You don’t have to be rich to travel. Those words ring hollow in the ears of many but it is actually true. If it wasn’t, people like me would not be able to travel the world. That being said, it’s never a bad idea to know ways to save money here and there; ways to make your money go further so you may travel further, as a result. It never hurt anyone to know some simple money saving travel tips.
Simple Money Saving Travel Tips for Flights
Travel at the Cheapest Times
Airlines know when the most popular travel times of the year are. They know when the schools are on holiday and when most families are going to be embarking on their annual vacation. Whenever this time of year rolls around, flight prices soar (pun intended) and you have to cough up twice as much as you would at a quieter period (at least). My advice… don’t travel at the peak times of the year. Instead, be more flexible with the dates you can travel on.
Search for Flights Everywhere
This can mean one of two things…
- Be flexible with regard to your destination, as well as when you travel. There will always be amazing deals on for certain travel destinations. If you keep an open mind with regard to where you travel to, you will inevitably find more of these deals and end up saving yourself a bunch of money in the process.
- Search for flights in every single flight search engine. Stick to using the search engines that have no affiliation with any airline in particular as to avoid any biases. Here are the ones I recommend:
(Full disclosure: I am an affiliate of Cheap Flights which means if you book a flight with them via the link on this page, I’ll get a small kickback as a result. This comes at no additional cost to you and it allows me to keep the site going as well as keep me alive! Mad respect to all those who support the blog! Cheers.)
Book Indirect Flights
Flying direct – while more convenient – often comes at a loftier price as opposed to having a layover in another country en-route. This alternative does involve more travel time, but will save you a fair bit of money and, if you plan it right, you may have a long enough layover for you to be able to leave the airport and experience the city you have stopped in (even if it’s only for a few hours).
Additionally, you could also look into maybe flying into a different airport than the one you were initially looking at. Flying into smaller airports is another way to save extra money, even if it would involve you then taking a bus or a train.
The Ultimate Flight Hack
This is one of the money saving travel tips that not many people think of or they just think it’s impossible. This is the art of hacking the baggage fees system. Want to know how to never pay airline baggage fees ever again? The answer is actually pretty simple…
Travel with hand luggage and nothing more! Sound crazy? Well, with the right knowledge, plus a little creativity, it can actually become pretty straightforward. When you travel – many “overpackers” can attest to this – you realise how little you actually need to bring with you. We tell ourselves that we need to bring suitcases and bags full of stuff (especially if we’re travelling for an extended period of time) whereas, in actuality, a single backpack is often more than enough. If you want to give this a shot (or if you don’t believe me and want to see where this madness comes from), check out this post (from my other travel blog, Gaijin Crew) and download the free PDF guide to travelling the world with nothing but a backpack and never paying baggage fees again.
Now, obviously, there will be a couple of exceptions to this rule. The main one being skiers and snowboarders. This is the only time I personally travel with more than just my hand luggage.
Bring Your Own Food on Board
As long as it’s not liquid (i.e. soup or houmous or something) it will be allowed through airport security. This will be far cheaper than buying your drinks and snacks from duty-free or on the actual flight itself.
Weigh Your Luggage at Home
Always weigh your bags at home, before you head to the airport. None of us wants to be met at the check-in desk with unexpected, additional fees because our bags exceed certain limits. It’s best to just air on the side of caution in this scenario. You can get a decent, accurate set of luggage scales on the cheap. Since this should save you from ever having to pay any unexpected, additional fees, I’d say it’s a worthwhile investment.
Sign Up for Newsletters
Are you open to travelling to any number of destinations? Do you want to find the cheapest possible flights (and sometimes hotels) that are out there? Then you’ve got to get signed up for these email newsletters. Every so often, you will receive special offers, discounted trips and dirt cheap flights, straight to your inbox. Here’s a couple of examples:
- 3 nights staying in an apartment in Iceland for £190.50 per person (flights and apartment included).
- Return flight from Edinburgh to Madrid: £86
There are three of these newsletters I would definitely recommend signing up for:
Join a Frequent Flier Program
If you fly quite regularly, you may as well get rewarded for doing so. By flying with the same airline (or group of airlines) you could be earning frequent flier miles which can lead to free flights, upgrades and other perks on future trips.
