9 Travel Tips for Saving Money While on Vacation
TV Host Oneika Raymond shares her stress-free tips for enjoying vacation on a budget
December 7, 2023
Written by Oneika Raymond
While traveling has gotten easier and more accessible in recent years, it can still constitute a major expense for those who don’t have an unlimited budget. Between airfare, accommodation, and activities, costs can add up rapidly and put a strain on your wallet. Thankfully, there are a number of money-saving tips that you can use before your trip, like traveling during the off-season or flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday. But how do you save money once you’re actually at your destination? Here are 9 tips that will greatly assist in keeping your travel expenses low while you’re on your getaway.
Create a Budget for Daily Spending
Planning and preparing for your trip expenses is a sure-fire way to stay in line when it comes to your pocketbook. Set a daily limit for how much you’ll spend each day, and use an app to track purchases and upload receipts. These apps are also essential when traveling with a group, as they will allow you to easily track who owes what when you, say, split the bill at a meal.
Book a Vacation Rental or a Hostel
Besides airfare, accommodation is often your biggest expense on vacation; hotels can be notoriously expensive, especially those located in the tourist zones of major cities. Want to drastically cut your costs? If you’re traveling solo and don’t mind sharing a room/amenities with others, consider staying in a hostel. Not only are hostels typically centrally located, but staying in a dormitory costs a fraction of a hotel room. Another added benefit is that the set up makes it very easy to meet other travelers on the trip. But what if you’re already traveling with a group? Vacation rentals (think: apartments, villas or houses) are an excellent option, since you can split the cost of accommodation with your travel companions.
While dining out is a great way to get a taste for local cuisine, it can unfortunately also cause you to blow through your budget. For this reason, think about making a few stops at the supermarket to pick up some provisions; this will be particularly pertinent if you have a kitchen in the place you’re staying. However, you can still pick up snacks like fruits or easy-to-prepare items even if you don’t.
Take Advantage of Student and/or Senior Discounts
Are you over the age of 65 or a student at an accredited institution? Take advantage of it! Tourist attractions around the world offer discounts to travelers with these statuses, and in some cases these discounts total up to 50% off! Just make sure to have proof via documentation like a valid ID (because they will ask).
Get a Local SIM Card
If you have an unlocked phone, you can avoid pricey charges for data and calls by purchasing a local SIM card. This will be especially useful for looking up directions and itineraries, arranging transport or making reservations for tours and attractions. Whatever you do, always try to avoid purchasing these sim cards at the airport or any other tourist center; the cheapest and best ones will be found in town or where the locals shop.
Take Advantage of Lunch Meal Specials
Looking to fill the hunger gap on the cheap, but have a hankering for a sit-down meal at a restaurant? Skip those pricey dinners and instead opt for a cheaper, mid-day dining experience. All the rage in Europe, these lunch specials offer selected food items, bundled in multiple courses, at a discount. These deals can be particularly attractive for travelers with a less picky palate, since you can essentially order according to price instead of preference!
Do the Free Walking Tour
Most major cities have free walking tours available for your pleasure. Not only are they great ways to discover your destination, they also provide a golden opportunity to stretch your legs. Try to do one of these on the first or second day of your trip so that you can scope out prime touristic spots you can revisit at your leisure. While these tours are free, remember that a tip is not only appreciated, but expected, so be sure to put aside a few dollars you can give to your guide. A quick Google search will reveal the best walking tours where you’re going, so put on some comfortable shoes and enjoy!
Use Public Transportation
The saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” couldn’t be more applicable when it comes to taking public transport while on your vacation. Doing this allows you to truly see a destination through the eyes of a local and to do so without breaking the bank (a one-way ticket in most places is rarely over $4 USD). The best part? Cities like London, Tokyo, and New York City have extensive subway systems that are not only quick and cheap, but are essentially a tourist attraction in themselves! Ask around to find out what the best transport apps are in your adopted city so you can plan the most efficient (and scenic) route.
Visit Tourist Attractions When They Have Free Admission
Did you know that some tourist sites offer free or discounted admission on certain days? For example, the Louvre Museum in Paris is free for all visitors every July 14 (which happens to be Bastille Day in France). Head to the official website of the attraction you’re interested in visiting to find out if and when this is the case, and plan accordingly