4 ways to save money while travelling

Many have this preconceived notion that travel is expensive and something only the rich can afford to do.  I’m here to dispel this myth entirely.  In fact, travel can actually cost less per month than a regular lifestyle back home!  When I was backpacking around Asia in 2011, I spent less than $1000 USD per month on average.  During my South American adventures in 2010, my monthly expenditures were roughly $1500 USD.  The following is a list of 10 tips to save money while travelling overseas:

1)  Travel Outside of North America and Europe

Travelling in North America of Europe is certainly expensive.  Developed nations have a much higher cost of living and finding budget or value accommodation and activities is often tricky.  Consider travelling in South East Asia or Central America where the cost of living is much lower.  Not only will this offer better bang for you buck, but these countries will be far more exotic than nearby options back home.

2)  Travel with a partner

Travelling with a partner can help you save money in a number of different ways.  Meals, food, drinks and long haul transportation will still cost the same; however, accommodations and local transportation (such as taxis and tuk-tuks) can be split.

3)  Slow Down

One of the biggest mistakes of first time backpackers is to feel the need to rush around and see and do everything.  Slowing down is the name of the game when it comes to reducing costs while traveling and taking less things in your backpack while mobile.  Not only will you experience local culture in a more enriching manner, but more importantly, you’ll save money by not having to buy transportation all the time.

4)  Eat Locally

Foreign food restaurants are always more expensive than local options.  This rule applies to any country.  One of the best ways to save money while travelling is to eat locally.  Try to find restaurants that locals frequent as opposed to tourists.  Not only will the prices be lower but the food will also be more authentic.

46 Comments

  • Yen says:

    I love to spend my meals with the locals in local restaurants. It’s cheaper and more lively. One extra tip is to take a lot of photographs instead of souvenirs. It saves a lot of money at the end of the day, but you still bring back the memories.

  • Alemão says:

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  • barai says:

    You have always to remember that it is important to know what you are eating 🙂 Believe me, esspecially in third world countries you can intoxicate by eating at local places, so think twice is it worth to ruine your health for a food 🙂

  • Quick n Easy Couriers says:

    You can travel Europe on a budget by purchasing a Eurorail pass. That can actually be a great way to see Europe. We saved quite a bit a few years ago by going this route and had a great time. We didn’t have any set schedule and just went where the wind took us.

  • You had and long trip and i am sure that you have experienced much more during the trip. I think you are really travel addict so that you can travel so long.

  • I sent a fairly strict budget of spending allowance before I did my traveling last year which I thought I’d be able to stick to. However doing so was a lot harder than it looks on paper. I was stuck in the thinking that while i’m traveling I shouldn’t miss out on anything and give everything a go…good in principle but it ends up being very expensive.

  • I think traveling outside of the Western countries is the biggest tip- Asia & Southeast Asia- just makes your dollar stretch, but slow travel and going locally definitely helps some also!

  • Great tips and i think usually big part of the expense is on accommodation and on the food. This can cast more if you go to luxury living during travel.

  • Pingback: The Making of a Budget Traveler | Awe Inclusive
  • Agness says:

    I strongly agree with number 2. Me and Cez have saved a lot of money travelling together. We always share expenses and eat the food together. It is the best way to save some money on hotels and guesthouses. We spend a lot on food, although we always eat locally. What I would add is that you can hang out with locals who can show you nice and affordable places to dine out.

  • Christina says:

    Totally agree on the slowing down point. Makes travel so much richer. Always take your time getting to know the locals!

  • Thanks Karen, definitely the exchange rate is a big factor. I’ve seen it change in certain countries (such as Thailand) making your $$$ stretch a bit thin.

  • I have never backpacked but agree that traveling is not as expensive as most people think. No matter where you travel in the world, it is usually cheaper than travel in the U.S. I guess I should clarify that the exchange rate with the dollar can influence what is cheap or not.

  • I traveled in Europe for 70 days and I found that it can be inexpensive, if you know how to 🙂 I agree though that your money will buy more in SEAsia! And #2 is hard for me, since I almost always travel solo 🙂

  • This is not just ways to save money to travel, it’s how to travel to some extent. I’d also advise avoiding Australia in order to save money as well as North America and Europe. Eating locally and travelling slowly adds to the experience too, it’s not just for saving money 🙂

  • Sophie says:

    And stay in hostels 🙂

  • Gavin says:

    I travel a bit now with my girlfriend and I find we do save some money, mainly on accomodation as we basically never take taxis.. just walk. The other little trick I do is after a long day of sightseeing I try and buy a few bottles of beer from a supermarket and not go to the pub, then drink them on the beach/mountain/river or wherever we are (beer is a necessity of our travels!)

