many wonderful sites and cities of course is natural but it means you will barely be able to enjoy them. Too much in too little time makes it is impossible to sniff out the free deals or cheap things to enjoy about the cities. Stay longer in one place and you will have a more relaxing, and less expensive holiday.
Who doesn’t love a road-trip…really? They are an excellent way to see the landscape and an even better way to have some seriously good times with your friends. So the price of gas may be high but if there are a few of you going, splitting up the costs of fuel will make it much easier, this goes the same for hotel rooms too. There are millions of little tips and tricks to getting the most out of your gas tank on and many others as well. Sometimes the greatest adventures are not too far from home and a road-trip is an excellent and inexpensive way to see what is waiting.
78. Couch Surfing
Normally when you hear the word “coach surfing” you think of that smelly dude that crashed in your friend’s living room in college for a month that everybody was sick of after he refused to buy toilet paper. Well…couch surfing has evolved since then and it is a great way to travel and meet people at the same time. Now there are helpful websites such as www.couchsurfing.org where you can browse listings as well as post your own ad as a traveller. Any time you can cut the cost of a hotel out of your budget while travelling, you are going to save a ton of cash and thinking creatively about where to stay while on the road is easier than you might imagine. By staying with locals in the city you are visiting, you will experience a depth to that place that not everybody gets to have…it is a priceless investment.
79. Daily Cash Allowance
This isn’t describing a mental budget that you tally up as you go about your day. This is a tip that works, though it may seem a little harsh. Only bring a certain amount of cash with you when you go out for the night and that way, when the money runs out, you have no option but to call it a quits. Clearly, this isn’t recommended if you are travelling far away from your home base where extra cash may be needed in an emergency, but if you are just going out to the bar or shopping in a market, only keeping a fixed amount of cash will easily prevent you from over spending.
80. Frequent Flyer Miles
Some people debate whether frequent flyer miles are a good investment or not and that really is going to be up to the individual. If you travel a lot for work or know that you have some air travel coming up, it is probably a wise idea to call up your credit card company and start the questioning! There are countless ways to use frequent flyer miles and a lot of little tips and tricks to make the most of these handy little perks. Do your research beforehand to decide which program works best for you and then start racking them up baby!
81. Museum passes
From Chicago to Paris, museum passes are ready and waiting to save you money and time. Many major cities have these passes available for tourists that allow them to enter directly into sites without waiting in epically long queues. On top of that, they include discounts and even free attractions for visitors to attend. Some of the passes are more effective in saving you money than others so it is a good idea to calculate beforehand the benefits of the pass verses regular tickets. Time is money is too though, so if you know the sites you are seeing are generally crammed with people keep in mind how much time a pass can save by letting you cut in line.
82. Entertainment Books
Often times we use coupon or entertainment books in our hometowns as good ways to cut costs at a local department store or restaurant, but have you ever considered purchasing one of these handy little books for the city you will be visiting? Imagine the amount of money you could save if you wanted to go to an amusement park or movie with your family and had those savings available to you while on the road.
83. Stay with a Family
If you desire a cheap full immersion experience for your next holiday, consider staying with a local family! Vacationing means takes on a whole new meaning when you are not only welcomed by your host to live in their home but to dive head first into their culture as well…there really seems like not better way to understand a country. The cost benefits combined with the uniqueness of your home stay adventure will make your travelling experience seriously special.
84. Be Loyal with Hotels
Hotels HAVE benefits and the more loyal you are to a chain, the more likely you will be able to take advantage of those amazing perks. You don’t really even have to do much other than book with your favorite major hotel line for a few trips and suddenly watch as the thoughtful and money saving offers start rolling in. Sign up for a rewards membership and you will most likely see a free night or two come your way.
The worst part of travelling on a budget is that is seems sticking to a budget is almost impossible. Why even bother? Well, all-inclusive packages are a sure fire way for you to know what you are paying. Generally, we think of these resort stays where meals, rooms, and excursions are prepaid as being SUPER pricy but that is not always the case. When spots don’t get filled, those packages can become seriously discounted and it is just about keeping your eyes open for when the deals are available.
86. Rent an Apartment
If price wasn’t a factor for you weeklong vacation, which would you prefer for a week: a hotel room or an entire apartment? Probably the apartment, right? They have more space, a kitchen, and a more independent vibe that many travellers desire. There are tons of cheap apartments for rent across the globe and all you have to do is check out websites like Airbnb and Homeaway to find the one that fits your budget.
87. Avoid Agents
Travel agents are a thing of the past now that we have the Internet. No longer do you need a special certified individual who has the right connections to book you an inexpensive flight or nice hotel room. Now, the traveller has the power and there is no reason to waste fees on an agent.
If you travel with your laptop, as many many people do, then you should never pay for an international phone call again. They are ridiculously overpriced and there is a program, free to download that will allow you to talk AND EVEN SEE your friends and family back home. Skype is amazing and if you need to talk to those far away while traveling, use this free service. If your family doesn’t have Skype to talk back to you with, you can spend a minimal fee and be able to call them on their cell phones, still saving an arm and a leg on the cost of international roaming charges.
89. Don’t Judge the other Tourists
While traveling you are supposed to have an open mind right? By having this wonderful worldview you are able to see more and do more for less because you are not judging others. Well, this goes the same for fellow tourists. Don’t immediately turn up your nose at a fellow traveler because they recommended a restaurant to you, it could end up being tasty and cheap. Though some tourists may be exasperating at times, don’t become a snob because the reality of the situation is that you and those annoying tourists have the same end goal in mind: have a good time for not too much money.
