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Traveling for cheap is not as difficult as you may think. Here, we believe the joy of travel is not limited by your bankroll. It’s not a lack of money, it’s lack of knowledge, but that’s all about to change. Here are 26 guaranteed ways to save money while traveling on a budget!

You heard right.

26 different ways you can save money when you’re already at your destination. Good ones too. Keep reading.

We made it to the last post in the Cent$ of Adventure series! This post is showing you how to save during travel. How to save money when you’re already there; how to keep costs low.

It’s a big list so let’s get to it!!!

Psst. . . Looking for more tips on affording travel? Check out my other posts.


26 Ways to Save Money While Traveling

Below is my mega list on all the ways I save money when traveling on a shoestring budget. Easily 90% of all my vacations are on a budget, so I like to think I know a thing or two about saving money while traveling.

Below I discuss hacks to finding cheaper airplane tickets (my personal favorite), how to save money on food, transportation and more!

The goal is to keep costs low and you traveling longer. At the very least to keep you from overspending!

Be sure to watch the video above because I discuss these tips in more detail with on screen examples. Subscribe if you feel so inclined. 🙂

Don’t assume round trip tickets will be the cheapest

Look for 2 one-way tickets, as well as, round-trip tickets to see which one is cheaper.

how to save money while on vacation

Pay in a different currency

Change the currency if you’re flying to a foreign country. Norwegian Air for example (see image above). Say you’re going to London. Pay in British Pounds rather than US Dollar because it could be cheaper after the conversion. This is best explained in this video.

This assumes you are using a card with no foreign transaction fees, which leads me to my next point.

how to save money while on vacation

Get a card or bank account with no fees

Most travel rewards credit cards with have no transaction fees, but what about ATM fees?

Charles Schwab has a visa debit card checking account that refunds you all ATM fees anywhere in the world in addition to no foreign transaction fees.

This is very helpful for long trips when you don’t want to carry cash.

If that’s not possible there is another workaround if you’re traveling with other people.

One person would withdrawal the cash and everyone would Venmo or Zelle them; splitting the ATM fees.

For example, if my travel partner and I both needed to withdrawal $100 worth from the ATM, rather than each of us getting hit with twice the fees, I would withdrawal $200, have my friend Venmo me there $100 plus half of the ATM fee.

At the very least you want a card with no foreign transaction fees.

Banks do have alliances which offer no ATM fees (I.e. Bank America and Barclays). Check with your bank to see if they offer something similar.

ways to save money while traveling

Pack light

Checked luggage fees are so ridiculous it should be a crime.

Avoid checked luggage fees by consolidating with your travel partner and splitting the cost. If not, consider carry-on only.

Carry-on is great for many reason with the biggest being they can’t lose your luggage and most tickets include one carry-on luggage.

Worst case scenario, pack a duffle bag to be used in the event you need to check luggage coming home.

Take advantage of what you paid for

This one is huge! What I mean by this is say your hotel offers free wine hour at 5pm. Save on drinks and take advantage of that perk. The same could be said if the hotel offers free coffee and breakfast. 

These are just a few examples. Some credit cards offer airport lounge access. If that’s the case, get to the airport early and eat for free rather than buy snacks on the plane.

Stuff like that.

Use apps to find entertainment deals

One of the biggest tips SURE to save you money while traveling is to think and act like a local. 

In expensive cities like New York City, San Francisco, and London locals still manage to have fun for less. So, where do they go?

Talk to locals because in expensive cities especially there are lots of apps that help you find the deals. You never know what’s out there. There could be an app that offers flash sales on broadway shows (spoiler: There is! TodayTix)

This can be done with a little research. For example, Google “local entertainment apps London”. Where

unique things to do in chicago this weekend

City Tourist Passes

These can be found in every major city like CityPASS. These passes essentially grant you admissions to all the top museum and attractions for less because you are bundling.

Take advantage of free attractions

This is kind of a no-brainer. I would assume everyone talks about this as a way to travel the world for cheap. Some are easy to find while some require a bit of digging.

For examples, many museums offer free admissions days one a month. You would want to look on their website and see if any of those days fall between the time you would be visiting.

Lastly, check with the front desk or concierge of wherever you are staying, and ask for a map, or get recommendations on the best free attractions/spots in the area. This is one my favorite tips for cheap travel, and the first thing I do whenever I arrive in a new destination.

Always ask for student discounts

Think twice before you toss your student ID because many places offer student discounts. Even if you’re already graduated, I would hold on to it if you plan to travel soon after. Ok, maybe a few years ago. I guess as long as you look the same. Might as well enjoy some discounts.

how to save on food while traveling

How to save money on food while traveling

This is a big portion of the budget so how can you make it cheaper?

Don’t overtip

In the USA when you go to a rest the standard tip is 15-20%. However, in Europe the standard is 3-5%, however I have seen 5-10%.

Prime example. Before my trip to Tokyo, I read it was rude to tip in Japanese culture, however that is not the case with the younger generation. In fact, they do appreciate tips.

When in doubt just ask. No harm in asking rather than assuming.

Know before you go or ask locals if you’re ever unsure. If you go to these countries tipping 20% you could be overspending.

