“I can’t travel, I don’t have enough money!” “How do you afford it?” “It’s too expensive!” This is what I hear from my peers all the time. Money is the #1 excuse NOT to travel…Well guess what, friends? With a little bit of effort and lots of self control, you can change your daily spending habits and save money for one the best things you can do for yourself: traveling!!! Don’t let money hold you back from crossing off your travel bucketlist. Wild Beach Dog gives you 105 ways to make your money last while you travel and start saving now.
Before You Go:
1. Sell your things.
Look at all of your belongings and ask yourself do you really need it? You can sell anything on Craigslist, in the newspaper, Facebook, consignment stores, community boards, pawn shops, to friends, or through a yard sale. I made over $800 dollars selling furniture and decor through a Facebook page in my college town and $700 selling old textbooks on Amazon.
2. Avoid spending.
Think of the small things you buy each day: a morning coffee, lunch with coworkers, a cute t-shirt, a candy bar, happy hour, concert tickets. All that money adds up and you must save to TRAVEL! Try to cook at home, pack your lunch, go outside instead of to the mall, have friends over for dinner and drinks, watch a movie at home. These are only a few ideas. This one can be tough, but it will prep you for the lifestyle you will live while you travel on a budget. Get your adventure jar ready.
3. Get a side job.
Babysit, waitress, dog walk, substitute teach. Find yourself a part time job that’s easy to balance with whatever else you got going on in life. Doubling up and long hours will be worth it once you watch that cash come in. You’ll be thanking yourself later.
4. Rent out your room
Having a house shouldn’t be an excuse to not travel. You can rent out your room/rooms, pay your mortgage, and maybe even make some extra travel money. If you rent your place, consider getting into Airbnb or finding a roommate to help with rent and bills.
5. Live with your parents
Give up spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars a month on rent and go find some roommates who will pay for your rent: your parents. It will seem like you’re taking a step backwards, but in reality, you will save incredible amounts. Be grateful and repay them via yardwork or dinner duty.
6. Cancel subscriptions
There are a lot of things in life you’ve signed up for that you don’t realllllly need. Consider Netflix, the gym, magazines, your monthly delivered box service, or even downgrading your phone, cable, or internet plan.
7. Find work overseas
8. Use a guidebook
Please do NOT waste your money on hiring a travel agency to help you plan your trip. This is the 21st century, people, anything you need can be found on the internet or in a book. There are thousands of travel blogs, guidebooks, and resources that can help you get organized and informed. Some of the popular books are Lonely Planet or Rough Guides.
9. Collect your change
It seems silly, but start collecting coins and adding them to your travel fund jar. Gather your spare dollars from the end of the day and the lonely quarters in the couch and cash in. Hey, $10 can last you a whole day in Cambodia.
10. Start networking
Find people you know (or know of) where you’re going. Post on Facebook, sign up for meetups, contact friends that live abroad… Do anything to find people that live where you are going. They have valuable information and advice and can answer any questions you may have. An extra bonus, they might hook you up with a place to stay while you sort out travel plans.
11. Crowd fund your trip
If you are traveling for business, mission work, volunteering, or just because, some of your family, friends, (or maybe even random strangers), might support you financially. Come up with a cool mission and campaign and post your plans. Look into Go Fund Me or Indiegogo or Kickstarter.
12. Have a budget
It’s important to consider how much money you have, how long you plan on travelling, and what kind of travelling you prefer. Take a look at numbers and time and come up with a daily budget to allow yourself. Mint is a good resource to get started.
13. Pack light
This is an easy way to save some money while traveling and literally take pressure off your back. If you can keep your bag under a certain weight, you will save some bones by only bringing carry-on luggage. If you need a full wardrobe, try to fly with airlines that offer free baggage (only if their flights are also cheap).
14. Be flexible with what days you’re traveling
Fares will go up during peak season, holidays, and when special events are in town. Look into rates and be flexible when it comes to the dates you’ll be there.
15. Stay outside of town
Touristy areas and the center of town will be more expensive than the next town over or even a few blocks down the road.
16. Stay longer
The longer you stay in a place, the better you’ll get to know it. Get discounted accommodation, avoid transportation costs, discover the cheap spots, and make friends with locals.
I can’t explain how much money couchsurfing has saved me. Better yet, how many REAL experiences it has brought me. You stay with locals, for free, witnessing first hand how a place feels. There’s a huge community behind this trusted website with users from all around world. Save money and meet locals, it’s the perfect combination.
