Saving on travel: 10 additional ways to keep the cash in your pockets while seeing the world

I love to travel. My husband and I have done a lot of traveling in these past 10 years, all across north America, Europe, Russia and other former USSR republics, some African countries, and even central American countries. We have always tried to do it frugally, even when we felt like splurging a bit. Most of this advice comes from personal experience, and as you’ll see, if you are willing to not be picky in your travel plans, but choose flexibility instead, it can save you a lot of money in the long run. Seeing the world doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Here are some specific suggestions on how to save money while traveling.

  • Travel light (that way you won’t have to pay for luggage, now that most airlines charge for even the first bag checked). You can always buy toiletries or even an extra shirt at your destination. Keep carry-on well-organized and down to the sizes required by the airline to avoid having to check it at the gate.
  • Be flexible in your travel plans and be prepared to travel last minute (Many agencies offer various “hot deals” on last-minute and unsold cruises or tours). A lot of travel companies might be getting desperate as the departure date draws near and they still have some unsold seats left. Very often they would rather get something than nothing, and you could benefit from getting a nice tour at 70-80% off.
  • Take a bus tour of a region (like Europe or several neighboring states in the US). Although you might have to spend some nights on the bus, you would certainly save on the hotels. And the travel companies usually don’t put 2 nights in a row into a tour schedule so you could always rest well on the in-between nights at the hotels.
  • Be sure your passport is current. There are very few countries that require Americans to have visas, but if you are planning to travel to one of those, you would need to make sure your visa is taken care of. Otherwise with your passport in hand it would be easy to take advantage of any last-minute airline or hotel deals.
  • Participate in the “home exchange” programs. On this program you can offer your house to another family traveling to your area and you can stay at theirs while you are traveling. This would save a lot of money on the hotels.
  • Try to plan places where you will have your meals in advance, especially if you have children traveling with you. Many restaurants offer “kids eat free” with paying adults, so that would save on costs as well. Also consider having your larger meal of the day during lunch hours, and something smaller for dinner. Lunches are usually MUCH cheaper than dinners and portions might be a bit smaller, but it is not always the case.
  • Take advantage of the museums, galleries, parks, etc. on your traveling route that don’t require admission fee or that have considerable discounts for families or younger children.
  • Check if the tour you want might be cheaper to book from Europe (for example, if you want to go to Egypt or Turkey it’s much cheaper to book it there, then just watch for deals on plane tickets from the US to Europe that come up often).
  • If you are booking a week at a sea resort very often 5-star, all-inclusive resorts might be only slightly more than 2 or 3 star hotels (especially if you are not attached to a particular hotel chain, and are willing to try a hotel that is running a special at the time). But with all the meals and drinks included (and usually those 5-star resorts offer way more and nicer amenities than their lower-star counterparts) you might actually end up saving money overall.
  • If you are traveling outside of the US, do not exchange currency to the one of your destination within the US. You will get a terrible rate, much worse than you would get even at the airport upon arrival. Instead try to ask at your hotel upon arrival what the best place to exchange currency close to them is (usually airports give very bad exchange rates also). Very often hotels would exchange the money for you at a very reasonable rate.



About simplemotherhood

My name is Irina. I blog over at about the joys and challenges of motherhood, our love of travel and how we manage to travel all around the world with 3 children. I also love reading, saving money, and everything from gardening, healthy living, and frugality to scrapbooking, menu planning, and tea parties. I enjoy decorating, organizing, and homeschooling my children.
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