Travelling frequently lends itself to picking up some great tips when it comes to saving money while travelling. Don’t get me wrong though when I travel I like to enjoy the experiences of new cities, countries and culture. I’ve teamed up with Tandem Bank to bring 50 tips that you can actually use that will help you save money. For before you head away on holiday and while you’re on holiday too. We’re going to show you how to make the most of your holiday, without breaking the bank.
1. Create a credit and debit card strategy
Before travelling you should work out a credit and debit card strategy. So that you won’t be charged any foreign transaction fees whilst abroad. If you plan to travel often as I do. Then a credit card that has been designed for travel like Tandem’s Credit Card is going to be most beneficial. Plus they offer no foreign transaction fees for taking cash out overseas.
Again another question I frequently get asked is ‘is it better to withdraw cash or get cash from a bureau de change?’. It is worth noting that your bank card will carry the best currency exchange. Therefore, in my opinion, forgo travelling with lots of cash and instead withdraw local currency from the ATM as needed.
2. Set up an automatic savings pot
Apps are incredibly clever these days. If you know you’re heading on holiday why not set up an automatic savings pot. Again Tandem has a really cool feature called ‘round-up’. Spending £16.46 on your debit card and have round-up enabled? Tandem rounds it up to the nearest pound/dollar/euro and transfers the 54p into a savings pot for you. You begin to save for your holiday without even realising. My Nana used to say to me ‘if you look after the pennies hen, the pounds will look after themselves’ and it couldn’t be more true. Jeannie, you were a wise legend.
3. Let’s talk travel money
If you’re insistent on taking travel money because let’s be honest, a lot of people still worry about card fraud or not getting the ‘best rate’ with cards and hidden charges…I’m eye-rolling at my boyfriend here. Do make sure that you keep an eye on the fluctuating exchange rates before you travel. Search the internet for the best currency deals and ‘currency happy hours’. Usually, anything over £500 gets you a slightly better exchange rate. And sometimes different places will try and incentivise the sale. Such as free £5 extra when you spend so much or free next day delivery. Try and avoid purchasing any currency from the airport exchange desk. As this is usually a lower rate as they take a higher commission. It’s far better to be prepared with your money strategy before you travel.
4. Keep an eye on the News headlines
Of course, the whole Brexit situation has impacted the pound massively. Remember the days when it was $2 to £1? Yeah sweet, sweet memories. Take interest in the financial headlines and seek countries where the currency has recently dropped against the pound sterling.
5. Time your travel strategically
If you can avoid peak season to travel, you’re going to be able to take advantage of lower costs for travel and accommodation. ‘Shoulder periods’ is a great place to start when thinking about travel. These are basically the best off-peak travel times of the year. These are usually when the schools go back in September. In early January after New Year and in April after Easter and Spring Break. Discounts are to be had around this time period as it’s not a popular time to travel.
Of course, these ‘Shoulder periods’ change in different countries so choose your destination by checking online deals. For me, I’ve found that if I can just get up and go the next day I tend to pick up some really cheap last-minute deals. Like last year’s 4 nights flights and hotel in Ibiza for £110 per person.
Go for the latest possible dates if you must travel in the school summer holidays. Typically the last week in August or the first in September are normally significantly cheaper than the rest of the Summer holiday period. Similarly, travelling in October half term is a good time to travel. As it is a funny time of the year for the Mediterranean. The Canary Islands such as Tenerife and Lanzarote, Morocco, or Florida are ideal places to visit in October.
6. Be flexible with your travel
I know it sounds contradictory to the above. However, if you know roughly when you’re going to travel if you are flexible by a few days either side of the initial travel date you can save money. It also might work out the same price or cheaper to travel for 8 or 9 nights instead of a week. If you have the time then why not spend an extra few days enjoying a different country.
