If you haven’t noticed, I travel a fair amount. While I do have a decent job, I’m certainly no millionaire; I’ve just learned how to make my travel money go farther. So how do I afford it all? Read below for some of the top things I do to save money while traveling.
Use public transportation – In most destinations, taxis are expensive. Try to use public transportation as much as possible instead. In London, getting an Oyster Card to pay for the tube and buses will save you almost 50% on transportation, and you won’t have to buy a ticket for every journey for added convenience. If public transportation isn’t an option, try Lyft or Uber which also tend to be cheaper than taxis.
Stay in hostels or AirBnB – Hostels and AirBnB are usually the most affordable way to find lodging. Hostels are basically dormitories so instead of renting the room, you rent a bed. Prices are dramatically lower, usually only being $30 a night. For those who don’t want to share a room, I have been able to find entire apartments or private rooms that are considerably less than the cost of a hotel – and more space – on AirBnB. I do stay in hotels too but only when I see that the price is low or convenience makes it necessary.
Be wise with drinking – Anyone who knows me knows I like a good glass of wine. And while I will have a few drinks while traveling, I try not to go crazy. Oftentimes I’ll go to the grocery store and buy some wine rather than buying all my drinks while out, or in some cases I’ve stayed in hostels with bars and just spent my evening there (drinks in hostels are usually quite cheap). Also look for drink specials and consider staying away from touristy bars.
Look for free activities – While traveling, its never a bad idea to seek out some free activities to do. Museums, parks, cathedrals, or just going on your own walking tour are good ideas for this. For example in London, you could fill a day with free activities easily – watch the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, walk by Big Ben and Parliament, go to a museum in the afternoon, and take a stroll in Hyde Park in the evening.
Be smart with meals – Obviously part of traveling is enjoying different cuisine, so what I tend to do to save money but still enjoy myself is only eat out for some of my meals. I always carry snacks from home with me while traveling, and I typically will also either stop by a grocery/convenience store, look for a farmers market, and/or cook some of my own food to save money.
Travel in the shoulder or off season – I personally think summer is the worst time to travel to Europe. Flights are the most expensive, as is lodging, and attractions have the longest lines at this time of year. I tend to recommend spring or fall to visit instead. Obviously the off season depends on your destination, but if you are willing to travel when the majority of people aren’t you can save quite a bit.
Take advantage of student and youth discounts – Particularly in Europe, many places offer youth and student discounts. Youth discounts are typically available if you are under 25. Student discounts are also usually available if you have a student ID. I’ve been able to get free entry into museums and discounts on various tourist attractions with my student ID.
Pick destinations based on price – If you don’t have a set destination in mind, use Google Flights or SkyScanner to see which destinations are cheapest to travel to for the dates you are looking to travel. For example, I knew that after I finished my winter semester last year that I wanted to go somewhere for a long weekend. While on Google Flights, I found a flight deal for a direct round trip flight from DC to Denver for $60 per person! Markie and I both flew out there for only $120 and had a great time.
Do you have any ways you save money while traveling? Let me know in the comments below!