I love traveling, but I hate checking my bank account after a trip and seeing it EMPTY!
This is why during the past 5 years I have been trying my best to always find new ways to save money traveling, while still enjoying all I can!
If you like traveling and saving money, then I present you with my best tips on how to travel cheap (and DEFINITELY NOT as a backpacker):
Book Everything in Advance
There is no point in booking a last minute expensive trip if you can book everything 4-6 months in advance and pay a cheaper price. The earlier you book everything, the cheaper the deal you may find. This is the only way I manage to travel during public holidays: I plan my trips AT LEAST 6 months in advance to make sure I can get a good price for them. If you are interested in flying to a certain place and want to track the prices, google flights has a tracking function that can email let you know if your flights are getting cheaper or more expensive!
There are More Places to Stay than Hotels
With so many options for accommodation nowadays, it's impossible to say that hotels are your only choice. In fact, you can find a place to sleep for as little as nothing if you research enough.
- Couchsurfing costs absolutely nothing (yep, free accommodation) and you get stay with locals that know the area very well! You might end up sleeping on a couch, but you get to stay in someone's place for free. Just remember that the whole idea behind Couchsurfing is to meet people and make friends, not just save money!
- Hostels are usually very cheap and a great way to travel on a budget. If you don't mind sharing a room with other people, this option could be great for you. Some also have female or male only rooms, as well as smaller rooms of 4 people or even private rooms for cheaper than hotels! Many hostels have events, workout activities, yoga or even game nights, which means you may even make some friends there!
- Airbnb has gotten quite expensive in some bigger cities, but it is still a very good option to fight overpriced hotels in many places! It is always worth doing a little bit of research there to see if you can find any deals!
- Bed and Breakfast are simpler hotels that will still provide you with a private room, but without all the amenities and entertainment that a hotel would have. It is a great option if all you need is a simple private room to spend the night. You can usually find some good options on Booking.com
Buy Your Breakfast at the Grocery Store/Supermarket
If breakfast is included in the price of your accommodation, that's fantastic! Less money to spend! If it's not included, consider going to the supermarket or to a local shop to buy some cheaper breakfast food instead of paying big bucks to eat in a restaurant. Supermarkets will have a big selection of lots of good breakfast food for much less: Breads, jam, butter, yogurt, cereal, fruits etc. If you have a mini fridge in your room, you can even buy things for the entire trip!
Skip Lunch (Without Starving)
If you love eating in restaurants but hate spending, why not eat a good late breakfast, skip lunch, then eat an early dinner?
This has been my go to strategy for as long as I can remember! If you organize the time of your breakfast and dinner right, you can spend the entire day on 2 meals and a snack in between (and you can buy that snack in a cheap convenience store!). Trust me, I eat A LOT and I still manage to do it.
Book Attractions in Advance
Sometimes buying attractions a few days in advance (online, preferably), can go a very long way!
The first and biggest benefit is that you can avoid HUGE lines: In Venice, I avoided a 30 minute line to enter the Doge palace. In Seville, I also avoided a line that turned around the block to enter one of the main local attractions.
The second benefit is that sometimes online tickets can be cheaper (10-20%) than buying them at the moment.
The third benefit is that some attractions have a limited number of tickets per day, so you instantly guarantee your visit by buying an online ticket!
Don't Buy Guided Tours: Look for Free Ones
Guided tours can be very expensive.
If you want to know more about the place you are going, print some information from the internet before you go, and take it with you on the day!
Also, if you prefer a live tour, check with the local tourism office, or even on the website of the attractions to see if there are any free city tours offered!
Avoid Buying Souvenirs
Ah! Souvenirs! We buy them, then forget about them 2 months later! If we buy them for someone else, it can be even worse:
Who would wear a shirt written "Bali" if they've never been to Bali?
If you want to save money while traveling, avoid buying souvenirs.
If you really want to buy them, buy smart:
- Shop in stores that are far form the city center: They are usually cheaper;
- Buy things that you (or other people) can actually use;
- Or simply buy local snacks (snacks are often cheap and really authentic).
Avoid Eating in Very Touristic Areas
Just like shops are more expensive in touristic areas, so are restaurants. For eating out, try searching for neighborhoods that are not as touristic, or at least not in the city center! Tripadvisor is a great option to check for budget friendly (and still delicious) restaurants, while Google Maps can show you all the best restaurants near you!
If you can't leave the city center, be creative! For example, in Venice, there are many small restaurants that serve home made pasta in a box with your choice of pasta and sauce (+meat). It will cost you roughly 5-7 euros per box (which is a very cheap lunch price in Venice), and there are many of these types of restaurants right beside the city center! When I went, I tried Dal Moro's pasta in a box. It was delicious (and cheap!)
I hope you've enjoyed my tips on how to travel cheap. I always use them no matter where I go so that I can save money and travel more in the future!
Enjoy your trip!