With today's economy, it is more important than ever to keep that spending under control and save money while travelling. But saving money doesn't mean you have to give up your love of travelling. In fact, there are so many ways to cut travel costs that you may even be able to travel more often!
Check out our other helpful guide looking at 13 Ideas to Save Money for Long-Term Travel.
Here are our top 21 tips to save money while travelling:
- 1. Stay in Hostels
- 2. Bring your Own Food
- 3. When you Dine Out, go at the Right Time
- 4. Use any Membership you have
- 5. Walk or Cycle everywhere
- 6. Embrace Public Transportation
- 7 Go to the Visitor's Center
- 8. Volunteer & Housesit
- 9. Take advantage of Free Events
- 10. Be Flexible
- 12. Look for Online Deals and Coupons
- 13. Ask Friends for Favours
- 14. Pack Light...
- 15. ...But Bring the Essentials
- 16. Be Careful with Souvenirs
- 17. Think about Transportation
- 18. Bring a Water Bottle
- 19. Time your Trip
- 20. Watch your Cash
- 21. Ask Around
- Summary: Save Money While Travelling
1. Stay in Hostels
This is the number one way to save money on the road. Let's be honest; hostel life is much better than real life.
Why pay upwards of $100 per night for a hotel room when you can stay at a hostel for a fraction of the cost? Many people love the value of staying in hostels because they were created specifically for budget-conscious people.
Not only are hostels cheaper, but they offer a more valuable travel experience. With hostels, you will get a better feel of the culture and meet other travelers that you can trade cost-cutting tips with!
Not to mention extra perks such as a free breakfast, organised activities and central locations that mean less is spent on transport.
Why Use Hostelz.com for Finding Hostels? This guide covers 7 simple reasons to find your ideal hostel for the best price with us.
Here are all of our hostel-related useful guides:
- How to Find the Best Hostels - 11 things that make a great hostel
- When to Book Hostels? For spontaneous souls & pre-planners
- 17 Tips for Sleeping & Staying in Hostels
- Are Hostels Safe? 11 safety tips
- 5 Reasons Why Working in a Hostel is a Great Idea
2. Bring your Own Food
Food and restaurant prices can be extremely high, especially in touristy cities.
How to save money on food while travelling? You can save a bundle by bringing your own food. If you can't bring all of your own food on your trip, keep your eyes open once you get to your destination and try to find a discount supermarket to shop at.
One of the wonderful things about hostels is that they almost always come equipped with a kitchen, so you can make your own food.
Here are 7 hostel recipe ideas to get you started.
Of course, eating at some locally-acclaimed restaurants can be a cultural part of your experience, but there's no need to go out to eat at a fast food joint for every meal.
3. When you Dine Out, go at the Right Time
At dinnertime, restaurants multiply the price of the food they serve. Opt to eat only at lunchtime.
You'll still get a filling meal, but it will cost much less. If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, you can still ask for a to-go box so that you can save half of your meal for dinner. As another advantage, restaurants are usually busiest in the evening, so going in the early afternoon will reduce your wait and leave you with more time to explore.
4. Use any Membership you have
Are you a student? Bring your student card and many attractions will decrease your admission fee.
If you join a travel agency like AAA, not only can you use your membership card for a variety of discounts, but you can also get free maps and travel guides. Many stores and restaurants give discounts to military personnel if they show their ID.
If there's a possibility you could get a discount with any membership card you have, be sure to pack it for your trip!
5. Walk or Cycle everywhere
Walking is an absolutely free mode of transportation, it allows you to see more of the area you're visiting, and it's great for your health!
Most tourist cities tend to be pedestrian-friendly, providing sidewalks and crosswalks for anywhere you want to go. Many Old Town areas are dedicated solely for pedestrians.
For longer distances, cycling is a great option. Some hostels offer bike rentals, or you can probably find a rental place in the downtown area. Of course, make sure that you bring good tennis shoes and appropriate clothes that will allow you to comfortably walk and bike.
6. Embrace Public Transportation
Some countries won't allow foreigners to rent cars, and others have minimum age requirements that some backpackers don't meet.
Calling for a cab whenever you want to go somewhere can be pricey, too. If where you're going is too far to bike, or you just want to take a break from all that exercise, public transportation is the way to go. In major cities, you can get anywhere on a bus, including to airports and train stations so that you can get to your next destination. Some cities even offer free transportation!
Have a chat with staff at your accommodation about local transportation. They'll be able to help you out with bus stops, times and prices.
7 Go to the Visitor's Center
Every tourist city will have at least one visitor's center.
Even smaller towns often have a Chamber of Commerce that can provide helpful information. Speaking to a local employee will give you insight on how to explore on the cheap. Visitor's centers will also have pamphlets to all the nearby attractions that usually include coupons.
8. Volunteer & Housesit
Travelling makes memories, and doing community service while you travel can make for even more meaningful memories.
Have you heard of Worldpackers? This is the ULTIMATE way to travel, volunteer and learn new skills all at once. There are opportunities in over 170 countries, so you're bound to find something that suits.
Read: Full review of Worldpackers + discount code
Whether you make your entire vacation a relief trip, or you just spend a few hours feeding the homeless or giving blood, you will be able to leave a positive impact on the places you visit. Some community service projects will even offer complimentary meals or other freebies in exchange for your contribution. Spending a day volunteering for a good cause is a much better (and less expensive) experience than spending an afternoon at yet another tourist trap!
For those longer adventures, definitely consider House Sitting as an option. Trusted House Sitters is a top platform for house sitting and pet sitting at homes around the world. You get to live for free in return for caring for pets and watching over someone's home. Pretty cool, right?
