My plan to travel more often included one very specific detail to make it happen: travel cheaper.
While I get away with a lot of expenses because I more often than not travel alone, when I head out with my travel buddies, I always take into consideration that I’ll be spending more because we’ll be doing more, and these are my tips and tricks for making that work for my limited budget.
And as long as I remember it’s not about skimping on anything but just being smarter, I have a great time and don’t feel guilty about it later.
So get to traveling—and saving!—with these tips:
1. Home Exchange
Airbnb was the thing of 2015, but the new thing to do is grab a home exchange and not spend even a dime. It has the same charm as staying in one of the incredible apartments listed on Airbnb — and helps you maintain that “home away from home” vibe. HomeExchange.com is a great place to start loking for great places to stay, just know you have to put your home up for grabs too! It may take some extra cleaning on your part, but really it’s a goodwill gesture; not only are you going on vacation, but you’re helping someone else get a great deal and see a new place for free as well!
2. Visit A Farmer’s Market
Everyone says save a buck by packing a sandwich, well why not take it a step further and get in on the real goods by buying good local food at a farmer’s market and whip up something back at your home exchange? Not only does it reinforce what a great choice it is to stay in a house rather than a hotel, but a visit to a farmer’s market gets in on the local color, and that’s really why you go on vacation anyway. Whether it be to the Parisian Bastille Market or to Japan’s Tsukiji fish market, you’re going to get a great sense of the city and an incredibly tasty story to take home with you.
3. Book A Package
Have a lot of kids? Want to do multiple activities with just your close group of friends? Then you need to book a package. It’s not just about your hotel, car rental, and flight, I’m talking your activities and how you’re going to be dining while you’re out. If you’re traveling in the U.S. or Canada, hit up Groupon before you head out and look at the local deals, if you’re heading abroad, TripAdvisor is known for their fair share of package day or week deals as well. Want to completely not worry about anything? Do an all-inclusive resort or a cruise. It may look expensive on the front in, but the term all-inclusive is going to save you everything but the incidentals you buy outside.
4. Grab A Local SIM Card
The global roaming plans most cell phone companies operate with these days will bleed you dry with either ridiculously high bills, little to no minutes and data, or both. The best alternative to navigating around that is to buy a local SIM card. If you’re gone for two days, it’s not really worth it because you’re getting a new number along with a pay-as-you-go plan, but if you’re going to be somewhere far away for longer than 4 days, it’s worth it—especially if you’re addicted to Instagram. And the great thing is how easy it is to get started, just prep your phone by unlocking it, then purchase the SIM in the airport where you land, or at any convenient store. It’s as simple as that.
5. Don’t Buy Tourist Trinkets
My favorite thing to do is bring things back to my friends and family to show them where I’ve been, but over the years, either because of budget or because I ran out of room in my bags, I’ve started creating my own souvenirs from travel photos as soon as I return and it’s been awesome. From personally designed bumper stickers to magnets, I buy them in bulk so they’re cheaper, and they make great personalized gifts that used to have no personality whatsoever.
Whether you’re in it for the long haul and plan on taking off and staying away for a while, or you’re playing travel agent for your 8 person family, these tips are guaranteed to keep you and your bank account happy simultaneously.
Have any great money saving tips to share that I haven’t mentioned here? Send them my way; I’m always interested in new ways to make my cash stretch a little longer.