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Top Ten Tips to Save Money Traveling

Updated on February 25, 2011

How To Save Money on Travel

I have always traveled - usually until the money ran out and I had to get another job! This is a powerful incentive to economise on the stuff that doesn't matter, while still having a great trip. This request is a bit of dilemma for me as I have written a lot about travel here - so you are going to get a few links to stuff I have written elsewhere and here at HubPages. A guess the trick to traveling cheap is to avoid cocooning yourself in a tour so you never have to interact with the locals. The more you pre-pay a trip, generally the more you will pay (there are a couple exceptions - I'll get to those).

Also focus on what is important to YOU not what the guidebook tells you should be important - if you would rather die than go to the ballet at home why would you pay for an over-priced ticket to the Bolshoi in Moscow? If food is important to you make that a focus of your trip, and skimp on the accommodation. You don't have to stay at a wonderfully luxurious hotel: have a meal there instead. Or pay to use their pool.

So here my top ten tips for saving money traveling: in a random order - its too hard to generalise!

Underground Motel, Coober Pedy, Australia
Underground Motel, Coober Pedy, Australia
Machu Picchu at Dawn Photo: Jessie Reeder via flickr
Machu Picchu at Dawn Photo: Jessie Reeder via flickr

Book Last Minute to Save Money

Or book far in advance! It depends but generally in Australia its better to book hotels last minute and to book airfares as far in advance as you are sure of your dates. The exception are places that are known to be booked out month's in advance: Sydney for New Year's is always a problem for this.

Its worth checking out the local holiday calendar at the planning stage to avoid this sort of problem. That said the ONLY hotels I generally book are:

  • the first night or two having flown long-haul;

  • if I want to stay at a specific property for whatever reason, usually its location: Machu Picchu is a good example of this;

  • I have to, some countries particularly resort islands insist that you do so: Maldives and one and also many smaller Pacific Islands.

Unusual bathroom Photo: caribb via flickr
Unusual bathroom Photo: caribb via flickr

Downgrade Your Accommodation Options - Save Money on the Bathroom!

Do you really need an en-suite? Do you have a bathroom per a bedroom at home? Why can't you share a bathroom on holiday? Its the single biggest thing that will reduce your holiday costs.

Older hotels in Europe are maybe 50% of the cost of a "tourist" class hotel because the WC is down the hall. Often you will have a basin in the room and sometimes even a shower, but the WC is down the hall. Why is this a big deal to so many travelers. Get over it and save a lot of money.

Now if you are traveling solo there is another huge money saver: a hostel: book a dorm bed rather than a room. You will meet more people and quite likely find someone going your way to save money on a twin-bed room the next time. Travelers do this all the time: if a guy asks a girl to share a room in a hostel its usually purely financial transaction - and no I didn't mean that!

Winter in Krakow, Photo:smif via flickr
Winter in Krakow, Photo:smif via flickr

Travel Out of Season to Save Money

Some countries basically double or triple their prices in high season. Go to Italy in August and you will pay a great deal more than if you go in June or September - because all the local tourists have holidays - in August.

Travel Light to Save Money

Traveling light will save you money and your back. If your bags are heavy your will pay: for a taxi, for a porter, for hotel with a lift (no not every hotel in Europe has those either). Pack smart - never take anything that won't do double duty - and don't forget the most important item to pack ...

Buy Gear and Supplies At Your Destination to Save Money

Unless you are headed to an exclusive resort with only a resort shop, most items are cheaper almost anywhere in the world. Suntan lotion can sometimes be an exception but otherwise toiletries and prescription drugs and particularly anti-malerials are often cheaper to obtain once you arrive in country. Don't bother shopping for a bikini before you get to Thailand. Though if you do have large feet you might want to bring all your footwear with you.

Eat out at Lunch Time to Save Money

Eating your main meal in the middle of the day can save you a fortune. Most restaurants have lunch specials or menu del dia's in Europe which will typically give you a three course meal plus wine for the same price as a main course at dinner time.

Alternatively pack a picnic lunch from the deli section of the local market and find a nice spot in a park to feast on fresh local bread and cheese!

Save Money Using Cash

Cards are useful, very useful when traveling, but the best deal will invariably for cash,either local or Euros or US$. Paying for visas and unofficial fees often means that Visa will not do at all! Check out for these tips on how to carry your cash safely and how to manage your travel money to your advantage.

