Want to save money on your trip? In almost twenty years of traveling together, Charles and I have taken advantage of almost all cheap travel hacks. These are some of our favorite ways to save money on vacation.
How to save money on travel
There are almost as many methods to save money while traveling. Here are some of our best tips for keeping a budget while you’re abroad.
Get a credit card with no fees for overseas transactions. Here’s a small fact that most travelers are unaware of: many credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee of around 2.5% to 3% each time you pay in a foreign currency!
You may need to study the terms and conditions of your current credit cards to find out if they charge you an overseas fee for conversion transactions, but it’s worth spending a few minutes of your time to save a few percent on top of all your purchases! Canadians, take a look at our helpful list there are no credit cards for overseas transaction fees in Canada.
Avoid foreign exchange kiosks at the airport. They often charge high fees combined with a higher exchange rate.
Track exchange rates before traveling. If you see that the rates become less and less affordable over time, you may need to travel and exchange money before the trip to get the best rate. Some people even make money on Forex trading, by following exchange rates. Read more at FXforex.com.
Beware of dynamic currency conversions. Have you ever had an offer at a foreign restaurant to convert an account into your local currency before paying by credit card? Be careful here because they may use dynamic currency conversion (sometimes called the cardholder’s preferred currency), where you pay a hefty exchange rate, and sometimes additional fees, to convert the account into your local currency.
Get a credit card with great travel benefits. Many credit cards have benefits like free access to the lounge at the airport, no overseas transaction fees and more, making them a great way to upgrade your travel experience while saving money.
How to save money on food while traveling
Get an Airbnb or a hotel with a kitchen. You can save a fortune by preparing some of your own meals, and it can also be fun to check out local farm markets. If you’re not a great chef or just don’t want to cook on vacation, just a few simple breakfasts, snacks and drinks can save you money.
Eat local food. Food at local food stalls and restaurants can be much cheaper than dinner at more expensive tourist traps. In general, only avoid anything that screams at the tourist. The further you walk from the main tourist area, the more the restaurants suit the locals and are cheaper. If, for example, you walk a few blocks from the tourist Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen, on Benito Juarez Avenue you will find many small local affordable restaurants.
Save money on flights
Set air ticket warnings. Sites like KAYAK and Google Flights allow you to set up email alerts if the price of the ticket you’re viewing drops, which means you won’t miss much, and it also means you no longer have to check airfare prices once a day.
Sign up for an airline ticket warning service. Services like Scott’s Cheap Flights or Airfare Watchdog will send you email alerts about great flight deals from your home airport. Many of them have a free trial or a free basic subscription to get started.
Save money on accommodation
Go where you can stay for free. Hotel costs can eat up the travel budget, especially in more expensive cities. If you can sleep with a relative, friend or trusted friend, you can save a lot of money on accommodation costs.
Take advantage of discounts and last minute bookings. In my experience, HotelTonight, the last minute hotel booking app, isn’t as great as it used to be, but it is nonetheless travel application it’s worth a look.
Take advantage. If your hotel offers a free breakfast, be sure to take advantage of it. Many hotels also offer free facilities such as coffee, tea, cookies, and even happy hours with wine or beer. Some hotels offer a free concierge service to book restaurants or entertainment tickets, and some even offer a free city walk or free bike rental.
Save on activities
Get a coupon. Groupon is a great start to looking for coupons for local activities, restaurants and more.
Go on a free walking tour. Free walking tours are sometimes offered through your hotel, but the local tourist association might also recommend them.
Book your tour yourself. Sometimes tours are an amazing source of local information, a fantastic guide and wonderful travel partners, but sometimes they are a big argument. Before you go on a tour, take a quick look at whether you can do your activities with local transportation and your own supplies.
Other tips for saving money on vacation
Take care of your Wi-Fi situation. Mobile roaming charges can cost a fortune, but there are several ways to stay connected cheaply. You can use the hotel, coffee shop and free wi-fi along the way, but you may end up with a slow, cunning service. Alternatively, you can sign up with a roaming plan from your home mobile service provider or download travelwifi hotspot. Check out our post at how to get high speed internet while traveling for more ideas.
Travel in seasons and times that are not top-notch. If you’ve ever tried to book a flight for Christmas or Thanksgiving or a hotel during a big music festival, then you know all about top prices. One of the best ways to save on travel is to spend your time on the road shoulder season or out of season. You should save on everything, from transportation, to restaurants, to activities.
Looking for a way to fund your trip? You can save money if you get one of these great ones jobs you can do while traveling.
Do you have tips on how to save money on travel? Let us know in the comments below!