A Christmas Bonanza of 17 Travel Money Saving Tips
In the spirit of Christmas, here is a bumper travel money saving tips post to help any ‘addicted travellers’ support their obsession.
Are you travel obsessed?
Do you have that fatal affliction which has you continually surfing the web seeking out bargains, checking flight prices, lusting over jaw dropping infinity pools on a glorious white sandy beach and generally giving your credit card a pounding (make sure it is one that earns you airline reward points by the way, so at least you may be able to fly for less, or better yet upgrade to a more luxurious mode of travel)?
If so, then I feel your pain. No sooner do I jump off a flight, then I have to check my mental calendar to ensure I have at least a few trips booked, and if not, what the hell am I doing?
The itch starts and I have to rush home, dump the bags on the floor and set to work finding my next awesome adventure. All thoughts of washing, bills and work are forgotten until the itch has been satisfied and another trip is confirmed.
An Expensive Addiction
Let’s be fair though, our travel obsession is a little more costly than someone who lives for Ben & Jerries or Bottega Gold Prosecco, so we need to make the most of our cash when travelling. The great news is that, having picked the brains of some incredible travel bloggers, collectively we have come up with some fabulous travel money saving tips that you can use to keep down your travel costs.
This is our little Christmas gift to you, and with time running out before santa pops down your chimney, maybe you could indulge in a last-minute booking for someone special (oops sorry, I am not supposed to be encouraging you to spend more!) knowing you will be armed with a ton of travel money saving tips to help you on your way.
From couchsurfing to cooking, together we have it covered. So here goes with our bumper Christmas bonanza of Travel Money Saving Tips.
Travel Money Saving Tips: Transport
As travel itself is one of the major expenses of our obsession, it is a good place to start with some fantastic suggestions from our bloggers.
1. Travel By Foot – Sonja of Migrating Miss
Rather than paying for transport and watching the city whizz by, opt for the free option and walk. Most often main sites are within walking distance without you even realising it, and walking gives you the opportunity to see more of the everyday life of local people.
You can make discoveries you normally wouldn’t, such as interesting places to eat and shops you would never have seen. Plus it’s free exercise, and a good excuse for a huge helping of local food later!
I could not agree more with this. I used to take the Tube everywhere in London and then realised that it often took longer than it would to walk. I started walking to meetings and loved the opportunity to see more of the fabulous city.
2. Loyalty Rewards – From me!
My top travel saving tip is to collect rewards wherever you can. Booking into a chain hotel? Sign up for the loyalty programme at the same time (you can often convert them into airline points).
Flying a scheduled airline with a loyalty programme? Fill out the form as you can use them for upgrades or flights, or you convert them into gifts, treats and sometimes hotel nights depending on the airline.
No matter which airline you use, either sign up to their programme or see if they are a member of one of your existing programmes. You can often use a loyalty card from one airline to earn points from another airline. For instance, I earn AVIOS for my British Airways Executive Club with flights on Qatar airlines.
Check out my masterclass ‘Business Class For less’ if you wish to find out more. This is the approach I use to fly business class for less than economy, but you can redeem points for economy class flights too (you just don’t get as much value.)
3. Megan of Forks And Footprints
Take trains and buses instead of planes. I recently took a trip from upstate NY to NYC on the Amtrak train which wound up being cheaper and faster than driving myself! Outside of the US, typically buses will require more time than flying, but the savings on cost are SIGNIFICANT (plus you get to see more of the local countryside!)
4. Use Bla Bla Car – Donna Meyer
Use Bla Bla Car in Europe to get from place to place. This company offers cheap rides with other people who are going your way and have space in their car. It can often work out cheaper than a bus or a train and is much more comfortable.
5. Get a Camper Van – Kerri of Beer And Croissants
Hiring motorhomes in Europe saves heaps. It’s your accommodation and your restaurant all in one. You can eat three meals a day on board if you like saving an enormous amount.