18. Splitting rooms with someone
Cut the nightly rate in half by sharing with a friend or stranger. I’ve approached people at check in counters asking if they want to split the costs to save some dollars.
19. Make long term stay deals
If you plan on staying somewhere for a few days or longer, consider asking the staff if they offer discounts for a longer stay. Normally they’ll agree. This benefits both the customer and the management and your wallet.
20. Work at hostel for a free room
Countless hostels offer a work exchange program for short to long periods of time. Ask the front desk or call ahead to reserve your spot. Normally you work for 3-4 hours a day (cleaning, making beds, cooking) and can score a free bed in return.
21. Meet locals and stay with them
Humans are great. Sometimes, locals are so excited to have met a foreigner they want to show you their village, meet their families, and sleep at their homes. You’ll develop a deep understanding of a place and it’s people. There were plenty of times when I shared my story with locals and they would ask where I was staying? When I told them I wasn’t sure they would offer me a place to stay. Like I said, humans are great.
You have endless places to stay OUTSIDE! Invest in a sturdy tent (or tepee) and stay for free every night after. Rise with the sun, let the birds replace your alarm clock, wish on every shooting star, escape. Look into a countries camping laws or just find a hidden site in the woods and pitch your tent, baby.
When you volunteer somewhere, they will occasionally offer you a free place to stay. Giving back while getting something in return.
24. Book overnight transportation
Make the most out of your money and time by getting around town at night. Instead of spending your bones on a night’s stay, you can take overnight buses or trains that offer a seat or bed to rest your head. Cherish that sunlight for adventures.
25. House sitting
Check online for house sitter ads. You can score a free place to stay (sometimes in an uber, sweet place) while making money!
26. Sleep in public spaces
Why pay for a hotel room when your flight is at 5am? Consider sleeping in airports, train stations, or any other public spaces. Parks and grass patches make a comfy, warm bed during the day. Sweet dreams.
27. Look into squatting
Squatting is when you stay in people’s homes when they are not there. Entering unoccupied, abandoned buildings is illegal, but also free.
28. Sneak into hostels
I’ve had many friends who don’t pay for a hostel bed, but end up sleeping in empty ones, on the floor, or with a friend. This can be easy to do if the hostel doesn’t moniter the door at night or there’s a back door. Using someone else room key is another option. I don’t condem this, just an option if you are very desperate.
29. WWOOFing or Help-X
When you WWOOF or join Help-X you work for hosts getting free accommodation in return. WWOOFing stands for World-Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms and Help-X is a website where you can find hosts internationally or locally. The standard work day is 4-6 hours a work a day. This is a great way to save some dollars and learn skills you’ll carry with you for life.
30. Sleep in your car/van
On your marks, get set, LIVE! Why spend $2-500 dollars a night on a room when you can get cozy in your own wheels? Find a van or car that allows a mattress in the back (like a station wagon) for extra comfort. Be careful where you sleep since it’s illegal in some countries and you can get heavy fines. You don’t want to look sketchy so avoid lurking around your home-on-wheels at night.
31. Know when to check out of hotel
To avoid late fees, take note of the required check out times. Hotels and hostels will charge you for sleeping in. the longer you sleep, the bigger the charge.
Food / Drink
32. Buy and make your own food
It’s ridiculous how much a restaurant will charge for a sandwich. Normally for the same price, you can buy the materials and feed triple the amount of people. Also a great excuse to eat on the go or have a picnic.
33. Drink more water
Water not only keeps you hydrated, but will always fill you up. If you drink more water, you will be less likely to overeat and splurge on cravings.
34. Cook with locals
When a new local friend asks you to their home for dinner, go. An often free look into culture and local life. Just please bring a party favor.
35. Dumpster diving
Help with waste issues while saving a penny. At the end of the day, Grocercy stores and food shops often throw out food that has “expired” or when orders are messed up. I once scored over $120 worth of food that was in perfectly good condition. Caution this can be illegal and gloves are recommended.
36. Take your leftovers
Pack up any remaining food or ask for more bread just before dinner is served. You can use this for tomorrow’s breakfast or lunch.
37. Avoid restaurants
Restaurants and cafes will pack on a service charge for everyone who’s touched your food: the hostess, waitress, cook, bust boy, dishwater.
38. Eat more at lunch than dinner
If you choose to eat out, choose lunch. Meals are normally priced cheaper than they are at dinner.
39. Eat street food
Food vendors and local food will be much more cheaper than restaurants that charge for their service and environment.