7. Take night flights
Your alarm going off at 2 am or 3 am is often tragic. Sleep to me is super important when travelling. However, if you’re happy to take flights at obscure times you will see the price drop significantly. Be flexible with your flight times especially long haul as this could save you big bucks. You usually find these savings Monday and Thursday-Sunday.
8. Fly mid-day, midweek
If you choose to fly midweek as in Tuesday or Wednesday then flying midday will save you money. As most early morning or late evening flights on commuter routes are more expensive. Such as the early morning 8:40 am flight from Newcastle to Southampton. Or the similar timed BA flight to Heathrow. As the demand for businesses requiring these seats is greater, therefore, the price is pushed up.
9. Avoid unnecessary frills
Budget airlines want to upsell additional add ons that cost them nothing such as priority boarding and seat selections. There was even talks about Ryanair at one point wanting to charge you for using the toilet on board, what?! Before booking consider if these extras are really worthwhile. Usually, standard airlines will sit you together (especially if you are with children). However, budget airlines especially Ryanair have a habit of splitting passengers up to make additional revenue.
Tip: Sometimes this works. Leave checking in online until the last minute. Often the standard seats are all taken and you end up in the seat with additional legroom sat next to your travel buddy for no additional fee. This doesn’t always happen, however, the few occasions I’ve tried this, coming back from Warsaw and Lanzarote it has worked.
10. Travel by coach
Okay, go with me here. It isn’t glam and it does take a lot longer than flying or train. However, if you can travel by coach you can save up to 300%. This is compared to traveling by other modes of transport to your destination. In fact, there are a lot of companies that build holidays for solo travellers looking to meet other solo travellers who travel by coach on a road trip.
11. Save money on cruises
Cruises as a whole are pretty affordable, it’s the additional upsell extras that start making it pricey. Some cruise liners charge for soda and the majority have extortionately priced drinks packages. The Port excursions are also exorbitantly overpriced. When booking a cruise, shop about, see who can offer you the best deal. Also, see if there are any incentives to book such as free on-board credit or a complimentary drinks or dining package. Don’t be afraid to call tour operators to ask if there’s any discount or extras included. They want your business! If you’re looking to go on a cruise I share more tips here with 20 tips for first-time cruisers.
12. Do you ski?
If you’re a keen skier and looking to save money on your next ski vacation then why not switch up your resort? Go from skiing in the French or Swiss Alps and head to Bulgaria, Slovenia or Austria instead. All for a fraction of the cost.
13. Save on car rental
Hiring a car to explore your destination? Head to car rental comparison sites and a couple of them to search for the best deals. Do read the small print carefully too as we looked to hire a car in Ibiza and found a great deal for 3 days for €30 until we discovered the deposit was €1,200. Usually, if you’re travelling to the USA especially Florida, Alamo and Avis have been the two companies we’ve used and found them great value. As well as containing no hidden extras. Again we searched for these deals via a comparison website.
14. Stay out of the city centre
Is it possible or viable to stay outside of the City Centre? Often hotels, apartments and villas are much cheaper slightly out of the centre. However, you will need to weigh up transport costs to get into the city and if this is going to be actually beneficial. For example, I’d never recommend staying off-strip in Las Vegas. Simply because you’d spend so much time and money on taxi fares going to and from the Strip. That it doesn’t work out worthwhile in the end. Especially considering you can get hotel rooms for a low low price on the Strip.
15. Loyalty can cost you
You don’t have to be loyal to companies when travelling. Just be loyal to your purse or wallet. You want to get the best deal when it comes to travelling and that means shopping around. Sometimes you can save yourself a couple of hundred pounds, dollars or euros by simply shopping around. If you collect frequent flyer points or Airmiles weigh up these in comparison to the saving you may make in real money elsewhere. Reward points are often a huge distraction when it comes to saving.
16. Use coupons and discount codes and cashback sites
If you’re looking to make big savings then you certainly need to be looking to see if you can find any coupons or discount codes online. Have a search usually if you put the ‘website name + voucher or discount codes/coupons + current month’ you’ll see some codes. If you know any students, ask them if they have a voucher code too. Often they have better savings than elsewhere.
