Saving money is an important thing to consider when traveling. I think of myself as a budget traveler, but I try to balance my spending. I’m not extremely cheap about everything, but I do my best to not waste money when it doesn’t need to be wasted. Do that, and you can have extra money to splurge on other things.
Here are 18 ways you can save money while traveling. I don’t recommend doing every one of them, but practicing a few can greatly decrease your spending and help make your trip more affordable.
1. Stay in a hostel
This is a no brainer. Hostels are usually only a fraction of price of a hotel room. If you don’t mind sharing dorm style accommodation, you can save a bunch of money every night and also meet other like-minded travelers.
2. Share hotel rooms
Traveling with a group? Squeeze as many people as you can in a hotel room. Some smaller hotels will charge you per person though so you’ll have to decide what the best deal is for your situation.
3. Use public transport
Do your best to steer clear of car rentals. They’re usually pretty expensive and driving in a foreign country can be a nightmare. Best to leave it to the professionals and help the environment by taking trains and buses.
4. Share rides
Trying to hail a taxi in front of your hostel or hotel? Ask other travelers where they are going and maybe you’ll be heading in the same direction. If so, split the fare!
Burn some calories and walk around town. Enjoy the area and do some sightseeing.
If you enjoy the great outdoors why not pack your tent and sleeping bag and make camp somewhere. Campsites are cheap and common all over the world if you aren’t able to make camp somewhere in nature itself.
7. Enjoy outdoor activities
Not everything you do has to cost money. Go hiking, lay on the beach, go for a swim, or just spend an evening looking up at the stars.
8. Cook your own meals
This is one tip that you won’t find me practicing very often. I love to eat out and enjoy the local cuisine. But if spending money on food isn’t on your agenda, most hostels have a kitchen and everything you need to make your own dinner. Just head out to the grocery store or local market and pick up something to cook up. Cooking is even better if you have a group of people that can chip in to buy more food and split everything.
9. Eat on the street
Street vendors and small food stalls have some of the tastiest food as well as the most authentic. It’s usually pretty cheap too! No comment on how healthy it may be though.
Getting out and exploring the area can not only be a fun way to spend an afternoon, it can also lead to bargains. You’ll likely find plenty of restaurants and shops that the locals use and are out of the touristy areas.
CouchSurfing is not only about saving money but also about making friends and experiencing the area from a different point of view. I highly recommend it, as I’ve written before, but for the sake of the community, do not use it solely as a way to sleep for free.
11. People watch
Another great, and free, way to spend some time is to just sit and watch the people go by. This is a favorite past time of Moroccan men by the way.
12. Share tours
I’m not a huge fan of taking organized tours but sometimes it is the best way to explore an area that you otherwise might not be able to navigate on your own. In that case, check with others who are staying at your hostel and consider splitting the tour among multiple people. The tour guide might charge a bit more, but it should still be cheaper than doing it solo.
13. Bring a guidebook
I don’t always recommend following every word the guidebook says, but they will often warn of possible tourist traps and will recommend cheaper places to eat, sleep, and shop. The only problem is that once a place is listed in a guidebook, they tend to raise their prices in response to their new popularity. So be sure to continue to shop around.
14. Bring a water bottle, refill it
Bring a BPA-free water bottle with you and refill it with tap water if it is safe to drink. Not only will you save money over buying bottled water, you’re helping the environment and probably encouraging yourself to drink more water as well.
15. Pack common medications
It’s a wise idea to pack some common medications with you if there is a chance you might need them. I always bring ibuprofen for headaches or other aches, and loperamide in case you get a little bout of food sickness. Sure, you can find these everywhere, but they’ll likely cost a lot more.
16. Bring enough batteries and film
I know, who still uses regular batteries or film? I certainly don’t. But if you do, pack extras because they’ll cost a lot more when traveling.
Shopping in bazaars or other open air markets? Bartering is a common practice in many places around the world. Don’t be insulting though and understand that (depending on where you are) you might make more money in a week than the person on the other end of the transaction makes in a year.
18. Just bring a backpack
Don’t over pack! Figure out a way to stuff your things in a backpack and avoid the checked bag fees that nearly every airline is charging now. I’m convinced that everybody can fit their life into a Kelty Redwing 3100 or similar backpack.
If you have any other tips on saving money while traveling please feel free to share them in the comments below.