6 Ways to Save Money While Traveling

Bicyclers at Stanley Park in Vancouver, B.C.

Let’s face it, most of us don’t have an unlimited supply of money, so we use a budget to plan the things we want to do.  And for me, I want to travel, so if that means I eat pb&j sandwiches a few times to have one more day of vacation, I’ll do it! There are things you can do to save money when planning a trip, but there are also a lot of ways to save money while traveling too.

Below I have listed six of the ways I save money while traveling. I use these options for all my travels. Whether it’s a trip to Disneyworld, Maui or Europe, these tips work for all travel destinations. And the great thing is they save you not only money, but also time, and that’s the best kind of savings you can get!

1) Save on Breakfast

Free Breakfast

An easy way to save money while traveling is to book a hotel that includes free breakfast. This will save you time and money in the morning as you won’t need to search for a breakfast spot before starting your day.

Pack it From Home

Another great way to save money while traveling is to pack your own breakfast. I like to pack oatmeal packets from home. Most hotels or Air BnBs will have either a tea kettle or a coffee maker that you can use to heat the water for the oatmeal. This is so quick, easy, and cheap!

Go to the Grocery Store

If you are staying in one place for at least a few days, buy some groceries. Bread with peanut butter and jam, gives you toast for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch later in the day. A carton of eggs or milk and cereal also make great options depending on what kitchen equipment you have in your room.

Make Coffee in Your Room

And of course, don’t forget your coffee. Pack instant coffee, or bring ground coffee from home. I often pack a French Press from home. This saves me time and money. I can always have another coffee when I’m out sightseeing, but this allows me to enjoy a cup of coffee in my room before I head out. Plus most hotels and BnBs offer a coffee maker. Buy your coffee local and sample some new roasts.

Oatmeal packets and single use french press

I pack these instant oatmeal packets and this single-serve French Press.

2) Pack a Lunch

Get Easy to Go Options & Make in Your Room

As I mentioned above, a fantastic way to save money while traveling is to buy some groceries at the local grocery store. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are so easy to make and to pack. I love having these as a go-to meal, whether it’s a long day at Disneyworld or a hike in the Swiss Alps. They are not only adult-friendly but kid-approved too!

Pack Snacks

Fruit, nuts, and jerky. These three combinations can make for a quick snack or a meal. Buy some apples, bananas, or try a new local fruit. On a recent trip to Thailand, I tried mangosteen, and it became an instant favorite of mine! Nuts and jerky offer portable protein options that can quickly be eaten on the go. Carrying snacks can also give you the energy boost you need to keep going. Typically our blood sugar drops, and we feel a slump in energy, this makes us tired, and often a little cranky.  A well-timed snack can eliminate this problem.

3) Book the Right Hotel or Air BnB

Get a Room with Kitchen Amenities

Since I’ve mentioned ways to save money by packing snacks and food, getting the right hotel goes along with this. Book a hotel that has some kitchen amenities in your room. Whether this is just a microwave and small refrigerator or a fully stocked kitchenette, you can save so much money if you can eat some meals in your room as well as prep and store meals to take on the go.

Location. Location. Location.

Research the location of your accommodations. Often it is worth spending just a little more per night to get a room that is within walking distance to your sights or at least one that is close to public transportation. Although you might be spending a little more upfront, you will save money on travel costs at your destination.

Do Your Laundry

Another great way to save money while traveling is booking accommodations with laundry facilities. I know, doing laundry while traveling does not sound fun, however, if you pack light, you can save money on checked baggage fees and you’ll save time spent waiting for your bags at the luggage carousel. You might be surprised just how quickly baggage fees can add up!

4) Walk or Use Public Transportation

Walk Away the Pounds

Okay, in my case, I’m walking away the latest macaron or local baked good I’ve just eaten. I see walking while traveling as an added health benefit, as well as a great way to see the sights. Instead of spending your money on taxis or even car rentals, try walking to the sights. If you plan ahead and book a hotel near the tourist attractions, you will save money on taxis and car rentals, and it is a wonderful way to explore the city you’re in.

Public Transportation

Use public transportation whenever walking is not possible, or perhaps it’s just too far, or you’re too tired. Buses, subways, and trains are great ways to save money when traveling. The good news is that if you’re traveling outside the US, it is often more convenient to use public transportation than driving.

Discount Passes

Often there are additional money saving options provided to tourists, like rail passes and tourist transit passes. I purchased the Eurail Pass before a recent trip to Europe, and it saved me so much money on train tickets.  The same went for my trip to Japan. They have a special Japan Rail pass only purchasable by tourists, and it’s an incredible saving! In Lisbon, they had city passes that also included all forms of transportation around the city. Make sure to research in advance, and also ask about any discount passes available at the local tourism center or your hotel.

Pedestrians walking on Budapest Bridge

Walking across this bridge in Budapest gave me views I wouldn’t have seen from a car.

5) Research Free Activities

The Best Things in Life are Free

Research free activities, such as free museums, farmer’s markets, hiking trails, snorkeling, local parks, free walking tours, etc. Include a couple of “must-see” sights that cost money, but mix in other free activities so that you’re not spending money on every activity, every day. And I think you’ll discover that some of the free things will turn out to be your favorite experiences.

Discount Cards

Look for coupons and discount activity cards. Some cities offer multi-day passes, like these City Passes, that includes all of the major tourist attractions for a discount. These can be a great way to save money when you have a lot of major tourist attractions that you want to see, but they all cost money.

For all of these types of discount cards, you will first want to make a list of the places you want to see, then calculate the individual ticket costs and compare with the price of the discount card to determine if it will save you money or not.  In some cases, it does not make sense, and you are better off paying the individual ticket prices.

6) Talk to the Locals

Where Do They Eat

One of the best ways to save money while traveling is by reducing your food costs. A great way to do this is to find out where the locals eat. Go off the beaten path and look for restaurants where the menu isn’t in English, or restaurants filled with locals. This usually means the food is good, and it is more reasonably priced.

What Are Their Favorite Activities

Ask locals what their favorite activities are, what hikes or parks they might recommend. You will not only get some great advice on seeing their city, but you will also have a chance to learn more about the local culture, and perhaps even make a friend. And that is one of the most valuable things you can get from traveling.

I hope this list helps you save money and stick within your budget. Sometimes, it’s the little things that add up to significant savings. It can make the difference in more time or provide the money for those special experiences you couldn’t afford otherwise.

For more ways to save, check out Book Your Flight & Find the Best Deals. And as always I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or send me an email if you have any questions or comments you’d like to share.

Happy Saving & Happy Travels!

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  • Rachel Barker at Reply

    Great tips!!

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