12 TIPS TO SAVE MONEY WHILE TRAVELING
This page may contain compensated links. For more information read our disclaimer here.
by Kristin Young | Updated On: June 19, 2019
Budgeting while traveling doesn’t necessarily mean always looking for the cheapest places to stay or visit. Everyone lives on a budget, whether that means you are comparing a $5 hostel and a $20 hotel in India, or a $10,000 waterfront mansion and a $40,000 yacht rental. It’s all about deciding where to save and where to splurge. So, these are our best tips to save money while traveling.
Save on the things that aren’t that important to you, so you can splurge on the things that are.
Travel During Shoulder Season
This is something I push a lot, and for good reason. Not only will you score cheaper flights and accommodations, but you will also avoid the huge crowds and lines during peak season… and we all know how much kids love to wait in lines.
Fly Mid-week or Saturday
Typically Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday are the cheapest days to fly. Monday and Friday are busy days for business travelers, while Sundays are usually the most popular for everyone else trying to make the most of their time off. Consider taking an extra day off of work and school to score a better deal on flights. And always check a few days before and after your ideal dates to make sure you aren’t missing out on a much better deal.
Keep an Open Mind on Location
If you don’t have your heart set on a specific location, you can save BIG by picking a destination based on the current deals. Scott’s Cheap Flights mailing list and Skyscanner’s Comparison Map are my two favorite tools.
Rent an Apartment with Cooking Facilities
Eating out is a HUGE budget breaker. If you rent somewhere that you can cook and have meals at home, you’ll save a ton. We almost always rent through Airbnb because it’s easy, inexpensive, and super-convenient to have a whole house when traveling with kids. Get $40 off your first night’s stay HERE!
Grocery Shop at the Local Market
This goes hand in hand with cooking at home, but make sure to buy your groceries at the places the locals do. Some grocery stores in cities can be incredibly pricey because they are for tourists or specialty ingredients. Grab some fresh seasonal food at the market and you will be rewarded not only with savings, but also new and exciting local food to try.
Eat Where the Locals Eat
Sorry, but that Hard Rock Cafe is not authentic or local and will probably be mediocre food at best, as well as costing you an arm and a leg. So, forgo the big restaurants next to the tourist hotspots, and instead go where you see the local people going. This includes street food. Be cautious about buying off the street, but if the locals are lining up, you can pretty much be assured that the food is fresh and delicious. If you’re not sure where to find these great local places, check on Pinterest, and you can almost always find great blogs about the best places to eat in a given city.
Travel with Family and Friends
Some people love it and some hate it, but traveling with family or friends can save you big time on accommodations. Usually you can find a multi-room apartment or house for only a slight bit more than what you would pay for a single hotel room. We often travel with my parents, and splitting the cost of a house saves a ton. (Bonus: we sometimes get in-house babysitters for date nights!)
Book a Hotel with Extras
Embassy Suites is one of our favorites if we aren’t renting a house. Not only is every room a suite (which I’ve preached about a ton), but they also include a huge made-to-order breakfast and evening happy hour with free appetizers and drinks. And, unlike rental houses, you can earn hotel rewards with Hilton for your stays.
Look Up Free Days
Loads of the top tourist attractions and museums have free days every once in a while. Now, this will be a trade off, because free days bring in the crowds, but they can save you a ton of cash, especially if you’re paying for several entry tickets like our family.
Find Free or Inexpensive Events
Get a local event calendar and see what’s going on around the city you’re in. Have you ever lived in a city? Think about how many free fun things there are to do on the weekends, especially in the summer. Often there are things like concerts, movies in the park, or fairs that you can enjoy absolutely free of charge. Plus, many of these things are geared more toward the locals, so you can experience a bit of what it’s like to live in that city.
Book Activities Online
Often booking in advance or online can save a substantial amount over entrance costs when you pay on arrival, so be sure to check websites before you go. In addition to booking online, many cities offer passes to a bunch of top attractions at a fraction of the cost. Make sure to do the math on how many attractions you can realistically hit, but this could be a big money saver.
Enjoy the Outdoors
Hiking, jogging, and playing at the playground are usually free and can keep our troop entertained for hours. If you like the outdoors, there are usually ENDLESS possibilities.
Depending on the location, some beaches do have a minimal fee. But you can relax, swim, soak up the sun, picnic, and people watch all day if you please.
One of our favorite things to do in a city is just to wander the streets, see the architecture, and experience the city. Again, free for the taking – just grab a map and get lost for the day.
Budgeting is essential, but the best advice I’ve ever gotten is to SPLURGE sometimes. Don’t always cheap out because it’s a good deal. Spend some extra on that local guide that can give you insider access, or fork out for the beach chair and umbrella so you don’t have to sit on the rocky beach. Little things can make all of the difference. Save where you can, so when the opportunity for something great comes up, you won’t feel guilty taking it.