Saving money before you hit the road is one thing, controlling your holiday-self and keeping costs under budget while you travel is a totally different thing. Why? Because the second your feet hit that island paradise, beautiful city or far-off destination, your ability to make sound money-related decisions goes out the window (along with all that money you saved!) – don’t worry, I’m not judging you. I’m here to help you! Here are my very useful tips on how to actually save money while you’re travelling, without compromising on your holiday!
1. Get yourself a Multi-currency Cash Passport
I won’t lie, I was a bit unsure of travel cards because they never really made sense to me! I couldn’t understand why anyone would use them, but now I do… it’s because they save you money on bank and transaction fees! Australia Post offers a Multi-currency Cash Passport travel card which can really save you money while you’re travelling! You can load your money onto the card in-store or online and you aren’t charged transaction fees for purchases or withdrawals when you use it.
That may not sound significant, but guys, it is. I’ve been using my regular bank card to take money out in Germany, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia and being charged up to $10AUD each time I withdraw. That’s a LOT of money I could have saved and spent elsewhere (like on food or shopping!). There’s also zero commission when you buy or reload a foreign currency, plus you can withdraw local currency worldwide and use it at retailers too! If it’s lost or stolen, Australia Post has a 24/7 global emergency service at your disposal. Find out more about the Multi-currency Cash Passport here.
2. Don’t stay at hotels
Instead of forking out a tonne of cash for a hotel room each night, try house-sitting. Yep, that’s right, there are plenty of home-owners who want to travel but don’t want to leave their homes unattended, mostly because they love their family pets and don’t want to put them in a pet motel or left alone for long. It’s really the dream outcome for any savvy traveller because you get to stay somewhere that allows you to cook your own meals, do laundry, use free wifi and have a comfortable base for your plans. You won’t have to pay for the accommodation and you’ll get to soak up the love and affection of some cute pets too.
3. Get crafty with how you get there
It’s pretty tempting to book flights directly to a big city, like New York for example. What may be more cost-effective is to book yourself a flight to Buffalo and catch the bus or train to New York. This won’t work for every situation, but it can save you a few hundred dollars if you get cheap flights and find a good train or bus fare to match. The cool thing about this is travellers get to see the world outside of the big cities they’re visiting. A train or bus journey is a great way to kick-start your travel old-school style and see MORE of the place you’ve come so far to visit.
4. Find out what the local tourism board offers visitors
A lot of tourism boards have great packs and deals put together for visitors. We’re talking things like discounted entry rates for attractions, free local public transport, coupons and discount offers for local restaurants and much, much more. Even if you can’t get free stuff, you may be able to get things like a multi-access pass to a few major attractions, which saves you a bit of cash on the cost of paying for each entry fee separately. It pays to stop in at a local tourism or information kiosk and ask what they have available, the savings can really add up!
5. Don’t pay for wifi – EVER!
I flat-out refuse to pay for wifi. It’s a basic human necessity in this day and age, so paying for it just doesn’t seem right. There are loads of places you can get your paws on free wifi, like public libraries. You can also find free wifi at big shopping malls or get a wifi code at a restaurant, cafe or bar for the cost of a drink (if you’re paying for food, you should NOT be paying for wifi). I’ve even bartered for a wifi code at a Thai airport before – it worked!
6. Avoid the tourist spots
When it comes time to choose a place to eat, don’t make a bee-line for the restaurants right in the heart of the tourist areas. We’re talking spots right along the main streets, packed with tourists. The prices here will be inflated and you’ll find yourself paying more than you should and, most likely, missing out on the best food on offer. Instead, go a few streets back from the main areas (at least!) and look for those hidden gems. This is where you’ll find the best food at better prices.
7. BYO water bottle
This one is good on a few levels, amigos. By carrying your own water bottle and refilling it throughout the day, you’re saving money that could have been wasted on fizzy drinks or over-priced bottles of fancy water. It may sound small, but those costs really add up over the course of one holiday. Also, you’re helping the environment by reducing the number of plastic bottles you use! Every little bit counts, never underestimate it.
8. Be mindful of where, when and how you eat
A lot of really nice restaurants offer special lunchtime deals, which means you get to eat a fantastic meal at a fraction of the price. You can also save money on food by stocking up on snacks from the local farmers market or supermarket and carrying them around with you throughout the day. Instead of wasting time and money indoors eating, you’ll be sitting on a beautiful park bench soaking it all in. This also applies to picnics! Don’t waste a second inside. It also pays to book a hotel with breakfast included!
9. Find the free days
Some attractions offer free days, which is perfect for the budget-conscious traveller. Instead of forking out a huge entry fee, save that money by visiting on a free day at the gallery, museum or tourist site. Just stalk their website to see what they offer and when.
10. Take advantage of price matching
I recently learned there are airlines and hotels that are big into price-matching, something that never really occurred to me. It means you get the cheap fare, but on an airline that isn’t quite as budget friendly as the first one – perfect! Money saved! It also pays to contact hotels directly and ask them to price match, I’ve had quite a few hotels offer me discounted rates to book with them over a competitor after I’ve sent them a direct email.
11. Take food on the flight, if you have a food allergy
We’ve all been on a flight where it is prohibited to take your own food on the flight, leaving you at the mercy of the in-flight food and prices ($5 for a tiny bottle of water, are you joking?!). What airlines don’t advertise is that you’re allowed to bring and consume your own food if you have an allergy. If you’re gluten-free or horribly allergic to nuts, for example, an airline can’t guarantee the food products for purchase are 100 percent free of nuts or gluten, which means you’re able to eat your own food.
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.