If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they couldn’t travel because they couldn’t afford it, I’d be able to travel free for quite some time. It seems to be some big mystery to so many people, and I just can’t let that be! Making travel cheaper is something everyone can do if they only know how.
To combat this, I’ve come up with a list of the lesser known ways that I save money to be able to travel as much as I do. Everyone knows it’s cheaper to travel off season, and everyone know it’s cheaper to be flexible.
But what about the nitty gritty? Many full time travelers have taken advantage of these nine tips at least once in their life, and there’s a reason for it! Traveling isn’t cheap. It never will be. You can, however, bend and stretch your money in ways you didn’t know possible.
1. Rent out your apartment while away.
Saving money for travels has never been easier than it is today. We have the power of the internet, the lovely internet that provides us with TONS of ways to make travel actually attainable. One of these opportunities to further our travel buck is through companies like AirBnB.com.
AirBnb lets you rent out your apartment while you’re away. They’e whole purpose and intention was to enable people to travel further and longer; and that is something I can get behind.
It’s relatively easy to sign up as a host, you can do it here!
2. Try Housesitting.
This is one of the coolest things I have come across during my travels. If you go to a site like TrustedHouseSitters.com, you can find people who need people to stay at their home while they’re away for free. Yes, for free.
As part of this, you are asked to do little things like water the garden, walk and feed the dog, etc. It’s quite easy normally and you get a free place to stay in exchange.
I’ve found two downsides to this. The first is that you need to be relatively flexible on when and where you will go. Some people only need housesits for a week, others six months. The other downside to this is that I sometimes see people trying to “profit” out of their housesitters. They’ll ask them to do things like rebuild their fence, fix their plumbing, etc. while they’re away. This seems to be like something that a “housesitter” wouldn’t be required to do.
3. Make purchases in the host currency.
It’s rather interesting how often companies will try to get more money out of you without you realizing. If you pay in your home currency, there will be a hidden fee. That is the main reason they give you the option to pay in your home currency in the first place!
I recently purchased a flight from Italy to the United States. It was a bargain; 418EUR. When I went to check out, it gave me the option to pay in USD (about $470 is what the said) or 418EUR. The exchange rate at the time was about 1EUR to 1.10USD. I did a little math, multiplied 418 by 1.10, and saw that the actual price was about 460USD. Sure enough, they had added about 10USD to simply pay in my home currency.
After purchasing the ticket, I checked my account and sure enough! The total was about 460USD. The lesson? Never trust that when they give you the option to pay in your home currency that they aren’t trying to get more money out of you.
4. Pick a destination based on your currency value.
I’ve always been a very “cheap” traveler. I like to save money wherever and whenever possible. During my first year of travels, I found myself in Poland. I had never even considered that the currency would be different. It didn’t even cross my mind. To my delight, I found that 1EUR equalled about 5PLN at the time (Polish currency).
To say I was delighted was an understatement. I paid about 0.12USD for a pastry. Yes, that’s 12 cents! I was shocked.
I now make places with lower currency values a priority; and you should to! You’ll be able to travel farther, longer, and with much more enjoyment. Even better, you’ll be helping an economy that needs the extra boost. Your money will be spent where it is needed.
5. Skip the big cities.
Of course everyone wants to see New York City, Paris, and Rome; and that’s totally okay! However if you want to be able to travel more, you’re going to have to skip the cities and head to the ‘burbs.
There’s a lot to see in those big cities. That’s exactly why they’re so expensive. Lodging, food, transportation, and all the rest of your purchases will all be significantly more than they will be in smaller towns and villages.
I live in a small town about an hour away from Rome. Here, I pay 1.30EUR for my coffee and pastry. In Rome, I pay about 3EUR. Accommodation has an even more daunting difference. Little towns have such an unbelievably amount of authenticity, and you’ll get by for much cheaper. It’s a win-win that every traveler should consider.
6. If you decided to go to a city, get a city pass.
Many cities have “city passes” for their tourists. They usually include free public transportation, free museum access, and some other miscellaneous perks. If you were to buy these things individually (or even just take public transportation), it would usually be more expensive than the pass.
Tourism boards do this so that you’ll have a good time and not miss out on anything just because of the price. They want people to go back to their home countries and rave about what a good time they had so that they’re friends and family will want to come and spend money there, too!
Earlier this year, I went to Ghent, Belgium. I bought a 48 hour city pass for 30EUR. It included free public transportation, a free 2-hour boat ride, free museum access to all the city’d museums, and even a bike rental for a day! I thoroughly used the pass to its every extent.
This city pass proved to save me tons of money, and the best part is that they’re offered in a good amount of cities around the world. Check the website of your host tourism board and you’ll be able to see if they’re offered.
7. Check what’s included.
Many accommodations and airlines offer great prices to perk the interest of potential customers. But what is included? Many times these deals can save you money, but many times you’ll end up spending more.
Whenever I go to book my hostel wherever I’ll be traveling to, the first thing I look for is if breakfast is offered. Then, I check for reviews of the breakfasts. For me, breakfast is much more than yogurt and bread. That just doesn’t fill me up! I look for hearty breakfasts that will keep me full so I don’t need to go out spending money when I’m out and about.
I think most travelers will agree with me when I say that looking for flight deals is ridiculously fun. Finding that great deal is such a good feeling. But what are you allowed to bring? Are you being fed?
I recently took a flight with WOW Air, based in Iceland. I was beyond stoked when I saw the price was low and I had a really long layover that enabled me to spend time in Iceland. That was a big plus for me.
But what wasn’t included in my really long transatlantic flight? Checked baggage, food, and even water. You actually had to pay for water! I planned ahead by bringing a water bottle and food, but many did not and I saw person after person pullin’ out their wallets. Save yourself some cash and check what’s included and decide if that’s worth it for you!
8. Get a card with zero foreign transaction fees.
This is HUGE. Many people jut assume that foreign transaction fees are a part of life. Guess what? I haven’t payed a single foreign transaction fee in over two years.
This is only possible if you go shopping around for the best card deals. My bank reimburses any foreign transactions fees for my ATM use and my credit card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
Look for deals like these and you’ll save a good chunk of change.
9. Use the ATM when you arrive to get local currency.
Banks charge a ridiculous amount to convert your currency. ATMs in your host country will charge a small ATM fee and the actual currency exchange rate. This ultimately makes it cheaper for you to get money out of the ATM than to exchange it at a bank beforehand.
Want more money saving tips for travel? Check out “18 Tips and Tricks to Travel Cheaply“!