Simple Money Saving Travel Tips on Accommodation
Hostels over Hotels
There are many reasons to pick staying in a hostel over a generic hotel. The main one of these reasons being the price. Usually a backpacker’s go-to accommodation option, hostels are usually the best way to meet fellow travellers, make new friends and grow your travel network. Even for those who feel they need more privacy than what a hostel offers, be sure to check if they offer private rooms. Many hostels do offer this, and at a far lower price than a typical hotel room.
Stay with Locals
What’s better than cheap accommodation? Free accommodation. If you didn’t know already, this is not only possible but popular and getting more so. Being able to stay with a local for free is an awesome opportunity for so many reasons, other than the price (or lack of it). It’s a far more culturally authentic experience. Your local host will often want to show you around the area, essentially meaning you have your very own tour guide who knows the area better than any guidebook. Not to mention, this is another great way to meet new people and expand your travel network.
By far the best, and the most popular site that provides this kind of accommodation is Couchsurfing. They set you up with a profile and a database full of potential hosts in the destination of your choice.
Booking accommodation often proves to be one of the biggest travel expenses. By “Couchsurfing”, you are totally cutting that expense out of your budget!
(Full disclosure: I am an affiliate of Couchsurfing which means if you sign up via the link on this page, I’ll get a small kickback as a result. This comes at no additional cost to you and it allows me to keep the site going as well as keep me alive! Mad respect to all those who support the blog! Cheers.)
Sign Up for Agoda
If you are set on staying in hotels, Agoda is one of the best sites to use. By signing up and becoming a member, you will gain access to tons of insane discounts. You’ll often be able to upgrade and stay in a four or five-star hotel for the price of a two star one.
Make the Most of Hotel Freebies
One thing lots of hotels are good at is providing you with great, free amenities like toiletries and slippers for example. Make the most of these freebies as they can save you some extra money and packing space in the long run.
Simple Money Saving Travel Tips for Your Destination
Download the Best Travel Apps
With the rise of technology in recent years, your smartphone can now be an invaluable piece of travel gear. There are apps on the market for just about any situation and use from maps to hotel finders and even apps to help you learn another language.
Eat Like a Local
First off, if you’re not up for trying any new cuisines, you’re missing out on a major part of the travel experience. Also, eating the local food will be a lot easier on your wallet as opposed to eating in more well-known, expensive establishments and chain restaurants. When you travel to a different country, you want to get a taste of their culture (see what I did there?) and one of the best ways to do that is through eating their food.
Related: How to Eat Cheap on the Road
Eat Out for Lunch, Not Dinner
If you do plan on eating at a fancier, more expensive restaurant, consider going for lunch instead of dinner as they will likely bump their prices up in the evening time. Some restaurants will even have special offers on at lunchtime. Make the most of these.
Have Plenty of Street Food
Ah, street food! It often turns out to be the tastiest food of any trip and it really says a lot about the country’s food culture as a whole. Simple, cheap and delicious! Plus, in places famous for their street food, you will never be short of places to get it.
Related: The Best Street Food in the World
Cook When You Can be Bothered
You may not want to eat out every single night and I wouldn’t advise that you do so. There’s no getting around the fact that eating out is more expensive than cooking for yourself so every now and then, head to the local supermarket and stock up on some stuff. I actually quite enjoy going to supermarkets in other countries because it’s another way to see what the locals eat.
If you’re staying in a hostel, apartment or if you’re Couchsurfing, you will usually have access to a kitchen. If not, there’s nothing wrong with having instant noodles a few times on your trip (this is probably the cheapest meal you can have).
This one will probably only apply to those who intend to travel for an extended period of time. There’s nothing stopping you from getting a job as you travel with the intent of extending your trip (as long as you have the correct visa). I know tons of people that have done this and it’s an absolute no-brainer if you’re intending on travelling for as long as possible.
Here are some jobs travellers often get:
- English teacher – Easiest to get work as an English teacher in Asian countries. It helps to have a teaching qualification (like TEFL) but is not always a necessity.
- Hostel worker – You can often receive free accommodation as a result of this.
- Bar work
- Farm work
- Seasonal work – When I went out to Japan for a year, I worked as a ski instructor for the winter.
Become a Digital Nomad
What if you want to work and earn money during your travels, but you can’t because you don’t have the right visa or you don’t want that kind of job? Become a digital nomad.
A digital nomad is someone who works online, thus, allowing them to work from anywhere in the world. I am a digital nomad, for example. In fact, blogging and freelance writing are two of the most common jobs that digital nomads have. Here’s a full list:
- Freelance writer
- Freelance editor
- Online tutor
- Web designer
For more details on these jobs, read this post.