40. Book hostels that offer free dinners or food deals
Many hostels have deals with local restaurants and offer discounts or provide a free dinner themselves. Do your research before booking and stay at those hostels or find a way to sneak into the hostel or restaurant to score free grub.
41. Ask locals for happy hours
When getting to a new place, it’s smart to ask the front desk staff or any local, where you can find a good deal. They live in this place so of course they will know the good spots.
42. Split food with friends
When either eating out or buying grocercies, buy your food in a group. Figure out meals that everyone likes and eat the same thing together. It cuts down cost, waste, and cooking time.
43. Utilize free breakfasts at hostels
Breakfast is normally a freebie at hostels and hotels since it’s the cheapest meal of the day. Find which places offer this and stay there or just walk in and eat.
44. Help X or Woofing
You can work in exchange for meals. Woofing and Help X have a huge community of farmers who need help – Fresh and free food!
45. Avoid cravings
Believe me, I love candy and chocolate and coffee and ice cream. BUT they cost money! Before an impulse buy, I count to ten and tell myself I don’t need it.
46. Buy things that won’t go bad
You’ll save money and save waste by buying items that won’t go rotten. A refrigerator won’t be needed so you can avoid paying for electricity and you will also save money by not buying ice for a cooler.
47. Go vegetarian
Meat in general is normally pricey. Meals with meat are more expensive than ones with just vegtables and not always necessary.
48. Shop at the cheapest grocery store
There are the Whole Foods, then there are the Safe Ways. Ask other travellors or look up what’s the cheapest food store nearby. When looking for silverware or homegoods, check out the dollar store.
49. Eat what’s in season
Getting an avocado in the winter or broccoli in the summer will mean paying for imported / overpriced fruits and veggies. Buy food that comes from around the area.
50. Bring your own food on flights and trains
Ignore a $8 snack on the plane or in the terminal. As long as security precautions allow it, consider packing your own food to munch on during your travels
51. Drink cheap drinks
Each country has a national drink of choice. Find out what’s the norm and what’s cheap. Generally, beer is cheaper than wine and liquor, but not always. Look into prices before you buy.
52. Get a reusable water bottle or purifier
Save the planet and fill up your water bottle rather than buying your own. You will not only be helping conserve waste, you will spend less money and less time at the store.
53. When you can, buy bulk
If you plan on staying somewhere longer than a week, buy your food from markets in bulk. Most likely, the more you buy you bigger discount you will get. If you don’t have a water purifier (or travelling somewhere who’s water you don’t trust) buy the large one gallon water containers.
54. Know when to tip
Before you enter a new country, it’s smart to get familiar with the tipping norms. Here in the USA, it’s normal to add an extra 20% on the bill for service where as some countries include it in your bill.
55. Take public transportation
Do as the locals do, and get around with the cheapest means possible. Normally, the faster you get somewhere, the more expensive it will be so that means a bus is cheaper than a train. I spent 25 cents for a 3 hour bus ride in Sri Lanka. You sacrafise time and comfort for a true insight into culture.
56. Travel slower
If you are only spending one or two days in a place than moving on, expect to be spending a big chunk of money on train tickets, taxis, etc. Think about how much time you have to travel vs. how much money.
You have your own mode of transportation connected right to you: your feet! Take your time getting to know a new place by walking. Although it takes longer, you’ll get a better feel for a town’s vibes and have a better chance of meeting interesting people. Not to mention, you stay fit.
58. Ride Share
Look into carpooling websites or get a group of friends together to split the cost of fuel. If you have your own car it’s easy to find people online to pick up for conversation, driving breaks, and cash. If you are using a taxi, ask people at the airport where they are going so you can split the costs.
59. Rent scooter or car for longer days to get deal
Normally, the longer you rent transporation, the cheaper it will be per day. Make sure to ask the company what kind of deal they can give you.
With hitchhiking you sacrifice time and convience for an interesting (and free) experience. You may end up in funny places, with crazy people, and maybe even a free place to stay for the night. I have had some of my best travel memories while hitchhiking and have avoided any danger. Caution because this is illegal in some countries.
61. Work on a boat
You can get places by volunteering or working on a boat rather. Check out sailing clubs, craigslist, or website for sailors looking for work.
62. Go the speed limit
When you speed, your gas milage goes up so slow down and take in the scenery!
63. Take 2nd class instead of 1st
1st class is reserved (and overpriced) for “first class” people. If you want a truer, realer experience among locals, book 2nd or 3rd class and save a few dollars.
