Travel, especially international travel, can be an expensive undertaking. Planning a trip is almost always exciting – while finding ways to save money when you travel can be a pain. Hopefully, these tips will help you save money on your next holiday!
Save Money on Flights
- Fly on off days – Avoid flying on holidays or during the weekend. This will require some flexibility but will help save money in the long run.
- Use a flight comparison search – There are a number of comparison sites to use. My personal favorite is Google Flights. However, it can help to check Skyscanner and Kayak as well. I often compare prices between all three to ensure that I’m getting the lowest rate.
- Fly to neighboring cities – You can sometimes find great rates when flying to secondary airports in big cities. This also works with flights to neighboring cities as well. These deals can typically be found with budget airlines.
- Join airline rewards programs – Signing up for loyalty rewards programs will help save money when you travel. Getting a free flight will take time since we always book the cheapest flight. However, points can be accrued over time, and can often be redeemed for discounts or upgrades if you don’t have enough for a flight.
- Flexibility saves money – The biggest money saving tip is to simply be flexible when planning a vacation. Try to book a flight a few days earlier, or later than planned if it reduces the cost of your trip. Also, consider other destinations if prices are too high. During holidays in Taiwan, a 2-hour flight to Japan can cost as much as a 15-hour flight to Europe!
Save Money When You Travel – Hotels
- Sign up for hotel member accounts – Hotels with membership programs are not typically budget friendly, however, the member bonuses are great if you stay with a specific hotel chain. We stayed in the affordable Four Points Hotel during our recent trip to Sandakan. We got a room upgrade as well as a free dessert, thanks to our member status with the SPG hotel group. It’s a good idea to treat yourself every so often, and at $50 per night, the Four Points Hotel isn’t going to break the bank.
- Sign up with a hotel booking website – Booking.com is one popular website that provides good rewards for members. For the past few years, I have been using Booking.com to reserve the majority of my hotel rooms. Agoda is another site that helps me find lots of cheap accommodation around Asia.
- Check the location – So you found a hotel with clean rooms, a swimming pool, and great view, all for well under your budget? This may well be an amazing deal, but it’s best to check the location before impulsively booking the hotel. Be sure to calculate the hotel’s distance from public transport options. Also, consider the cost of taking the bus/train/subway to the sightseeing spots you plan to visit. A hotel in the city center will often be worth paying for if it will reduce your transport costs.
- Hostel or Hotel? – Choosing the type of accommodation that fits your needs can be tricky. Hostels are typically the cheapest options available for backpackers. However, basic double rooms can often be found for the same price if you are traveling in a group of two or more.
Save Money on Transport
- Take local options – The first rule to save money on travel is to live like a local. This includes taking public transportation when, and where available. The subway might be modern and convenient, but learning to navigate the city by bus can end up saving you money in the long run.
- Car share – There are a number of rideshare companies operating around the world. Blablacar is a popular option in Europe. It can make city hopping fast and convenient. My recent search for a ride from Brussels to Amsterdam found prices as low as 10 Euros!
Save Money by Choosing the Season
- Travel during the offseason – Peak season is a great time to travel if you enjoy long lines and high hotel prices. Visiting during the offseason is a good way to save some money when you travel. If the weather is bad, consider choosing the months just before or after the busy season. Often referred to as the shoulder season, these months will usually provide good weather along with cost savings.
- Be aware of the weather – Reading up on the weather conditions before you travel can save a lot a money. Packing a foldable umbrella could end up saving you €10-20 if you travel during the rainy season.
Save Money on Food When You Travel
- Pack lunches – If you are traveling in a developed country then it’s a good idea to bring food with you when you go out. Tasty, healthy snacks can be easily be thrown in your day bag to save money on an expensive lunch. Additionally, a lunchmeat sandwich and a piece of fresh fruit can be had for under $5. This can be a good way to minimize your food spending.
- Cook at home – If you are staying in a city for more than a few days then it may be beneficial to find an apartment with a kitchen, rather than a hotel. Consider finding your accommodation on Airbnb, or snag an apartment on Booking.com – just make sure it has a kitchen! Grocery shopping at the local market and cooking at home can be one of the most powerful ways to save money abroad.
- Eat on time – Make sure you plan your meals and eat at a normal time. Skipping meals can lead you to settle for more expensive meals later in the day. Aside from being healthier, eating solid meals will help you think clearer and make better decisions when traveling.
Earn Money Abroad
- Volunteer – Volunteering abroad is a way to support important causes and organizations in the countries you travel to. Many sites exist to help you find a volunteer opportunity to fit your needs and skills. The volunteer positions on these sites have a weekly/monthly fee – but include food and housing. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is an organization that helps connect you with farm work opportunities around the world.
- Teach – Online education is a growing industry and is one that can be done from (nearly) any location in the world! Languages seem to be the most in demand currently, although there is growing demand for tutors of math, science, and other school subjects.
- Work – Working abroad can be a good choice if you’re looking to assimilate into the local life. This will require a large time commitment but can be a rewarding experience. The most important thing to consider is whether you qualify for a working visa or not. Many countries are quite specific in regards to the type of workers they are looking for. I recommend finding some expat groups on Facebook and talking with people working in the city you’re considering. If you are considering making a big move it can help to get some insight into the environment and job market before you go.
General Tips to Save Money
- Plan a Travel Budget – This is something that often gets overlooked when traveling. Writing out a budget, either on paper or Excel, can help you get serious about sticking to your spending goals.
- Travel Slower – I can’t stress this enough! Slowing down will be doing yourself a massive service if you want to save money when you travel. If you’re pressed for time, then you may have no other choice than to plan a whirlwind tour. However, city-hopping will incur a significant amount of transportation expenses.
- Consider All Your Options – When you travel there are a million ways to save money. Take housesitting for example. This is an option that I have never tried, but I’ve heard of others who have had amazing experiences with it.