The best part about travelling is preparing the travel budget… eh… said no one ever? Even myself, a self-confessed budget-oholic can feel overwhelmed trying to get the best prices and deals and attempting to not go spend-cray when we are living for the moment on holiday.
Seeing as we have just gotten back from a month in Europe I thought what better time then now to share what tips and tricks I use when travelling to stretch our travel budget. We travel reasonably often on our own as well as on band trips and that can really add up especially if you are not watching what you spend each time. If you are only travelling once every few years you can probably get away with going a bit all out on a hotel room, shopping trips and fine dining on your vacation. But that’s not going to work so well for your budget when it’s a regular gig.
The cost of travel can be significantly reduced with a little bit of planning and being selective with what you will and won’t spend on or just tweaking is so you don’t spend as much ;). Some of it starts before you have booked a thing and others are to help you maintain your goal budget once in your destination.
Check out 13 Effortless Tips to Save Money on Your Travel Budget for how you can save on your next trip!
- Shop around for all bookings
Shop around from the get go and consider all options when booking a holiday. Is a hotel cheaper and better value for accommodation or would an Airbnb be better? If you’re just after a bed and shower and plan to be out all day, a hostel could be a more budget friendly option. Can you be more flexible with flights days? Booking a flight the day before or after you planned to or at a less convenient time might cost you some sleep but save you hundreds of dollars per ticket. When booking hire cars get 2-3 quotes so you can make sure you are paying a reasonable rate. A little effort at the start of your holiday planning can add up to huge savings. Don’t forget to use the incognito mode in your browser in order to get the best deals on flights and accomodation!
Potential Savings: Picked Airbnb over Hotel room saving $40 a night on accomodation
2. Book your flights and accommodation early
Book well in advance for tours, car hire, accomodation and flights. Bookings closer to the travel date means you will end up paying more or missing out on the dates or times you want. If you need a particular travel day or time you will most likely have to pay much more for the same service than you would have if you just planned ahead. A lot of accommodation sites such as Airbnb, Booking.com and some hotels offer free cancellation on bookings up to a certain time depending on their terms and conditions for the place you are booking so you can often get book accommodation in advance and change the booking dates without being hit with fees if you need more flexibility. Budget Traveller recommends booking flights on Tuesday to get the best flight deals.
Potential Savings: Flying on a 7.40am flight over 11am flight saving you $180
3. Walk or take public transport as much as possible
Where possible on your holidays walk to places to get the most out of your travel budget. You will not only save money by skipping the taxi, get some exercise and fresh air as well as get to see more this way than if you were to drive or take a train. If you can’t walk or the distance is a bit far, consider taking a bus or train over a taxi to reduce your holiday transport costs. Look into any travel passes such as 48 or 72 hour passes that are available that might be able to save you on transport costs over the duration of your stay.
Potential Savings: Taking the train or bus $4 fare over $15 per trip taxi ride
4. Find free activities and entertainment
Travelling and sight seeing can be extremely expensive, especially when you have a lot of bucket list items to tick off. We were happy to spend on activities we really wanted to do or see and the rest of the time tried to find free forms of entertainment. This could include exploring your destination city on foot, checking out a local park, spending some time in your resorts pool or at the beach, visiting a free Art Gallery or Museum, checking out some local scenery or chatting to some other travelers at a bar or cafe and swapping stories. Don’t assume everything fun or enjoyable costs money. Seek out budget friendly activities and your travel budget will go much further without you missing out on the really awesome stuff.
Potential Savings: Free museum entry over ticket entry to viewing platform $50
5. Spend your money where it counts
Following on from finding fun free activities, spend your travel budget on the things that matter to you. If you love Theatre go to a show on your trip, see a band you might not be able to see at home, do a group tour to a site on your bucket list. By being selective with where you spend your cash, you can afford to do those really important must do ones.
Potential Savings: Guilt free spendings here to do what you really want thanks to your saving efforts elsewhere
6. Drink less
Alcohol can be very expensive in a lot of cities around the world. A single drink can set you back $10 or more, particularly if you prefer fancy fruity cocktails like myself. If you are going away for a week you can probably get away with buying a few expensive cocktails with dinner, but when you are travelling for a month that cost is going to eat away your spending money fast. On our most recent trip to Europe we limited drinking in the more expensive cities and stuck to going to bars in the more affordable destinations. There are only so many $14 Vodka and Oranges you can justify on a trip without eating away your travel budget.
Potential Savings: One less cocktail a day at $15, total saving of $105 for the week
7. Pack your lunch and cook occasionally
I actually never thought I would be saying this to anyone but here I am. A couple of weeks ago we were in the Faroe Islands and Iceland and were astounded at the price of food! We thought we lived in one of the most expensive cities in the world but this was a whole new level of expensive! On our first day in the Faroe Islands we paid $40 for two small sandwiches and two small bottles of soft drink. Ouch! We planned to stay eleven nights out of thirty in Europe in Faroe and Iceland and knew paying such hefty food bills three times a day was going to completely blow our travel budget.
Instead of forking out $50 plus per meal we grabbed some groceries to make breakfast at our accommodation each morning to save us buying one meal each day. We also grabbed a few ingredients to make up some sandwiches to take on the road for lunch a few of the days. A handful of the nights we cooked or heated up frozen meals. It’s not something you probably need to do for a short overseas trip in an affordable location but is extremely helpful when you are planning a longer stay, particularly in the more expensive destinations where eating out day to day is going to cost a lot more than you expected.
