How to Save Money When Travelling: 14 Top Tips

How to Save Money When Travelling: 14 Top Tips

Travelling is an expensive hobby. We won’t deny that. But don’t let that discourage you - there are some ways to save money while travelling. 

 

In this article, we will prove that you don’t have to be a millionaire to travel frequently. You can find savings in many different areas, if you know where to look. Luckily, you came to the right place - at Europe Language Jobs, we know exactly where.

 

As a team of expats and serial travellers, we have many tricks up our sleeves when it comes to affordable travel. On the other hand, if you’d like to increase your travel budget, maybe you should find a new job abroad?

 

 

Find out how to save money when travelling:

 

  1. Do your research
  2. Travel off-peak
  3. Look for cheap flights
  4. Avoid extra charges
  5. Pack lightly
  6. Don't stay in hotels
  7. Try alternative accommodation options
  8. Eat in
  9. Travel locally
  10. Use public transport
  11. Book in advance
  12. Avoid touristy places
  13. Make friends with locals
  14. Find someone to travel with 

 


  1. Do your research

 

Everything always starts with research. It may sound exciting to some and boring to others, but there is no denying that it is essential to save money on travel.

 

The planning phase is crucial. First, set a budget you can and want to spend on your trip. Then, make a list of destinations that are considered cheap and expensive and choose one. If you already have a place in mind, compare the average costs of going there with your budget.

 

But this isn’t where your research should stop. Once you decide where to go, find out which areas you should avoid, both in terms of safety and costs. You must also learn more about the local customs and language.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with the way things work in your destinations, you won’t be able to spot scams and avoid being overcharged. Local business owners can easily spot an ignorant tourist and won’t hesitate to rip him or her off. 

 

If you know at least the basics of the local language, you may also find it easier to find common ground with the locals. It’s not uncommon to be overcharged just based on the fact that you speak a different language. Even if there is no way you could pass off as a local, making an effort to try can already gain you some sympathy. 




 

  1. Travel off-peak

 

We’re not rediscovering the wheel here, but why change the shoe if it fits? The reason why you hear everyone advising you to travel off-peak is because it really works. 

 

This is especially true for the prices of flights and accommodation. They significantly drop in the off-peak season. This is because fewer people are interested in travelling in the colder months. Airlines and accommodation providers drop their rates to encourage more travellers to continue filling their bank accounts when the demand slows down. 

 

Some destinations even organise special programmes to attract tourists. For example, last winter season, the Gozo island in Malta offered 30% off accommodation in hotels participating in the programme and refunded flights for everyone visiting the island between November 2023 and March 2024 and staying for a minimum of 10 days. 

 

Keeping an eye out for incentives like this is one of the best travel hacks to save money. You can also conduct your own research on sites like Booking.com, Airbnb, or flight comparison websites. Look at the rates during high season and off-peak and calculate how much you can save. 


 

  1. Look for cheap flights

 

Again, this might also seem obvious. But knowing that you should look for cheap flights is not enough. You also have to know where and how to look for them. 

 

Use flight comparison services such as Kiwi or eSky for your initial research. They are convenient because they list offers from a variety of airlines. You can see all your options and choose the one best suited to your needs.

 

Once you select the best alternative, head over to the official website of that particular provider. Many apps or websites for comparing flights calculate a commission on top of the standard rate imposed by the airline. 

 

Google Flights is an exception to that rule, because it doesn’t allow you to buy tickets directly. It is not a booking service, just a price comparison website which redirects you to the listed providers. 

 

Make sure to look in different places. Sometimes, third-party booking services offer attractive discounts, which turn out cheaper than the provider’s rate, even with the extra service fee.

 

The key takeaway is this: if you want to find cheap flights, you must be patient. It takes a lot of time-consuming research, but if saving money while travelling is your priority, your efforts will be worth it. 


 

  1. Avoid extra charges

 

When booking your flight tickets, you are bombarded with a range of extra services. Extra luggage, travel insurance, car rental, airport hotel, seat choice, airport transfer, flexible tickets - we could go on.

 

Recently, Ryanair even started charging for the option to avoid the middle seat! Travellers have had to splurge extra to sit next to the window or have more leg space for years, but now, even the luxury of not being squished between two other passengers comes with a price tag. 

 

By the way, some people don’t know they can actually skip the seat selection step. Airlines skilfully mask the “skip” button because they want you to pay, but it is always there. You just have to look for it.

 

Of course, it is understandable if you want to or have to sit next to someone you’re travelling with. But if you’re not that bothered and can survive a few hours without somebody you are about to spend every moment of every day with, choosing a random seat allocation is a good way to save money while travelling by plane. 

 

Other services offered by airlines, such as hotels or transfers, are usually overpriced. They are a good option for people who like to have everything organised in one place or don’t have much experience because they don’t travel often. But if you don’t mind looking on your own, you can find it much, much cheaper.

 

When it comes to travel insurance, always buy it! Better safe than sorry, but independent providers are also usually more affordable than the airline’s offer. 


