5 Simple Ways to Spend a LOT Less While Traveling

moneySome people have something inside that pushes them constantly towards traveling. I am that kind of person.
But sometimes that kind of person is also broke as an engineer student who can’t find a job(yep, that’s me).

And being someone who loves to travel, but has no more than a few dollars on my account, I started coming up with new ways to travel as cheap as I can. If it wasn’t for that, I would probably never leave the house, well maybe to search for a job(I’m accepting job offers by the way :p).


I’ll explain here some of the most effective ways to save money while you have fun and get to know all the cool places you always dream about.


1. Take note of everything you spend while traveling

I recently started doing this and I must tell you, it totally changed my perception on how much money I was spending and especially how I was spending it.
When you start spending on bus tickets, food, souvenirs or anything else that draws your money and attention, you end up losing track of where your cash is really going.
Since I started taking note on every little dime that I spend I realized that the true enemies of my travel finances were not lodging and bus/plane tickets as I thought, but food and paid tourist attractions. Those two things were eating all the cash that I had saved from buying cheaper plane tickets and staying at low cost hostels.
That’s why I insist you should write down(I use Evernote for this, great app) every cent you spend. Maybe you will also find out what is the leakage that is pouring all your money off your pockets. And doing this also allows you to better manage the money you have available for your trip. Seeing when it’s time to save and when it you are free to let the cash flow. Trust me, it will pay off from the first time you start doing this.


2. Set a maximum amount of money to spend each day, and STICK to it

This ones has a lot to do with the previous one. If you wanna travel on a budget, actually a small budget, you gotta have discipline with your money. There’s no better way to do this than to set a limit on how much cash you can spend each day.
But for it to be effective you really gotta stay true to this, because we always find things that lure us while we travel. Maybe it’s that great restaurant everyone told you about, or that tourist attraction that you can’t miss but costs a small fortune, this list is endless.
That’s why you gotta be able to make decisions and compromises. You either travel spending fortunes(which a lot of us can’t do) or you give up on somethings in favor of others, and that’s what is good about setting a daily limit, you will be aware of those decisions you are making, choosing with responsibility where your daily quota is going to be spent and leaving the rest for another day or for another trip.
If you successfully do this, you will know exactly how much money you will spend even before you set your foot on the road.


3. When it comes to flying buy early, but don’t buy fast

Plane tickets

Here is another important tip. Never ever leave your tickets to be bought at the last minute. Actually I’m guessing most of you know about that.
But what most people don’t know about is that you shouldn’t be buying it to soon either. If you buy a plane ticket 6 months before your flight you can be sure that you will miss on a few ticket sales which could make you save a few hundred dollars.
In my opinion the ideal period for buying an international ticket is around 60 to 120 days before the flight. But of course, keep an eye out for sales. That’s exactly the point, use the time to keep an open eye for great sales, but don’t wait pass the 60 days limits, or you might end up paying the exorbitant amount air companies charge for those flying in short notice.


4. Cook as much as you can

As I said before, I used to spend A LOT of money on food while on the road. I saw that as one of the best parts of visiting a new place, trying their restaurants. And it actually is, but when the money is short, you make compromises, so… Now I cook all the time. Since I always stay at hostel, there’s always a kitchen for me. And while it may take from 25 to 100 dollars to eat in a nice restaurant, you can make enough food for a couple spending around 5 dollars or less if you want to. Imagine how much money you can save just on food.
But that doesn’t mean you can eat out a few days, or even better, eat out, but search for economic options. This way you can have the pleasure of knowing the local cuisine while not destroying your budget.
Doing this I can honestly say that you may go from spending 50 dollars a day with food to under 10 dollars a day.


5. Always search for the free alternatives

This is another big one. On my last trip I went to a place called Pantanal in Brazil. I was being as economic as I could the first days of my trip. But in Pantanal, pretty much all the interesting sites are in private properties, so in the last day I went to visit a few of those sites. Making a long story short, I spent on this day more money than all of the rest combined.
That’s why you should avoid those kind of situations whenever you can. Spend as little as you can on paid attractions. Avoid city tours, guided visits to museums, boat trips when there’s the option to walk. Stay way from anything that has a cost and also has an alternative.
On the exact opposite of Pantanal, there is Ilha Grande, also in Brazil, one of my favorite places in the world. This island has dozens of travel agencies, they book hundreds of boat rides each day, packed with tourists spending hundreds of dollars each to see a few beaches on this amazing place.
That’s one way to enjoy the island, but there’s also the alternative. Ilha Grande is a trekkers paradise, you can actually visit every beach on the island just walking(but it would take quite a few days, it’s a huge island).
Let me put this into numbers. I went with my girlfriend the last time I was there. And she didn’t want to trek all the time, so we booked a few boat rides. We spent each around 300 dollars for 4 days on the island, including everything(that’s quite a lot of money nowadays in Brazil).
But the time before that, I went alone and all my time was spent trekking from one beach to the next. I spent around 100 bucks. For the same number of days, I paid one third of the price.
That just proves my point, always search for a free alternative. Free museums, free shows, sight seeing, trekking, going to beaches. If you start looking for things like this, you may even find that some of those cheap or free attractions are even better than the ones the agencies try to shove down your throat.


Adopt these 5 tips into your travel routine and I can guarantee you will see the cost of your trips fall by a lot, so you can finally start traveling as much as your heart desire.

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8 Responses

  1. Voyager says:

    All valid and doable suggestions for spending less. One thing we also try to do, is ensure we pre-book whatever we can, including accommodation, activities, tours, etc, so that almost 60-70 percent of our expenses are taken care of beforehand, which ensures we stick to a budget.

  2. Mar Pages says:

    Very valid tips for saving money in general. I like the last one on free alternatives, I enjoy exploring on my own by foot in my own time- saving money in the process!

  3. Tracie Howe says:

    All great tips, particularly 3-5 for me. It’s all about what you make a priority though. Maybe food IS the reason you travel, in which case you wouldn’t be cooking much. It’s all a matter of perspective though. And it does seem like this who love to travel are often broke… Maybe because we travel so much! 😉

  4. Kevin Wagar says:

    Good tips for keeping your budget in check. We also try to avoid group tours as often as possible in order to cut costs down and dictate our pace ourselves. Also, if you’re travelling with a family, sometimes a private tour ends up costing less than a group one.

  5. Jessica says:

    Eye for airfare sales and cook a lot in the destination. Truly helpful in keeping your budget. But most of all, I always search and opt for free activities in the area.

  6. So many good tips! People ask me all the time how I manage to stick to a decent budget while travelling and these are pretty much the tips I share with them haha. Saved my butt in the super expensive Nordic countries (like Norway ahhh). The one I struggle with most is keeping track of my expenses. It’s easy to leave it til later (by which time you forget). That’s why I don’t bother with extra apps anymore – just keep it old-fashioned with my iPhone notes haha.

  7. Milosz Zak says:

    I’m off to the EU for 16 days – I will not be watching my budget. This is my first vacation in 2 years! After that it’s studying law, which will require time and dedication. Anyone going to Poland and Hungary – hit me up! 😀

  8. Chris says:

    I agree wholeheartedly about the self catering plan.

    We always do this, and enjoy the occasional splurge by eating out.

    Of course, in countries with such rich street food cultures that are also cheap (such as Mexico), you can eat out all you want!

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