64. Park out of town
Parking within a city means meter costs and a possible ticket. To avoid the costs all together, park a mile out of town and walk or take the bus in.
65. If car or scooter is broken or scratched, try fixing it yourself
Rented a car then ran into a parking pole? I did, and erased the paint using whiskey. Oh and that one time, I fell off my scooter and bent the mirror: I asked a garage for tools and was able to do it myself.
66. Inflate your tires
If your tires are more inflated, you’re gas milage will go down.
67. Avoid taxis at airport counters
Normally the first people you see when leaving the airport gate will give you the worst deal. Make sure to weigh all of your options to bargain and find the best deal.
68. Consider the size of your car
When driving, your biggest expense will be gas. If possible, down size so you can cut back on gas prices.
69. Travel close to home or where the cheaper flights are going
Websites like skyscanner have an “anywhere” option that will give you the cheapest place to fly to. Consider going somewhere close (if you’re from USA, go to Canada or Central America or from Australia, go to Indonesia) Let the flight price dictate where you’ll be off to next.
70. Round trip ticket
If you book a ticket there and back, it’s much cheaper than individual tickets. The downside of this is having to stick to concrete travel dates, but it will save you money if you are going on a quick trip.
71. Use online booking sites
Utilize sites like Skyscanner, etc. to find the best deals by comparing all airlines and travel agency sites at once. If your dates are flexible you can also search and compare by looking into the “whole month” category. Its an easy way to look at when the cheapest flights are and also advices you to wait or buy now.
72. Wear your heaviest item(s)
Hiking boots and wool sweaters will most defiantly weigh down your luggage adding on lbs and fees. If your bags are a few pounds over weight, just put on an extra few layers.
73. Book flights in off season
Go somewhere when other people aren’t. This might mean the winter, rainy season, or when there’s havoc, but it will mean cheaper prices overall.
74. Sign up for airline deals
After signing up for airline newsletters, you will get the latest on discounts and currents deals only offered to their subscribers.
75. Take indirect flights
Some airlines rarely travel from one country directly to another. Given it’s rarity, these flights are often very expensive. Look at all angles of your trip: consider breaking up your flight into mini trips to find the best deals. For example, on my way to Australia from Philadelphia, I stopped in LA for a few nights and saved $400 in flight costs.
76. Red eye flights
Book the flights no one else wants to take. Flights that get in in the wee hours of the morning are often the cheapest.
77. Fly standby
If last minute travel plans change and you need to switch flights, fly standby. This is when you go to the airport, sign up to be on the “standby list”, and get the chance to board an earlier flight if seats are available. Chances to board early will be higher if you check into your original flight 24 hours before, only have a carry-on, and arrive early to the airport. Be sure to do your research to see if the airline offers standby flights first.
78. Use credit cards to book flights and rack up the points
Find a credit card that gives you miles for every purchase you make. Some companies will give you 1.5 free miles of airfare for every dollar spent. These can add up fast! I know many people who travel using only their points.
79. Book flights early
If you know you are going somewhere a certain day, book your flight way in advance. Generally, the earlier the cheaper the flight.
80. Sign up for fare alerts
This is a great way to stay informed and snag a bargain flight. You can set up fare alert message when certain flights drop below a certain price.
81. Look into budget airlines
There are a lot of smaller airlines that don’t have TVs on the back of headrests, offer snacks, and have smaller planes. If this is okay with you check them out because their prices are much cheaper.
Shopping / Activities
82. Travel where it’s cheap
If you want to travel longer, go places where it’s cheaper. Some of the cheapest countries include SE Asia, Central America, or India. If done wisely you can make your money last.
83. Before buying something, really consider if you need it
Give yourself some time and ask yourself what value it has to you, do you really need that shirt or scarf? Souvenirs are a great way to remember a trip, but they add space in your bag and put a dent in your wallet. Try to make memories and new friends as things to remember instead.
84. Find free activities
There are millions of activities to do for free. Occupy your time wisely without hurting your budget. Go outside: hike, dance, swim, climb a tree, do yoga, skinny dip. Go to the market: talk to strangers, listen to live music, get free samples! Find your own free fun. You can normally find free activities and events online, too.
85. Shop for materials at thrift stores.
If you need something during your trip, buy it at a thift store! It will be over half the price of buying it new and most likely will have some character. I scored a classic forest green rain jacket in New Zealand for $15 rather than paying $85 for a new one.
