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As someone who travels often, I always get asked how I afford it. How do I afford to travel, and yet still get to eat out with friends AND occasionally splurge on a new outfit?
You’re probably thinking I’m rolling in it, and have enough $$ to have someone hand feed me grapes (I wish!!) The truth is, I’m a regular person with an average salary. I just happen to love travel!
There are lots of articles out there, telling people to cut out coffee, avoid meals with friends and live like a hermit before you travel. This is not really my style. I know I could afford more if I did all these things, but I love small luxuries in my every day. I want to be able to buy freshly made hot chocolate from the local café. Or enjoy a night out occasionally with my friends. And sometimes, I do want to buy that cute dress without worrying whether I can afford my upcoming holiday.
I am a big believer in cutting unnecessary travel costs, instead of reducing costs in your everyday life. Saving money for travel is also about how you spend your travel money.
One of the biggest differences to whether I can afford to travel is making smart decisions about the destination I travel to, the flights I book and where I rest my head at night.
This is why I put together a guide of 101 ways you can save money on your travels. It’s an insane collection of tips. You’ll read about how to save money on flights, accommodation, and other budget travel tips. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned traveler, there is bound to be a tip in this guide for you!
To download the guide, hit the image below and get travelin’!
To give you a taste of the tips that I cover in my guide, I’ve put together my top 7 tips on ways you can save money on your travels*
*may or may not involve marrying a Prince and stealing all his money to travel the world.
1. Sign up for notifications for when there are sale fares departing your city
Flights are one of the biggest travel expenses we face when we’re on vacation. To save money on your trip, you need to be flexible. There are plenty of sale fares out there – you just need to find them! My favorite way to stay up to date with sale fares is to subscribe to a sale fare provider. My favorite is Scott’s Cheap Flights. You nominate which cities you’re interested in flying from and they send you regular emails with sale fares deparing your nominated cities.
There’s a free service for this if you want to test the waters. I used this for a couple of months, and there are some great sale fares with the free option. If you’re really serious about saving your $$, I suggest paying for the premium service.
My subscription to the premium service was by accident (yes, this is possible!) I signed up for a trial version of the premium service and forgot to cancel. One day I got an email about an amazing deal from Boston to Reykjavik, Iceland ($300 USD return with Iceland Air!) I booked the flight, and then only realized after that that I had subscribed to the Premium service. No problem – because dude, $300 USD return with Iceland Air is ah-ma-zing! You only need to book one sale fare to make back the fee for the Premium emails.
2. Reconsider your travel destination and instead opt for countries where your dollar is strong (or where living costs are lower)
I know we all want to go on that amazing month long Europe trip, but if it’s out of your budget, consider traveling where your dollar is strong. Countries in South East Asia or South America can be wallet friendly. Or if you’re keen on a Euro adventure, consider Eastern Europe. One of my favorite holidays in Europe has been in Estonia. Here, you’ll find beautiful architecture, but small everyday costs (food is considerably cheaper than other European destinations!)
The Christmas market in Tallinn, Estonia
3. If there is a destination you’re interested in, make sure you sign up to receive price change email notifications from Google Flights
This tip involves knowing where you want to go and plenty of patience. Think the focus of a mosquito when you’re in a closed room, mixed with a ninja ready-to-pounce!
If you can’t wait, this tip may be a little hard for you to implement, but just know that ALL GOOD THINGS ARE WORTH WAITING FOR. Damn girl, get your mouse away from the booking button!
Basically what you want to do is head over to Google Flights and type in the route you’re interested in and the dates you want to fly. My suggestion would be to put in ALL possible dates you’re thinking of flying (this may take a while but is worth the effort).
You then want to make sure that you have selected to “Track prices” to receive email alerts for when the fare price changes (see the section circled in red below):
Make sure you’ve selected all the stops, pricing options and which airlines you want to fly with etc (see image below). If you are a member of a certain frequent flyer program you can even filter for this. This means that you will only receive email alerts for the options you have selected – so choose wisely!
You can then check which flights you’re following by clicking the button in the top left-hand corner, and selecting “Tracked prices” from the menu. If you change your mind you can always remove your tracked flights!
4. Consider staying in student dorms or unused student accommodation. Many major universities and colleges offer this during school holidays.
