How to save money while travelling

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Travelling is the most beautiful experience we can get but for some it can also turn into a financial black hole.

Yet it doesn’t have to be!

 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!

 

Travelling has never been as cheap! Nowadays you can explore the world for a very good price. You can either find flights for as cheap as $5/£5! (Yep!)

 

I personally think that travelling is cheap and generally it costs me way less to travel than to stay at home. Staying at home generally means going out for a drink, going to the movies, buying some new clothes… all kinds of stuff that add up very quickly!

 

So here are my tips and tricks to save money on your travels. All these little things you can do to make your travels cheap!

 

1 – Use public transport instead of taxi

 

Taxis are always the most expensive transport you can take. Even if you go for a  cheaper alternative such as Uber or Lyft, it’s still quite a budget!

 

The cheaper way to go around is always to take public transport.

 

A $25/£25 ride is generally about $2/£2 via public transport, may it be underground, bus or tram.

 

You should only use taxis when you don’t have any other options. For example, your flight lands very late at night or on the contrary, you’ve got to get to the airport very early.

 

Public transport will generally cost you maximum $15/£15 a day (and yet that would be for an expensive city such as London). This amount of money will barely pay for one ride.

You can literally go everywhere you need during the whole week with public transport than you would with taxis in a day.

Most places offer discounts if you take a day or week pass.

 

Of course, in some places such as the USA, public transport might not be too developed. That means that although cheap, it can get quite hard to get around. However in most places in the world, public transport will take you anywhere you need.

I may also add that if you are travelling to Europe, public transport are a better way to move around. The public transport network in Europe (especially cities) is extremely good. So good that it’s often quicker to take the underground than a taxi.

 

In Paris or London for example, there is no need to even think about renting a car or taxis, underground stations are everywhere and will bring you anywhere you need in no time.

 

Last thing, if there is one place from where you should always prioritize public transport it’s the airports.

Taxis and Ubers always charge you a lot more for rides to and from the airport. Most of the time, it’s an expense you can spare as all airports in the world offer public transport to the city centre.

 

2 – Save on currency exchange with Transferwise

 

If you’re travelling abroad, exchanging currency can quickly turn out to be very expensive. There are 2 reasons for that:

  • You may get a bad exchange rate
  • You may be charged high fees by your bank

 

Over the years, I tried pretty much every possible way to exchange currency including local bureau de change, banks, debit & credit cards, Travelex… Although some were better than others, my world literally changed once I discovered Transferwise!

 

To put that back into context, I am French and live in the UK. This means that I am always juggling between 2 currencies: GBP and Euro. I’ve also spent a lot of time travelling and working in Australia and the USA. This means that I needed bank accounts capable of manage 4 currencies (GBP, Euro, USD and AUD) plus all the currencies needed for my travels (Morocco, Poland, Thailand, Malaysia…).

Currencies are a pain in the backside and paying high fees to your bank is such a waste of money.

 

Transferwise fixed all my problems!

 

Transferwise is a website and online app that enables you to have a Master card debit card for free on which you can add as many wallets as you need. With only one card you can have money in dozens of currencies. You can load it as you go and pay with it or withdraw money.

But it doesn’t stop here, you can also make international transfers for a very little fee!

It’s absolutely brilliant because the fees are up to 10 times cheaper than with your banks and the exchange rate so much better. For the same amount of money, you get so much more!

 

Here is how it works! Transferwise has bank accounts in each currency they provide. They never actually change the money, which is why they can provide such awesome rates, they just get money in one place and send it to you from another one.

For instance, you want to change 100 GBP to USD. From your bank account, you send your £100 to a UK bank account belonging to Transferwise. Once they get it (which is pretty instant), they send to your USD wallet or USD bank account of your choice, the USD equivalent from their USD account.

 

save money on currency exchange

Long story short:

  • you get a better exchange rate
  • you pay less fee
  • it’s quick and easy
  • you get a free Mastercard
  • you can keep track of everything in the mobile app

 

That said, I guess you shouldn’t take my word for it so just create a free Transferwise account and see for yourself! I know you will love it!