86. Only bring a certain amount of cash with you
When you go out for dinner or to tour a new place, only bring a small amount of cash with you. This way, you can physically only spend the allotted amount in your pocket. Not to mention, if you run into trouble, you won’t be robbed of all your money.
87. Be careful what ATM you use to avoid fees
Do your homework before travelling and know what banks offer the best exchange rates and withdraw fees. You normally get charged on both ends: from your own bank and from the ATM you use.
88. Use student or age discounts
Don’t forget to bring your student id and AARP with you. Tourist attractions, events, and restaurants will give you a discounted rate.
89. Ask for a deal or discount
ALWAYS, ALWAYS ASK for a discount. It doesn’t hurt. I’ve saved countless pennies being friendly and asking attendants if they can hook a broke backpacker up. Group deals, student discounts, the list goes on and on.
90. Bargain with street vendors
When you are out and about eating food or at the markets make sure you haggle. As a tourist, you are a walking wallet to locals. The first asking price could go up three times the amount just to test you. Make sure you bargain, people! Try the walking away method (vendors will walk after you) and compare all prices before buying.
91. Pack clothes you don’t mind leaving behind
Don’t bring your fanciest, most valuable clothes travelling. You will find stuff you want to buy while out in the world, and in order to make room in your bag, you will need to get rid of other stuff in return. Remember, the heavier the bag, more money you’ll spend. Consider giving away clothes to locals or other travelers, they will be happy while you are shedding dollars of weight.
92. Look for coupons
Hundreds of coupons exist online and in newspaper clippings. Take 10 mintues to do a quick google search for discounts, sometimes you can save over 50%! Check out groupon or for group rates.
93. Buy in duty free
If you enjoy fancy cologne, Chanel lipstick, whiskey, or a 1 lb. candy bar, purchase it at the airport, in train stations, or at the border. These items will be cheaper than at home because sales tax and imported tax is not included.
Don’t rely on exchanging money for everything you need – think about how you can do it yourself. Do your own laundry by hand, convert a puffy sweater into a pillow, make a shell bracelet, use a shoe string for a belt. You got this.
95. Use WiFi
If you have a phone, trade out a sim card data plan and get your internet in wifi. Most cafes and hostels these days have wifi available. Plus, you’re traveling, open your eyes and get off your phone.
96. Pay as you go phone
If you need phone credit or data, it will be much cheaper buying a pay as you go package rather than setting up an international phone plan at home. You can top up your package when you need it and can often get good deals.
97. Quit smoking, alcohol, drugs
Eliminate these toxins out of your life for your health and your money. Tobacco products, drinks, and other drugs are easy to get attached and can cost a lot depending on where you are. Don’t you want to remember your trip?
98. Find small jobs to do on the road for spending money
Earn money instead of spending. You can busk, sell jewelry, do a dance, or even get part time, temp work if your funds are running low. One day I made $80 in four hours selling jewelry and it lasted me one week! Get creative and use your talents to your advantage.
99. Don’t rely only on money
Don’t let a price tag hold you back. There is ALWAYS alternative methods of getting what you want. You can offer up your skills, knowledge, or two hands for anything. Make a deal, make a trade, make relationships and find an alternative route to reaching you goals.
100. Watch out for theft and scams
Be smart about where you stash your cash. Get a travel belt and only bring a small amount of cash with you. Don’t be flashy with expensive gear and gadgets or you’ll be a walking target. Don’t trust everyone and ask for resources. If something seems fishy, it probably is.
101. Don’t auto renew travel insurance
Some travel insurance companies will automatically renew once your plan is up. It’s best to research travel insurance to see what companies could offer a better quote than your current one and based on travel plans. Deselect auto renew online to avoid paying heavy costs once your trip is over.
102. Stay Healthy
This is so important while you are traveling for your health and your wallet. Easily void the hassle of paying medical fees, dealing with your travel insurance, and waiting for funds to come back in your bank account by being healthy! Wash your hands often, don’t drink from someone’s drink, and watch what you eat.
103. Be open.
I can’t express how important an open mind is. Traveling will test you and put you in the most oddest of situations. Be open to offers from locals and other travelers. My most memorable experiences were caused by having an open mind.
104. Be adventurous
Get outside your comfort zone. If you are really trying to save your money you will need to push yourself and stay strong. Camping, riding in 3rd class on a train, or hitchhiking isn’t easy, but will realease your inner explorer.
105. Say hello and smile
Being nice will get you soooo far in this world. If you smile and respect others, you will most likely get hooked up more than once. Stay curious, ask questions, be engaged. If people like you they will help you out.