10 Tips for Traveling on the Cheap

Eirinn Norrie
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It would be absolutely fantastic to drop everything and hop on a plane to Indonesia to go snorkeling with sea turtles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. In fact, it’s usually not that easy. It takes time, money, and a plan.

We know that having a great vacation for less money is ideal. Saving money while traveling reduces stress and allows you to do more, which is why we’ve compiled these 10 tips for getting the most out of your vacation, and saving money while you do it. ☺
 

1. Plan well in advance.

If you plan ahead, you can usually get cheaper flights and the best deals on accommodation. Usually the cheapest spots in the best locations are the places that get booked up fast, so make sure that you’re the one to snag these great deals early on!

How, you ask?

• Download free apps and travel books for the devices you’re bringing with you so that you can easily scan over what’s recommended in the city, from hotels to dining, transportation to tours and local events.
• Print out maps and directions before you leave, so you don’t have to waste time or money trying to coordinate everything once you’ve arrived.
• Have a back-up plan to ensure that extra local transportation costs, taxes and fees, etc. don’t become a surprise expense.
 

2. Bring a backpack instead of a suitcase.

Most people seriously over pack for their trips. Keeping outfits to a bare minimum means that you don’t have to worry about storing your luggage when abroad and you can pay only for a carry-on bag on flights, potentially reducing your overall flight cost. Plus, it’s so much simpler to travel with less! Here’s how:

• Pack shirts that match all the bottoms you want to bring, and vice versa.
• Pack universals: one jacket, one pair of sandals, one hat, etc. that works with all your outfits.
• Minimalism is key! Do you really need that hairdryer? Most hotels and airbnb’s will offer items like this.
 

3. Compare prices and schedules of trains, buses, and flights to see what works best with your travel needs.

Just because a certain transport is cheap does not mean it is best if it leaves at 6am and you have to take an expensive taxi across the entire city at 5am. Try these hacks to avoid the stress:

• Use websites like rome2rio.com for easy train/bus/flight comparisons.
• It may also be worth your while to look into renting a car. In certain countries, car rentals are an inexpensive way to travel and explore on your terms and timeframe without having to stick to strict bus schedules.

4. Don’t assume that flying will be too expensive.

Depending where you are, flying could be incredibly cheap compared to trains or buses. Explore all your options before making a decision:

• For example, in Europe, small airlines like Smartwings, Ryanair, and Easyjet offer cheap flights that often beat bus prices. Since it’s quicker to fly, these cheap flights usually become the best option!
• Traveling off-season can also bring down the price of flights. Off-season dates are based on where you’re traveling to, so do some research to see when the high/low tourist season is for the area you’re interested in.
• Try to travel either just before or after high tourist seasons in order to get the perks of the tourist season without all of the bustling lines, busy streets, and overpriced attractions.
 

 

5. Look for alternatives to pricey hotels.

Airbnb.com is a great tool to find apartments hosted through local people. Sometimes, this works out cheaper than a hostel, which is usually viewed as the cheapest way to travel. Airbnb apartments are quite lovely, and often larger than a typical hotel room, which means you can share them with one or more people and reduce the cost even more.

Hostels are another great option, especially if you’re traveling by yourself, since many hostels are well-kept and much nicer than you would expect for the price. In addition, it’s a great way to meet fellow travelers!
 

6. Buy food and drinks at grocery stores.

Instead of eating out for every meal, opt to buy your food from local supermarkets. This will keep your food bill considerably lower. If you’re traveling with children or even picky eaters like me, this is a great option because you can buy the ingredients you want, skip the ones you don’t, and make a custom meal to your liking for a fraction of the cost.

Buying traditional foods from the supermarket and cooking them yourself is a great way to experience authentic food while keeping the costs low.
 

7. Bring detergent soap sheets and solid sunscreen sticks.

Paying for laundry can add up, and becomes a time-consuming burden that eats into your vacation. It is easy to wash your clothes in a sink if you have solid detergent sheets. They are plane-friendly since they are not considered liquids, and are easy to fit into your backpack. Bringing them also means that you don’t have to worry about awkwardly trying to read detergent labels in another language!

You can purchase Neutrogena sunscreen sticks for about $10. Although this seems like a lot for sunscreen, it means that you don’t have to worry about getting it confiscated on a plane mid-trip since it is a solid. In addition, sunscreen is extremely pricey in some countries, making the $10 up front a worthwhile investment.
 

8. Befriend a local to get the inside scoop.

This is definitely the tip to follow if you want to get the most out of a location. Locals know all the best-kept secrets you won’t find in a tourist brochure. Many of them enjoy sharing their culture with you, leading to fun nights filled with beer, samplings of traditional food, and language acquisition.

One easy way to befriend a local is to pick out a small eatery on a side street, instead of a big restaurant in the heart of the tourist district. The service will be more personal, and waiters and other customers typically have time to chat with you. Many small places are family run, so you’ll get a taste of local cuisine along with the insider scoop.
 

9. Know how to get money if absolutely everything goes wrong.

You may think of yourself as an experienced traveler, but you’re never truly experienced until you’ve been stranded in a foreign country with no phone, no money, and no cards to access your accounts. A lot of people don’t think about this until it actually happens to them, so it saves a lot of time and energy if you have a backup plan. Here’s what you need to plan ahead for:

• What documents do you need to do a Western Union money transfer?
• Who could send you money?
• Where is your embassy?
• Where is the cheapest hostel located in case you need to make a last-minute booking?

Have a plan for how you will get money without a credit or debit card, because with travel, there is always the unfortunate risk that they can be gobbled up by machines or snatched by sneaky pickpockets. Bonus tip: print a copy of your documents, such as passport, credit and insurance cards, etc. and keep them separate from the rest of your documents.
 

10. Farm!

There are so many benefits to farming while you travel. It’s a great way to get some extra cash, and often times a place to stay (usually referred to as a homestay) too. Working the land is a unique and fantastic experience. You’ll get a sense of the way life is for people outside of large cities, meaning that you’ll get to know the real culture of the area rather than the romanticized touristy view that often gets promoted in city centers. Farming just might be one of the best things you decide to do while you travel.
 
Although it is important to save money, it is also important to spend money to make memories. You should be cost-conscious and spend-thrifty with big price tag items, such as airfare, hotels, and eating. That way, you’ll have the extra funds to do the things that matter most to you. I had been wanting to sea kayak in Croatia for months, but I was not thrilled about the price when I got there. After all, that money could pay for my next four meals! But as it turns out, it was the best $30 I have ever spent, and an amazing memory I’ll cherish forever.

So be conscious of what you’re spending abroad, but don’t overdo it! Make sure that you’re having fun, and if that means spending a little money – go for it! Do you have other money-saving tips to share with the community? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below! Safe travels yogis!!

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Eirinn Norrie

Eirinn Norrie is a writer and martial artist. She has a passion for traveling the world, and enjoys crocheting, reading, cooking, and finding new and interesting ways to work out. She loves tae kwon do, partner yoga, and online abs videos.

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