Lots of people love the job they’re currently doing but it doesn’t coincide with this nomadic, location independent lifestyle. However, more and more people are starting to arrange remote working opportunities with their place of employment, allowing them to live a nomadic lifestyle while still remaining at the job they know and love. If you fall into this group of people and want to do this to your career and life, I recommend reading “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss. This bestselling book dives deep into what is required and what it takes to make the leap towards total location independence.
Haggle (When Appropriate)
In some cultures and situations, it is socially acceptable to haggle and negotiate. Other times, it’s not. Your first job is to know when it’s okay to break out your negotiating skills and when you should keep them holstered.
Your second job is to become a slick negotiator. This can lead to much money saved and some inevitable bargains!
Research Getting a Travel Pass
Lots of countries and particular cities offer passes to tourists and travellers. These passes will often provide discounts on transportation and certain sights and activities in the area. One of the better-known examples is the “iAmsterdam” pass for visiting Amsterdam (duh).
Do All the Free Stuff
Even if you’re a bit strap for cash, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Do your research before you set off on all of the cool free things there are to do in the area. You’ll easily be able to schedule in one or two free days where you spend next to no money but still, manage to have an awesome time.
Walk as Much as Possible
Unless you’ve got one of the tourist transport passes, getting around town is going to cost you money. Try walking as much as possible to save you these additional costs. I also find that walking is one of the more enjoyable ways to properly “see” a place. You notice more when you walk than you do if you’re whizzing by on a bus or in a taxi.
Learn About the Tipping Culture
More research required!
News flash! Some countries tip, some don’t. Some tip more than others, some tip less. Find out the tipping rules before you leave. That way, you know how much you’re expected to pay (if at all) so you don’t go throwing away money unnecessarily and you avoid offending anyone. It’s a win-win and everyone’s happy.
5 Bonus Money Saving Travel Tips
Invest in the Right Travel Gear
Although in the short run, this is technically an expense, trust me, you will save a whole lot more in the long run as a result! Getting the right gear for your travels is one of the most important things and can separate an awesome trip from a nightmare one. The right travel gear will serve you better and last you longer than cheaper and poorer quality stuff.
Spend More Time in Fewer Places
Travel isn’t a race. No one gets points for finishing first or by visiting more places than another person. Just take your time. Slow down and fully appreciate and enjoy the experience. You don’t need to see every possible sight and attraction in as many countries as possible. That’s not what travelling is about. Instead, appreciate the places you do visit. Get to know them better. As a result, you will have a deeper connection with the places you visit and you’ll also save a lot of money as you’ll be moving around less.
Make a Big Deal About Special Occasions
If you’re out for a meal on your birthday, make a point to tell this to the waiter. You might get a free dessert or a complimentary bottle of champagne as a result. Do the same when you’re checking into a hotel or on to a flight. My girlfriend once managed to get upgraded to first class on a flight to Hawaii for free, just because the people at the check-in desk noticed it was her birthday (lucky)!
Pack Light, Travel Smart
To travel light is to travel smart. This is so true. Everyone who has drastically overpacked before knows the pain and suffering one goes through when hauling around an oversized, overflowing backpack or suitcase. It’s a nightmare to get around, you have so much stuff you inevitably lose something and it’s just an all-around disaster.
However, as I went over before, there is a solution to this problem and it’s easier than you would first believe. Travelling ultra-light just takes some self-discipline, brutal honesty and some creative packing hacks.
Related: 18 Essential Travel Packing Tips
The last – and possibly the most important – thing on this list is to budget. If you don’t keep track of how much your trip is going to cost and how much money you have to spend, you won’t be travelling for very long. Or, you may run out of money in the middle of your trip which would put you in a rather difficult situation. Best avoid that then.
The keys to budgeting for your trip are to research your destination and to keep on top of everything you spend as well as any additional money you make (if you’re becoming a digital nomad or something).
A good resource to use to help you budget for a trip is budgetyourtrip.com. This shows you typical living costs in pretty much any destination, worldwide.
Try and keep these simple money saving travel tips in mind next time you’re preparing for a trip. Travel shouldn’t have to be an expensive, stress-inducing process. It should be simple, cheap stress-free and above all else, enjoyable. That’s why we travel, isn’t it?