Best Ways to Spend Less on Travel For Your Next Vacation
Regardless of who you are, or what you do in life, there are always reasons why you can’t make your vacation dreams come true, and one of the biggest reasons is the perceived huge cost of traveling.
Now, travel does incur costs like airfare, accommodation, and some fun touristy activities, but there are many alternative ways to travel that not only save money but provide you to have new experiences.
If you have the urge to travel, whatever your budget is, you can make it work.
Depending on your destination, you might even pay less to see the world than if you decided on vacationing close to your home.
Here are 5 plus ways to spend less on travel that’ll change the way you travel going forward.
5+ Best Ways to Spend Less on Travel For Your Next Vacation
Getting To Your Destination
During the peak travel seasons, this is when most destinations charge the most. If you are able to sneak off during the off-season travel seasons, you will be able to spend less on travel. Places like Europe are excellent to travel to during the “shoulder season” (April through mid-June and September through October). Why? The weather isn’t as hot, attractions are less crowded, and you’ll save a lot of money.
But first, you need to get there, and that’s where finding cheap planes tickets is your first priority when you are travel planning. But finding cheap planes tickets is tough to do any time of the year, and if there is one thing you need when searching for cheap airfare is to be patient.
You will need some patience when you are searching online for a good price on airfare and spend less.
Here are some ways I find cheap fights and spend less:
- Use the Airfarewatchdog for low fare alerts and keep an eye on deals when they arise
- Check airlines’ low fare calendar
- Check Skyscanner to compare fares
- Look for indirect flights or nearby airports
- Avoid extra fees (like choosing a seat, priority boarding, and checked bags)
If you’re debating the best way to travel, check out the Omio website.
It’ll compare bus, train, air, and ferry so you can decide what makes the most sense for your trip. Keep in mind that sometimes combining transportation (for example, plane and train) can often be the cheapest pick.
For ground travel, look into multi-way passes. Europe has some great deals that’ll let you see the continent on the cheap. Look into Eurail pass for some bargains that will cure your traveling blues.
Side Note: I am not a fan of credit cards, but they do offer great rewards for travelers. If you have been thinking about getting a travel reward credit card, I recommend applying for one before a big trip or purchase.
Some of the biggest benefits are earning points to use for free flights and hotels. Plus, many cards offer additional points when making travel-related purchases. Some cards also offer travel protection when you pay for a trip with the card.
My personal favorite is the American Express Travel Card (for frequent travelers).
Airbnb is still a great accommodation resource where you can usually find accommodation cheaper than hotels in the area you want to stay at. But lately, I have been seeing hidden costs in the fine print that has had me look for other alternatives to spend less on overnight stays.
Homestay.com and VRBO are two other accommodation resources to check out as well if you can find what you are looking for on Airbnb. Try finding a place on these sites where there is a kitchen included to save even more money on your holiday.
If you want to stay at a hotel, look for hotels that are located a little farther from the city center as they tend to be cheaper.
And depending on the city you are staying at, like London, New York, or Paris, they have amazing public transportation systems that will get you from point a to point b in no time.
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Where ever you go, chances are that the taxi service in your town of choice can tend to get expensive, so if the city you are in has UBER or Lyft, use it to spend less on transportation.
In the major cities around the world, the metro system is often the best way to travel, and I recommend going underground for travel in almost any major city.
When you are traveling, use Google Maps for directions on public transit. When I was in NYC in 2019, I would use google maps to help me with directions to where ever I went. I could easily find my way from Times Square to Coney Island via the NY subway system, and I never was lost.
Just type in where you want to go, and it will tell you exactly which lines and busses you need to take to get there! Of course, when you have the chance on your holiday, I suggest walking. There is nothing like walking the streets of Paris, London, or NYC and just exploring the town. It’s cheap, and you get a great cardio workout.
Many big cities around the world also have cheap and easy bike rentals that allow pick up and return around the city. Be sure to search for these bike-share programs while you’re traveling abroad.
Attractions and activities can make or break your travel budget. Do some pre-planning before you travel to make sure that you are saving money before you go.
Here are some ideas for ways to spend less on activities:
- Pass On The Pricey Tours: Download audiobooks or guides, and listen where you’re going. You can even find some great free apps for your smartphone that can help you explore at your own pace.