 

3 – Walk as much as you can

 

There is another medium of transportation that is literally as cheap as it can get: walking! Walking is completely free! (and good for your health if I may add).

 

budget travel pompeii walking

 

 

When you travel, try to walk as much as you can! Walking is great for two reasons:

– It’s free (and we love free stuff)

– You can get to discover so much more when you walk. That’s how you experience a place the best. Just walk around and get lost!

 

Of course, I am nowhere near implying that you should be walking everywhere! There is only so much walking one can do.

But sometimes, instead of taking an uber or a bus, just walk there. If it’s less than 25 minutes walk, it’s generally not that far. Also, you will see so much more along the way!

 

Another little tip. When you plan your activities, try to gather them based on their location. If you gather the one that are near to each other, you will be able to walk from one to another. This will both save you time and money!

 

4 – Be flexible with your travelling dates

 

This one is probably the best travel money-saving tip of them all.

 

Flights, trains, buses and hotels tend to get expensive when you are not flexible with dates and destinations.

 

If you want to go to Spain in July, it will obviously be more expensive than going there in March. Because everyone wants to be in Spain in July.

 

Same thing, if you want that flight on friday evening so you get to have the whole weekend there and not have to take the friday off, well that will be more expensive than a flight on tuesday at 2pm.

And that’s normal, we all want that! We all want to get the most of it without having to take more days off.

 

But because there is high demand and low offering, prices shoot up! It’s basically like the stock market.

 

If you want to get the best travel deals, you have to be flexible on:

– the destination

– the dates (don’t go during the high season, school holidays or bank holiday)

– the day of the week (Thursday to monday are generally more expensive, tuesday and wednesday are way cheaper)

– the time (early morning and late evening flights are more expensive, flights in the middle of the day are the cheapest).

Basically book what others don’t want. Not what they don’t want because it’s crap, just inconvenient.

 

Of course, this is not always possible but as all the other tips to save money while travelling, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth it or not!

 

5 – Use Skyscanner

 

Skyscanner is a game-changer when it comes to booking flights. It’s always my go to resource when it comes to travel.

 

Skyscanner is a flight comparison website.

Great! Another a comparison website, I hear you say! Yes but hold that thought for a sec. Skyscanner is special! It lets you do things that other websites don’t. Instead of having to search for a specific destination and dates, it lets you search for the cheapest dates within the year or a specific month. But also for the cheapest destination in the world or in a specific country.

This means that if you want to get the best flights deals, you can just search “To: Everywhere”, “When: Cheapest dates” and it will show you all the options.

 

how to search on skyscanner

 

This tool is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. I could not live without it. It helps me to plan my travels and most of all get the best deal!

Here are some deals I got with Skyscanner:

  • Toulouse – London (single): 8 euros
  • Manchester – Dublin (return): £19
  • Manchester – Warsaw (single): £10
  • Manchester – Cagliari (return): £40
  • Manchester – Brussels (return): £28

 

Pretty amazing right? And don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean they were bad flights. I went to Sardinia end of June, this is the best seasons! And I left on Wednesday morning early and came back on Sunday evening, it was brilliant!

 

Skyscanner also offers comparison tools for car hires!

 

6 – Go on a camping trip

 

Camping is to accommodation what walking is to transport. (Alright not quite, camping is not always free! But you see my point).

 

If you are a nature lover and like the outdoors, why not go on a camping trip?

 

budget travel camping

 

 

It’s a great way to experience a new place and it works out way cheaper than any other kind of accommodation.

 

Of course, you wouldn’t go camping in the middle of a big city but if you are going somewhere a bit more outdoorsy, it’s definitely a great thing to do.

 

I flew to Sardinia, Italy, in 2018, hired a car and camped every day! And it was AMAZING!

I took a mattress, pump and tent with me (and managed to fit all of that plus my clothes in a 40L backpack).

