One of the questions we are often asked about is how we afford to travel. Many of you already know if you have read about how my journey began that I have been traveling for over 25 years and have found ways to travel even when I used to work minimum wage jobs. For us it has been a process of sticking to a budget, saving money to travel every year, as well as finding ways to reduce our travel expenses. Travel costs can quickly add up when you include airfare, accommodation, food, transportation, and activities. However, with research and planning ahead travel can be more affordable. The following are things we do and have been doing for many years while on the road to make our travels less expensive and help make our money last longer. We hope these easy money saving tips while on the road traveling will help you too!
This post contains affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more information.
Stay In Accommodation With A Kitchen
We typically rent an apartment through Airbnb that has a kitchen so you are able to cook meals at home rather than eat out. You will save a great deal of money by not always eating out a couple times a day. Hostels also often have a shared kitchen available.
Save Money On Food
Shop at the local grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and bakeries. Even if your accommodation doesn’t have a kitchen, you can buy fresh fruit, trail mix, nuts, granola bars, crackers, bread, and other food items to bring back to your hotel so you have snacks and breakfast items to eat. Heading out to travel by bus, train, or plane? Remember to bring your snacks as we all know how expensive food can be when purchasing it at airports and on flights.
Off-Peak Season Travel
Travel during the low season or shoulder season when airfare and accommodation is typically more affordable. The shoulder season is right before and right after the peak season. You will often find us traveling during the shoulder season when the weather still tends to be nice and there are also less crowds. However, know the tourist seasons and weather cycles for where you want to travel. Although you will find incredible flight deals and great prices on accommodation during the low season in India, you might find the extremely hot and humid weather uncomfortable and hard to bear.
Seek Out Flight Deals
Track desired routes and know what airlines service these routes. Be flexible with your travel dates. You can track and monitor flights using online tools such as Google Flights, Skyscanner, as well as checking airline websites. Purchase ticket as far in advance as possible.
Longer Stays In One Place
We usually book a place to stay through Airbnb which tends to be less expensive than hotels. Since we have been traveling for longer periods of time, we try to make one location our home base where we can easily do day trips. You can find a lot of hosts offering a discount if you are staying for at least a week. You can also search booking.com for apartment rentals.
In addition, look for local hotel promotions. When we traveled to Santa Fe, we stayed at the historic El Ray Court that opened in 1936. At the time, they had a special offer of a free nights stay when booking there for at least two nights.
Choose Affordable Destinations
Always find out how expensive a country is before traveling there. What are the average costs of accommodation, food, transportation, and the activities you would like to do? By choosing less expensive places to travel your money will go a lot further. We have enjoyed traveling to affordable destinations in countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, and Romania.
Enjoy Free Activities
Explore the neighborhoods, visit the markets, churches, museums, and stroll through public gardens. Whenever we are in London, we visit a couple of the excellent free museums such as the National Gallery, Tate Modern, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the British Museum. Do research to find out about free activities in the place you are visiting.
Use Public Transportation
Within many cities you don’t need to rent a car or take a taxi. Usually public transportation such as subways, buses, trams, and commuter trains are not only frequent and fast, but the cheapest option to get you where you want to go. Many cities have daily-passes available as well that can save you a lot of time and money. However, do the math to determine if the number of rides you anticipate needing would cost less with a day-pass. Many of the tourist attractions are relatively close to each other in a lot of European cities so walking is a free healthy option too.
Also, save money by using public transportation to and from the airport. Most airport websites explain public transport options with links to local transport providers so there is no excuse not to research available transportation ahead of your visit. It could save you a lot of money and headaches.
Spend Time Doing Research
So much of saving money and avoiding costly mistakes while traveling comes back to good research. As part of your research read travel books and guide books, watch videos, search Pinterest, read blogs, and check reviews on sites like TripAdvisor. Take lots of notes, bookmark useful information, and save ideas and inspiration on Pinterest. Let’s look some more at researching transportation as an example. When deciding what cities and sights you would like to see on your upcoming trip, find out the best and most cost effective ways to get from point A to point B. If you decide to rent a car while traveling make sure to thoroughly research car insurance, rental car companies, roadside assistance, and local driving regulations.
Also to save time, money, and disappointment make sure to double check when tourist attractions are open. When we were in Paris last year, we were planning a day to visit the Palace and gardens of Versailles. When we double checked opening hours online in the morning when we planned to visit, we found out the entire Estate of Versailles was unexpectedly closed for the day. We later learned Versailles was closed due to a visit from Vladimir Putin!
Hotel Rewards Programs
By joining a hotel rewards program, you can earn points towards getting free nights. For years we have been using the Hilton Honors Rewards Program. Since we often take early morning flights we will choose to spend the night before at a hotel near the airport. On many occasions we have used our points for a free nights stay at an airport hotel.
In different cities around the world check on the amount of points required for your free nights stay. We found great value in using our points at Hilton hotels in Poland and Romania. We used 5,000 points for a free night in Krakow versus 30,000 points at the Doubletree at London Heathrow Airport.
Local Tips And Suggestions
Talk to locals and ask for their recommendations for restaurants, shopping, and things to do. Typically people from the area will give great suggestions for affordable and tasty local bites. So many times we have been given recommendations that we otherwise would have never known about.
Also in general, the touristy areas are going to be more expensive for eating out. Sometimes you just need to go a little further away from the main tourist areas and you will find affordable places.
Hope some of these tips help out when planning your future travels! Let us know in the comments below what your favorite money saving tips for traveling are.