- Ask for a Discount: Always look for special rates for students, seniors, kids, groups, or whatever might apply to you. It never hurts to ask! If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
- Check Online for Special Deals and Discounts Before You Go: Sites like Groupon are all over the world and give major discounts. They can also be a good source of info on local events. Citypass and Viator are great attraction discounts websites where you can get major discounts off of major attractions in cities around the world.
- Research Free Activities and Museums: Many major tourist attractions are free on certain days. Just search in google “Free Activities and Museums” for the cities you are traveling to, and you might find some incredible cheap activities to do on your holiday.
- Do an All-inclusive Sightseeing Tour: If you’re visiting a city for the first time and want to see it all, think about taking hop-on/hop-off buses that’ll take you everywhere.
Something to keep in mind is that some of your best travel memories won’t even cost a dime!
I remember a few years back while visiting San Fransico that I decided to walk the city for the day with no itinerary. With me just adapting as I went along, I was able to see parts of the city that I would never have come across in a travel book. I walked a lot of steps that day, but I saw some incredible sights that day.
And the only thing it cost me was bottles of water to stay hydrated, and some cheap meals from restaurants I passed by.
Want to spend less while eating out? Stay away from the restaurants in the touristy areas! They are overpriced, and the food tends to taste like mass-produced garbage that they pass off as food.
I remember one trip to San Francisco I had to wait for a couple of hours at Fishermans’ Warf for the next boat to head out to Alcatraz. So I decided to have lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe at Fishermans’ Warf. What I found was the prices were higher than every Hard Rock cafe I have been to in the past, and the food was horrible.
If you want to save money and eat incredible food while on holiday, eat local, and eat authentically. If you are backpacking around Thailand, do you want to have KFC that will cost the same amount as it would back home or authentic Thai food that will cost under 5 dollars and leave you satisfied?
Here are some tips to save money on eating out while on holiday:
- Don’t Ever Start Your Day Hungry: If you are staying at a hotel that offers free breakfast in the morning, take advantage of it and load up to start your day off right.
- Go Grocery Shopping: A box of granola bars and bottles of water are cheaper at the grocery store compared to buying them individually at a 7-11 or an attraction you are at. Try to hit up the local shops near your accommodation for your groceries, because not only are you saving money on food, but the staff tends to give cool insights into local life in your area.
- Picnic in the park: Pack a lunch for the day from the groceries you bought at the start of your trip to avoid paying for a costly sit-down meal.
- Eat Out Midday: Lunches are typically cheaper than dinner, so choose that time to head out to a fancier restaurant.
- Hit Up Happy Hour: Happy Hour is a great time for cheap appetizers compared to ordering multiple entrées. Plus, you can try multiple dishes instead of just one.
- Bring a Refillable Water Bottle: If you don’t like the idea of buying 12 packs of water at the local grocery store, why not carry around a refillable water bottle. You can pretty much get free water from places like Starbucks and Mcdonalds, and you will be saving money and environmental waste.
- Check Out Food Tours: Many cities do a 2-for-1 tour plus dining deal.
- Skip the Bread: This one ticked me off when I was in Rome, and many other countries within Europe do the same, you pay for the bread even though they bring it to the table without asking. So, if you see a bread basket, deny it immediately or you will be charged.
- Know-How to Tip: Few countries around the world tip as much as the US and Canada does (and in some places tipping is even rude!), so get to know the tipping customs. I remember leaving a tip at a small sushi restaurant in Japan and the owner ran out of the restaurant and gave me my money back.
When you are on holiday’s it is great to treat yourself to some retail therapy, but there’s a right way spend less and a not-so-cost-effective way of doing it.
- Skip the Souvenirs: If you are going to buy something special to bring home, find something small and meaningful that really represents your trip.
- DIY It: Take lots of pictures and create a DIY souvenir when you get home. Create a collage photo album as a keepsake of your trip. Get creative, and bring out your artistic side.
- Think Small: Find local street markets that might happen during your trip and shop there. You will be surprised by the treasures you may find when you shop off the beaten path.
- Shop Local: If you can’t find a local street market during your travels, hit up local stores in the area to find some truly special souvenirs.
- Get Tax Back: Remember to keep your receipts because you can often get tax refunds at the airport at the end of your trip!
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About the author: Trent (IMDB | Youtube) has spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.