Everyone budgets their money before they go traveling but surprisingly, budgeting WHILE traveling makes a lot of ‘cents’ too.
Vacations are a time to splash out and spend a little more on yourself. But you still need to be careful – you don’t want to head home in the hole. This is also true considering money disappears quickly while traveling as you’re paying for multiple services every day: food, accommodation, transportation, and activities.
Thankfully, there are some simple and easy ways to save money while traveling.
1. Don’t eat out every meal.
By all means, enjoy the local cuisine (that’s half of traveling!) but consider picking up food and snacks at grocery stores. It’s easier on busy site-seeing days to eat a sandwich on the go. It will also save you the time of having to sit down and eat at a restaurant as well as the cost of it. Grocery stores are also interesting places to see what locals are really eating. I remember being surprised and delighted at the number of flavoured milk in New Zealand’s grocery stores: plain, chocolate, banana, strawberry and lime.
2. Consider accommodation options
Airbnb, guesthouses, hostels, bed & breakfasts and couchsurfing are all alternative options to hotels and will likely save you money. Consider staying in dorms or sharing the price of a room with a travel partner. Little details like this can save a lot of cash.
3. Sign up for loyalty cards
Chains are often partnered with cards or companies to offer cheaper prices (think CAA/AAA memberships or hotel loyalty programs like Wyndham, IHG, and Hilton Honors). The best part is you can usually sign up on the spot and receive the discount while traveling. For each hotel loyalty card I have, I signed up when I was checking in and have earned multiple free nights for my loyalty to them.
4. Look online for discounts
You might get lucky and find a discount on an activity or location you’re going to online. In Singapore, I found a discount code for Universal Studios online if I paid for my ticket in advance with my MasterCard. In doing so, they also gave me 5 vouchers to use on food and souvenirs, I had a free pass to the front of several rides, and I didn’t have to wait in line to buy tickets. Definitely worth the effort of looking online before I left my hotel.
5. Pick up tourist booklets at the airport, your hotel or an information centre
I always grab a few tourist booklets at the airport when I land in a new destination. Not only are they full of great information, but there are usually discount codes and coupons for places you’ll likely visit. It’s best to look at the booklet right away and cut out the ones you know you’ll use so you don’t forget about them.
6. Travel on budget airlines if you need to fly or take a local bus if you can overland it
Many countries have budget airlines you can fly with to take advantage of lower airfare. There are too many to list here but here are a few in South America, Asia and Australia: Avianca, LAN, TAME, MasWings and Tiger Airways. If you don’t need to fly, consider taking the local bus instead of a tourist shuttle. It’s a lot more authentic and adventurous and most importantly – cheaper.
7. Use coupon and discount websites
In Canada we have Groupon to save locally, but many other countries offer sites that are similar. Some to consider are GrabOne in New Zealand, All the Deals in Australia or Deal Africa in South Africa. While in Capetown I used such a site to save money on a cage diving trip to see great white sharks.
8. Check out the company website
Check out the company’s direct website for any deals or promotions they may have.
9. Book in advance. Or book last minute.
Sometimes booking months in advance can save you money so consider buying tickets if you know where you’re holidaying in advance. However, sometimes it’s just as beneficial to book last minute and get a discount because the tour operator is looking to fill seats.
It never hurts to simply ask for an upgrade or a discount while traveling, you might be surprised what a company can offer you – especially if you’re in a group.
Do you have any other budgeting suggestions while on the road? Feel free to share them in the comments below!