Traveling can lead to some of the most rewarding experiences and lessons in your life, but let’s face it, it can cost a pretty penny. If you are an avid traveler or have gone on vacation recently, you know what I’m talking about. The transportation, accommodation, food, and adventurous activities all cost money. Though I haven’t been everywhere yet, I have traveled quite a bit in my life. My mixture of studying abroad, backpacking and staying in hostels, and going on family vacations has taught me a thing or two about how much traveling can cost. Continue reading to find out a few ways that you can save money when traveling.
Save Money When Traveling: Take Carry-on Sized Bags
It may seem like an inconvenience to bring all of your stuff in just 2 little bags. However, if you are traveling a lot, you can save tons of money by avoiding checked bag fees. Be sure to research the bag size and weight limits in different countries and on different airlines. Some are more lenient than others with how close the size is, and some don’t even weigh the bags. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know that before you get up to the counter, so take your chances. I try to err on the side of caution and just wear a bunch of my clothes while I’m in line. If you are planning to take trains, these smaller bags can be much more convenient as well. It’s easier to find a space close to you so that you can keep your eyes on your bags, and you will probably avoid bag fees.
Save Money When Traveling: Use Bathrooms Whenever They Are Free
Even if you don’t feel like you have to use the bathroom while you’re at a restaurant, just go before you leave. In Europe, for example, you will have to pay to use the toilet most places. Some restaurants, museums, or public places will have free restrooms for customers, so take advantage of that opportunity. Nothing is worse than feeling like you have to pee really badly and then having to dig through your bag/wallet to find some coins or money to pay first. Plus, all of those toilet fees add up when you’re traveling in summer and drinking plenty of water.
Sleep In Adventurous Places
I know what you’re thinking, what’s so adventurous about staying in a hostel with a whole bunch of other travelers? Well, I’m here to tell you that hostels get a bad rep (thanks creepy Hostel movie from 2005). That really helped my parents feel at ease when I told them I was going to backpack and stay in hostels in Europe for over 3 months. Seriously though, you can save so much money by staying in hostels and low-budget hotels. Now, I am more partial to hostels since you usually have access to a kitchen, fun areas, and events. You will likely meet people who have a similar outlook on life and are looking to have fun exploring new cultures. If you are feeling even more adventurous, you could try camping or hammocking. I know several people who have avoided paying for accommodation by doing just that. Make sure you research to see where it is acceptable and what the laws are before you decide to pitch your tent up though.
Find Inexpensive Meals
For me, this usually means getting cereal/breakfast food, making some sort of sandwich or wrap to go for lunch, bringing snacks like fruit and nuts, and occasionally cooking dinner. If you’re staying in a hotel or someplace without a kitchen, you probably still have access to a fridge that you can keep some stuff in for meal preparations. You can also find some cheap street food if you know where to look. Don’t get me wrong, I buy plenty of ice cream, nice dinners, snacks, and unique food while I’m exploring a new place. However, I generally prioritize the value of experiences over eating fancy food everyday.
Pay Attention To Your Timing
I’ll be honest, I don’t know if the Mona Lisa is ever less busy than in the picture above. Most people don’t like crowds when they are traveling, experiencing something unique, or exploring a museum. High prices typically accompany large crowds. In general, each tourist destination will have a high and low season. Disney World is busier in the summer and during school breaks. Germany is busier in September and October during Oktoberfest. If you don’t have any reason to visit a country or city at a particular time, research to see when it is less busy. You can save money with lower prices on accommodation. Many museums also offer free admission one day each week when traffic is low.
Don’t feel like you need to adopt all of these techniques to make a difference in your travel budget. Even just a few of these things can save you a lot of money. Pay attention to what you truly value while you travel. If you need a shower and bed every night to feel comfortable, you probably shouldn’t go camping. If you really love brunch, don’t be afraid to indulge every once in a while. Everyone enjoys different pieces of traveling or vacation…the goal is to minimize your expenses without sacrificing your happiness.