One of my goals is to spend as little time as possible at home. It wasn't until I recently tried to look back and count the days I've been away that I realized I managed to be out of the country for more than half of the year last year.
As humbling of an experience as it is to see different parts of the world, traveling is a huge expense and things add up faster than expected. Here are some ways you can save (and that has worked for me):
1. Set an amount you want to spend for your expenses and keep "emergency money" separate. For trips where I wanted to spend only $100 (max) for a week (for example), I always ensure to have at least some spare cash or a card with me in case things don't go according to plan. I always keep it in a separate spot, away from my main wallet, so that I don't get tempted to use it. It's a great way of helping me stay on top of my budget.
2. Booking in advance is always a great way to avoid spending more on accommodation and tours but sometimes it's not always possible. If you're quite spontaneous with your travels, don't be shy to talk directly to the property/local company instead of booking on a third-party website. From past experience, I can guarantee you that you are an email or a phone call (or maybe an in-person conversation) away from snagging a great deal.
This trick helped me save $25 on my accommodation in Athens recently and helped me secure a spot on a tour (super last minute - just a day before!) that was SOLD OUT online. I have also tried this in Uzbekistan and ended up paying only $20 for my hotel stay (where they even allowed us to check in as early as 5:00 am AND gave us breakfast the day of + the next day).
3. Visit a grocery store. I always love to step into a supermarket abroad as it allows me to see different things available for purchase that I can't necessarily find at home. Additionally, it's my go-to for days I want to skip eating out at a restaurant as the ingredients I can find (and sometimes even ready-made food) are much more affordable and can last me at least two meals.
Pictured, you may find a grocery store I visited in Uzbekistan. I found it very cool as everything was categorized and separated into different rooms. It was the firrst of its kind that I came across.
4. Connect with the locals. The best memories from my trip to the Philippines have to be the connections we made with the locals and the people we met along the way. I have traveled around the world and never had a bond as strong with locals and as special as the people we met in the Philippines.
From requesting the same tour guides from the tour company to visiting our tricycle driver's village and learning how to ride a motorbike, to designing flyers for our driver, to eating out with our guide, these experiences allowed us to make adjustments to our travel itinerary and even helped us score unique opportunities (plus I got to learn a new skill!). These strangers became friends in a matter of hours. This is one of the joys of traveling - connecting with people around the world and making memories.
5. Travel off-peak. If I could only pick two months to travel in the year, it would always be February and October. For the longest time, those were the times I would get to travel as it matched with my school's reading week (back when I was still in school), however, it quickly became my favorite time of year to travel, since I found places to be less crowded, accommodations are cheaper (of course that depends on your destination and whether peak season in that destination) and the experience is always better for me.
6. Be mindful of your spending and make sure you are getting something back. Perhaps you have a credit card that allows you to collect points that you can redeem for more travels, or maybe you have a subscription to sites that allow you to score great deals/perks. Regardless of what it may be, find whatever works for you and make a plan according to that. For me personally, doing things, such as keeping a conversion card is helpful in avoiding carrying a lot of cash in different currencies.
There are also some cards that offer zero fees for conversion so you don't lose out. Traveling with a group and/or with friends is a great way of keeping your spending in mind, as the more people you have, and the more you split the costs, the more cost-effective it can be.
7. Travel off-the-beaten-path. Though you may find me at some popular tourist spots, it is rare that I would pay to visit museums or art galleries. Personally, I prefer the outdoors as much as I can. I prefer exploring the place and getting lost in it, then finding my way back, instead of lining up for hours to see an art piece (for example).
Everyone is different and that's totally okay. It's good to travel off-the-beaten path as you may find your own hidden gems and curate your own list of places to visit in a place that way, instead of going by the popular tourist traps, however, it all depends on the destination!
Small towns always have a special place in my heart, but from time to time, I do like visiting popular tourist landmarks. If I do so, I just ensure to prioritize them by my interest (that way I am not using all of my budgets for it) and I always try to go early to avoid crowds.
What do you do to save money when traveling?