Accommodation is usually the biggest expenditure on holidays. So if you want to lower the costs of your travels, this is the main thing to start with! Staying at hostels is a great way to save money, especially if you’re traveling for a few weeks or more.
Cutting down a mere $10 USD per day on hotels can save you over $200 USD on a 3-week trip.
But even if you’re not into staying at hostels and are looking mainly for relaxation and privacy, there are other ways. Airbnb and private guesthouses (or homestays) are always cheaper than hotels, and often offer surprisingly high quality of stay.
Restaurants dedicated to tourists always have higher prices. With an empty stomach and tired legs, begging for you to sit down after a day of sightseeing, it’s easy to end up at one of such places. But finding a good and cheap local restaurant doesn’t really require much effort. Here are my tricks:
Cooking some of your meals while traveling is great not only because it can save you some money, but because it’s healthy. Maintaining a good diet can be really difficult on holidays, as you have (almost) no control over the amount of sugar and additives in your food.
Many hostels or guesthouses have a kitchen available for you to use.
And there’s a lot of simple dishes which don’t require a lot more than a pan or a pot. You could easily prepare your own oatmeal or omelette for breakfast, or a salad for lunch.
Taking taxis here and there during your holidays is another big expenditure, which adds up to a considerable amount of money in the end.
Public transportation is cheap and convenient to take, especially in big cities where cars are usually stuck in traffic. New York, Hong Kong, Berlin, London or Singapore are just a few cities to mention.
Consider getting a public transportation pass (they usually come in form of 1-,3- or 7-day ticket).
Unless you’re traveling in a well developed country (such as Germany or France), bargaining is allowed and even a must! Vendors in countries which are highly dependant on the tourist industry take huge advantages of travellers by spiking up prices.
If you’re not aware of the bargaining culture (such as in China), you may be charged as much as 200 times the actual price (!).
It’s simply part of the way things work in certain countries and there’s nothing to be ashamed of or feel sorry about. It’s all about business.
Read more: Successful Bargaining: Tips on How to Haggle Prices in China (including Chinese phrases)
Tip: Ask for discounts if you’re booking 3+ nights of accommodation, a tour for more people than just yourself, or renting a scooter for more than a few days.
I spent 25 days biking (and camping) in China and spent less than $300 USD in total for everything! Traveling on your own wheels can save you a lot of transportation costs.
It’s also an amazing way to visit less touristy places.
Other than biking, you can for example, buy a second-hand motorcycle for around $1000 USD in Asia (very popular in Vietnam) or rent/buy a cheap campervan in Australia or New Zealand.
It used to be the way of getting around in the ‘70s. Now it’s less popular, but still possible and fairly easy in most countries. Visit Hitchwiki, which is like a bible for hitchhikers and get tips from other people on where the best spots for catching rides are and more.
Sleeping in a tent and being close to nature is always fun! If you’re traveling around Canada, the U.S., New Zealand and certain countries in Europe, where accommodation prices are high, this is an alternative option for you. Campgrounds are cheap, well-equipped and in good locations.
Couchsurfing is a community of travelers. You can find hosts to stay as a guest at their home (“sleep on a couch”), meet up with nearby locals and travelers, or join community events (such as weekly hangouts or language learning meetups).
It’s great not only because it’s free but because you can make lifelong friends and discover new places from the local’s point of view. Many hosts will show you around or take you to their favourite bars/restaurants.
Sharing is caring, they say, but it can also save you money :)
Partner up with a friend or someone you meet along the way.
You’ll save money by sharing meals, costs of transportation (taxis, scooter rentals etc.) or accommodation, as in some countries such as Indonesia, Laos or Cuba prices at guesthouses are charged per room and not per person.