 

  1. Pack lightly

 

Luggage fees are the biggest rip-off of all airline services. The rates are exuberant - sometimes even higher than the ticket itself. Some airlines even make you pay separately for checking in your suitcase, on top of paying for the right to have it with you in the first place.

 

This is why one of the best ways to save money when travelling is to travel with hand luggage. The backpacks most airlines allow you to bring on board are actually quite big. If you know how to pack efficiently, you can fit enough clothes for a week or ten days. 

 

Overpacking is one of the most common travel mistakes. A vast majority of travellers bring more than they need on their trips. The more you travel, the more you learn how much is really essential, and what can be left behind.

 

Of course, when packing lightly, you sometimes have to choose between stylish and comfortable. With limited space, you can’t always bring both. 

 

But it is a choice you have to make: is sacrificing that cute Instagram photo worth saving money on travel? 

 

 

  1. Don’t stay in hotels

 

When you take the time to calculate it, hotel rooms are never the most affordable option. 

 

The most budget-friendly choice is, of course, youth hostels. They are an attractive possibility for solo travellers and young people who want to save money on travel and meet fellow travellers. 

 

However, they aren’t the best alternative for those travelling with a partner or family, those who need to work while travelling, or simply those who need more privacy. Sharing a room with a handful of strangers can be intimidating for some, or uncomfortable for others.

 

In such a case, renting entire units is the best way to save money while travelling. When you compare the prices of hotel rooms and whole flats, the latter often turn out much cheaper. They also offer more space, come with a kitchen, and can be more flexible regarding check-ins and check-outs. 

 

And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, the next option might be perfect for you… 


 

  1. Try alternative accommodation options

 

Imagine a trip without any accommodation costs. Wouldn’t that be the best way to save money when travelling?

 

It is possible! You can go somewhere and only pay for your flight tickets.

 

This can happen thanks to initiatives such as Couchsurfing or Housesitters. The former is a community where expats and travellers can make friends, with the additional option of free hosting offered by some of the members. 

 

All you have to do is register, look for hosts in your area of interest, and have a chat with them to discuss the details. 

 

Housesitters is a website where people look for someone to stay in their flat while they’re gone. The only condition is that you have to like pets. The reason why they’re willing to let strangers live in their homes is so that they can take care of their fur babies for them during their absence.

 

The selection process for Housesitters is a bit restrictive, but it’s all for the hosts’ and guests’ safety. While a great way to save money while travelling, it is better for spontaneous travel.

 

The time of stay depends on when the hosts will be gone, so you have to be very flexible with dates. It is the best option for those who are not fussy about when they go, as long as they get to experience an adventure. 

 

Both Couchsurfing and Housesitting are meant for short-term travel. In the case of the former, as the name suggests, you will likely be staying on somebody’s couch, so doing that for more than a few days could be bothersome for both you and your host. It also goes without saying that this option is best suited for solo travellers.

 

In the case of Housesitting, hosts are usually absent for up to 2 weeks tops, some even only for just 2 or 3 days. So there are some limitations, but still, such initiatives are one of the top tips to save money while travelling. 


 

  1. Eat in

 

If you have ever made a travel budget, you know that food takes up a large chunk of it. And if you haven’t, then now would be a good time to start. The first step towards saving money while travelling is to be aware of how much you’re spending in the first place.

 

So, it seems that one of the best ways to save money on travel is to stop eating. Sadly, that isn’t possible. And, honestly, what is travel without food? Trying local cuisines is one of the best parts of going places!

 

So here is another travel hack to save money for you instead: eat in. Sure, treating yourself to a nice meal in a restaurant is a must on every trip. Find a nice place and go big, you deserve it.

 

But try to make your own meals whenever you can. This is another reason why renting a place with access to a kitchen is a good tip to save money on travelling. 

 

Do a small shopping on your first day and grab breakfast at home before leaving to explore every morning. Going back to your accommodation during the day may be bothersome, so you will likely have lunch outside. 

 

For dinner, plan a few trips to the restaurant in your budget, but don’t get FOMO if you have a cosy meal in. It’s a perfectly good way to save money when travelling. 


 

  1. Travel locally

 

Travel costs grow exponentially with the distance. Some faraway destinations are very cheap, but getting there is often the problem. If you currently can’t splurge on an intercontinental flight, here is a tip to help you save money on travel: go local.

 

Sometimes, we focus so much on places across the globe, that we forget all about the ones right underneath our noses. The grass is always greener and all that. 

 

But wherever you are, you are surrounded with beautiful places. You can go to a neighbouring town or a neighbouring country - it doesn’t matter. Even if you visit somewhere new within your own city, it’s still a new experience.

 

Jumping on a train, bicycle, or bus and travelling locally is one of the best ways to save money on travel and explore.

 

You will still go to that place on the other side of the world one day. But why waste the time until you can get there sitting around? Explore your neighbourhood and everything it has to offer. You may be surprised at what you find. 


