Keeping track of your money travelling isn’t always easy, but it’s a good idea to keep tabs on your spending – we’ve put together a few ideas for how to save yourself some pennies while on the road.
1. Saving money on food
Buying food might be essential, but you can be thrifty about it. One of the joys of travelling is trying the food of the country you’re visiting, but try to limit the number of restaurants and bars you visit, and make sure to research prices before eat out. Stick to street food whenever you can, which is often much cheaper – especially off the beaten track rather than in tourist hotspots – and make sure you have at least a couple of meals a week that you cobbled together from the supermarket. Similar to how it’s always surprising to work out how much you spend a week on coffee at home, you’d be surprised how much money gets swallowed up by buying food while travelling.
2. Travel on foot
Obviously, some places are just plain inaccessible without catching a bus or a train, and in other places such as San Francisco or Lisbon the cable cars and trams are part of the experience. However, you can save a lot of money and often get to know a place much better if you travel on foot. London is a great example of this; although the Tube is really useful for getting around the enormous city, it’s often quicker to walk from one destination to the other – especially in the city centre. Check the distance from where you are to where you want to go, and often you’ll find it’s very walkable. This will save you some money, provide some exercise and immerse you in your destination all at the same time.
3. Find free attractions
Although many famous attractions and museums have entry fees, there are always plenty of free sites to visit instead, which are often much less well-known. Just ask the staff at your hostel or hotel (or consult the internet, of course), to find these hidden gems and enjoy soaking up the culture and history without loosening your purse strings.
4. Keep water on you
Many tourist hotspots, especially in hot destinations, capitalise on travellers’ need to hydrate and charge a lot of money for bottles of water. You would be surprised how much money you can save by carrying a refillable bottle with you wherever you go. Although they might look a bit miffed about it, you’d be hard-pressed to find a place that would refuse to refill your bottle, so you’ll be drinking (water) for free all day long. Plus, a refillable bottle is much better for the environment than repeatedly buying plastic bottles.
5. Have a budget
It sounds obvious, but this really is one of the best ways to save money travelling. Everyone is familiar with that tendency to spend a little recklessly on holiday because you’re away from your normal life and having fun – but when you’re travelling long term you need to stay on top of your money. It’s easy to forget that little purchases like coffees and souvenirs add up as much as bigger costs like accommodation, and having an idea of how much you can afford to spend each day or even each week is really helpful. Remember to be flexible – don’t miss out on an awesome boat ride or climbing the Eiffel Tower because it’s a dollar over your budget – but try to stick to your limits, and your funds will stretch a lot further.
6. Make use of your phone
Almost everything you could think of is now available on your pocket-sized phone. Instead of investing in pricey travel guides, phrasebooks and maps, use your phone and save yourself the money. This will also free up a lot of space in your bag, so you can either pack more essentials or travel light.
7. Free wifi
Escape the roaming charges by hunting down free wifi. Although they sound almost quaint now, many places still have internet cafes, plus most public libraries, shopping centres and even some train stations will have wifi you can jump on the back of instead of using up your data or paying through the nose for hotel wifi. Not only is this a great money-saving tip, it can be an excellent way to get to know a town – a friend and I spent a couple of pleasant hours exploring the cobbled streets of Rouen looking for free wifi.
8. Shop around for travel insurance
If travelling is a part of your lifestyle and you don’t see this changing any time soon, you might be better off investing in an annual travel insurance policy which covers multiple trips, rather than paying upfront for coverage each time you go abroad. If this isn’t the case, you should still invest a little time in making sure you find the best value for money travel insurance you can to cover your trip – however, don’t fall into the trap of skimping on the quality of the insurance because this could end up costing you down the line.
Travelling and experiencing the world is always going to be an investment, but these handy tips will help you make sure your money stretches as far as it can.