Potential Savings: Eating breakfast at your accomodation total savings $15 to $30 per day
8. Shop less
I know a lot of people who travel plan to go shopping potentially leading to Mindless consumption. I’ve never really understood this myself, I can shop any day of the week in Sydney and don’t feel spending my time on holidays stuck inside four walls at a mall is a valuable use of my time or airfare. Since I don’t shop on holidays unless I really need something, I not only save myself money when travelling but save myself time. Time that I would much rather use exploring a new city and country, not on finding stuff I can cram my home with.
That doesn’t include the nuisance of lugging around heavy, packed to the brim luggage on your flights or paying excess baggage fees which seem to be getting more and more exorbitant. Once we cut out unnecessary shopping on our holidays it meant we could afford to travel more often and didn’t need to save up a whole bunch of excess cash for spending.
Potential Savings: Not shopping everyday $100+?
9. Be selective with souvenirs
On our first couple of overseas trips we felt the need to bring home souvenir from each place we visited. How could you show that you’d been to Thailand without a key ring to show? You name it we bought it; decorative souvenir plates, key rings, snow globes (which always seem to break :/) and a new fridge magnet from each city. That didn’t include the souvenirs we bought back for family.
Soon enough we found ourselves running out of walls and space to house them all. And I’ve got to be honest with you, apart from a select few displayed around our home, we never really looked at the others sitting on the shelf. We realised that we probably didn’t need all these trinkets to remember our holidays and that the majority of them were really just dust collectors. We decided to limit our souvenir collection for future trips and decided to be a little bit more creative about what we did bring home.
This past trip we limited our souvenirs to coins we collected from each location, ticket stubs from places we visited on our trip, post cards for our family and a small number of post cards we picked out for ourselves. We also took many photos to remember our travels. Not buying souvenirs made travelling easier as we weren’t risking going over our weight allowance and didn’t have to worry about having breakables in our bag that might get damaged in transit. If you do find joy in souvenirs pick one or two you would love to display in your home from your destination but just keep in mind if you do love to travel these are going to add up over time.
Potential Savings: resisting going overboard with souvenirs $50-100+
10. Pack thoughtfully
By bringing what you need you can reduce the money you spend at your destination and help your travel budget. Unless you do your research, some destinations can really set you back for things you can buy affordably at home. I lost one of my gloves in Iceland and the cheapest pair I could find as a replacement was $40. I left my raincoat at home due to limited space in our luggage thinking my umbrella would be fine, and after realising that umbrellas are redundant in the European weather, the cheapest raincoat at my destination that I could find was from $150 AUD. Keeping a travel check list can help you to remember all the important things you will need for your trip and save you buying them! Packing a Capsule Wardrobe can go a long way to covering you for all your clothing needs on your holiday.
Potential Savings: The cost of buying clothes etc $20+
11. Utilise Free WIFI
Save money on your travel budget by taking advantage of free WIFI. Buying a sim at each of your destinations can add up. For most of our destinations we got away with using our Airbnb’s WIFI and Free WIFI in cafe’s. Downloading Google Maps of our destinations also really helped us to access the maps we needed whilst out and about.
Potential Savings: Staying in an airbnb and not paying the $10+ a day WIFI charge for each phone, potentially $70 per person a week
11. Keep your mind open to alternative tourist attractions
Consider alternative options, outside of main tourist areas to help your travel budget go further. In Iceland, we realised that we’d left it too late to book the Blue Lagoon Pools. We decided rather than to go at night we’d try and find another Geothermal pool on our road trip. We found one on our route that ended up only costing $80 for the both or us versus the $200 + it would have cost had we booked at the Blue Lagoon. It ended up being a good thing and meant we had saved a fair wad of cash for more adventures!
Potential Savings: Picking a lesser known tourist attraction for a similar but more affordable one without the crowds $100
12. Shop around for your travel card
Travel cards can charge a range of fees and eat into your spending money. After purchase fees, reload fees, currency conversion fees, ATM fees and the like they can quickly eat up your fun money. When shopping around be sure to compare as many options on the market. A good starting point is Choice’s Travel Money Card comparison but be sure to check the cards website before deciding to ensure you have the most up to date information.
A good starting point is to find a card that has no purchase or reload fees (fees to add money to your card), and ideally one with a low currency conversion charge or none at all and no ATM fees. I recently used the Multi-Currency Cash Passport which had limited fees mainly related to Australian ATM use. Another one I was keen on getting but ran out of time to get was Virgin’s Velocity Frequent Flyer Card which also allows you to earn points as you spend.
Potential Savings: $5 ATM fees per withdrawal, $10 reload fees, conversion fees
13. Set a daily budget before you leave for your holiday
Don’t wait to arrive at your destination to think about the travel budget. Before we left for our trip we set a daily budget and converted that amount in each currency we needed based on how many days we were staying in each. This gave us a stopping point so we could visibly see when we were nearing the end of our budgeted spending money.
If you are budgeting $150 a day as a couple and staying somewhere for two weeks, only convert $2100 in spending money. If you need more you can always add more later, but that limit will help set you a guide day to day for whether you are within your travel budget or over and you can adjust your spending accordingly. It’s best to research the cost of local restaurants, transport etc from travel bloggers or ask a friend who has been before to get an idea of what you should be budgeting.
Potential Savings: Sticking to your $125 a day travel budget rather than not having one and ending up spending $200 a day or $500 extra than planned over a week
How do you travel on a budget? What are your tips for stretching your dollar further whilst still having an amazing, fun holiday? Share your tips in the comments below 🙂
Want more tips on how to save money for your next trip? Check out these 10 Easy Tips to Save Money on Your Groceries!