18 Easy Ways to Save Money Traveling

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!

5. Walk

Burn some calories and walk around town.  Enjoy the area and do some sightseeing.

6. Camp

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.

10. Explore

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.

11. CouchSurf

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.

17. Barter

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.

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How to stay healthy while traveling

first aid
photo credit: TheTruthAbout...

Whether you are traveling for a week or for a year, your health is always a concern you should have.

Traveling in a foreign country usually is an experience to remember, unless you get sick. If you’ve been under the weather while traveling you know first hand what I am talking about.

I’m going to go over a few of the ways I combat sickness and attempt to stay healthy while traveling.

1. Water

You must remember to stay hydrated. Keep in mind that even if you’re just walking around the city with your pack back at your hostel, you’re probably still doing more physical activity than you are used to back home.

Make sure you know if the water in your area is safe to drink though. If not, buy bottled water or if you’re hiking and using stream water, you’ll want.to be sure you can purify your water. There are iodine tablets, filters, and probably the most impressive, the SteriPEN which you can use if you bottle your own water and want to be sure it is safe for drinking.  Be sure any reusable bottles you purchase are BPA-free.

2. Vitamins

A good multi-vitamin can go a long way in keeping your immune system up and fighting the multitudes of germs and bacteria.  Some people use fancy multi-vitamin packs with a handful of various pills and others prefer a simple one-a-day vitamin.

3. Hand Sanitizer

Be sure to wash your hands but if you can’t, a small bottle of hand sanitizer can come in handy. No pun intended.

4. Anti-Diarrheal medicines

I’ve saved the best for last. There is absolutely nothing worse than being so sick that you can’t leave your room. Loperamide (Imodium) works very well if you’ve eaten something bad and are having diarrhea.  Make sure you drink plenty of fluids as you can easily become dehydrated.

5. First-aid kit

Finally, a small first aid kit with basics such as bandages (useful for blisters, not just cuts and scrapes!), antibiotic ointment, and even burn cream if you might be around campfires. There are a plethora of small first-aid kits available everywhere that will take up hardly any room in your backpack.

Have any other suggestions or tips that you use when traveling? Please share them in comments below.

10 Must Have Items for the Independent Traveler

Throughout my travels I have learned a lot of things about what and what not to bring when traveling independently. If you’re the type of traveler who is constantly on the go, I think you’ll benefit from this list.

1. A good backpack:

Sure, you might have some fancy luggage in your closet but if you’re going to be traveling independently on trains, buses, or by foot, you’ll soon be sick and tired of dragging that rolling suitcase behind you.

That’s why I bought the Kelty Redwing 3100 (read my review) for as my main pack when traveling. I’ve gone through three packs before I found this one. It holds about 50 liters of gear, has great padding, and can be adjusted to fit snug and comfortably.

And as a final testimonial, I had shoulder surgery a year before using this for the first time and I never once got sore wearing this bag.

Of course, everybody’s tastes will differ. It might be a good idea to try on a few at your local outdoors store, but with this model being such a bargain, it might be worth the risk to just give it a shot and return it if it doesn’t work out. Note: good backpacks can run upwards of $300.  They might have more space or pockets, but unless you’re packing snow clothes, you shouldn’t need more than 40-50 liters of space.

Best part about this pack, you can carry it on the airplane!

2. A good day pack:

Not everybody will need a second bag, but it can be useful of you will have a base location and be venturing out on hikes or day trips. It’s much easier to leave your large bag behind and load up your day pack with the things you’ll need to get you through the day.
Almost any backpack will do but I particularly like the North Face Recon pack. It holds plenty of gear and is extremely comfortable. As with the Kelty bag, this is one of the first bags I’ve had that doesn’t hurt my shoulders despite loading it up daily with a gallon of water and other junk.

You’ll probably want to have a pack that can hold a water bladder, or at the very least, pockets for water bottles.  You can never have enough water with you!

3. Lonely Planet guide books:

Depending on where you’re going, you’ll likely have a choice of several guidebooks. Over the years I have found Lonely Planet to be the most accurate and helpful for the independent traveler. They tend to cover all types of restaurants and accommodations from the bottom of the barrel budget hostels to five star luxury resorts. Several times I have brought two different guidebooks with me and every time, I end up relying solely on the Lonely Planet.

4. Rough Guide books:

Ok, I wasn’t entirely truthful before. When in Morocco I found myself relying a bit more on the Rough Guide. Since Morocco is a bit difficult to navigate, I often utilized information from both books to determine the best route or activity.

On the other hand though, I’ve browsed other Rough Guides at the book store and some have not been very good. When in doubt, check the reviews on Amazon.

5. Digital Camera:

This probably goes without saying as many people don’t leave home without their camera these days.  My trusty pocket camera is a Nikon S600 which has recently been replaced by the Nikon S610.
You can’t go wrong with just about any modern digital camera and the choices are endless.

I also use a professional Nikon D200 body, but often I find myself leaving it behind and relying on my smaller camera. It’s easier to carry and takes great photos. Don’t forget, most of these small cameras also record movies now. The quality may not be as good as an expensive camcorder, but they work surprisingly well.

6. iPod touch:

Can you tell that I’m a bit of a gadget freak yet? I’ve always brought an iPod along with me ever since I began traveling. You won’t find me walking around the street with headphones in my ears (I prefer the sound of the world around me), but they are great on airplanes and long train rides.

Earlier this year I learned how great my new iPod touch really was. Not only could I use it to listen to music and watch videos on, but its built in WiFi allowed me to hop on to the Internet at every hostel I’ve been at this year and keep in touch with my friends and family. Check your email, surf the web, even post to your blog. Not to mention you can use it to find the latest information on happenings wherever you may be. I’ve since upgraded to an iPhone, but it is so powerful that I don’t even bother carrying a laptop with me anymore. Not even for business trips!

7. Bpa free water bottle:

Ok, enough with the gadgets. No matter where you are, you’ll need to drink water. Depending on where you are, bottled water can often be much more expensive than you’re used to. Solution? Carry your own bottle and refill it with tap water. Just be sure the water is safe to drink where you are visiting!

These CamelBak BPA free water bottles are  great.  Safe to use, strong as heck, and spill proof.  I carry a 1 liter bottle with me every day.

8. Hiking shoes:

You might not need shoes specific to hiking but if you’ll be doing any treading on uneven ground you’ll surely appreciate them.

They’ve evolved over the years to fit and look more like regular old sneakers and less like the mountaineer boots of yesteryear so you won’t feel dorky wearing them around the city as well.

9. Sport sandals:

These are something I wish I had in Costa Rica (and now I do). I tried to make due with my sneakers but every stream, lake, or waterfall we came to I had to sit down and take off my socks and shoes. Then try to keep them dry as I crossed the river only to put them right back on.  I’ve learned my lesson.

They’ll do for mild to medium hikes and you don’t have to take them off when you want to get wet.

10. Quick drying towel:

Last but not least is a quick drying, lightweight towel. They’re thin, light, extremely absorbent, and dry quickly. Much easier to carry than a regular cotton towel, they dry so quickly that they won’t get mildew easily.  Perfect for camping or showering at hostels where you generally need your own towel.  Some hostels will let you use a towel, but there is often a charge. I won’t travel without one anymore.

That’s it! Throw in a few t-shirts and a couple pairs of shorts and you have my backpack, loaded and ready to see the world.

Do you have any suggestions or special items that you can’t travel without?  Please share them in the comments below.

I hope you found this list useful.  If so, and you plan to purchase any of these items or anything else from amazon, I will earn a small percentage of any sales made through the above links.  Anything helps to keep the site up running.  -Thanks!