Coupon websites such as Groupon are great for travelling too. We always check them out for where we’re going. We often find places that we want to go to for a reduced rate or hidden gems that are crying out to be discovered. For example when we were in New York last Thanksgiving we spotted a Groupon for wine tasting plus a three-course meal plus a bottle of wine for two for $40. We also had a coupon code for Groupon for 20% so it ended up costing us $32. The restaurant was on the Upper East Side in Manhattan and was incredible. Another favourite is the Sugar Factory Groupon in Las Vegas it’s $50 credit for $28 (or less with a coupon) which is great for us as we always have a trip to Sugar Factory in Las Vegas.
Also, look at cashback sites, can you book through a cashback site with your coupon? Cashback sites reward you for shopping with them in the form of a percentage back for each transaction. It doesn’t cost you any extra and is what’s known in the digital marketing sphere as ‘Affiliate Marketing’.
17. Pre-book as much as possible
I know it seems daunting, however, if you pre-book as much prior to going on holiday as possible. Then you’re more than likely going to save money with discounts. It allows you to budget a little better and it makes you feel like you haven’t spent as much as it’s already pre-booked. We do this with shows, some dinners with our Groupons and when in Vegas we redeem our free rewards so have multiple free meals already booked.
It’s good in a sense as it gives you a little more of a structured itinerary to ensure you don’t waste your time.
18. Pack smart
One of the biggest things that upsets me is when people don’t have their suitcases and admin sorted in airports. I think because I’m always travelling I have a knack for it, and I know I know I need to create a proper ‘how I pack guide’ because this girl can pack for a week away in a cabin bag. With a change of outfit every day and evening, plus one spare of each and still, have space in my case. The secret is to pack smart. Do you need 6 pairs of shoes for 4 days away? Roll your clothes instead of folding, once again Jeannie taught me well! AND please, please when heading through security ALREADY have your liquids in a plastic bag and all of your electricals out and ready to scan.
If you can pack smart, you’re going to save money on budget airlines. As you won’t need to pay their silly prices for a suitcase. As with toiletries. If it’s 100ml or under like a full tube of toothpaste, don’t waste your money buying a cute small version. Similarly, check to see if your hotel has nice toiletries like our hotel in Portugal with Rituals shampoo and shower gel. If not, then buy yourself some travel bottles. Then decant your ordinary shampoo and shower gels into these small reusable bottles.
19. Pack a packed lunch
Airports and budget airlines are notorious for overcharging for food. If you’re looking to save take a packed lunch to the airport with you. Sandwiches and pies, crisps, sweets and chocolates or fruit are all good ideas to put in your bag. Don’t take bottles of pop or water but do however take an empty refillable bottle. Which you can fill with water in the airport. To save not only money but also the environment with single-use plastic bottles.
20. Can you book a cheaper room?
If staying out of the city centre is a no go for you, can you possibly book a cheaper room? Ultimately it all comes down to how long are you spending in your room? Does this warrant paying extra for a room with a sea view or views of the Bellagio fountains? Yes, an opulent room is nice but what’s even nicer is cash in your pocket.
21. Call the hotel directly
Before making a booking, call the hotel directly. Tell them you’ve seen the hotel room and the dates for the price you’ve seen and ask if they can do you a better deal. A lot of the time they want the rooms filled. And they don’t want to pay a commission to the external agencies selling the rooms so will offer you a good discount.
22. Book a hotel with breakfast included
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. No arguments. It is. If you’re looking to save money book a hotel that has breakfast included within the price. Not an additional daily add on. Our hotel in Portugal included a beautiful breakfast in the morning. So we filled up for the days when we were going to skip lunch.
