10 Legit Ways to Save Money While Traveling

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Saving money on the road is one crucial skill for travelers. Not to mention its importance. I’ve seen many people spent more than they expected, not because they did not bring enough, but they spent too much on unnecessary things. These include unpredictable events and miscalculation of pricing. While the former could not be avoided anyhow, the latter can definitely be countered. In this article, let’s look at how you can save some cash while traveling abroad!

Having this knowledge in mind during your travel, it became easier to save more cash in your pocket before your next destinations.

Dine Where The Locals Dine

Dining where the locals dine had been one of the most effective ways to discover hidden cuisine gem. As effective as it is, dining with the locals is also the most efficient way to save money during your travel.

Travelers usually spend more on food than they would in their home country. We all know that. Therefore going for highly reviewed restaurants on TripAdvisor is what we tend to do. But it’s not always right.

I had had a lot of Pho’s in Vietnam in various restaurants, but the one that had its unique flavor stick into my mind is a small hawker stall in the Old Quarter, Hanoi. The seats were full when we went, and there were totally no foreigners other than us. And we never tasted a better Pho in Vietnam after that.

Give it a try at least once. Observe the local crowd, and dine in local stalls or restaurants.

vietnam pho

Book Your Accommodation Through Online Booking Platform

Though this is not always the best method, I’ve been through cases where the booking price of the hotel room in Booking.com is half of that offered in the hotel receptionist desk. Here are two examples of why booking through online booking platform is not always the best idea.

First example

It was the low season when I was traveling in Nepal with my partner. We never used any online booking platform after our first booking in Thamel, Kathmandu for 4 nights. Why? The reason is simple, the online booking platform price was more expensive than the price offered by the receptionist.

We then discovered that some accommodation was around 75% of the price offered in the online booking platform. Of course, some of them needs some negotiating with the receptionist, who, in most cases is the owner of the hotel. So here’s the lesson we learned. Everything is cheap and can be bargained in the low season.

If you are worried about not having a decent place for the night, book your first accommodation through online booking platform. Then, survey the price thereby asking the hotel receptionists in person, and compare the price.

This doesn’t work most of the time, as online booking platform was built to offer you the best pricing of the accommodation. But if you are traveling in countries which national economies are not performing very well, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot.

Second example

When I was traveling in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Accommodation in Malaysia is not always cheap, but with an online booking platform, it can be.

My booking was canceled because I miss the check-in time. So I had to look for another hotel at 10 pm. I was kind of stuck. But before that, I had several hotels in mind, I chose the one best suits me. So I called the next hotel and ask for the price of a double room, she quoted me RM80 per night.

I checked Booking.com and it was RM42 for a night, so guess what, I booked through Booking.com. There’s no definitive conclusion for this method of saving money, but you would have to do some research on the country first.

If you don’t want to, just go for online booking platform, the price will not differ much.

Skip Tourist SIM Card, Buy Local SIM Card Instead

In most countries, the telecommunication companies will sell only tourist sim cards at the airport. In most cases, these tourist sim cards cost a lot more than the normal sim card. For the same quota, you sometimes pay for 1.5 times the normal sim card package.

The trick is to get out of the airport after you arrive, then go to your hotel and ask whether there is any telecommunication stores nearby so that you can buy a local sim card.

If you chose to do so, you might need some help with setting up the sim card. Just ask the staff in the store, they will be happy to help you out most of the time.

Remember to ask them how to top up your sim card, how to purchase packages and how to check your balance. Write them down in your phone or note if possible, as these can be complicated sometimes.

If you are traveling in countries which have Wi-Fi almost everywhere, consider traveling without sim cards. I traveled Vietnam for 16 days without a sim card because Wi-Fi is easily available there.

Take Photographs, Not Souvenirs

Traveling is all about bringing back all those memorable experience with you. Well, instead of buying souvenirs which can be gone in days or years, take ever-lasting photographs!

Invest in a good camera and photography skills, bring back quality photographs home with you. Photographs tell more stories than anything you bought home from overseas, especially when the photographs were taken by yourself. “A picture is worth ten thousand words.” – Fred R. Barnard

If you don’t want to spend the money, invest in a good smartphone with a decent camera is more than enough. Though the quality might not be as perfect, capturing the memorable moments is the key.