 

If you like camping, then you should definitely plan more travels that way. If, on the other hand, you hate camping, that’s fine, just skip to the next point!

 

7 – Choose hotels with breakfast included

 

Once again, we are talking food!

Food is very important when you travel and can be a big budget but it’s also something you can cut down a lot on.

 

Whaaaaat? I should stop eating when I travel???

 

Of course not! Hey! You’re talking to a foodie here so don’t y’all worry, I would never imply you should eat less.

 

However, there are ways to eat better!

 

If you book a hotel with breakfast included that can help you save a lot of money. I’m not talking about a crappy brekkie with one piece of bread here. I’m talking real brekkie! You know with toast, jam, butter, beans, eggs, croissants … you know, the GOOD STUFF!

 

pancakes breakfast moose cafe manchester

 

 

Besides the fact that they are amazing, these brekkies are generally very filling and will make you go through most of the day.

 

Buying little snacks throughout the day can add up very quickly so if you start it with a good breakfast (remember, that’s the most important meal of the day), you will be less hungry later on.

 

That means, spend less and enjoy more!

 

Some people even manage to not need lunch. Big breakfast and dinner. If that’s your case, that’s good but I would not go that far personally. I need my 3 meals a day. Like a big girl 🙂

 

8 – Choose your hotel location wisely

 

When you look for a hotel to book, you will notice that the further you go from the city centre, the cheapest it gets. Makes sense right?

Well, before you go ahead and just book the cheapest you can see, think that through a tiny bit.

You should always calculate the total cost rather than just looking at the hotel price. This includes the cost of transport to go from your hotel to the places you want to visit, running times of public transport, prices of a taxi to bring you back if you missed the last train/bus and the time spent in transportation.

 

Let’s say you find a hotel for £40 a night in North London. You will spend £12 per head each day in public transport and it will take you at least 1 hour to get to the centre. That means, 2 hours of your life you will never have back. I can’t put a price on time, but just imagine the things you could do during these 2 hours. Also, let’s say you are 2 people travelling, that means your “cheap” hotel actually costs you £64 per day. If you were staying in the centre, you could walk and wouldn’t have to pay that much in transportation. So if you see a hotel for £60 in a convenient location, it will actually work out cheaper.

 

It’s not always the case but just remember to look at the bigger picture as it could make a big difference.

 

9 – Eat like the locals

 

“Do in Rome what the Romans do” they say! This could not be more accurate. When you travel, you should always try to stick to local food. 2 reasons why:

– It’s the best food you will get

– it’s the cheapest food you can get.

Besides the fact that it will be absolutely delicious, local food is always the cheapest. If you stick to local food during your travels, you will save so much money.

 

If you are trying to get welsh lamb in Thailand, you will pay an absolute fortune and it probably won’t be good. If you get welsh lamb in Wales, you will pay a reasonable price and it will blow your mind.

 

So leave your normal food at home and try some new things!

 

At the end of the day, regardless of the financial aspect, it’s one of the best things about travelling and you shouldn’t miss out on that.

 

10 – Go on free walking tours

 

Free walking tours are a great option to discover a new city! I am a huge fan of them and explain everything in my article about free walking tours.

 

You will find them in almost every city. They generally run a couple of times per day. You can join the tour for free. A tour guide will bring you all around the city and explains to you what their city is all about.

 

These tour guides are actually freelancers, which means that they rely on tips to make a living. This also means that the tour is not actually free as you should be tipping your guide. However, you are free to give whatever you think the tour was worth. I generally give between £5 and £10 depending on the country and how good the guide was.

 

This is a great way to explore a city, learn plenty of things about it while not having to pay a fortune.

 

If there are no free walking tours where you are, I’d still recommend to go on a walking tour. You can book walking tour for less than $/£15 on Get your guide. The reason why I recommend walking tours (free or not) is that you get a lot for your money. It will help you to understand the culture of the city and country, see the main landmarks, get some historic facts, tips on where to eat and most of all, it’s a very time-efficient solution. Within a couple of hours, you will know so much!

