There’s nothing better than getting out into the world and exploring faraway places you’ve always dreamed of visiting. For many, the idea of traveling abroad seems unattainable and too expensive. However, there are plenty of ways to save on travel and have an unforgettable experience without breaking the bank. Keep reading to find out our top tips for saving money on travel!
Travel During the Low Season
If you could only take away one piece of advice, let it be this—travel during the low season. A country’s low season is the period of time when tourism is less popular, meaning prices for everything (including airfare, accommodations, and activities) are at their cheapest. You’ll also be able to avoid large crowds and have many of the main attractions to yourself. Of course, not everyone is able to travel during this time, as it coincides with the school year; but if you have the means, it’s well worth it. You can easily research a destination’s high and low seasons, but high seasons generally take place during the summer, holidays, and school vacations (think half-terms in Europe).
Known When to Book (and When to Fly)
There truly is a “best” time to book a flight. Do some research before buying your airfare to ensure you’re getting the greatest deal possible. Tuesday used to be considered the best time to book, but that’s no longer the case. Sunday is now the ultimate day to book, as many business travelers do so during the week. There are also specific days of the week that it’s cheaper to fly on. These days are typically earlier in the week, such as Monday and Tuesday. Before you get booking, do a little research to make sure you’re up to date on the cheapest times to book and fly.
Don’t Let Airlines Fool You
Airlines love to make you think you’re getting a deal, but that’s frequently not the case. This is especially true when it comes to “basic economy” deals. Often times, you’ll only save around $25, yet you won’t be able to bring a carry on, choose your seats, or have other amenities offered to passengers. In the end, the cost of checking a bag evens out your savings, and you’ll find it wasn’t a deal at all. Keep this in mind regarding cheaper fare options, too. Some airlines will promote their less expensive flights, yet you’ll have to pay for seats and baggage.
Rent Out Your Place
If you live in an area that gets its own fair share of tourists, consider renting out your home for the duration of your trip. Airbnb is one option, and some travelers have found the income from renting balances out their trip costs. If you’re traveling to an inexpensive destination, it’s even possible to make money!
Book Ahead of Time
Always book everything far in advance. Buying airfare is cheaper when it’s done with plenty of time before the trip, and the same goes for accommodations. Definitely follow this advice if you’re planning on vacationing during the high season because more crowds lead to higher prices and fewer accommodations. You don’t want to be stuck with a pricy hotel being your only option. This can be true of specific tours and activities at your destination, as well, especially in Europe. There are often discounted rates for groups, but you don’t have to be traveling with others to benefit—you can easily slot into open spots.
Have a Plan for Exchanging Money in Advance
Don’t leave money planning until the last minute. Never exchange currency at an airport because you won’t get a good deal. When withdrawing money at a foreign ATM, always take out large sums—you’ll have to make fewer withdrawals, which means fewer fees. If you’re a frequent traveler (or hope to be), think about opening a travel-friendly bank account, such as one with unlimited ATM withdrawals abroad and no transaction fees.
Pack Your Own Snacks
Arrive at the airport prepared with an empty water bottle and snacks. You can bring food through security and fill up your water bottle once you make it to the other side. Airports charge unreasonable prices for food and beverages, so this is an easy way to save some money and start your trip off on the right foot.
Take a Stroll or Hop on Public Transportation
Forget renting a car or hailing a cab. There’s no better way to explore a new city than by walking—not to mention it’s a perfect way to save money. If walking isn’t your thing, then figure out the local public transportation, and look for frequent traveler options (such as London’s Oyster card). You’ll truly get a feel for the city, immerse yourself in its daily life, and save money at the same time.
Venture Outside the City Center
Staying at an accommodation right inside the city is certain to be more expensive than those a little farther out. This also gives you the chance to take a breather and have some peace and quiet at night after a busy day in the thick of it.
Don’t Let Data Charges Get the Best of You
Turn off your cellular data to prevent pricy roaming charges. Instead, rely on free WiFi. In some locations, local WiFi just won’t cut it. But fear not! You can purchase mobile routers that fit in your pocket. For a small fee, you’ll have WiFi on the go, allowing you to save money while staying connected.
Think Outside of the Box When It Comes to Accommodations
Hotels are not the only option when choosing an accommodation. Hostels are a great way to save some cash, as well as Airbnbs, B&Bs, and the more interesting options, such as houseboats and farm stays. Getting creative with your stay will give you memorable stories to share with friends!
Act Like a Local
Don’t fall for tourist traps, but instead eat and shop locally. Local cuisine is cheaper than restaurants geared towards foreigners, especially in country’s with big street food cultures. Besides, it’s important to try out local delicacies while traveling. You can also buy food from the local grocery store or market, particularly if you’re staying at an accommodation with a kitchen. Cooking a few nights during your stay is a good way to save on meals. As for shopping, avoid shops specifically targeted towards tourists. The prices are astronomical, and you can easily find inexpensive, better quality options while supporting local artisans.