How to Travel Cheap [5 Tips]
I’m a thrifty type, but I recently came down with a case of travel fever. It started two years ago with a trip to Barcelona and has spread to frequent small excursions in the states and Canada and a whirlwind weekend trip to Iceland. Being relatively low on cash, I have quickly discovered some great ways to save abroad, up north, and on US soil. I like knowing how to travel cheap and if you’re reading this, I suspect you do too, so here are five tips to help you get where you want to go at minimum cost.
Walk, Bike, or Bus if You Can – I love to walk. My boyfriend enjoys biking. My daughter is a big fan of buses. Three different people and three different inexpensive ways to explore (note my daughter is most expensive – this is a trend). It will depend on whether you’re visiting the city or the country, what season you’re traveling, and what age you are or shape you are in, but with all of those things in mind, ask yourself “What is the cheapest method for travel I can take while still enjoying my trip?” and let the answer be your guide.
Hit the Local Grocery Store – Eating out is expensive wherever you go. It’s okay to splurge once or twice, but limit your restaurant outings and buy groceries on day one so that you can prepare most of your own meals at your home away from home. In order to do this, you’ll have to choose accommodations that include a stove and refrigerator. This will save you hundreds of dollars and is also a lot of fun. If you want to turn it into a learning experience, you can challenge yourself to cook only foods and dishes that are native to the country you’re in.
Airbnb It or Swap Homes – Airbnb and home exchange are two low-cost solutions for vacation lodging. These options usually include kitchen facilities, which makes it easy to do your own cooking (and they also tend to have all of the staples, so you won’t have to pack them). If you’re the gregarious type or if you’re flying solo, Airbnb can be a great way to connect with others while traveling. For those who don’t mind letting others occupy their home when they’re away, home exchanges are often the least expensive option – there is a fee for joining the exchange site, but exchanges are free and you may even be able to exchange cars.
Find out how you can use your credit card to save even more. Read our eBook Saving Money with Credit Cards.
Find Discounted or Free Entertainment – This is a rewarding enterprise because it forces you to find out what the locals are up to. While I was in Barcelona, there was a concert in the center of Sarrià, where we were staying. There were free beaches, of course, and a lot of old architecture and enchanting roadways to look at. We spent a little money on things we just had to see, but the rest was free. You can do this anywhere, though. Just skip the paid events that aren’t on your must-see list (and whittle the must-see list down to an affordable size to begin with) and opt for those that give a lot to your soul while taking nothing from your wallet.
Bring the Little Things that Increase Your Costs – we’re talking soap, shampoo, toothpaste, oil, Advil…you know what I mean. You can spend a small fortune buying all of those little things that make a big difference while you’re traveling. While you’re writing up your packing list, consider all of the little things you use in a given day that you really don’t want to live without and that could fit in your carry on easily enough given you have a sufficient supply of plastic baggies to store them in.
There are many other tips for the price-conscious traveler, of course - finding cheap air fare, flying on the off season or other times when prices are low, packing light—the list goes on and on. The items in this list made the biggest difference for me, and most of them also challenged me to experience the culture I was in on a deeper level.
Save more money while traveling by using your credit card wisely.
Read our eBook—Saving Money with Credit Cards—to learn more.
About Heidi White
Heidi White is the content and communications specialist at VSECU. She is responsible for communicating information and ideas through the written word for the credit union’s internal and external audiences. Her passion is helping people live more joyful lives through timely, useful, and compelling content. Heidi lives in Barre, Vermont.