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When I was younger, one of my greatest accomplishments was that I was a high schooler who traveled to nine different countries. I learned at a young age the importance of working hard, saving my money, and I started learning about different ways to save money while on my trips. It can be very easy to put yourself into debt while traveling, as things can get quite expensive real quick. Keep reading below the view some of the easiest ways to save some money while you are out traveling. These are ways that I try to save money to help make the most of my trip while being a broke young adult.
Travel during off-peak times
Tourist destinations thrive on the times that they can get the most amount of traffic to their area. Peak times usually correlate with school breaks, summer vacations, or festivals/holidays. Businesses can increase souvenirs’ prices, excursions, admission prices, and airlines can skyrocket a plane ticket price. Traveling during off-peak times can help you save money, help you avoid large crowds, and long waits for attractions. A few examples of this include; going to Disney World during school from March-May, avoiding Amsterdam during tulip season, or avoiding Mexico during Christmas break. If the only time you can go is during a peak travel season, consider figuring out somewhere that is not as popular or budget appropriately.
Research free or cheap activities to do
Lots of places have incredible experiences that are either free or cheap to do. This tip just requires a little bit of research. Whenever I plan a trip, I always try to include activities that are paid-for and free activities. In many cities, museums are free to enter (but do consider leaving a donation), you can see some stunning scenery by taking a walk/hike, visit the beach or a park, head to a farmer’s market, or find some cheap events
Bring a refillable water bottle
If you consistently have to buy bottled water, you will find your travel fund gone before you know it. When you bring a refillable water bottle, you are saving money and saving the earth. Fill up your bottle before leaving your accommodations, ask for tap water at restaurants, and take advantage of any water fountains. Tap water in most places is safe to drink, and if you are unsure, just ask someone. For a recommendation on which water bottle to use, read my post on Travel Gifts.
Limit how much you eat out
Eating out at a restaurant can be an entertaining way to explore local cuisine and culture. Once you start ordering full course meals, drinks and include a tip, you can end up spending lots of money. There are different ways to help limit how much you eat out. Try booking accommodations that allow you to cook and store food. Try to make a point to have at least one meal in your accommodation every day. Go to a local grocery store or farmer’s market to pick up fresh produce, snacks, or easy-to-eat items like sandwiches. If you do want to go out to a restaurant, consider splitting a meal with one of your travel companions. Most times, restaurant meals are enormous portions that could easily feed two people, and it can be challenging to store leftovers. You can even share an appetizer or a dessert if you are still hungry by doing this option. If you are in a bustling touristy area, the restaurants/cafes can also be quite expensive because of all the extra demand in the area. Try walking a few blocks from the tourist attractions to find where locals may eat, and you will often find some of the best cuisines at mom-and-pop shops. Never eat at a tourist attraction!
Stay in Airbnb or Hostels
Airbnb and Hostels are an excellent choice for accommodations because they are often budget-friendly, and you have the option of using amenities. You get to decide how much you want to spend, if you are ok with a shared space or want a private space, can cook and store food, support local people, and you can meet people from all over the world. Of course, by sharing a space, you will ultimately save more money, so it just all depends on what your budget is. What I really like about Airbnb’s is the ability to talk with hosts, ask for recommendations (supermarkets nearby, places to eat, best things to do, to name a few), read reviews from other people, and have a wide range of options to choose from. If you are new to Airbnb, you can use my code here to receive a discount on your stay!
Use public transport or walk as much as you can
Taking a bus, train, or using your own two feet is a great way to save money and reduce your ecological impact (hello ecotourism). If you can book your tickets in advanced, it will most likely help you save some money as tickets booked on the day of are usually more expensive. Depending on where you are, there are many downloadable apps that will help you navigate public transport and keep your tickets organized. TrainPal and Trainline are great options for train travel, and then just research a region’s bus options. Walking helps to reduce carbon emissions, you can often see some spectacular views, it is entirely free, and you can burn off some extra calories from those treats you will buy. Taxis are convenient options for getting around and do not require any planning but can be expensive.
Take advantage of seat sales
Have dreams of one day being spontaneous by showing up at the airport and picking some random destination to go to? While this idea is romantic, it is not entirely practical. You often pay a lot for your plane ticket the closer you wait until the flight takes off. If you are not incredibly picky on when or where you fly to, watch for seat sales. This can be a great way to be spontaneous and save some money. Even if you know when you want to leave, you can be flexible with where you go and vice versa. Try downloading apps like Kayak or Hopper. You can curate a watch list, and the app will do the work for you. It will alert you when you think you should book and where they are finding deals. Seat sales often happen during off-peak travel times and during the week. This is where having a plan and looking early can help.
Find discount codes where you can
You may find it annoying seeing people on social media continually showing you affiliate links, but these can actually help you, the consumer, in the long run. An affiliate link works by someone sharing their unique code, then when you use their code, you receive a discount, and the person who referred you will receive a commission off what you purchased. This commission comes from the company’s side and not the consumer side. It is like a little bonus for that influencer driving you to the seller’s website. If you have something in particular that you want to do, do a little research on the web to see what you can find for discount codes. Take advantage of websites like Groupon and Tripadvisor to find some fantastic deals on excursions.
Consider a volunteer program
Volunteering abroad can be a great way to be immersed in a culture, do some good, and potentially save some money. You can either pay to get to the program, or sometimes you can find companies or organizations that will sponsor you. The best experiences I ever had were volunteering abroad, and I got to stay with host families from that area. It was a great way to eat and learn to live like a local. Check out some of the programs from Volunteer International HQ for the best programs for 2021 and 2022.
Figure out what your priorities are; and save for it
There will likely be some trip experiences and activities that are a must-do on your list, even if it can be pricey. It is good to splurge a little and do what you want to; otherwise, you may regret it when you come home. A little education and research will help you to budget for these experiences. Even knowing approximately how much it will cost will allow you to be more aware of how much you will need for the trip and how much more you may need to save. Budgeting is not my thing, but if I know about how much I will spend approximately, I can save for that amount of money without hopefully going into debt.