We missed our flight to Switzerland, and that was a serious bummer because we had to book new flight for later that day for three times as much as we originally paid.
This got me thinking about how we could save money in other ways now that we just blew several hundred dollars.
The problem is, I feel like every article I read about saving money while traveling is kind of a bummer. All the tips are things like, don’t go to touristy attractions, don’t eat out, don’t drink, and yes these things will save you money for sure, but at that point you might as well just be sitting in your hotel room. I feel like the whole point of traveling is to see those beautiful sights, to eat the local cuisine, and hang out at the local watering hole.
So I say, drink if you want to! Eat out if you want to! Dance if you want to! (you can leave your friends behind. Haha)
You just have to be smart about how you spend your money if you are trying to be thrifty.
Here is how I manage to save money while traveling & still have fun.
Yes that’s what every article says, get food from the market rather than eating out. But I’m not saying don’t eat out, in fact you probably should, or else it’s just like you never left home and how boring is that? I generally try to have at least 2 meals a day of my own making. Usually breakfast and lunch. I seriously have been carting around a bag of Muesli (European granola) since we were in Ireland, and we just grab yogurt and fruit from the store as soon as we get anywhere.
Don’t buy souvenirs
Like the type of trinket souvenirs sold in shops everywhere. Trinkets are kind of useless, it’s just going to take up space in your suitcase and then in your house later. That being said, if you really love a necklace or need a pair of boots or something, go ahead and treat yo self! Something like that you will use and wear in the future, and I loved being able to say “oh I got them in Paris” when someone compliments and asks where I got my boots.
This also goes for buying stuff for people because you feel obligated to bring something back for them. I feel like I fell into this trap in my youth, I’d always want to get a little something for all my friends from my travels. However collecting a bunch of little trinkets for other people not only sucks up your money, but also takes up space in your suitcase. Instead, I think sending postcards is awesome, it combines a personal message from you and a little something from the road. Plus if you remember to send them before you get home, they don’t take up any space in your suitcase.
Free walking tours
Most cities have them, and they are free! You’ll usually hit all or most of the iconic sites, as well some that you’d never heard of too. The best thing about walking tours is that you’ll start to get a good feel for the city you are in, and you won’t feel so lost later cruising around.
Walk and take public transit
Speaking of walking, don’t bother with cars – cabs are expensive and so is renting a car, so walk or take public transportation. If you are on vacation you are probably not in a hurry to get anywhere so you can take the slower scenic route. Public trans is also awesome for discovering new neighborhoods in a city.
Staying on the cheap
If you are solo, couch surfing is always a good option, next up on the low cost accommodations scale would be hostels, then Airbnb and hotels at the top of the price ladder. In my youth, traveling around solo or with friends, hostels were my jam. I’m now nearing 30, and the idea of bunk beds in 16 person dorm isn’t quite as appealing.
Making sure our accommodations budget doesn’t get out of control has become more of a balancing act. In more expensive cities we opt for budget accommodations like hostels, and in cheaper areas where we feel like we can spend a little more, we’ll upgrade to an Air BNB or midrange hotel. We end up switching between budget accommodations and more middle of the road type places to keep costs down but also preserve some privacy and sanity.
Drinking or not
The big one, drinking can be a huge money suck, but I do enjoy a good glass of wine, or two, and I always want to try the local specialty cocktail. So you know what, when that opportunity arises I will have that glass of wine or cocktail. But I’ve come to treat drinking as more of a special treat, rather than an evening staple. And just be smart, if the drink you want to try is a $12 cocktail, go for it, but only get one, then switch to a cheaper drink, or water.
So, see you can still have fun, even while being thrifty. You just have to be smart about it, and make sure everything you are spending your hard earned money on, is worth it.