Do Your Own Laundry - Easy To Save Money

On Or at least take it out of the hotel to be done. I hotel may charge you a $1/item: the local laundromat or laundry-person will probably charge you a $1/load. If seriously cheap, or seriously light - learn to take your sox with yout to the shower.

Souvenirs Anyone? Photo: FLUK via flickr
Souvenirs Anyone? Photo: FLUK via flickr

Save Money: Don't Buy Souvenirs

Lets face the Brussels lace looks wonderful - in Belgium. The cute Toby Jug - looks great in London, the Mexican poncho - looks fantastic, in Mexico. You can buy it all on eBay when you get home anyway!

Choose Your Destination Carefully

If an overseas trip looks out of the question: consider a cheaper option: rather than traveling to Italy maybe consider Eastern Europe. Can't afford Christmas in Australia - how about India - still one of the cheapest destinations on the planet.

You can get a luxury hotel in Riga, Lativia for not much more than a hostel in London.

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    • superbob17 profile image

      superbob17 5 years ago

      Great advice. Traveling can be so expensive so these tips are good.

    • profile image

      Dharmendra @ Save Money 6 years ago

      Trains are more affordable than plane and also provide benefits like..

      - No long lines at security

      - More spacious cabins or leg room

      - Many even have power outlets for Laptops and phones

      - Add most stations are in the heart of the city

      - You can get an additional 10-15% off train fare if you are a student, AAA member, or military

      - Traveling by Trains Save Money!

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 7 years ago from Southern Spain

      Hi ! great comments , I found being flexable where possible in the day & time you want to travel can save a lot.

      Also can save on accomodation by doing free camping when possible .

    • profile image

      irasutanto 7 years ago

      I like your travel advice. Simple and good tips for traveling.

    • profile image

      wassie 7 years ago

      great hub full of usefull information.

    • profile image

      Maureen Lopez 8 years ago

      Really nice tips. I like your all articles.

    • Maverick_999 profile image

      Maverick_999 8 years ago from Dubai, U.A.E

      nice hub, i will surely keep these tips in mind for my next trip :D

    • terrowhite profile image

      terrowhite 8 years ago

      Nice tips ! thanks for sharing :)

    • pop tina profile image

      pop tina 8 years ago from Greece

      Thanks for sharing this information! In Greece tickets are usually overpriced so lots of people choose package holidays. In my last trips I only booked tickets and the hotel on-line and used a travel guide to go sightseeing. Going around a place on your own is more fun, you see the things that interest you the most and get to know the local way at the same time.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Great tips! I have really only travelled in the states but would love to travel elsewhere. Keeping it light and doing your own laundry are big ones I've found out. Also, for souvenirs I always buy things like books on the places because I know that I'll read them and it won't be a trinket to sit and gather dust.

      Thanks for all the info.

    • Lissie profile image
      Author

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 8 years ago from New Zealand

      @Dottie I know that's always been the case in the US - in Australia -for the last few yars its been cheaper to book 6 months in advance - but now with the airlines hurting who knows ?

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 8 years ago

      very nice hub..

      Check my hub related to traveling

      https://hubpages.com/travel/When-you-go-on-vacatio...

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

      I learned a lot today from your hub Lissie.  I save money from taking advantage of last minute booking.  My sister books her air flights 6-8 months in advance to go visit my parents.  I book a few weeks before and save 1/2 the price and am usually on the very same flight. 

    • Lissie profile image
      Author

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 8 years ago from New Zealand

      @Princessa - doesn't sound like Italy has changed much then! Maybe it will less crazy this year if the Amercians stay home

      @David - don't you love that - you can get a 5star in Riga for $130 in EUROPE no less!

      @nolimits - great user name! Even at home you can normally bargain for cash for large ticket items!

    • Nolimits Nana profile image

      Nicolette Goff 8 years ago from British Columbia

      Great travel advice. Like you, I prefer cash and find often there's a cash price and a credit card price.

    • David Ventura profile image

      David Ventura 8 years ago

      Lissie excellent advice! You are right about you must choose your destination carefully to save money. In my travels I usually book hostels, but in La Paz, Bolivia, I could book a four star hotel (a total luxury for me) for only usd 20 per night a couple of years ago.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 8 years ago from France

      Very good advice. I have used the travelling off season many times and not only saved a lot of money but also enjoyed it more. Rome in April is not only cheaper but easier to visit than in July and August when not only the prices double but the number of tourist triple and it is impossible to enjoy the city as you have the impression of being in a procession all the time.