This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get is how can I afford to travel as much as I do barely out of college. I work full time in the auto industry but travel on a budget when I have the chance to explore!
1. Buy your plane ticket on a Tuesday and travel on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
For example, I've traveled to California frequently and flying on a Friday night to Tuesday night OR Wednesday night to Sunday night has saved me $200 per airline ticket on average. For my American friends near the Canadian border, look for tickets in big Canadian cities, I once saved $400 on a ticket to Europe by flying out of Windsor instead of Detroit and recently saved $300 flying to Los Angeles from Windsor instead of Detroit during Thanksgiving!
2. Book accommodations that aren't hotels
Airbnb serves can serve as a dual purpose during your travels. Not only can it be a lot cheaper than a hotel, especially if you book a larger place and split the cost with friends but you can also save on food costs. Your meals will most likely be your 3rd biggest cost on a vacation so being able to cook a few of your own meals can be a huge money saver.
House sit/pet sit
Book your stay at hostels if you're traveling solo or with friends. This will be some of the cheapest accommodation prices but you'll still have a lot of benefits of staying here. The cost of a hostel is close to ~$8-30 a night depending on the city you're in. There are a lot of benefits to staying at a hostel such as meeting a lot of people and taking part in group activities, ability to make food, etc. If you're traveling with enough people you could even get a larger room for your group to yourself.
3. Utilize public transport - bus, metro, train
I know this can be intimidating especially if you're in a non-English speaking country but most people are there to help. Look for schedules and maps online before leaving the house and when buying your tickets, buy a few at a time so you always have a way home.
4. Buy a Hop On, Hop Off bus pass
This is a great option if you don't feel comfortable using public transportation but plan to see some of the bigger sites and surrounding areas. This will be much cheaper than using a taxi or Uber to get around and you'll have unlimited use for as long as the bus pass is for depending on the type of ticket purchased.
5. Buy city passes if you plan on visiting more then 2-3 sites that require payment. Sometimes these even come with skip the line so you're getting your time back as well!
6. Don’t eat at the most tourist restaurant
You'll end up paying almost double. Look for the side street restaurants or the ones just outside the city center (provided they are still in a safe area!)
7. Bring a reusable water bottle
I love my Swell bottle since it keeps my drinks cold all day but there are reusable bottles that flatten down and save storage space as well. If you can't drink water from the tap, take a trip to the local grocery store and buy a few gallon size waters and refill your bottle that way!
8. Pack protein/snack bars with you
This will save you money on snacks and sometimes breakfast/lunch meals, they are lightweight so easy to pack and carry, and healthy/will keep you fuller on your adventure days!
9. Eat a late lunch and take advantage of lunch specials! The prices will be lower than dinner so you can fill up on lunch and save whatever you eat for later!
10. Purchase a local SIM card
If you're planning to use your cell phone outside of any wifi service, be sure to check if your carriers international rates. My carrier charges $10 a day for a limited amount of GB, once I go over my speed cuts in half and let's be real, that is not OK in this day of age. Depending on where you go, you can purchase a SIM card either before or upon arrival and will definitely be much cheaper than seeing the next monthly phone bill when you get home. PS avoid getting these sim cards at the airport as they are more likely to overcharge you
PRO TIP - if purchasing in country, ask the sales person to see their screen or brochure so you're not getting ripped off (especially if they only accept cash!)
11. Research and purchase activities ahead of time
Use sites like Viator, Groupon, Airbnb, etc. to book things to do once you arrive. This can limit your flexibility but also save you a couple bucks! Sometimes it helps to sign up for the email subscription of places you want to visit, you may receive a coupon/special before arriving!
12. Plan for the free activities
Many big cities offer free tours near the city center and can be found online. Just be sure to leave a tip!
13. Make a list of the souvenirs you'd like to buy ahead of time and try to stick to your list!
Impulse shopping could be under the definition of travel (at least for me…) so I do some research on what type of souvenirs I would like to buy (usually only unique things that I can only find in that area) and who I am buying for. This helps cut my impulsive shopping habit and save money for food or the fun stuff saved a TON of money by knowing that silver was the must buy gifts from Peru and found a great spot in a district of Lima that is known not to inflate their prices.
14. Buy alcohol ahead of time if you plan to go out to the bars and clubs
One good place to purchase a bottle or two is at the duty free shop at the airport before leaving. This will save you some BIIIG bucks in Iceland specifically!
15. Check the weather ahead of time to know if an umbrella, heavy jacket, jeans, etc. will be needed
Nothing worse than arriving to a destination and having to drop a money on items you could have packed for! Buy these things at the dollar store so you can just leave them at your destination and make more room for anything you buy in country!
PRO TIP - Donate your clothes/extra stuff to homeless shelters/people in country and it will also leave room to bring more items home!
Traveling doesn't need to be an expensive or infrequent part of your life. Whether you're traveling locally or globally, these money saving tips could help you on your next trip!
I would love to hear how you save money while traveling, be sure to leave a comment with you tips!
Written with love from Detroit