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How to save money when traveling

You want to see the world and experience new adventures but don’t have a big budget? It’s possible! Because if you stick to a few simple guidelines you can make some smart savings when traveling. It often starts with the right preparations at home but most of the time the accommodation you need and the way you live when you travel make all the difference. You can really save a lot on food and local transportation!

I will now show you how to save money when traveling without making too many sacrifices or having to miss out on adventure.

30 Tips for how to save money when traveling

Before your departure

1. Pull all the plugs at home 

Saving money while traveling without having to do anything for it is actually pretty easy: you just have to rigorously pull the plugs of all your electronic devices at home! Devices like your wifi router, the TV, all lamps (they consume energy even when they are not on), your fridge and all chargers for phones or laptops. This can save up to 50€ on a three week trip! And even more if you are away for longer!

2. For longer trips: cancel all monthly subscriptions, sublet your flat

When you leave your home for a long period of time – three months or more – you should cancel all monthly subscriptions like phone and internet, the gym membership and all other regular costs. Or at least try to pause the contracts. These are just unnecessary costs and there is no reason to be paying for those services when you are not there!

Also sublet your flat and you might even be able to make a plus. List the flat on AirBnB or WG-gesucht and put the links to the listing on Facebook. Your friends will be happy to share it and somebody else will be happy to soon have a place to stay.

3. Apply for the right credit card

Fees for using your credit card abroad can be pretty insane and often lead to a bad surprise when your credit card bill comes. This doesn’t have to be the case, withdrawing cash usually is free in your home country as well as mostly abroad with a Visa card by DKB and there is no annual credit card fee either! If you get yourself the Miles&More MasterCard Gold you can also collect miles with every transaction you make and then use these at some point for an upgrade or to acquire a free flight. So if you fly a lot this credit card is perfect for you!

Kreditkarte / clever sparen
Photo von bertys30

4. Bring along snacks for the flight

The food on planes often tends to be mediocre at best. And if you are really hungry it will not keep you satisfied for very long. Hitting up a restaurant or cafe at the next airport becomes very tempting then. But the prices there are rather frightening! More than 10 Euros for a sandwich? Insane!

To avoid unnecessary costs pack enough snacks and maybe even make a sandwich at home to bring along. These snacks will often also be a lot healthier than the chips or the burger you end up having to fight the hunger at the airport. Nuts, cookies and fruit are perfect for traveling.

5. Bring along enough of the expensive products

Inform yourself before the trip which products are particularly expensive in the country you are traveling to. Sunscreen for instance is often really expensive, especially in Australia and New Zealand. Whereas deodorant and facial creme is often pretty expensive in Asia. So bring enough of these products from home and use them as long as possible, ideally you will have yourself covered for the entire trip and not have to use any of the expensive stuff there.

6. Travel minimalistically with carry-on only

Luggage costs a lot of time and money and often a lot of nerves too. Traveling minimalistically with a carry-on only definitely is liberating because you limit yourself to the things you really need. And you can really save if you fly with airlines that charge extra for checked baggage. Some airlines have even started doing that for long-distance flights. The only disadvantage is that you then cannot bring too much of that sunscreen. So you have to figure out whether your expenses outweigh the savings.

During your trip

The food

7. Eat at home

Next to accommodation food is often one of the biggest expenses when traveling. But it doesn’t have to be because you can really save a lot if you go shopping at local markets and cook at home. You usually have access to a well-equipped kitchen when staying in apartments, hostels or when couchsurfing. And you don’t have to outdo yourself, it doesn’t always have to be something grand.

When you head out during the day prepare yourself a sandwich or buy a tupperware, cook a little more in the evenings and you will have a meal for the next day. A swiss knife is also super useful. This way you can get yourself bread, spreads, cheese and some veggies and have a wonderful picnic.

Keep in mind: you obviously cannot bring a swiss knife in your carry-on!

8. Breakfast excluded

When you book breakfast with your stay you usually have a nice buffet with breakfast classics. This often is nothing special unless you checked into a really expensive hotel. But often you can choose whether you want breakfast included or not. Go for the second option, because a coffee and a sandwich from a bakery usually are just fine and a lot cheaper!

In some countries the price you pay for breakfast at the hotel is enough to allow you to go out to a nice cafe for breakfast twice. All-inclusive deals usually are not much cheaper than taking care of the food yourself. And all-inclusive catering usually saves on the quality of the food.

9. Eat with locals

Typical local restaurants usually serve very good and cheap food. Go to the places locals go to meet up and where all the tables are full. There is a double benefit: you know that the quality here is good and affordable and you can easily get in touch with locals. Don’t be afraid of street eateries and cheap looking restaurants in Asia. The quality of the food there usually is superb and hygiene often better than in normal restaurants!

Mit Einheimischen essen / clever sparen


10. Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing simply is perfect if you want to travel really cheap and like being active most of the time so you really only need a place to sleep. Locals offer their couches on couchsurfing.com and you don’t pay a cent for it. Additionally you get to know nice people that might also show you some hidden corners of their town or take you along to a party. A really clever way to save money on accommodation!