You can also turn it into a party van with drinks on board before dinner. They are inexpensive to run and the bonus is you can go just about anywhere in them. Plus if you travel in low season they are even cheaper to rent.
Travel Money Saving Tips: Accommodation
Although one of the biggest expenses while travelling, there are ways to cut the costs, as our knowledgeable bunch show.
6. Book Apartments – Jenna of WildImagining
If you’ve outgrown the hostel dorm stage of your life (but your budget can’t quite handle $100- a-night hotel rooms) apartment rentals and guesthouses are the perfect middle ground. In Europe, we’ve stayed in beautiful, modern apartments in Budapest, Ljubljana, and Copenhagen for a fraction of what we’d pay at a hotel. (Anne: Check out my Party Like a Rockstar pad to see how we did just this!).
In Asia, we stayed in guesthouses for our entire trip and most of them had all the amenities of a hotel yet cost less than $30 a night.
Sites like Booking.com and TripAdvisor include guesthouses in their listings, and Airbnb, Homeaway and VRBO are your best bet for apartment rentals.
7. Aileen of I am Aileen
It sounds too good to be true; but it’s not — it’s absolutely possible.
For instance, couchsurfing allows you to score a ‘couch’ for the night (or maybe even a room if your host has more space) while also giving you the chance to interact with locals. (Britt of Adventure Lies in Front also swears by couchsurfing, as he too finds it a great way to travel and meet local people).
There’s also the concept of house sitting wherein you are expected to look after someone’s house or pets in exchange for free accommodation.
If you have a place back home that will be left empty when you travel, you can try home exchanges or home swapping! You’ll live in their home and they will live in yours.
You could also volunteer and bag a place to stay with daily food in return for some light chores, a sentiment echoed by Valen.
There really are a lot of ways to score free, or even cheap places to stay and you can check out my ultimate list here.
8. Anne of Travel The Globe 4 Less
Book hotels through hotels.com or a reward programme. With the former, you earn one free night for every ten booked, whilst reward programmes give you free nights for a set number of points.
Travel Money Saving Tips: Food Savings
Now lets face it, you can spend as little or as much as you like on food, but it is often such an integral part of our travel experience that costs can soon spiral out of hand. Fortunately, our gang has more great suggestions to help you out.
9. Cook For Yourself – Lindo of Lindo Korchi
When it comes to visiting a new destination, it’s natural to sprint to the nearest restaurant to get a taste of the sensational flavors that the city has to offer. However, while eating out every day may be tasty, your wallet may be left feeling a bad aftertaste.
So, is it possible to taste the city while saving money?
Absolutely. Discover the region’s cuisine by taking a culinary adventure through the local supermarket and creating a unique, authentic meal. As you browse bright vegetables, strange sauces, and unknown items, you’re bound to experience more of what the city has to offer.
I’m sure we can agree that nothing can really compete with a home-cooked meal. You can check out my step-by-step video showing how anyone can cook their own food, anywhere in the world here.
10. Eat Like the Locals – Stuart of Am I Nearly There Yet
Stay away from tourist areas while eating local cuisine. You’ll save hundreds!
Getting stuck in with the locals at their favourite spots is the best way to get deeper into the culture, as well as saving a considerable amount in the long-term!
Mate of Chase The Donkey also agrees and suggests looking for local family run taverns, or konoba’s as they are known in Croatia, as a great way to experience local cuisine. The quality is generally excellent and the food is significantly cheaper than in a restaurant.
At one konoba in Zadar he experienced a wonderful tripe stew and glass of house wine for the equivalent of 7 US dollars. What a bargain! (Anne: I pay more than that for a wine in my local!)
11. Sharing is Caring – Ashley of My Wanderlusty Life
My best tip is to split meals with your fellow travelers. I’m not a huge eater and similarly, my girlfriends aren’t either. We finally decided the best idea would be to split meals when abroad to not only save money, but to also avoid the guilt that comes with repeatedly throwing away food.