90. Calling Cards
It is likely that your phone will not work abroad and even if it did, the fees for international calling are very high. Attempting to use a payphone while in a foreign land is not an easy task when everything is written in a different language. So how do you call home without spending too much? Phone cards are an excellent investment for those staying overseas. Research which phone card is right for your needs and how they are used and you are guaranteed to save money when calling back home.
91. Avoid American Food
If you are travelling within the US of A, ignore this tip. However, if you decide to use your trusty passport to see the world then leave the hamburgers and tater tots at home. There is a lot of amazing food out there and you should be trying it while you are travelling. Whether it be something CRAZY or something more middle of the road you should be making a point to broaden your mind by at least trying the food of where you are visiting. Additionally, if you see a restaurant advertising American food they are essentially saying, “give me your money you silly tourist.” The cost of the food will be higher and the quality of the dish most likely will suck.
Have you ever had to buy a bottle of expensive water at a café simply because the sign read, “restroom for customers only”? Well, waste your money no more with this incredibly helpful App called SitorSquat. It maps out for you the nearest public toilet so while you tromping about a city you can make a dash without worrying if you will have to buy something or risk the consequences.
93. Two in One Cities
When you think about it, there are many wonderful cities and sites that are next-door neighbours. Whether it be Miami and Orlando or Paris and Brussels you can plan a vacation around the proximity of other sites and cities you want to see. Not only will you be able to see more but because of the closeness, you can spend less on travel and even hotel stay. Plan your vacation around making day trips to surrounding attractions and if you are in Europe take advantage of the SERIOUSLY cheap short flights provided by many airlines.
94. Fly Small
For some reason people have a tendency to think that because an airline is a smaller company than it must be less safe. This just isn’t true and often times local, smaller airlines provide more comfortable flights and at a fraction of the cost. With major airlines constantly having to cut back on costs, the small companies are able to retain their levels of service and the lower prices for their fares. Research local airlines and you will be stunned that some of these smaller companies provide the same service, for not nearly as much money.
95. Avoid Hidden Costs
Just like airlines that are having to tighten their belts, hotels have begun adding in secret “resort fees” and other miscellaneous charges to hotel bills that seem to baffle most. Taking advantage of the fact you are in a rush to catch a plane, they rely on the fact you don’t have the time to actually analysis the fees on your bill. Some of the fees may be unavoidable but…knowing is half the battle. Ask about charges before you leave and if you really feel that you shouldn’t have to pay there is no reason you shouldn’t say something. Hotels are in fact, in the hospitality industry and want to make you happy and sometimes the squeaky wheel will get the grease.
96. Pet Swap with Friends
Instead of making Fido stay in a kennel, have you considered trying a pet swap before? Leaving your beloved pet at a kennel never feels good, emotionally or financially. Costing upwards of $20 a day to board your pet is a major expenditure when you are vacationing on a budget. There are many affordable pet sitters available or you should consider doing a “pet swap.” Have an animal loving friend? Simply suggest that they take care of your dog or cat while you are away and then the favor will be returned when they next go out of town. It’s a much easier and cheaper, and nicer option than using costly and stressful kennels.
97. Find Hotel Deals
It isn’t just about finding the lowest priced hotel room…there is more. Did you know that many major hotel chains have offers circulating that include free nights? Know that food will take up a chunk of your budget? There are plenty hotels that offer tasty free breakfasts and all you have to do is make sure you find the best deal for you. A good portion of these deals can be found in all-inclusive packages, so do not let the idea of a “package” scare you away by assuming it will be expensive. There are plenty of affordable hotel packages that have some amazing deals wrapped up in them.
Cruises are not just for old people. Cruises are actually becoming more and more popular for a wide demographic because they are lighter on the wallet. You do not have to worry about booking this and that, and finding out where to do this or that. It’s all right there when you are on a cruise which makes them a great way to relax. A wider variety of cruise options are now available from mini-cruise vacations to old fashioned river cruises. With top quality food, spa treatments, and even day care facilities there is no questioning that cruises are one of easiest and most affordable ways to travel and unwind.
Love the outdoors? Why not camp while you travel? Instead of planning out different hotels or hostels to stay at, pack a few extra pieces of equipment and plan you holiday around camping in the great wilderness. Many campsites are free or others may require a minimal deposit on the site, either way, $7 dollars a night versus $200 is a HUGE difference. The great National Parks of America have some of the most beautiful and FREE attractions in the world and all you have to do is show up. If you are craving some serious excitement that is not bound by check in times or train schedules, get out the pup tent and plan on camping as you travel during your next holiday.
100. Travel Where the Dollar is Strong
This is one of the easiest tips to follow because all you have to do is pick a place and the rest is taken care of for you. Exchange rates fluctuate constantly but there are places throughout the globe where the dollar will take you farther and it will stun you how much you can do with how little. You are not limited to far flung, third world countries of the globe either. Locations like Costa Rica, Thailand, or even Iceland are all spots that your buying power will increase dramatically simply because of the difference in currency.
101. Don’t Freak Out Over Your Budget
So you only have a limited amount of money to spend on your vacation but, let’s say you have already arrived. All the hard stuff is out of the way! Booking hostels, figuring out trains and trams and buses, all of that is over. So now that you are on your relaxing, once in a life time holiday don’t have a bad attitude simply because you cannot afford to get that really awesome crystal figure of the Eiffel Tower that would look neat on your mantel. Travelling is about opening your mind and seeing the world, money should have little to do with it. Enjoy yourself, don’t be a miser, but also don’t go crazy with the spending. Everything in moderation right? Sometimes sticking to a budget is about not over thinking your budget.