 

  1. Use public transport

 

Taxis are comfortable. Buses are often not. But if you want to save money on travel, you must make some concessions. And you can have fun doing it!

 

While at your destination, use public transport. Its first advantage is that it is much cheaper. Second, it is the perfect way to discover new, unexpected places. 

 

While getting a taxi, you get from point A, straight to point B. City buses, trams, and trains have multiple stops along the way. If you like one of them, you can always hop out and go exploring. 

 

Moreover, public transport, just like the name suggests, is public. It is a great way to meet new people. Both locals and fellow travellers use public transport, so don’t be afraid to chat someone up.

 

Of course, renting a car can be the only option in some destinations. This is the case with certain islands, for example, Iceland or Lanzarote. There are no railways in Iceland, so you have to rent a car if you want to move around. And exploring the tropical paradise in the Canary Islands is also much more convenient behind the wheel, as the roads are safe and driving is pleasurable.

 

But whenever you can, give the public transport a chance. It is one of the best ways to save money while travelling, a great solution to explore, and the perfect opportunity to meet new people. 


 

  1. Book in advance

 

Fans of spontaneous travel may not like this point. But it is true that the more in advance you book something, the cheaper it will be. 

 

This is true for flights, accommodation, and even tourist attractions in some cases. Certain tickets cost the same, no matter the time. But in many destinations, you can find attractive deals if you book well in advance. It also guarantees availability, which shrinks closer to the date, especially in the most popular destinations. 

 

So, if you want to save money on travel, you need to plan your trips ahead of time. This isn’t always possible - for example if you’re planning a road trip and can’t be sure where you will be on which day. Overbooking can cause unnecessary stress if you have to rush from one place to another. 

 

But whenever you can, leave spontaneity for adventuring during your trip, and plan whatever you can ahead of time. It will help you save money when travelling. 


 

  1. Avoid touristy places

 

There are some neighbourhoods where Airbnbs are always expensive. Restaurants where food is always overpriced. Shops where essentials always cost too much. 

 

Local businesses know where the tourists are hanging out. And they won’t hesitate to take advantage of their wallets. Who can blame them, when tourism provides such potential for their hard work?

 

You can’t escape the tourist inflation, but you can escape places where it is particularly prominent. Sleeping outside of the city centre is usually much cheaper and quieter. If there is efficient public transport, you can still get everywhere you need in under 20 minutes.

 

It also pays off to wander off a bit for shopping or a meal. The further you drift away from tourist hotspots, the more the price drops and the more the quality rises. That is not to say that all restaurants for tourists are bad, but you can surely seek out a more authentic experience somewhere else.

 

Look for online tourist guides written by locals or people who have more experience finding non-touristy places. Or you can try the alternative, which is even better… 


 

  1. Make friends with locals

 

Talking to locals is always the best way to explore a foreign place. It is also one of the best ways to save money while travelling. 

 

Nobody knows how to avoid tourist hotspots better than the locals do. Ask anyone who lives in a popular place - they will always tell you that dodging tourists is the top task on their to-do list.

 

There is a huge debate over the cost of living rising in top tourist hotspots all over the world. By asking locals to help you find less popular local businesses, you can support those who may be losing their clientele to their competition dedicated to tourists. Not to mention, you can also get a more valuable experience, if authenticity is what you’re after.

 

This step is also one of the sustainable travel habits that everyone who cares about travelling mindfully should implement. 


 

  1. Find someone to travel with

 

This point is dedicated to solo travellers. So, if you already have one (or more), you can skip this step. 

 

Solo travel is great. And even if you have someone to travel with, going on a trip on your own from time to time is a fantastic experience. But it is also not the cheapest one.

 

All seasoned solo travellers out there know that a hotel room for one costs the same (or little less, at best) as a double room. Not to mention, it is always safer to book for two, even if you are travelling on your own, to avoid indicating you’re alone.

 

If you’re an avid solo traveller but you’re not exactly made of money, going on a trip or two with company is a great way to save money while travelling. You can split all costs - accommodation, food, petrol, and any emergency expenses. 

 

Paying only half of what you would if you went alone is a huge relief for your bank account. Plus, even if you prefer solo trips, travelling with someone is also a great experience.

 

It’s just important to find the right person or people. If you get along with someone perfectly well on a daily basis, it is not always a given that you’re also a good match to travel together. Our lives look a bit different when we travel, which can lead to conflicts that normally wouldn’t occur.

 

So, it is crucial to discuss your preferred way of travel, main goals, and points of interest before deciding to go on a trip together. Then you can share the financial burden and save money on travel.
 


There are so many things you can do to save money while travelling without having to make big sacrifices in your comfort. They are changes you can easily implement into your travel lifestyle. And you will be surprised by how much you can save with such small steps!

 

Do you have any other travel tips to save money? Do you find it cheaper to travel slow or travel sustainably? We would love to hear about your experiences and points of view in the comments below!

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