    • Hahaha, beer is important Gavin. I agree with your strategy of buying beers in the store. I even do that often when I go out. I’ll have one or two before I hit the pub so that I have a nice little buzz when I get there 🙂

    • Nicolas says:

      This is exactly what I do; only that I don’t limit the supermarket to beer. In my travels all food is from supermarkets; fruit, meats, bread, cheese, yogurt and beverages. You can travel Europe on a budget this way.

  • Great tips, Sam! Except Justin and I do find ourselves a bit frustrated now that we’re married because our trips cost so much more — twice the food and twice the airfare! Traveling as a single used to be so cheap!

  • Simon says:

    Travelling with my fiance must save me a ton: A, she never eats all her dinner so I can always order a bit less and eat hers. B, we often share drinks! It’sa win, win situation

  • Thanks for the tips; I enjoyed reading your post.

  • Britany Robinson says:

    great tips! I’ll be heading to South America in December and I’m interested to see how far I can make my money last there. I’ve always thought traveling slower was a more fulfilling method but hadn’t considered the fact that it can also save you money – good point!

  • Ailsa Ross says:

    Good tips Samuel,

    I also keep a separate account with a few hundred pounds in it, in case I do run out of money and get stuck. I also keep another separate account with enough money so that I can fly home when needs be, so that I don’t have to put an embarrassing call out to mum when the going gets tough.

    Cambodia and Guatemala might be great for us because they’re cheap for us to travel around, but still I can’t help but wishing that life was more expensive there, because it would be a sign that conditions are improving in those developing countries. I can’t help but cringe when I hear people say things like, ‘Bolivia’s awesome, it’s so cheap man.’ It’s awesome for us, not so much for Bolivians where life is improving slowly. And I hate when I hear people say things like, ‘Dude, Costa Rica is lame, totally not authentic, so American and Westernised.’ What they are actually saying is, ‘Costa Rica is richer than the countries surrounding it. They have the things that we have.’ Exotic all too often means poor.

    Ailsa

    • Ailsa, keeping those separate accounts is a very wise thing to do. I do something similar in the form of a minimum bank account balance I’m comfortable travelling with.

      That’s a good point about travelling in developing countries. As an example, I first visited Cambodia back in 2008 and I’ve seen significant progress in terms of development since that time. I think it would be very depressing to see the opposite happen when/if a country experiences regression and a step backwards.

    • Loz in Transit says:

      Great points @Alisa. A place isn’t awesome just because we have the advantage in buying power, I wonder how many people do equate their enjoyment to how cheap the Alcohol is etc…

      For myself a more developed nation brings a more vibrant Arts culture. Whilst I’m interested in native customs and the history of a place, I’m particular drawn to the modern Culture. How the people entertain and express themselves in their art, music.

  • “Many have this preconceived notion that travel is expensive” –I do.And these tips are indeed helpful;.I think I should target Vietnam and Cambodia next coz those countries would give me more value for my peso.hehe

  • Elisabet says:

    My 5th tip would be not to buy silly souvenirs.

    By the way Samuel, can I just ask one question? Where do you get most of your referrals from Youtube or Facebook?. I´ve been toying with the idea of becoming Nomad, and maybe my 521.000 views youtube channel may help.

    • Great tip Elisabet! That will keep your luggage or backpack lighter as well.

      Most of my referral traffic comes from facebook, stumble upon and twitter. Youtube is a source of traffic but it’s not a huge source. In my opinion, the benefit of having a popular youtube channel is that you can use your videos as content and lure fans to both platforms – your blog and youtube channel.

  • Good tips. I also think that eating locally can save money. Eating and accommodation is the most expensive part of travelling. I like the photo of the “chai wala” (tea seller).

  • Some great tips Samuel. Skipping North America and Europe can certainly save a lot of money on travels. To add to the list, I normally rent apartments, if I stay longer than 3-4 days. They are relatively cheap compared to hotels yet has all the facilities.

  • It certainly involves a shift in thinking, a muscle that might have been developed during the months of saving for the trip. For myself I know I have a higher tolerance than most people (don’t need to sleep in comfort and eat anything) so I get by easier. I also enjoy the social aspect of travel and macgyver-ing my way out of problems.

    There were night where I would sleep outside, where I was welcomed by the hospitality of strangers and former travelers reconnected with. There are more controlled ways like CouchSurfing of course. If you’re traveling for while, you’re mind adjusts knowing you need to be smart about your movements to survive for that period. Its about what you’re willing to put up with at the end of the day.

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