Taking a trip at least once a month forces you to get creative when it comes to your vacation budget. I once spent $1500 during a three-month trip to Asia. This included lodging, food, entertainment, and transportation. Granted, Asia is inexpensive. And today, I’ll share with you some money-saving vacation tips I learned over time.
On vacations, I had to battle between living a life of luxury and living on a budget. Let’s face it, $12 massages add up when you get one every day.
Since I have travelled to Europe, Asia, Mexico, and several other destinations, I have learned ways to save in some places to live lavishly in others.
The money-saving vacation tips I learned
1. Wander off the beaten path.
It is so easy to get enthralled with touristy areas, but the next time you want to have a nice meal at the Eiffel Tower, try venturing off the beaten path.
Just heading a few blocks from touristy destinations to dine, grocery shop, or buy liquor can save you hundreds of dollars. So the next time you travel to Paris, ask a native for directions to a local deli and pack a picnic.
Enjoying a picnic with friends and family under the Eiffel Tower will surely be a day to remember.
2. Maximize every free meal.
Warning: I will walk a fine line between being frugal and cheap in this next paragraph.
Meals included with your hotel, tour, etc., are meals that you ultimately paid for. When travelling through Europe as a poor college student, I learned to maximize these free meals by bringing sandwich bags, taking home extra free bread, and constantly requesting a doggie bag for leftovers.
Taking home leftovers and packing sandwiches at breakfast were just two of the many ways I maximized free meals. This allowed me to spend money on adventures, nice dinners, and experiences.
Judge me, and I can take it.
I even had a friend who ran out of money in Europe and ended up ordering coffee at restaurants so he could politely ask the waiter to give him any of the leftovers from tables. Now that takes “maximize every free meal” to another level.
I couldn’t be more proud to call him a friend. Being creative with meals allowed him to extend his three month Europe trip to 6 months and, most importantly, make great memories to last a lifetime.
3. Eat continental breakfast.
Some of my favourite hostels, hotel chains, and Airbnb’s offer continental breakfast. I often eat a heavy breakfast and grab a muffin or piece of fruit to snack on before dinner.
Breakfast then accounts for both breakfast and lunch.
Dare I say, “Brunch.” Go ahead, call me an innovator.
4. Drink locally.
When it comes to drinking delicious cocktails on vacation, I say, “Treat yourself.”
And by “Treat yourself,” I mean don’t spend hundreds of dollars on tables and fancy cocktails at overpriced clubs, bars, and restaurants.
I mean indulge in local bars, restaurants, and BYOB whenever possible.
One of the must-do things I do when we get to a new city is going to a grocery or liquor store to buy some cocktails and snacks. That way, I always have a few excellent drinks before we head out to dinner or bars.
When it comes to drinking out, it is essential to look for specials whenever possible.
A group of friends I were recently vacationing in San Francisco. We used “Happy Hour Finder” to locate a local water hole with great reviews. Happy Hour Finder (an application on both Android and iPhone) brought us to a bar just off the main Little Italy path.
We found buy one get one drinks ($6 drinks, making most drinks a whopping $3). The money saved allowed us to soak up our hangovers with crab benedict and not pinch pennies during our night out on the town.
5. Book cheap accommodations.
Finding affordable hotels, vacation homes, or hostels can be a challenge. Therefore, it’s essential to spend time making price comparisons and considering the amenities offered.
I am an avid Airbnb user due to three reasons; affordability, convenience, and community. However, if you are travelling with a bigger group or your family, I recommend looking for “Entire Home” when searching for your Airbnb rental.
Renting an entire home will allow you to take advantage of your own kitchen and many other amenities that they often come with.
If you are staying little to no time in your accommodations and simply looking for a place to rest and shower, I recommend going for the “Private Room” option. Private rooms are often a tiny fraction of a hotel price.
If you are going to go the hotel route, I recommend using Trivago.com to help you find the lowest price on a specific hotel.
6. Use public transport.
If there is one thing that is true about vacations, it is that you have free time. So use this free time to your advantage by taking routes that take a bit longer, but cost less.
Whether you are using buses, subways, or trains, public transport can both allow you to see more of the city and save money.
7. Share an Uber/Lyft
If you haven’t heard of UberPool and Lyft Line features, then you are missing out. To save people money and create fewer cars on the road, Uber and Lyft have started to offer a carpool feature.
This feature allows you to split your ride with someone going in the same direction as you, resulting in 50-60% lower fares for each of you.
Unfortunately, this is not available in all cities yet. Although both Uber and Lyft expect to expand this service, it is currently only available in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City and Austin.
If you are travelling outside of these cities, don’t be discouraged. You can still use the split rides with friends using the Split Fare features on Lyft and Uber.
8. Find dining deals.
Finding local deals in a city you are visiting has never been easier with the internet. By just googling local restaurant deals in the area you in, you can find plenty.
9. Share meals.
Sharing meals is my favourite way to try tons of restaurants on vacation. My boyfriend and I have often plan to get an appetizer and drink at one place and then our main course at another.
Sharing not only saves you money and allows you to try more food, but it also keeps you away from that afternoon food coma.
This one can be tough for us Westerners. We tend to think that prices are already set. When often there is room for negotiation.
It never hurts to ask.
Bartering a price can be the best way to save money.
If you are going to barter, you should first spend time asking several sellers their prices, so you can come prepared to negotiate. The best way to deal efficiently is to know the average cost of the item, tour, or experience in that country.
These are the ten money-saving vacation tips I have learned from years of travelling to different destinations. These have helped me in countless ways, and I hope they are of big help to you.