There are 365 days in a year and 52 weekends. If you’re like me, you look at those days and weekends as a lot of time to travel.
A few years ago when I decided to prioritise travel, I knew I’d need to stop making excuses. I save for trips the same way I pay my other bills- I set money aside from each pay check to use for trip planning or while on future holidays.
No matter where I go, what I’ve learned with every trip is that there are ways to keep cost down. While I don’t always follow these tips for every trip, I do abide by some combination of them every time I plan a holiday.
10 Tips for Saving Money on Any Trip
- Book Early: Are there great last minute deals out there? Sure, but more often than not, I save the most by booking flights and lodging months ahead of time. Those £30 roundtrip flights in Europe? They sell out fast, so I act quickly when I spot a deal for somewhere on my to-travel list.
- Plan Ahead: No, you don’t need to plan every moment of each day, but by looking up activities and tours before your trip, and places to eat/drink, you’ll inevitably save money on advance purchase or time while you’re on holiday.
- Visit in the Off Season: Living in London, I loathe travelling around Europe in summer- much, much higher prices for everything and so many tourists. Instead, I like traveling around Europe in winter, spring and mid-late fall. And for other destinations, I look up the busiest season and then usually watch for flights/lodging on the fringe of it. You’ll likely still have great weather, but pay a fraction of the cost.
- Don’t Eat Every Meal Out: Whether I stay at an Airbnb or not, it’s rare I eat every meal out. At the very least, I’ll bring breakfast to have (Lara bars, almonds, almond butter) and may pick up a few things that don’t require refrigeration when I reach my destination, like fruit. Not only will you save a bit of money each day, but you can also start your day by heading straight to your first activity.
- Ditch the Hotel: Airbnb in Europe is the only accommodation I consider 80% of the time. There are exceptions- Amsterdam, a city where a hotel can be cheaper than Airbnb, is one of them. But, for the most part, Airbnbs are a clean and comfortable alternative to hotel and their insane room mark-ups. In Asia and the United States, I alternate between whatever is most affordable and suits my needs, which sometimes is a hotel. However, I try to glean sales where I can by reserving rooms when I first start thinking of a trip with booking.com- you can always cancel, but you’ll have a better chance of locking in great rates earlier.
- Set a Trip Budget: One of the most essential parts of any trip, in my opinion. Usually, I set a daily trip budget tailored to each day of the trip/activities we’ve planned. If I go over one day, then I try to adjust for the next one to ensure I still come in even.
- Walk Everywhere: If you’re staying in a city, try to find accommodation that’s walking distance or on a subway/bus route. Not only is walking a great way to get exercise, but you’ll also see and notice more than you would if you took Uber or drove everywhere. This is also where planning a bit comes in handy, if you know what part of town the activities you want to do are in, you can see more while you’re there and waste time going back and forth.
- Take Public Transit or Shuttles To/From the Airport: It’s rare I take Uber/a taxi while travelling, when I do, it’s usually a result of arriving late to a destination and not being able to take transit. Alternatively, I always look at public transit options- either a direct bus/train from an airport to the city or a shared shuttle.
- Join a Free Frequent Flyer Program or Hotel Rewards System: With most programs, you can earn points towards cheaper fares and upgrades if you fly often enough (same goes for hotel stays). Priority check-in and boarding, as well as airport lounge access are great perks if there are a few airlines you travel consistently.
- Keep Your Next Trip in Mind: Even if it’s not planned, I think of the other places I want to visit when I’m tempted to splurge on a meal, experience or shopping, and truly ask myself if it’s worth it in comparison to using the money toward a future holiday.
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