There are the practical ways to save money when traveling, like looking for a cheap hostel, using hostel alternatives, and figuring out the best places to travel on a weak dollar. Then there are other ways to skimp and save that don’t sound as fun but will save you things in addition to quite a bit of money. There are some things you can really do without, or at least do without when your budget gets tight.
One of the most important things to look for in a hostel or hotel is a good breakfast so you can load up before you head out for the day. It’s easier to forget about a full lunch when you’re out exploring and on a full stomach. Cutting out this meal in addition to a simple hotel room workout are good ways to keep in shape and avoid gaining a little extra cargo too.
You can make do without checking in any baggage – at least most people can. I can’t speak for family travelers but even on the longest trips most people can stick to a single carry on by packing like a stripper. You never need as much as you think you do.
Alcohol in many parts of the world is taxed quite heavily and you pay a premium for it. You also don’t need alcohol to survive and while it’s nice to drink, a big waste of money on a very tight budget (same goes for cigarettes). If you simply can’t resist some booze, consider getting a bottle of vodka when you pass through the duty free shop – there are 4 other things you can do with vodka other than getting drunk as well.
Or at least turn off roaming (Hole In The Donut has a good tutorial on setting up your iPhone for international travel). Technology is great but roaming charges aren’t and a iPod touch or laptop can replace your iPhone for most purposes. Besides, there are many advantages to traveling without an iPhone.
Using debt is the opposite of saving – it’s spending money you don’t have to get something now. Many travelers use debt to shortcut the waiting process that is saving, but like a sculptor you can hack away the inessential and travel around the world by expanding your budget in two directions.
6. A Real Place To Sleep
Airports are free places to sleep and if you’re on a long trip around the world, you can save quite a bit of money by planning 1 night over at an airport after each major stop. Assuming the average hostel night will cost you $26, doing this once a month and planning your flights accordingly can save you a bit for a nice luxury stay along the way.
7. A Fancy Camera
You don’t need an SLR to take good travel photos and with some minor changes in focus, it’s easy to improve your travel photos. Don’t believe me? Take a look at these travel pictures taken with a cell phone camera.
You can also make your money work for you by signing up for mileage and reward programs (Chris Guillbeau’s Frequent Flyer Master comes highly recommended), use corporate discounts (no matter who you work for), and try some unconventional ways to earn a bit more.
[photos by: by_amil, kozumel, sunface13, Christopher Chan, RogueSun Media, pallotron, Claudio Matsuoka]
thanks for sharing… im always guilty in spending too much money on booze and ciggies… 😛
A cold beer is almost impossible to resist sometimes. Funny how there’s always room in the budget for our addictions 😛
Good list.. but no iPhone and camera? Hmm.. I guess I have to go to the iPhone anonymous before going on a trip. 😉 When I travel to Thailand, I typically bring my phone but change the Sim card so it won’t cost as much. I plan to do the same this trip with my iPhone. We will see how that goes.
haha, I know the digital addiction. My laptop is firmly attached to my fingertips. I don’t have a cell phone at all and use the iPod touch as my replacement.
I won’t have an iPhone or any kind of phone, but no alcohol? No way. Perhaps the happy medium is that I’ll be drinking in the hostel instead of the expensive bar 🙂
haha, in terms of my travel hierarchy of needs, alcohol is up there. When things have been really tight I’ve been known to turn down a meal in place of a few good beers 🙂
Another thing you can sometimes do without: a guidebook. If you do enough research ahead of time, you’ll know your way safely around a city. Often times the coolest finds — a little known monument, a strange statue, a unique store — are something you stumble across while wandering.
Good one – I considered adding it to the list originally but very glad you mentioned it. The Internet is so vast and more organic, makes quite an improvement over most guide books.
My wife and I have stayed overnight in airports many times. This is especially effective when you have an early morning flight. (I hate the benches with the metal arm rests that prevent you from stretching out.:-))
That’s one of my pet peeves too!
Great tips – you’re obviously experienced (Yes I knew that 🙂 )!
So I agree with all of them, except for using the iPhone (or any other mobile phone with wLAN): If you find a free WiFee, you can do it for free – and I could never travel without one 🙂
I’m scared to get an iPhone but like the iPod touch since there’s no monthly fee associated with it. That said, for me a cell phone isn’t too practical with my style of travel.
I”m afraid I agree with the common consensus … no iPhone?! I dropped mine recently and ended up with the white screen of death. It only took me a week to decide to get an out of warranty replacement. It should hopefully be down here in New Zealand soon! 🙂
Cutting back on booze can save a lot of money in the long term. When I’m on the road I try to limit myself to a pint a day – unless of course I’m out for a proper night out!
Alcohol definitely does add up. I think many people who budget their trips add booze under something like ‘meals and drinks’ without a separate category for alcohol. When you do that you see how expensive it can be…but after a few drinks you forget how much in the hole it’s put you 😛
I can never skip lunch!
All great suggestions, except I would rather skip lunch AND dinner than sleep at an airport, haha.
You’ve got to try Hong Kong or South Korea’s international airports, great places to sleep if you do get stuck. I’d take the food though!
