It is easier than you think to save money on travel. And spending less money means you can travel more often. Everyone likes going on holidays but nobody likes paying for it. Plus, sometimes it may be better to save money instead of travelling.
Somewhere between the sandy beach and the 5-star luxury hotel, you can find amazing potential for cost savings. All you need to do is a little bit of research and planning ahead.
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How to save money on travel
1. Choose your destination
The easiest way to save money on travel is to choose your destination wisely. There are a few ways you can save on travel with this choice:
- Visit a location during the off-season
- Go to less popular locations
- Choose a place where you have friends or relatives
One of my most memorable holidays was when I went to Mallorca, a Spanish island, in Winter. Mallorca is famous for its beaches and its party scene during SUMMER. Hence, when we went there in January, only a few other tourists were around. Obviously, we could not swim in the sea, but in return, we had time to explore the island without queuing for anything.
2. Find cheap transport
Book a cheap flight
Flights tend to be one of the more expensive things on the travel list. However, flights also have huge potential for saving. Use sites like Skyscanner to compare prices and use budget airlines such as Ryanair. When I travel, I almost always use Stansted airport over Heathrow as it is so much cheaper for only a little more travel time.
If you are driving, make sure to maximise your fuel efficiency.
Bring along food and water
To save money on travel, prepare for your journey. Bring packed food so you can avoid using over-priced airport restaurants and on-board meals. Yes, you can bring food past security, just ensure it does not contain meat, fruits, vegetables, or any liquids. A peanut-butter sandwich, for example, is perfectly fine. Or a protein bar. Or pasta. There is no reason you should ever have to buy airport food.
Also, remember to bring a refillable water bottle. You will have to empty it before you go through the security check, but you can refill it afterwards. Most airports have free water fountains that you can use. Usually, they are located near the toilets.
3. Find a place to stay
When you want to save money on travel, accommodation has the most cost savings potential. There are several ways to save on accommodation costs, depending on how you envision your stay. You can book
- a hotel room
- a hostel bed
When booking a hotel room, check cashback sites to see whether there are any offers.
Booking a hostel bed instead of a hotel room can reduce your accommodation costs by as much as 90%. Hostels also offer the opportunity to cook your own meals, leading to further savings.
On the downside, you have less privacy and no room service.
Airbnb is another option to save money on travel. You will have more privacy than in a hostel and still have the possibility to cook for yourself. Airbnb is especially suited to group travel and when you split the costs, its prices are comparable to that of a hostel. Airbnb is also ideal for families.
When you sign-up to AirBnb you get £34 off your first stay when you use my link. Afterward, you can refer your friends to continue booking for £23 off per friend.
Airbnb is great when you travel in a group. You get your own apartment where you are able to cook your own food for a small price.
Save money on travel secret tip: Couchsurfing
With Couchsurfing, you essentially have free accommodation. The website matches travellers with hosts, who will allow you to stay at their place for free. This can save you a lot of money but may take some time to organise and has some drawbacks:
- Only suitable for solo travellers
- Cannot stay anywhere for more than 2-3 nights
- No privacy
- No key to the property (dependant own host)
- Hosts may not be reliable
- Potential danger of staying in a stranger’s flat
On the bright side, Couchsurfing is a great opportunity to learn about local customs and discover hidden places away from the mass tourism as your host is likely to be knowledgeable about the area.
Is Couchsurfing safe?
I never had any problems and Couchsurfing themselves have taken steps to minimise the risk. However, you are responsible for your own safety. Reading the reviews and checking that a host is verified will help you stay safe.
4. Save costs for luggage
If you book a flight with a budget airline, there are likely extra charges for luggage. Usually, you are allowed one piece of hand luggage for free. And let me tell you, this piece of hand luggage is all you need unless you travel with children or plan to stay for longer than four months.
When spending money is worth it
The one thing that I definitely recommend buying is a good-quality suitcase. Mine once broke while running through the airport trying to catch my plane. From this experience, I have learned my lesson. Plus, a high-quality suitcase will last forever!
This is the one I am recommending:
Save money on travel: storage
The weight and size specifications of your hand luggage are usually only checked once before you board the plane. Nobody cares how many suitcases, backpacks etc. you have before or after.
A simple trick is to bring foldable bags that can be stored in your main bag during the luggage check. Before and after, you can use these bags for your stuff. So where do you put your stuff while your luggage is being checked?
For clothes, you can just wear them. Nobody cares how many layers of clothes you have on. Airports and planes have air conditioning so you will not get a heatstroke. Plus, as soon as you are on the plane, you can go to the toilets and take off your extra layers.
Everything that cannot be worn can be stored in the pockets of your clothes. If you are allowed a separate handbag or a bag for airport shopping, you can store your belongings in there. Handbags are rarely checked so I recommend putting all the heavy stuff in there.
What to leave at home
A lot easier than wearing multiple layers of clothes is to just leave the redundant bits at home. Limit yourself to not bringing more than two pairs of shoes at most. This may sound harsh but you really do not need more than two pairs.
As for clothes, many people forget that they do not need to bring enough clothes for the entire duration of the trip. Simply choose a few versatile pieces. You can wash your clothes at a local laundrette. This usually costs £1 or less which is so much cheaper than the £25 for extra luggage. Some hostels also have washing machines.
If you would like to take toiletries with you, do not buy over-priced travel-sized packages. Instead, buy refillable containers and fill them with your normal creams and gels. They are really cheap and will save you a ton. You can buy plane-friendly sized containers here.
5. Do exciting things for less
You can easily save money when travelling by choosing your sightseeing activities wisely. Focus on what is important to you. You do not have to see every tourist attraction there is and you do not have to listen to guides that advertise “must-see” places.
There is nothing on your holiday that you MUST see. It is your own time and you are already restricted enough in your daily life so your holiday should be a time to be free.
Do your own research about interesting places you may want to see. Some may charge an entry fee, so only go if you are really interested. Paying the entrance fee is cheaper than missing out on going and then regretting that decision and booking another flight.
If you eat out during your holiday, make sure you are not wasting money.
Take advantage of free activities
There are also plenty of things you can do for free. Depending on your location, you could visit the beach, explore the local area or go hiking. These activities are often more impactful than things you pay for.
Bonus: save money on travel by working
Rather than just save money when travelling, you could take your journey to the next level by earning a little extra income. The easiest way, unless you can work remotely, is to teach English.
I have a Teaching English as Foreign Lanuage (TEFL) certificate. This means I am qualified to teach English to non-native speakers anywhere in the world. Teaching is a great way to interact with the local community and to really get to know the area you are travelling to. To obtain a TEFL certificate, you usually do not need any prior qualifications. Grab your free brochure here.
There are also volunteering opportunities that may help you save money on travel. When volunteering you usually get free lodging and food in exchange for working. When I was younger, I spent my summers volunteering on farms in Switzerland and also spent a year volunteering in Italy working with disabled people. It was a great (and cheap) experience!
Like teaching English, with volunteering, you will get to know the local community and the real life in your destination area better compared to normal holidays.
Save money on travel summary
There are many ways to save money on travel, some of which are:
- Choose a destination out of season
- Book a flight with a budget airline
- Find a cheap place to stay
- Reduce your luggage (hand luggage only)
- When sightseeing, only pay for places you are interested in and take advantage of free activities
- Work or volunteer to keep the costs down
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