Travel, for either pleasure or business, can be expensive and your expenses can add up quickly if you don’t watch your budget. Here are some great tips to help you keep your travel costs down.
Bring your own reusable water bottle, or save your empty water bottle. I often find myself nervously sipping water during a taxi ride to the airport only to have to dump it out when I get to the airport security check point and then buying a new bottle of water after I arrive in the departure lounge. Bringing our own reusable bottle saves you the expense of purchasing water wherever you go. Don’t forget to pack it in your carry-on luggage and just be sure it is empty. I have also emptied the water into the bathroom sink before the security check point, placed the empty bottle in the security tray and refilled it on the other side. Keep it with you for your entire trip and you’ll save a lot of money by not purchasing bottled water everywhere you go.
Check with your airline regarding the allowable luggage for your particular flight. Find out what luggage is allowed at no charge and what luggage carries an additional cost and if there is a weight restriction. Check the airline’s website for details to ensure you don’t get a nasty ‘over weight’ charge for your luggage when you check in. Airlines differ in their luggage allowances, so check for ALL your flights in advance. If you’re not sure of your luggage weight, jump on your bathroom scale while holding your luggage for an estimate of its weight and subtract your own weight from the reading. I watched a friend pay a $60 over-weight charge for luggage because she was unaware of the restrictions. Packing light, if you can, is always preferable. You’ll find it easier to get around as well.
Avoid major tourist destinations and look for alternative destinations and activities to experience. Paris may be beautiful, but it is also expensive. You may enjoy our vacation in France just as much by staying in a nearby and less expensive village and soaking up the local culture. The same rule applies to tourist attractions. Major museums and the like can be expensive. Instead, seek out local or private smaller museums. Find out if there are special, reduced rates offered on admission on certain days or during slow periods and plan accordingly.
If you’re travelling in a group of 3 or more people, a taxi might be your best and most affordable option for transportation to and from airport and for getting around. The shared cost of a taxi is often the best and most convenient way to get around for a small group. Singles or a couple might find the train, bus service or tube service from the airport is cheaper and the small inconvenience is made up for by the money saved. Try booking your ground transportation online before you arrive for even more savings. Pre-booking can often save you 30-40%.
Book a room and stay in a local, family-run hotel. Major hotel chains can mean major bucks. With a chain hotel you are paying for convenience, and additions such as a nice lobby, bars and restaurants can all add to your hotel cost. Instead choose a local hotel or pension with fewer amenities to keep your costs down.
Don’t pay for convenience if you don’t need it. Often hotels without elevators are much cheaper, particularly in Europe. If you don’t really need the convenience, don’t pay for it. This applies to swimming pools and other add-ons that can really add up. If you aren’t going to use them, find a hotel that meets your needs without all the extras.
Hotels that offer a buffet breakfast with the cost of your room can save you money. Eat well in the morning and you may not be hungry until the late afternoon. Grab an extra apple or two to bring with you when you head out for the day. Hotels that offer a complimentary cocktail hour with free drinks and snacks in the evening are also a good choice and can save you money on your meal budget. Be sure to find out what complimentary services your hotel offers when you check in and take advantage of everything.
When dining out, get off the beaten track and leave the tourist zones. You’ll find less expensive local restaurants that don’t charge tourist prices. Seek out the proprietor if you think you’ll come back before you leave and develop a relationship with them. Some of my most memorable meals have been in small local cafes where the owner remembered me from a few days before. This rarely happens in restaurants that caters to tourist crowds.
While you’re at it, order the local specialty or ask for a recommendation on what to order. The daily special is often prepared with seasonal, local ingredients, and is often the freshest and best value. Don’t forget to sample the local wines, as well.
While sight-seeing during the day, find a street food vendor or two to try, just as the locals do. Be daring and sample something you haven’t tried before. The prices will be reasonable and the quick service means you’ll resume your travel adventure with no delay.
Visit a local farmers market and purchase convenient lunch items to pack with you. Find a beautiful location with a stunning view and enjoy a picnic. Bread, cheese, savory spreads, pastries and fruit are great options. I sometime purchase a small serrated knife at a local store for this purpose and leave it behind when I go. Small plastic containers are handy to have as well and I occasionally bring one or two with me when I travel. I throw them away before I leave to save space in my luggage.
A 24-Hour bus pass is a good way to see a city and gain an overview. It will help you plan your visit and it’s a good, cheap sightseeing alternative.
Take a guided walking tour to learn the history of your travel destination. I find this is always money well spent for the insight it offers on local culture and history. A local guide is a good resource for information and recommendations and it is worth picking their brain is you have specific questions or concerns. Guides are usually local folks, with a wealth of knowledge and are generally happy to answer all your questions. Some destinations offer a free self-guided tour that you can download from the Internet, if you prefer to go it alone. Check out the local city or country tourism website to see if they offer this option. It’s usually free and great option for sightseeing on a budget. Don’t forget to bring your smart device or tablet and a set of earphones. Download what you’re interested in before you go to save on hotel Wi-Fi charges.
Try some of our budget saving travel tips on your next trip and see how much money you can save.