13 Ways to Save Money While Travelling

There's a huge misconception out there that traveling is expensive. This is a total myth. Yes, travel CAN be expensive. However, if you do it right, you'll find that exploring new places doesn't necessarily have to come with a big price tag. Here are 13 of my favourite ways to save money while on the road!

1) Stay at hostels or guesthouses

Photo Credit: Oh-Barcelona

No, hostels aren't like the movie Hostel. In fact, they're a great place to meet people if you're traveling alone. You'll also save tons of money by taking the shared accommodations route. Guesthouses are also a great alternative to hotels if you're looking for a private or double room. Check out Hostelworld, Hostelbookers and Booking.com for a huge selection of affordable accommodations.

If you're more on the adventurous side or on a very strict budget, check out Couchsurfing. This site lets you crash on the couches of other members for free. To start, you'll need to create an online profile. From there, you'll be able to get in touch with hosts from around the world.

2) Avoid English menus


If you're visiting a country where English isn't the main language, be sure to avoid restaurants with English menus. These establishments are a tourist trap. Meals costs an arm and a leg and on top of that, additional service charges and gratuities are also common. Find out where the locals eat and head there. I promise that not only will the food be cheaper, it will also be ten times more delicious. Although navigating the menu may be a challenge, it's not impossible to decipher. Pictures usually accompany the text and if they don't, use the Google Translator app. If you aren't afraid of trying new things, order what other patrons are eating.

3) Bring your student card (even if you're no longer a student)


Students get discounts on everything. Be it transportation, travel tours, famous attractions or museums, students can save some cash just by flashing a student card. Even if you aren't a student anymore, bring along your old student ID when traveling. Most of the time, people never check the expiry date. I graduated last year and continue to get discounts everywhere. 

4) Fly with low-budget airlines

Photo Credit: Steven Byles

If you fly with big airlines, your wallet is going to be drained fast. Save money on flights by flying with low-cost carriers. These are airlines that offer cheap fares, however, come with a catch. You won’t be able to enjoy traditional passenger services such as in-flight entertainment systems, free beverages and meals and other small luxuries. Although you’ll have to give up a few indulgences, I can assure you the money saved will be worth it! (Plus, you can always bring your own books, entertainment, drinks and snacks onboard.) Here's an informative post on how to book affordable flights. 

5) Drink what the locals drink


Your favourite beer may be a Corona but unless you're in Mexico, ditch it for the local brews. Imports can get pricy and c'mon, you're in a new country! Now is the time to experience new things. Drink a Bintang in Indonesia and try a Kronenberg in France. The same thing applies for wines and other beverages. 

6) Never take a taxi unless you absolutely must


Taxis are a rip-off and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, take public transportation such as the local bus, subway or train. You can also kill two birds with one stone and rent a bike. That way, you'll get a good workout in while saving some coin. My favourite way of getting around is walking. Nothing beats the feeling of getting lost in a new city and exploring a maze of foreign streets.

7) Pack light


Excessive and overweight baggage fees are not cheap. Try to pack as light as possible and weigh your luggage before going to the airport. 

8) Buy a prepaid SIM card

Photo Credit: Karl Baron

In North America, cell phone rates are ridiculously high compared to the rest of the world. Turn off your roaming and buy a prepaid SIM at your travel destination. You'll get your own local number and I guarantee minutes and data will cost a fraction of what it does back home. Just make sure your cell phone is unlocked before putting in a new SIM card. 

9) Pre-drink, pre-drink, pre-drink


A night on the town adds up. Instead of emptying your wallet at the bar, buy your booze at the local liquor or grocery store and pre-drink with other partygoers at your hostel.

10) Travel off season


If you're traveling during Christmas, spring break or summer, expect to shell out more cash. During these times, tour operators, airfares and accommodations spike in prices. Save your pennies and beat the crowds by traveling in the off season. 

11) Use sites like Groupon and Living Social

Photo Credit: Groupon 

Groupon and Living Social are popular sites that offer discounted gift certificates good for travel, dining, hotels, activities and more. Most people buy these vouchers for goods and services located within their hometown. What many don't realize is that these companies are international and operate in many countries. When you're in a new destination, check out these websites and see what deals they offer.

12) Haggle


Haggling is common practise in many parts of the world. Practise your bargaining skills beforehand to make sure you don't get ripped off when shopping at local markets. Here's some tips on how to successfully haggle in places like Southeast Asia and South America.

13) Cook your own meals

Photo Credit: Wombats City Hostel

I love eating out at restaurants as much as the next person but if you're traveling long term, your budget simply cannot afford paying for three meals out a day. Most hostels offer kitchens; take advantage of them! Buy groceries and cook your own meals. This is a great way to conserve your cash.


How else do you save money while traveling? Leave me a comment below and let me know! 


Want more money saving tips? Here are 11 creative ways to save money for travel

Melissa Li

I’m a Canadian girl on a quest to step foot in every continent before I’m 30. You’ll most likely find me chowing down on Japanese ramen, partying at a music festival, hiking to the top of a scenic lookout, cuddling with cats, or chilling out at the beach. I’ve visited over 60 countries so far and hope to inspire you to do the same.

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