23. 2 or more rooms? Think bigger
If you’re looking to book 2 or more rooms for your holiday why not have a look at the price comparison for an apartment. When I travelled to Warsaw in Poland last year it was far cheaper to book an apartment than it was to book a single hotel room. Weigh up your options, sometimes different accommodation can work out cheaper and save you money.
24. Book a room with a kitchen or fridge
Again if you’re looking to save money when travelling see if you can book a room or apartment that has a kitchen or even a fridge. This way you can go and buy a few things from the local supermarket. Including cheese and bread or fruit for your breakfast. To save money on not only room service, but also for breakfast in the morning.
25. Eat a large lunch
A lot of restaurants will have lunchtime offers that are far too good to refuse. Since a lot of your holiday budget will be spent on eating. Take advantage of a large lunch at a cut price and then perhaps even skip dinner on an evening. This tip is probably my least favourite. As I love getting dressed up to go out on an evening, enjoying a lovely meal and the social aspects that come with it. However, if you are on a budget then large lunches are the way forward.
26. Take snacks and drinks with you
If you are going out for the day, take your own snacks and drinks to avoid paying for overly priced items in tourist areas. If your hotel breakfast lets you take a couple of pieces of fruit to save even further.
27. Slumber Sunday
Most hotels are booked Monday-Friday for corporate and Friday-Saturday for leisure. However, Sundays are a very quiet day in the leisure industry and therefore if you can travel perhaps Sunday-Tuesday you’re going to get a far better rate than trying to book prime-time weekends.
28. Stay social
Social media is huge for travel companies wanting to push out last minute deals to their followers. Alongside this subscribe to their newsletters too as lots of companies actually send out their price-drop deals to these lists first. There are also companies which specialise in finding price drops in hotels or flights or mispriced listings. These are also worth keeping in the loop to try and grab yourself a discount.
29. Sleep while travelling
We kind of touched on this earlier, however, when you’re travelling cross-country can by train or coach can you book times that are through the night? This is so that you can sleep as you travel as we said. These are going to be cheaper tickets. And you have the added bonus of not paying for accommodation for that evening.
30. Credit Card reward points
If you have a credit card which accrues loyalty points or Airmiles and all overseas transactions don’t incur a fee. Why not spend on this within your budget for your holiday and then make sure you pay it off in full at the end of the month? This way you’re gaining reward points which you can use to offset the cost of your next travel.
31. Reward systems and frequent flyer programmes
This is one of my most favourite ways to save money when travelling. Sign yourself up for reward and frequent flyer programmes. I travel frequently with BA and I’m obsessed about collecting Avios points to convert into free flights. Their rewards programme includes a handful of other airlines as well as online stores. Before I buy anything online I check to see if the retailer is included in the rewards scheme. If they are I make sure I click through to get my reward points as each reward point adds up. Soon I’ll have enough points to fly to anywhere in the US Business Class for free. Simply by being smart with my purchases.
32. Utilise travel apps
From maps and bus routes, to travel recommendations, phrasebooks and currency exchange it’s good to download the apps you think you’ll need before you travel. These can save you money in the long run as they might have tips or coupons included in them. The Ibiza Bus app is great as it gives you bus fare prices and shows you the most cost-effective routes to take to your destination. Having valuable apps downloaded will save you wasting time getting lost or overpaying for things too.
I recently discovered Tripsget app, which was developed by Liza and Jose. Who I met on my recent trip to Stuttgart – this app you are able to see the cost of your next trip based on your travel preferences. Just input your destination and the type of trip you’re making and the app will do the research for you. It will breakdown a detailed budget of your trip with categories. Showing the approximate cost of your accommodation, entertainment, food and transport spendings. Tripsget will also suggest activities and accommodations that are within your budget.
33. Find free activities
It’s probably one of the most simple tips but the most overlooked. Research the free activities and attractions where you’re going prior to arriving. Lots of cities have free walking tours around the city to help you discover where you are. Many museums are also often free. Monuments and buildings of significance are again also free to look at.