11. Homestays

Sleeping in homestays is another good way to save money on a place to stay. Compared to Couchsurfing you have more intimacy because you usually have your own room which is provided by locals in their own house. This usually is pretty affordable and you get a close-up look at everyday life where you are.

On Bali for instance there were several sacrificial offerings a day which you would also find in front of your door or your scooter. It is an incredibly nice feeling to be part of that and to feel like part of a family! And the locals are often very well connected and can put you in touch with friends or acquaintances where you can stay next.

You can book homestays at Booking.com or simply google homestays at your destination.

12. House sitting

House sitting is phenomenal if you like animals and are fairly flexible. Homeowners look for a sitter for their home and often their pets while they are gone traveling. In exchange you get to live there without paying rent and maybe even get to use their car. The only disadvantage is that you are not as flexible and can only go for day trips. But it is a wonderful way to live like a local and for free on top of that!

To become a house sitter you will have to register with one or several house sitting sites, create a profile and apply for the house sitting job you fancy. Then there will usually be a skype call where you have to convince the homeowner and then you have the job!

13. AirBnB

If you don’t want an expensive and not personal hotel then get yourself an AirBnB apartment! There are various ways of renting from having the entire place to yourself to booking a room in a flat share to sharing a room with the host. The latter is of course the cheapest. Another advantage of this alternative is that you easily get in touch with locals and they can give you great suggestions that will help you save even more.

14. Hostels

If you are an open person and want to meet like-minded adventurers from all over the world then you should opt for a hostel. Depending on your budget and the hostel there is anything from a 10 bed dorm to double or single rooms. And everybody usually shares the bathroom. The further you get away from the city center the cheaper the hostels get.

There usually always is something going on in hostels, especially in the evening and you are sure to find a few cool people that will go on a tour with you the next day and that will even take you along to the next stop on your trip in their car.

15. Compare different booking platforms

You won’t believe how much you can save if you take the time to compare booking sites! This already starts with the flights, here you really have to pay attention to hidden costs. Same thing applies to accommodation and tour operators. You can use Skyscanner and Momondo to get an overview of airfare prices first, then check with the airlines themselves and book.

For accommodation it is best to use booking.com or Agoda, especially for Asia. Also try HRS, Hostelworld and AirBnB. With a little research and comparing prices you will find the perfect and at the same time affordable accommodation for you!

16. Special deals on booking.com

Sometimes it makes sense to stick to one booking platform like booking.com for example. If you register with the site then you will have access to so-called secret deals that include up to 50% off. But these are usually only valid for a short period of time – so you have to be fast!

If you have booked through the platform 10 times then you receive genius status with which you get even more discounts or free services like airport transfer or late checkout. These are then marked Genius Deal.

17. Ask accommodations for special savings deals

Hotel and hostel staff are the people to talk to for deals to really save clever! They are usually connected to other hotel or hostel owners and know a lot about activities and tours. Some may have even tried these themselves and can tell you which are worthwhile and which ones aren’t. Sometimes accommodations even cooperate with activity and tour operators and can give you a good discount. Hostels in particular offer these kinds of deals pretty often.


18. Use public transportation

Definitely the cheapest way to move in a country is with public transportation. The networks vary in quality and at times the ride can get really uncomfortable when you are squeezed onto a bus between two sweating neighbors and smelling hens but in terms of costs they are so much better than flying. Be it bus, subway or train, if you have a little more time then public transportation will take you safely from A to B within a city or an entire country. And they give you the cool feeling of being a local.

19. Hitch-hiking

Hitch-hiking of course is the cheapest mode of transportation, here you don’t pay anything at all! Especially if you are traveling with a friend then hitch-hiking is a cool thing. But you need a lot of time and patience for it, there of course is no schedule and very often hitch-hiking depends on luck. Sometimes you are immediately taken along and even all the way to your destination, sometimes you have to wait for several hours until somebody stops for you and and is willing to take you along.

In any case hitch-hiking is an adventure and you often meet nice people when doing so that can pass on secret knowledge too. Hitch-hiking works pretty well in most European countries as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South America. Still you always need to be careful and should not necessary get into every car that stops – listen to your gut on this and only ride in countries where hitch-hiking is common and considered safe!

20. Campervan

A campervan is a wonderful thing because you are flexible and free as you would be with a car and can even sleep in it too! Your house on wheels saves you the money for accommodation and at times you get to sleep in beautiful places – out in nature – it’s priceless! You can also make simple meals for yourself and don’t have to spend a lot of money to eat out. Of course you make compromises on comfort, this does not compare to a big comfy bed in a hotel room with modern bathroom, but the freedom and flexibility are worth it!

campervan / clever sparen
Photo von kyrien

21. Ridesharing

Ridesharing is not common in every country but in Europe there are a few good sites for it like Blablacar, karzoo oder mitfahren.de. The advantage of rides that run through one of these platforms is that the driver can be rated. And the rides are a lot cheaper than for example the train. But just like when hitch-hiking you never know what your driver is going to be like in the end, whether he pokes along the highway at 100 km/h or tailgates and rushes off with over 200 km/h. But that’s what the rating system is there for then. And the best part: often you find rides covering routes that trains don’t so you might even reach your destination faster and more comfortably!