You should check out these 69 New Zealand South Island Travel Photos I took during my stay there!

save money while traveling

Avoid The Tourist Attractions

Of course, there will be some tourist attractions in every country that you don’t want to miss. But most of the time, there are a lot of alternative ways to experience the same thing tourist attractions offer.

This explains why you need to do research about your destination before paying for your flight tickets. Here’s an example to give you more insights on what I’m talking about.

I was traveling in Oamaru, New Zealand. I know I shouldn’t miss the blue penguins’ colony there. It’s one of the best things to do in New Zealand South Island.

My friend, Mr. Google told me that penguins cross the road every evening to get back to the shore – because penguins don’t sleep in the water.

So I waited patiently by the roadside for almost an hour. I had one of the most precious moments in my life, 5 penguins were marching right toward me, and I was within 10 inches away from them. I am not allowed to touch them due to law restrictions, so I immersed myself into that very moment I will never forget.

oamaru blue penguin

Stay Longer, Travel fewer Countries

You might have heard of this before but this is an undeniable fact. The biggest spending on the road is usually won by transportation, especially by air.

Traveling is not about check-in’s, it’s about learning something valuable by experiencing something new. Gliding across numerous countries does not broaden one’s horizon, but merely burning the dollars in the pocket.

Spend more days in a country, absorb the local cultures and understand the way of life there in greater depth. That’s what makes traveling life-changingly meaningful.

Join In The Free Local Festivals!

Almost every nation in the world celebrates. Before hitting the Confirm Payment button on your flight booking page, check whether there will be festivals going on in your destination. However, the struggles about this tip are that it’s usually difficult to adjust our travel date to the date of festivals.

Blending into the local festivals gives you more personal feelings on your destination. Imagine splashing water with the locals during Songkran Water Festival or dyeing yourself colorful and awesome during Holi Festival in India.

If you haven’t plan your next travel, visit this page by BuzzFeed to find out more about amazing festivals around the world.

Editor’s Note: Check out these Travel Accessories Under $20 in Amazon!

holi india

Bring Your Travel Gears From Home

We all know that it’s always a bad idea to buy things overseas, especially when you’re traveling in the first world countries. Make it a habit to always double-check your baggage whether you left out anything.

There’s plenty of packing lists on the web, just google it and you have plenty of choices to choose from.

The rule is to always bring only essential stuff, like clothing, shoes, etc. Leave all those toiletries, things that can easily be replaced at home if the weight of baggage is too much of a burden to you.

You’re not ninja turtle, so don’t be like one.

Check out my Recommended Travel Gears!

Take Alternative Transportation

It’s a long-known fact that transportation mostly eats up most of our travel budget.

If “travel fewer countries, spend more time in a country” is not your thing, then you have to consider perfecting your transportation plan. Are the countries you’re traveling connected by land? If so, consider taking the bus or train, which are, in most cases, hell a lot cheaper.

In the end, it all depends on your travel style. If fast pace traveling is your thing or you don’t really care about saving that little penny, go for air travel.

Travel is about making your own choices and enjoy things your own way.

Travel With A Partner

The worst thing about solo-traveling is that you have to handle all the financial burden by yourself. So if you don’t mind, go to the bar and meet some fellow travelers. Make friends, enjoy the next few days together.

You’ll have someone to help you take photos, someone to share your stories with, and of course, someone to share the bills with you. That’s a win-win situation right there, right?

travel mates

It’s important to do some research on the country you will be traveling in. It could stretch your dollar at the end of the day. Put in the little effort, save the unnecessary money. I hope you find this article useful and gave you some insights on how to save money on the road. I will be very grateful if you would share it out to your wanderlust friends. Feel free to comment below how you think about this article! And as always, happy traveling!

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ways to save money while traveling

Written by

Yen is a university student from Malaysia and a huge fan of Blues music and photography. His passion for travel can be traced back to 2016 when he spent 6 months traveling New Zealand. By blending into the locals and traveling long-term, he shares all the comprehensive and detailed travel ideas and guides for the countries with his footprints.

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