Dine During Happy Hour

If you’re not sure ask. Also, don’t assume happy hour is only at 5 pm. Sometimes there are late night happy hours so just ask.

how to save money while on vacation

Shop at local grocery stores and cook your own meals

What I typically do is get food to cook and pack my own lunch and snacks – like fruits, salads and sandwiches. If my hostel or hotel offers free breakfast and I’m cooking my own lunch, that means I have money left over to eat out for dinner. Vice versa. Sometimes we will eat out for brunch and cook our own dinner.

Book apartment style hotels, airbnbs or hostels with a full kitchen so that you can store and cook your meals.

At the very least, opt for market food over restaurants.

Skip restaurants with translated menus

If the menu is in 8 different languages you should probably eat somewhere else because it’s geared toward tourists and most likely over priced.

This leads me to my next point.

Eat at local restaurants

Even when traveling on a budget in the USA you want to dine at local, hole-in-the-wall restaurants. To me, this is a more authentic experience than dining at tourist-focused restaurants.

Get tips from Facebook groups (i.e. Girls Love Travel), read blogs past the first page of Google, ask locals, etc. There are plenty of resources, but my favorite way to discover hidden gems is by foot.

Walk around! Walk down the sketch alley because there might be an awesome restaurant at the end. I’ve done this before in Brussels and it did not disappoint.

Bring your own snacks and water bottle to the airport

It’s expensive. If you want a Smart Water at the airport it’s like $6. What?! That’s ridiculous. Instead, bring your own bottle and fill up at a refill station.

The same can be said about snacks. Airport food is over-priced and usually unhealthy. Even more so in flight. Stay cheap and healthy by packing your own snacks.

Eating healthy is one way to reduce jet lag which I talk about in my post on how to stay healthy while traveling abroad.

If you do have the luxury of lounge access, get to the airport early and eat their free food. This goes back to taking advantage of what you pay for.

how to get cheap transporation while traveling

How to save money on transportation

Between the main flight and getting around within the city, transportation costs add up. So how can we make these costs cheaper? More budget friendly?

Rideshare over Taxi

Even in foreign countries, don’t doubt there’s not a rideshare service around like Uber. If you have a sim card you can easily download the app and book your ride.

Check for mistake fares

I cover this in my Travel Hacking guide. I love It’s a great site to get you started in error fares. You have to be flexible and always on the look out. Be ready to just as soon as you find a mistake fare (error fare) because they don’t last long. Once the airline takes notice they will quickly fix the mistake.

Book Stopovers to see more places

I do talk about stopovers in my travel hacking guide too, but wanted to mention it here as well. It’s a great hack to add more destinations to your trip without paying a dime.

ways to save money while traveling

Spend Time Outside

Enjoy being outside in a new place. Go to the park, window shop, hike, find secret gardens, ride a bike…you catch my drift.

Live cheap in expensive places and like a king in cheap places

If you’re traveling to multiple destinations; say your backpacking on a budget. A good rule of thumb is to live cheaply in expensive cities and like royalty in cheaper places.

For example, in London you want to couch surf or stay in a hostel. if you’re in Eastern or Central Europe where it’s much cheaper you can stay in a nicer hotel because it’s most likely equivalent to the cost of a hostel in London.

I oversubscribe to hotel newsletters because they are always sending secret flash sales. I also always check to see who has the lowest price. 

Consider staying city center

If you’re in one of those places where all the attractions and sites are centralized and relatively walkable then save on transportation costs and book your hotel closer.

Be flexible with your plans

I love planning but there is a such thing as planning too much. You have to understand you won’t see everything. Plus, by tightening your itinerary so much you lose all spontaneity. What is something awesome presented itself? Travel with a loose plan.

Travel in the off season

Don’t have your heart set on a specific month because it could be half the cost to travel in a less desirable season. Summers in Europe are amazing but so are Winters. Some places the weather never changes, and other places are gorgeous in colder months. For example, Chicago is beautiful in the fall. Sure, you need a jacket, but the crowds are few and costs much lower.

Opt for weekday trips

This pertains more to domestic travel. If you can get the days off in the middle of the week, why not travel Monday through Thursday opposed to a weekend trip.

Be aware of scams

This is where the internet really shines. Search forums or even social media on scams in the city you’re visiting. Google “scams to avoid in x”. This helped me in Bangkok where tuktuk scams are very real.

Know your budget at all times

If you haven’t read my post that breaks down the travel budget, I highly recommend you do. I go over the entire budget breaking down each category in detail. I also created a guide that helps you determine how much you should budget for vacation. Both will help you in preparing for your trip.

The reason you need to know your budget at all times is that when it’s at the front of your mind you are more likely to stop and think before making any irrational purchases; in many cases foregoing the purchase altogether. Listen, I get it! It’s easy to get sucked in when you’re completely consumed by the experience. You saved all this money and now you’re stressed about spending it all too soon.

That’s not what I’m saying. You can completely eliminate that stress by avoiding tempting situations. Everyone is different so find a situation that works best for you.


Bucket List Budget

Snag your FREE Bucket List Budget and Travel Planner. This planner includes: travel budget breakdown, savings tracker, checklists, and itinerary templates. 

I hope these various ways to save money while traveling helped you. I hope this entire Cent$ of Adventure series helped you!!

I know the travel industry will once again flourish, which is why I’m committed to delivering content even during uncertain times.

If you’re someone who has been dreaming of traveling far and wide, now is the time to get your affairs in order and make that dream a reality.

If you have any questions please ask in the comment below! I’m here to help.

Psst. . . Looking for more tips on affording travel? Check out my other posts.


ways to save money while traveling

ways to save money while traveling