22. Look for travel buddies

In places like Australia and New Zealand finding a so-called travel buddy really is what people do. The easiest way to find a travel partner here is through Facebook groups, some of which have more than 15.000 members! And the principle is so easy: someone already has a car and is looking for people who will ride along while someone else is traveling alone but is tired of that. Because traveling with like-minded people doesn’t just mean a lot of fun but also that you can share the costs! Be it for the car, fuel, an apartment or hostel or for food!

23. Uber instead of a taxi

In some countries like South Africa, the U.S. or Asia Uber is an uncomplicated and cheap alternative to taxis. Uber is available in 67 countries. To use the service you simply download the app, take a picture of your credit card as means of payment, enter your point of departure and call an Uber. Very soon you will be picked up by your private driver who will then take you to the destination you entered before. Paying is super easy and almost automatic via the app. And you can have yourself be picked up from most airports by an Uber nowadays! We really had very good experiences with this app!

24. Book domestic flights spontaneously

If you do need to take a domestic flight because of time issues then it is best to book it on site. Especially in Asia you will find good flights at very short notice for under 50 Euros, sometimes for 15 Euros! This way you can stay flexible but also enjoy the comfort and time saving of a flight.

At your destination

25. Free city tours

If you still ask yourself how to save money when traveling, there are some great tips once you’ve arrived at your destination. City tours are perfect for getting a first feeling for a city: you walk through the most important neighborhoods, learn interesting stories and discover a couple of hidden places that you would never have come across otherwise. In many cities locals offer free tours and you should definitely go on one of these tours. They often work upon the principle that you give as much of a tip as you can afford. Oftentimes you also meet cool people there with whom you can then meet up again later!

26. Stop those little vices

We all have little vices. Surely you do to? Be it smoking, having several coffees a day or the small bottle of beer that is so good every evening. Traveling is the perfect time to resist those temptations, to stop altogether, you can really save a lot this way! A pack of cigarettes for example costs almost 14 Euros in Australia! Alcohol too is really expensive here. In Asia on the other hand both is really cheap but things add up in the end and the money is much better invested in something like a new adventure! There is nothing wrong with a beer in the evening but don’t let it become a habit or you will quickly notice the difference in your travel budget!

27. Haggling

Haggling isn’t just possible in Asia or Africa, just try it! Worst case it won’t work. Be it for accommodation, the driver or the tour at the national park, there usually is a little leeway there and you might as well use it. In some countries haggling even is part of the process and part of the culture! Inform yourself beforehand how things are done in the respective country or watch the locals when they shop. In an case you should not be too aggressive, keep in mind that this is about giving and taking and that you want to find a good solution for both parties in the end.

28. Keep an eye on your travel budget (use TrailWallet)

The aspect that unfortunately is the hardest to implement is to stay disciplined and to watch over your budget. You pass an ice cream parlor and you go weak, you see a cool pair of shoes or are off with friends and now you guys are ordering the fifth round of cocktails. Think about whether you really need that! Of course you don’t have to give up everything but ask yourself if you would rather save the money and go on a new cool adventure instead. Get the TrailWallet App so that you don’t have to make annoying spreadsheets and loose the oversight. This app lets you easily catalogue every expense.

29. Make use of adventures in nature

Why book a tour if you can pursue an adventure yourself? It is nature itself that holds the most wonderful moments and excitements for you, normally you will be fully taken care of! Follow your curiosity and just head out, see what lies behind the next corner and take the rocky path through the thicket, you might be rewarded with a breathtaking view! You yourself get to decide where your journey goes, even with a small budget – make every day your adventure!

Abenteuer in der Natur / clever sparen
Photo von gustavofrazao

30. Hunt for discount coupons in storefronts

This sounds a bit like paging through supermarket advertisements to find coupons but it will spare some of the cash in your wallet. You will find discount flyers or little coupon booklets in places like hostels, tourist information centers or cafes and they are really great. Be it a cheaper meal or 10% on an activity, deals like this can help you guard your budget in the long run.

Saving clever means experiencing more adventures!

Saving when traveling is so easy because it are often the little things and minor expenses that quickly add up to a couple hundreds of Euros. Inform yourself about cheap or free activities and deals for accommodation, talk to the locals for great advice on how to save money while traveling and take the necessary precautions before you leave your home – this way you can save quickly and clever and at the same time have more adventures!

Do you have any more suggestions on how to save money when traveling? Then share them with us and other readers in the comments section!

Sebastian Canaves
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