When I travel with my husband (who has the appetite of a large zoo animal) we are still able to compromise and split a large dish or two smaller ones so as little money, and food, as possible goes to waste.
In the major tourist areas, it is always worth asking a local where they go for a cheap and cheerful meal too.
A few other foodie suggestions are to bring tupperware to take any leftovers home with you (Lucinda of Finding Freddie) and eat lots at your free hotel breakfast taking a little extra away for some food for later! (Petra of The Global Couple)
Other Travel Money Saving Tips
12. Dani of Going Nomadic
Pay all your bills before you leave. Then you know exactly how much you have and can make a budget. It sounds boring, but it’s surprising how much you’ll save when you start paying attention to your money. (Anne: There are some great apps to help you with this too as I used one when I was travelling round Asia at the beginning of the year. I came in thousands under budget!).
13. Drink Less – Kellie of Gypsy Tomato (What? Are you mad Kellie?)
My advice is to drink less booze. Before you shake your head at this one, I drink regularly and am a lover of craft beer, whiskey and wine but while I was in Thailand last winter I chose to only drink once or twice a month.
This decision probably saved me a thousand dollars in my three months there. And considering I spent around $2300, that is a stout percentage increase. I tried multiple meditation retreats/farms and with the lack of alcohol blur, I was able to clear my head and meditate with much more ease. (Anne: I think she has a point as I really enjoy my annual detox pilgrimages to India).
14. Drink More – Traveldave
Packing a water bottle, use free tap water or buy a purification bottle that automatically filters for you. In countries with non drinking water, avoid buying plastic bottle drinks every where you go. It is good for your wallet and the planet.
15. Shop Less – Kellie
When we travel, it’s so easy to want to buy all the souvenirs we see. My advice is not to stop buying of course, (it is great to support the communities where we travel) but to avoid the super cheap factory made things. I love to find painters or sketch artists and to buy small samples of their work (8x10ish), so that it is something special to share and it fits in my backpack with no noticeable weight added.
This one doesn’t seem like a money saver at first, but if you’re one of those people who can’t resist buying every little trinket because it’s only a dollar, those things add up in weight and dollars (and probably break during your travels). So buy with intention a few handmade products to support local communities on your travels. Then hand make a few of your own with photos you’ve taken or skills you’ve picked up.
16. Slow Travel – Gemma of TwoScotsAbroad
Craig and I travelled around six countries in six months and that doesn’t half burn away at your budget!
The solution? Slow travel.
We spent two months on the Sunshine Coast, BC in Canada with nature as our back garden. As it was summer, there was heaps to do outside, lots of watersports and hikes, all of which are pretty low-cost and good exercise.
Another benefit of slow travel is that you get time to meet locals. This then led to me swapping my cleaning skills at a yoga studio for free access to drop in classes – social capital at its best! Slow travel is not only good for savings but also for your mentality!
17. Get Your Groupon – Rebecca of The Girl and Globe
Before your trip, check out the city’s Groupon page (or other deals website). You’ll find discounts to city tours, museums, and even special events you otherwise might not know about.
Plus, as long as you don’t print the voucher until you use it, you can usually even get a refund from Groupon if plans change last-minute and you can’t go. It’s a quick, easy way to save 50% on the cost of activities and experiences without sacrificing anything.
I’ve seen the “Hotel de Glace” in Quebec City offered half price on Groupon for three years in a row now
I can personally attest to the benefit of this having secured huge reductions on segway and afternoon tea experiences. I’ve also just booked a Christmas treat for my husband which should have been $399 CAD and I got it for $199. Bargain!
So there you have it. Some great tips to help you out this Christmas. Now it’s time for you to have your say…
What are your Top Travel Money Saving Tips?
What are your top money saving travel tips? I am sure that as an avid traveller, you have already picked up a few and it would be wonderful if you could share them with us so we all get to travel the globe 4 less.
Thanks to all my lovely contributors for taking the time to offer their pearls of wisdom. I definitely have a few new ideas to try out so you have given me plenty of inspiration. It’s been a blast!
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