The end of this September marks 5 years since I started travelling. By which point I will have travelled to nearly 40 countries, and spent close to one year total on the road. Not too shabby for a part-time traveller who had never even been on a plane until she was 22!
So how do I do it? I’m not rich. I don’t have a trust fund or a sugar daddy. It’s a lot of hard work and dedication, and a few money saving tricks that I’ve learned along the way. So if you have the travel bug and are looking to save as much as you can for the trip of your dreams, here are 75 ideas to help save money for travel.
Step 1: Building Up Your Travel Fund
1) Give up the coffee runs. Make it yourself at home or, if you don’t need it, skip it all together.
2) Stop eating out- cook every meal for yourself.
3) Meal plan so you buy what you need and don’t waste.
4) Search for coupons, shop around, and buy whats on sale.
5) Move home if possible.
6) If not, move in with friends to cut costs.
7) If you have your own place, consider renting rooms out. Short term, long term, or Air BnB
8)Trade nights out for nights in. Netflix over theatres, bottles of wine and cases of beer over bar tabs.
9)Sell what you don’t use: books, clothes, technology- whatever you don’t want or need anymore.
10)If you have prescriptions, order in bulk to avoid unnecessary dispensing fees.
11) If you are a woman: skip the shampoo and styling when getting haircuts.
12) Ditch your car: carpool, walk, or take public transportation.
13) Downgrade your cable and cell phone plan.
14) Do your laundry and run the dishwasher during off-peak hours.
15) Forget the gym membership- run/bike/walk outdoors.
16) Ask your boss for a raise.
17) Pick up more hours, or a second job on weekends and evenings.
18) Stop buying bottled water, drink from the tap (if safe) or get a filter.
19) Take back those empty beer cans, wine bottles, and milk jugs for the refund
20) Create personalized DIY gifts for your family and friends at birthdays and holidays.
21) Have a separate savings account set up to send part of your paycheque to automatically.
22) Set yourself a monthly spending limit. Don’t go over it, and if you have any left over, stash it for the travel fund. If you are worried about overspending on credit cards, consider a pre-paid card like this one.
23) Consider a capsule wardrobe so you don’t overspend on clothing.
24) If you have vision problems, wear your glasses more often to save money on contacts.
25) When its your birthday/ holiday ask for money/vouchers/gift certificates for travel. Create a list of items with costs ie: 1 day of scuba diving $100 or 1 entry ticket to a local museum $20. People are more likely to give money as a gift when they feel like they are contributing to something specific.
Step 2: Trip Planning
26) Be flexible with your destination- try Skyscanner and use the ‘everywhere’ option
to see what’s cheapest during your travel dates.
27) Be flexible with your schedule- sign up for flight deal email lists like Scott’s Cheap Flights
(awesome for Canadian and American travellers) and take advantage of error prices and
28) Sign up for airline newsletters to keep informed of when their sales happen.
29) Book flights in advance, the closer you get to the date, the more expensive they get
30) Get a travel-friendly credit card; something that will get you discounts and perks, or even
just points that you can use towards travel. Check this list for the best travel credit cards in Canada.
31) Consider using budget airlines: they often cut out food an in-flight entertainment but you can
bring your own.
32) Plan what you pack: Can you get away with a carry-on and cut costs by not checking a bag?
33) Check out flight prices from different airports. It may be cheaper to take a bus or drive to a
larger airport than fly from the one closest to your home.
34) Consider flying into a cheaper destination then using a bus, train, or smaller airline to get
where you really want to go.
35) Look into travelling during shoulder season, you’ll cut costs and escape crowds
36) Sign up for a hotel booking website with a point system. For example, hotels.com has a
rewards program where you buy 10 nights and get the 11th for free.
37) Shop around for hotel pricing at different websites INCLUDING the actual hotel website- it’s
often the best option.
38) Consider AirBNB, guesthouses, or hostels (many have private rooms) which are often
cheaper than hotels.
39) If you are set on a certain hotel- book well in advance for earlybird pricing.
40) If you are flexible on accommodation, book last minute as prices often drop to fill rooms.
41) Keep in mind city centre is more expensive. Look into alternatives a little farther out that are
easily connected by public transportation.
42) Check to see which accommodations offer ‘extras’- free breakfast, wifi, coffee/tea/snacks,
43) Forget buying the pricey guidebooks, check out travel forums and blogs for the best tips and
most up to date guides.
44) Consider functionality and comfort when packing clothing– you don’t want to have
to buy something you could have easily brought from home.
45) If you need any specialty or weather-specific items; look into if they are cheaper to bring or
buy at your destination.
46) Consult your bank ahead of time- most accounts get charged $5 per international
withdrawal. There are usually programs you can sign up for to minimize or avoid this cost.
47) If travelling for an extended amount of time: cancel your cell phone, or put it on a low-cost
plan while you are gone.
48) If you plan on bringing your cellphone (make sure it’s unlocked!) don’t get an international
plan, just buy local sim cards as you go – it’s cheaper.
49) Don’t create a really busy itinerary; slow travel is more budget friendly, and often more
50) Search ahead for discounts and coupon codes, you never know what you might find.
A lot of travel bloggers offer discount codes for tours or accommodation on occasion as
Step 3: While Travelling
51) Walk, walk, walk, walk. It won’t cost you a thing and and its the best way to see a city.
52) Shop around: many companies offer the same tours and outings but different pricing.
53) Ask your accommodation if they have any discounts for nearby restaurants/tours.
54) Join a *free* (tip based) walking tour of the city rather than a private or small group tour.
55) Use Uber or similar rather than official taxis.
56) Rely on public transportation instead of private transfers and taxis.
57) If you plan on doing lots of sight-seeing/museums/attractions, invest in a city pass
58) When paying with a credit/debit card, always pay in local currency. Your credit card
company has better exchange rates than the local shops or hotels.
59) Use ATMs over currency exchange counters; again, better exchange rate.
60) When travelling long distances, go overnight to combine accommodation and travel costs.
61) Take the time to price out busses vs trains vs airfare when travelling between cities or
countries. Some places have incredibly cheap flights (Ryanair, Easy Jet, Air Asia etc.).
62) Eat local; food from your homeland will always be significantly more expensive. Same goes
63) Eat street food. Pro tip: watch which vendors the local use and buy from there.
64) Bring a reusable water bottle and a purifier, like Steripen, rather than continually buying bottled water.
65) If staying somewhere for awhile, grocery shop and cook for yourself.
66) Don’t eat at restaurants right by the major attractions. Ask your accommodations for
suggestions that are local favourites.
67) If you are a longterm traveller, consider using HelpX or a similar program to work a bit for
accommodation (and sometimes food).
68) If you are spending an extended amount of time in an area, look into bulk passes ie: Euro
rail tickets, ASEAN pass (air Asia).
69) ALWAYS have a rough idea of the currency exchange to avoid nasty surprises.
70) Research local customs ahead of time and don’t be afraid to barter.
71) Research tipping culture in advance, and always check the bill to make sure it’s not already
72) Many attractions often have a free or discount day- look into that in advance and plan
73) Be social: chances are you aren’t the only one that wants to rent a car to go swimming in
the waterfalls, or tour the temples. Ask around to see if anyone wants to split a driver.
74) When booking part of a trip while travelling, use the local versions of the website. Because
exchange rates are constantly changing there’s a good chance you will get a better deal.
75) Take advantage of tax free shopping: many countries have a program in place where
travellers get the sales tax (or at least part of it) back on purchases. You’ll have to fill out a
couple forms but it’s worth getting the cash back.
Have some money saving tips of your own? Share them below!