34. Walk as much as you can
Nothing makes you feel more free than walking and nothing is as free as walking. Plus it’ll help you burn off those extra holiday calories. Try and walk as much as you can, obviously depending on where you are and if it’s safe to do so. You can discover some beautiful walks and views too. Such as climbing Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh or hill walking in the Lake District.
35. Use public transport and avoid taxis
Taxis are expensive in comparison to public transport. If you can’t walk to your destination why not take public transport? It’s a great way for you to see different parts of the city you’re in. Whenever I’m in Ibiza I take the bus from the airport to San Antonio as it costs €4 per person. Whereas a taxi will cost around €40 and there’s only a 15-minute difference in taking the bus. Similarly, when we went to Barcelona ahead of the Jon Bon Jovi Cruise we took the train from the airport to the train station. Which cost us €10 for a ticket for two which we could use both ways instead of a €45 taxi.
Sometimes public transport can not only save you money but also provide you with hilarious memories. In Cancun, Mexico we took the locals ferry instead of the tourist ferry to the Isle de Mujeres. I remember sitting next to a woman with a box of chickens on her lap and to her, that was just an ordinary day. But it’s a memory I have about the journey whereas the regular ferry, I’d have forgotten it by now.
36. Be careful buying travel tickets
Do make sure that you buy European train tickets online directly from the official national railway sites, not from third-party agencies who take a commission. Same with passports, and ESTAs (and other visas). I’ve fallen foul to this before – ironic considering I travel for a living and it’s not nice.
I paid an additional £60 for a same day passport appointment. As I just booked through the first result on Google and didn’t check the URL. It was a genuine website, I had just paid a horrendous commission as I was in a panic about needing a passport 3 days before Christmas to fly to Qatar 3 days after New Year.
37. Eat like a local
I always take great comfort in eating places where locals visit. I recently read somewhere that you should apply the ‘6-block rule’. Which is that you shouldn’t eat within 6 blocks of the tourist nucleus of an area. This distance is roughly the right distance to experience authentic cuisine that is eaten by locals and hasn’t had a price inflation because of tourism.
38. ….shop like a local too
Souveniers are lovely but have you ever noticed that stores carry the same things. Yet the price of them drops the further away you go from the centre of the tourist area? If you’re eating like a local, you’ll want to shop like a local too. Head a little further out and you’ll save yourself money bringing back all the goodies from your travels.
39. Shy bairns get nowt
It’s a saying here in Newcastle ‘shy bairns get nowt’ and it means shy children get nothing. Basically, if you don’t ask you don’t get and the number one way to save money? Asking. Ask for a discount on everything. Have a student, NHS or Military card (especially in America)? Then just ask, if you’re in a shop ask for a discount or haggle the price. Everywhere has room for negotiation, even Tiffany’s in New York – yes you heard that here! What’s the worst thing they say? No? Okay and you pay the price advertised, but what if you ask and you make a saving? You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
40. Pre-drinks in your hotel
If you’re looking to go out for a few drinks and get a little bit wavy but drinks prices are a little high in bars and clubs. Ahem, Ibiza I’m talking to you with your €30 single vodkas then buy some alcohol from the supermarket and have a couple of pre-drinks before you head out while you’re getting ready. The best way to save money if you’re on a girls holiday guaranteed.
41. Drink local wine
When in Rome right? Most of the time wines taste better in their country of origin as sometimes. Just like Guinness, they don’t travel well. Local wine is always far cheaper than an export. In Portugal, we enjoyed Portuguese wine for around €9 a bottle and in San Francisco, we sipped on wine which had been made in the State. Both of these wines were far more palatable in their own countries than here in the UK. And of course, much cheaper as there’s no export tax added.
42. Spend more time in fewer places
The longer you spend in one place the less it will cost you as you don’t have mounting transportation costs. Don’t try and see 6 cities in 6 days because it’s just going to be a lot of travelling. A lot of expense and most of all you’ll not actually manage to see the cities in all their glory. We spent 6 hours in Palma on a Port stop and it gave me the taste to go back as it was such a beautiful city. But with such a short time there we didn’t do it justice and missed so much of the city.