 

11 – Buy food in supermarkets instead of eating out

 

As tempting as eating out might be, this is something you can easily cut down in order to save some money.

 

Eating in a restaurant will generally cost you at least 3 times more than if you get food from a supermarket.

 

If you go to a supermarket, you will find plenty of food ready to be eaten such as sandwiches or wraps. For less than $5 you’ve got your lunch sorted.

 

If you want to make it even cheaper, you can even make your sandwich yourself. Here is what I do when I travel with someone. We go to the supermarket and buy:

– A baguette

– Sliced cheese

– Ham

 

This generally works out about $5 all together!

 

Then we go to a park and find a cosy bench and just put the ham and cheese in the bread! Easy peasy!

 

Obviously you wouldn’t want to do that if it’s raining or very cold but you might find another place such as a library.

 

It’s easy, cheap and saves us both time and money.

 

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that but finding a restaurant can be a nightmare. Sometimes we end up debating for hours where to go! And even when you finally find something, a sitting meal is generally quite long.

 

So a quick supermarket sandwich is ideal with you have a limited amount of time and want to make the best of your day.

 

Of course I’m not saying to do that for every single meal. This is your holiday and you should treat yourself! Also restaurants are the best place to try local food.

Just don’t do it 3 times a day.

 

It’s a question of balance 😉 A balance that can save you $20/£20 per day.

 

Personally I like to do that for lunch and then treat myself for dinner.

 

Another thing you can do that will both save you money and make you experience local food is to go to the supermarket and take a selection of small things to bring back to the hotel. Basically making your own tapas with local products.

 

Everytime I go to Italy for example, I always do that. I love italian products and you don’t get to try them all in restaurants. More food, less money… what else can I ask.

What I generally do is: I go to the supermarket and take a selection of cheese, salami, bread and other snacks (olives, peppers…). Bring everything back to the hotel and we munch a bit on everything. Most of the time there is also enough left to make a sandwich for the day after so I hit 2 birds with one stone.

 

12 – Buy drinks in supermarkets and have a drink at your hotel before going out

 

When you are travelling, drinks can become an important part of your spending. A coffee there, a martini here… it adds up quickly!

 

A bit like with food, it’s a budget you can reduce by buying some of your drinks in supermarkets rather than going to a cafe or a bar.

 

It’s perfectly normal wanting to have breakfast at the terrace of a cafe or drinks on a night out. However, you don’t have to take all your drinks there! You can also buy them in a shop and have a drink at your hotel before going out. In some cities such as Lisbon, you are even allowed to drink in the streets which means that you can make your own drinks at the hotel and go outside with it!

 

This is pretty awesome!

 

If you do that, you can reduce easily your “drinks” budget by half. Depending on how much you usually drink, it can make a massive difference.

 

 

13 – Book a flat with a kitchen

 

If you want your privacy, there is nothing better than having a whole flat for yourself. You can book a flat via Airbnb, Booking.com or Agoda. The good thing about it is that you will get a kitchen.

Having a kitchen means that you can cook your own meals, store food and prepare sandwiches for the next day.

 

I appreciate that you might not want to cook much during your holidays and this is fine. You don’t have to! But having a kitchen gives you the possibility to do so. If you go to the supermarket and get yourself some stuff to make a few sandwiches, that’s a couple of lunches sorted and restaurants avoided.

It’s also great for breakfasts. If you have your breakfast and coffee at the flat it’s at least $5/£5 per head saved everyday. So if you are 2 people going on a week long holiday, it’s minimum $70/£70 saved.

 

So you see? It wasn’t that hard! There are many things you can do to save money while travelling! You don’t have to do all of these things obviously but just try some from time to time and you will see, it will make a difference.

 

You may also be interested in:

 

Transferwise review: service, app and card

How to exchange currency

 

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how to save money while traveling