Whether you lean towards budget-friendly travel experiences or high-end luxury, everyone has a travel budget of some sort and it never hurts to look at ways of cutting costs so we can do and see more.
I asked some of my favorite popular travel bloggers for quick and unconventional tips for saving money while traveling and here is what they had to say.
1. “In each city I travel to, I love taking guided tours to get your bearings. But there are ways to save money. Many cities I travel to offer a free program with local volunteers that take you on a 2-3 hour insider tour of their favorite spots. It’s not meant to give you historical context but more like a new friend showing you around their town. In New York, it’s the Big Apple Greeters; and I’ve tried the Paris and Brussels Greeters. For me, they’ve always been really enthusiastic, welcoming locals that have turned into valuable resources.”
2. “If you need travel gear—from kayaks to suitcases, shoes to sweaters, consider buying those items used. Anything you travel with generally takes a beating anyway so that newness lasts mere moments. Besides, stuff that’s already traveled gives you that coveted patina of a veteran traveler.”
3. “Budget airlines are out there and sometimes if you look at those aggregate sites like Expedia, they don’t list some of the airlines so it is helpful to go directly to SouthWest.com or Allegiant and go directly to their sites and you can find airfares, for domestic travel anyway.”
5. “Use the BestParking app to find the best parking rates in major U.S. cities. For example, the parking garage at Pier 39 in San Francisco can easily by $30 when two blocks away you can park for $10.”
6. “Instead of staying in a hotel, try an apartment rental. You can easily search and book a local apartment through Go With Oh. This saves money and feels more like home — you get to live like a local — but is far more private and luxurious than a hostel. I recently stayed in a Vienna apartment, for example, with a kitchen and four beds, and it was $50 per person!”
7. “Get on the first public bus you see and ride it to the end of the line.
Then, hop back on and repeat the journey. It’s a great introduction to a
city, being lost but observant off the bat.”
8. “Search for the best local street food — the taco trucks and food trailers in places like San Francisco, L.A., Portland, and Austin; they’re often mobile outposts of established restaurants and cafes that hit the road during lunchtime and late hours. The food is great, and cheap. Twitter will show you the way.”
9. “Always take the opportunity to take the night bus or overnight train – that way you pay for your lodging and your transportation all at the same time!”
10. “Plan ahead and buy your currency online. That’s where the best deals are to be found. You’ll pay more on the High Street and still more at the airport. If buying from the High Street, shop around. You’ll be surprised at the level of variation. The airport is probably one of the worst places to get your currency – think about it, they have significant expenses to cover when located within the terminal building and they have a captive audience.”
11. “Vacation like a local in off-the beaten path destinations. Stay away from the tourist traps and ask the locals where they would stay, where they love to eat, drink and things they recommend doing. You’ll get a much more authentic travel experience and save money at the same time. ”
12. “Don’t buy anything. Honestly. I mean, for yourself. Sure, pick up a small present for your girlfriend or husband or daughter. But don’t clutter your suitcase, or your life, with all kinds of quasi-meaningful crap that will eventually get tossed into the big Amazon box you got when they delivered your memory foam pillow, and stuck in the closet behind your board games and scratched motorcycle helmets. If you have to spend money spend it on seeing more, drinking more, hiring a local guide, taking a tuk-tuk driver out to lunch, buying a village school a map of the solar system, or paying for an old woman’s cornea transplant. Doing that stuff will make you feel good a lot longer than a statue of the Eiffel Tower that doubles as an iPod speaker, or a brandy decanter shaped like Chairman Mao.”
13. “Travel the second full week in January, right before Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. Unless you are going to Vail or Aspen is almost universally one of the cheapest weeks of the entire year to vacation. Granted, you have to like cold weather or pick your destination carefully.”
14. “Engage your network. Let friends know where you are traveling and when. Local to the area or just fellow travelers, they are the best source for the word on affordable accommodations, food and cool entertainment deals. And don’t forget to pay back in kind. Reciprocity and a warm welcome when friends come to the area makes for ongoing partners in world travel.”
15. “Instead of staying at hotels, look for private rooms at hostels. They are generally equivalent to budget hotels, but cheaper.”
Also check out our other compilation post: 33 Travel Bloggers Speak Out: “What I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Traveling.”