43. City tourism cards
Sometimes these are a great alternative to travel passes and offer more benefits. But before you purchase to make sure they are going to be of value to you. Some allow you free or discounted entry to attractions. For example, the New York City Pass offers a 44% saving off 6 top attractions in the city, you’re able to choose which attractions. So if you’re doing New York City’s attractions then this could help save you money.
44. Leave your bank card in the room
Ever woken up and checked your bank balance through one eye after a wild night? What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and all that? Don’t fall foul to this rookie error. Take enough cash with you for the night ahead and leave your bank cards in the room. You’ll really thank yourself in the morning for it when you know you haven’t spent more than you wanted to.
45. Join local Facebook groups for great deals/tips and insider information
At first, if you had of said to me this I’d have laughed and said no thanks. But you know what? I’m heading to Las Vegas in November for my 6th visit and as much as I think I know how Sin City works, I’ve discovered so many hidden tips and advice since reading posts of other group members in a Vegas group on Facebook. For example, the entire time we’ve been going we thought the myVegas app only allowed you to redeem 3 rewards per 30 day period. Turns out you can redeem 3 premium rewards but as many regular rewards as you like. So in November, we’ll be able to save more because of this little tip.
Try searching in ‘Groups’ for the destination you’re going and you’ll be able to pick up a few tips from people who have a genuine experience of the location. And want to share it with others.
46. House exchange
This is exactly what it says on the tin. House exchanges are where you swap houses with somebody somewhere else in the world (or maybe the same country) for the same amount of time on the same dates at no cost. The accommodation is an exchange so you’d only be paying for your transportation. Question is, could you let a total stranger live in your home without you?
47. Plan your own excursions
Thing is it is easier to just book a planned excursion, however it’s far cheaper to actually plan your own. If there’s somewhere you want to visit what is the price of entry, can you get there by public transport, do you need to be on a tour? If you look at the tours that are on offer you can be smart and you can actually plan these at a fraction of the cost. Plus you’re not on a tour so you have a little more freedom to go and leave whenever you want.
48. Search IT tours
IT in the travel industry stands for ‘inclusive tour’. Which is an arrangement where long-haul flights are sold as a package in combination with hotel accommodation or sometimes a hire car. Sometimes it can work out much cheaper to book a whole package, including hotel than just the flights alone. I’ve just looked and to book the same flights without a hotel to Vegas in November is 2.5x the cost of our entire holiday. Make sure you’re searching every combination before booking (and in incognito mode too so you’re not dropping cookies).
49. Search for cheap travel insurance
Wherever you go you must have travel insurance. Make sure that your insurance covers you for all of the destinations you’re going to. As well as travelling through your own country of residence. In addition, make sure it included baggage insurance up to the value that you think the contents of your bag are worth. For me, I have to also make sure that my equipment such as MacBook and multiple cameras are included just in case.
Use price-comparison websites again for your travel insurance to ensure you’re getting the best deal and paying the best price. I have no illnesses etc and for everything, I require my annual policy is £16.45. However, on the flip side my Grandma, having had a hip replacement’s holiday insurance annually is in excess of £800. So do make sure you budget for travel insurance and honestly, trust me, it is something better to have than not to.
50. Stay local
If it is all too much and you’re really looking to save money why not stay local and travel around your local area. I can guarantee there are plenty of places you’ve not been to or even know about. There’s so much to explore on your own doorstep the doesn’t have to cost a lot.
Well done on getting to the end of our mammoth 50 tips to save money while travelling! I hope it’s given you some food for thought when it comes to saving money while travelling and I hope you can put some of our tips into practice. Let me know below if you have any other tips you think we’ve missed. Or if you’ve followed our advice I’d love you to tell me roughly how much you think you’ve saved!