Great ideas- most of which I’ve put in practice- and maybe that is why I find traveling affordable :)….the no-lunch was something I learned many many years ago while traveling throughout India and Nepal- I picked it up from being in Nepal where they would do a HUGE (rice and dahl) type breakfast- and then not eat until later in the day- I found this not only saved money but time and I have kept up the practice all these years later.
The airport sleep is another good idea. My hubby and I used to try to time our flights to be overnight flights so that we would save a night’s stay- but I like the idea of staying the night in the airport. My problem is I don’t like to sleep- this is why I can attest to seeing the pyramids at around 2 am!! 🙂 (My hubby was back at the Cairo International Airport fast asleep)
2am?? That must have been quite a unique experience, what was it like?
Great ideas. Like sleeping in the airport, you can also take overnight transportation that can save on rooms as well. And I agree that a nicer camera doesn’t make someone a great photographer, but I couldn’t travel without my slr. I love it 🙂
Which one do you use?
It’s an olympus e510. It has great kit lenses with it and is a good investment for your first slr camera in my opinion!
Thanks for the info and recommendation Laura!
I disagree with skipping lunch! That, after breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The meal to skip – especially when traveling and eating in restaurants, is the most expensive meal of the day which is dinner, the evening meal.
When traveling in the more expensive regions of the world, like the UK, France, and other areas of Western Europe as well as in the US, the way to cut down on the money you’ll spring for food and to keep your energy up at the same time is to eat small meals throughout the day.
In France for example, where boulangeries are plentiful, sandwiches and single pizzas to take to the nearest park for an impromptu picnic are the cheapest and easiest way to fill the day with wonderful food for not much money. As another example, when traveling in Mexico, which is already fairly inexpensive, taco stands and street food vendors offer a lot of inexpensive choices throughout the day.
Eating little items four or five times a day keeps your system going throughout the day and there isn’t a crash in the evening.
It’s what I normally strive for but in ‘tight budget mode’ I tend to have a bit later breakfast and earlier dinner to keep going. Not ideal but works out when the wallet gets a bit light.
Love your suggestion btw for the picnics 🙂
These are some great tips especially the iPhone roaming charges which many people probably don’t think twice about.
It’s easy to forget about when you turn the phone on and see all of your unread emails downloading – it can result in a very scary bill.
I almost wish I had never brought an iPhone on this trip because now I love it 😉 But great trips – I find that skipping a beer or two a week when I am in Europe/or Oz in particular really helped me slim down the budget. In developing countries its quite cheap ($1 a bottle!), but those $6 pints in Ireland sure do add up!
I know I’ll be the biggest iPhone addict ever if I get one…and you’d think Guinness would be a bit cheaper in Ireland since it’s *everywhere*!
GREAT list Anil. And I agree with all but the camera one – I might be able to get good enough photos for my blog, but I certainly couldn’t get photos good enough to sell to a national European Magazine for 200 pounds a crack, which I just did! That’s one bit of weight and cost I can justify.
Wow, can’t argue with that!
Other potential ways to save money include hand-washing your clothes and taking a sarong along with you. One sarong can act as a towel, shoulder bag, article of clothing and sheet among many other uses and they dry relatively quickly. Why buy each of those items separately when one sarong does it all?
Knowing you’ll hand wash stuff also helps to keep your backpack lighter. I’d suspect that most people pack less when they know they’ll have to wash things by hand.
To be honest, at home, I’d rather make lunch the main meal of the day, but if the hotel is providing the breakfast then it makes sense to eat well and then have the next meal later in the day – not sure if I could stretch until dinner time, but that’s where it’s great to try the cheaper street food for snacks to tide you over
Good point – some filling snacks help keeps the hunger at bay which is a good thing. Being too hungry can have the opposite and have you end up eating more 🙂
Yes, that’s how I eat at home too.
I pack a stash of Luna Bars in my bag before the trip. That way, if I know I’m going to be at an archeological site or out walking all day, I can pack one for an emergency. I just toss one in my day bag on the morning of the first day of the trip. Sometimes I don’t eat any of them and end up taking them back home, but sometimes they come in real handy!
I am not a fan of sleeping in an airport, I never get a good rest that doesn’t leave me disoriented to the point that I’m completely sane by the time I reach my destination.
Ever been through Singapore airport? If you ever get stuck there or in Hong Kong check out the nap rooms. Not great but pretty decent for an airport 🙂
Some great tips – yet I’d rather go naked and not have a suitcase rather than leave my SLR behind! 🙂 Totally agree about skipping lunch – I”m all for a big breakfast…especially when it’s free!
I had never considered sleeping in the airport as a positive thing…thanks – you’ve got me to look at that in a different way!
Sherry you put your SLR to good use though, the pictures on your site are wonderful. I’ve slept in so many airports it has really grown on me, especially if the airport is in Asia, they know how to incorporate comfort into the design 🙂
i’m with you on the skipping a meal! i prefer to have a late lunch and then some kind of snack at night (hello, ice cream flavors of the world).
haha, loved the last part. Good way to make ice cream a regular part of your diet 🙂