I know, I know I promised tips that wouldn’t have you slumming it like you were a full-time-college student. But this tip is not quite the same as living off 2-minute noodles or tacos, I swear!
We all know those big cities where accommodation is not only hard to find but super expensive. London anyone?? If you’re ever in this situation, consider checking out un-used student accommodation at the local university or college. This can save you bucket loads of money, especially if you’re traveling to a super expensive city.
We did this one year (admittedly we were poor students at the time) when we visited London over Christmas. We discovered that the London School of Economics rents out unused student rooms during the winter holidays. Not only did we get a clean room to spend the night (in a convenient location) but we also woke up to a hot breakfast (included in the rate!)
5. Consider buying second hand or thrifted travel goods: rain coats, parkas, down jackets or backpacks are considerably cheaper when purchased used.
If you can’t get over the ick factor of used goods, pass go and head on to number 6. Otherwise, continue reading!
If you’re headed to a destination where you need to buy specialty goods (we’re talking warm winter clothes or rain coats!) consider heading to your closest second-hand store. Here, you can find warm winter jackets or rain coats that have hardly been used. The cost of some of these items brand-new can rip a massive hole in your budget, so this is a great way to save money before you travel.
I still remember heading to Japan in the summer, and thinking I wouldn’t need a rain coat. Fast forward to my second month there, and I was planning a last minute trip to the Japanese Alps. I didn’t have a rain jacket, so ended up heading to a second-hand store in Tokyo. I brought a Patagonia rain jacket for less than $50 USD! It saved me from buying a brand new one, and I could have re-sold it back to the store. Instead, I took it home because I loved it so much – I got a bit attached!
This can save you a lot of travel money. So before you hit the order button online or buy something brand new, consider buying a cheaper used item. Many second-hand stores sell items that are almost brand new!
My new rain jacket: love at first sight and wallet friendly!
6. If you need to rent a car, consider alternatives to the big rental brands. Instead, rent your car from an online car sharing site like Turo. They are often cheaper (even with insurance included!)
For years I was a slave to car rental companies like Hertz and Budget. Well, my friends, that day is over. Over, you hear me?? (yes, I just raised my fist to those big car rental companies)
There are alternatives out there. And they will save you money on your travels.
While I don’t promise every country has a car rental alternative, sometimes it takes a bit of googling to find one in the country you’re headed to. For example, Turo in the US is a great alternative. It’s the Airbnb of car rental. You jump online to their website and rent a car from someone in the city or state you’re headed to. On their website, you can opt to pick it up your car or have them deliver it to you. You can pay extra for insurance, AND it’s still cheaper than a big-name car rental company! #yesplease to saving money on travel!
7. If you’re on a road trip, often renting a campervan and staying at a camp site is cheaper than renting a car AND paying for accommodation.
This is one I always forget. But renting a campervan is not only more flexible than booking accommodation in advance, it’s also a great alternative if you don’t want to sleep in a tent (yes, this is me).
Depending on where you’re traveling to, nightly accommodation can add up. While camper van rental costs are higher than a regular car, you won’t have to pay your nightly accommodation costs. You’ll just have the cost of your camper van and parking it at a camp site.
You can save even more if you can split your camper van amongst multiple people! Make sure if you’re traveling during the winter to rug up, or rent a campervan with heating.
This is by far my favorite money saving tips for travel – I always seem to forget it though, and it turns out camper vans are always the first to get booked out!
There are SO many ways you can save money on your travels. From looking out for those oh-so-coveted sale fares to readjusting your travel destination, there are big $$ to be saved. Make sure you:
- Sign up for sale fare alerts – whether you set this up yourself via Google Flights or sign up to Scotts Cheap flights
- Consider traveling to destinations where your dollar is strong, or the day-to-day costs will be lower
- Purchase your travel goods like rain coats, winter jackets or backpacks used (or slightly used!)
- If you can’t find cheap accommodation, make sure you look into unused student accommodation; and
- Consider alternatives to the big car rental companies or rent a campervan
Whatever your travel style is, there are so many ways you can save money when you’re traveling. If you liked this guide, make sure you download my guide to 101 ways you can save money on your travels. Just click the image below to get your guide:
Now, tell me: are you a huge travel lover? What are some of your must-know-money-saving tips for travel? Share them below!!