9. Take advantage of Free Events
From dance recitals to sports competitions, street fairs to concerts, every city has a handful of free events, especially during their peak tourist seasons.
Staying in a hostel? Of course you are! And hostels are the land of fun, free events. From morning yoga and walking tours, to a complimentary welcome drink and communal dinners - save money and meet new people.
Check out the city's newspaper or ask your hostel host and see what events are coming up. After all, there isn't a price that's better than free!
Read: How to Create an Irresistable Hostel - a hostel owner's manual that can help you know what to expect.
10. Be Flexible
It's always a good idea to have an itinerary of what you plan to be doing on your trip, but don't be afraid to make changes once you get there.
You may hear that certain attractions offer discounts or special events at certain times and days, and naturally you will want the flexibility to make some changes... and in turn keep more change in your pocket.
12. Look for Online Deals and Coupons
You have access to the internet. Why not use it to your advantage? Great travel hacks can be found online.
With a little research, you can significantly lower trip expenses. There are plenty of restaurants, attractions, airlines, and even hostels that may run special promotions on their websites. Utilize Google and Facebook as much as possible, and you'll be surprised at what you can find.
When it comes to booking hostels, here is a Comparison of Hostel Booking Website Prices.
13. Ask Friends for Favours
In this digital age, getting good deals is all about networking.
If you know anyone that lives near your destination, or a friend of a friend (of a friend), you might be able to visit them and get a free meal or possibly an overnight stay. Even your friends at home can help you save money on your trip.
If you have a friend who's traveled before, ask for advice. Since airports can charge a hefty fee for parking your car while you're away, ask a friend to drop you off and pick you up. You may be surprised at all that your friends can do to help you save on your journey!
14. Pack Light...
Many airlines, trains, and buses charge some sort of baggage fee.
Some hostels charge a suitcase storage fee. Bringing only a small suitcase and a backpack can save you big bucks, plus it will be less of a hassle when you need to haul it around. Also, your luggage is always at risk of theft - the less you bring, the less it will cost you to replace stolen items.
15. ...But Bring the Essentials
If you forget to bring your toothbrush or extra underwear, you'll inevitably have to buy more when you reach your destination. Before you leave, create a checklist of everything you absolutely cannot leave without, and double check that everything is packed before you leave.
(For a helpful checklist on what you'll need to bring when visiting hostels, check out this Packing Guide for Hostel Backpackers at Hostelz.com!)
16. Be Careful with Souvenirs
Only get souvenirs that you know will be meaningful to you and will remind you of your trip. Unless you're actually visiting The Great Wall, there's no need to buy a run-of-the-mill memento with "Made in China" stamped on it.
Also, avoid shopping in the areas where you know prices are doubled. Airport stores and museum gift shops are two expensive places that you should avoid shopping at.
17. Think about Transportation
You can often find good airline deals by scouring the internet, especially during the off-season. When you fly, be sure to utilize a frequent flyer miles program so that you can earn free or discounted trips in the future.
Find out How to Find the Cheapest Airfare here.
If you're travelling in the peak season, taking a flight may not be your best option. Prices for flights usually shoot up in price when companies know people will travel no matter what. Compare bus and train prices if available. If you're travelling within the continent, taking a friend and carpooling might be an option to consider as well.
18. Bring a Water Bottle
Tourist hot spots know when you'll be thirsty, which is why they will conveniently offer you overpriced beverages when you crave them the most.
As a backpacker, you will probably be walking around a lot, and you can get dehydrated pretty fast that way. Bringing your own water bottle and refilling whenever you see a sink or drinking fountain can actually save you a surprising amount of money over the course of your trip. (If you're worried about airline policies when bringing water as a carry-on, you can simply bring an empty water bottle to the airport and refill it after you've passed security.)
We recommend getting a bottle with a built in water filter (great for countries with poor water sanitation). Brita Premium is a smart and affordable option.
Not to mention, you'll save on a ton of single plastic use!
19. Time your Trip
It's no secret that travelling in the off-season (when there are no school breaks or holidays) is significantly less expensive.
However, there are still ways to save regardless of what time of year you take your trip. Many travel companies, especially airlines, raise their prices for Fridays and weekends. If you can travel midweek (Tuesdays are generally the cheapest), then you could potentially save hundreds on a round trip ticket. Many tourist attractions and even some hostels offer weekday discounts as well.
20. Watch your Cash
A smart traveller will always bring cash.
Be sure to keep that cash in a safe place, like a money belt, to prevent theft. Also put some emergency money in a separate safe location. (Inside the sole of your shoe is a place that can't easily be pick pocketed). When visiting foreign countries where you'll have to exchange currency, look around to see where you'll get the best deal. Money exchanges in heavily populated tourist spots often charge a bigger fee than elsewhere.
Check your credit card policy to see if it's reasonable to use plastic at your destination. A foreign transaction can sometimes lead to hefty bank charges.
21. Ask Around
Don't be afraid to ask others for insight on ways to save.
Your hostel hosts and roommates are excellent people to ask, as they are oftentimes the most keen on inexpensive travel tips. If you ask ticket vendors if there is a possibility for you to receive a discount, you'd be surprised at how many are willing to help you out. You have a wealth of knowledge on how to save while travelling.
You probably have a few cost cutting ideas that weren't even mentioned here. Share your information with others, and they'll be more willing to help you out as well.
Summary: Save Money While Travelling
So there you have it folks; the top 21 ways you can save money while travelling. See, it's easier than you thought.
At the end of the day, as long as you adopt as many of these money-saving travel tips, you're sure to save quite a bit.
Experiment, remain vigilant of where you're essential expenses lay, and have fun!