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7 tips for saving money while travelling

Ieva Miltina Ieva Miltina 25 September 2020
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Since it is not one of the basic human needs, travelling is often something that is financed from the “extra” budget in your wallet. Unless you are one of the lucky ones that get to travel (and explore) for a job. But going abroad really doesn’t have to be something you can do just rarely! With all the great technologies and online services, saving money while on travel has become easier than ever. And it goes beyond that - you could even make money while you travel! Sounds crazy, right? The simplest way to make your trips cheaper is always to just downsize your spending, but in this article, I will tell you loads of other ideas on how to already save money while planning travel budget.

1. Plan everything

Travel plan

Even if you are a spontaneous kind, planning is the first and the most important rule if you want to travel cheaper. If you think of ways to save money while planning travel and all the tiniest details, you have already figured out a way to save on at least two-thirds of the things I will mention further. And remember - unless you get a super cheap deal, travelling with a tourism agency will often be way more expensive. Just plan the trip yourself! And before going anywhere:

•    do your research on the cheapest options, seasons, local tips

•    book accommodations, means of travel, entrance to museums, etc.

•    commit yourself to stick to the plan!

Let me tell you why this is important. While researching, you will actually see the difference in prices and will be able to choose the option that costs less. Booking well ahead will often save some money because the principle is - the closer to the due date, the pricier the travel/accommodation gets! And stick to all of that, because I assure you, there will be a temptation to and spend way more on things you had not anticipated while planning.

2. Save on travel

Rail transport

As I mentioned before - booking flights, buses, and trains will save you some buck, but there are a few more techniques to keep in mind. First, consider the time when you travel. Everything offseason will be way more affordable. And never ever go somewhere around Christmas time, because you will pay at least double or triple as much as usual. Then use websites like skyscanner.net, rome2rio.com, or momondo.com to find the cheapest flight. Be flexible and also check the prices on the closest dates to the ones you chose (at least 3 days + and -)! Sometimes if I am not ok with the price options, I also check opportunities to travel with a longer layover and get to explore two countries in one trip. Once I did my research well and booked flights from Latvia to Morocco, paying just 7 EUR for the whole trip from Riga to Stockholm, to Frankfurt, to Milan, to Tangier and back. Ka-ching! When booking your flights, also consider travelling light, i.e. not paying for the check-in luggage.

3. Accommodation

sleeping woman

Will minimalism save money while travel plans are being made? If we are talking about the accommodation, then the answer is - most probably yes. And with this, I mean - going for more modest options instead of luxurious ones. Sure, we all would like to put our heads on super soft pillows in our superior suites, but that is not the reality here. If your main goal is to save money, first check all of the below and just then search for hotels. Here are a few ideas:

•    Stay in dorms in hostels or book an Airbnb apartment if travelling with other people

•    Stay for free - ask around for acquaintances or reach out to a local in Couchsurfing

•    Try housesitting

•    Work for your accommodation in Workaway (not the greatest option for short trips).

You see, not all cheaper options are run-down mattresses with bed bugs! These places will additionally give you something no hotels would probably be able to provide: the ability to get a feel for the aspects of locals’ life.

4. Food and drinks

Fruit Market

It will be more complicated if you are staying in a hotel, but any other options I mentioned above will be just great to save also on food and drinks. The main thing to remember about this is - always to try to make your own meals and keep the number of drinks in the bar to a minimum. Or alternatively, share a meal with someone (maybe even a local?). I always try to plan my meals in a way that I would buy in-season, locally produced food from a cheaper local store, cook and eat something simpler during the day and go out for dinner to get a chance at trying the local dishes.

5. Entertainment

antiquity ruins

The standard is - you go somewhere, pay a tour guide, pay entrance fees to museums and maybe even get a double-decker to travel around the city. Forget all of that if you are saving money while on travel! First, substitute tourist buses with public transportation (sometimes I even get a day card to explore the furthest points in the city). Then do research on museums - many of them offer free entrance on the first or last Monday/Sunday of the month. And if you are not interested in super intricate details about a particular topic, search online for a free city tour. These tour guides operate on tips; therefore, you will be able to decide how much you should pay after the tour is done!

6. International youth exchanges and voluntary work

voluntary work

Many programs will pay for your travel and accommodation just to offer a chance for you to learn about cultures and connect with people from all over the world. The most prominent of those is Erasmus+ for the EU citizens and many other countries too. Basically, you will get paid to travel, learn, and experience the best times of your life at the cost of your time and dedication. Depending on the amount of time you have on your hands and the things you want to get out of the travel, choose between youth exchanges, voluntary work, traineeships, or studies abroad. From my experience - these are amazing opportunities for personal growth. I know it inside out because this is how I make money while I travel - I get paid to cook for participants of such events and have fed the happiest travellers throughout the years!

7. Make money while you travel

woman photographer

Have you ever thought, “How I make money while I travel?” Some of the options I describe will require a bit more effort, some less, but you should definitely look into this if you are searching for ways to save money while planning travel to another country.

•    Get a job that requires travelling. The most obvious choice of how to make money while you travel is becoming a flight attendant. But it is not really the type of travel you have imagined, right? Many would also consider becoming an influencer or travel blogger, but keep in mind that it will take some time to actually get paid for that job or get freebies.

•    Become a freelancer or a digital nomad. Nowadays, so many professions have become way more flexible, and you can work from anywhere in the world! And it will often be on your own terms. If you are one already then, you will be saving money while on travel if you book a coworking space instead of going to a cafe each day. Some of these offer unlimited amounts of coffee refills, and you will get to meet amazing local professionals too!

•    Rent out your apartment or home on Airbnb while you are away. It is an option for passive income that might cover part of the costs of your trip.

•    In some countries, like Germany, you can get easy money by recycling. Bringing empty bottles to the recycling machines will give you instant money, and many travellers who are into minimalism save money while travel exactly this way. For example, a plastic bottle in Germany will give you 25 cents! 4 of those, and you already have a Euro.

And these are just a few ideas to consider if you want to break even!

After all of this, you will ask how I make money while I travel? Let me give you a hint. You are reading an article that was written during a weekend break in another city! Simple enough - I always take my computer with me and enjoy spending time in a charming local cafe wherever I go. I just sit there, write, enjoy the view, and simultaneously get to observe the locals and the environment. Doing this in different parts of the world gives an insight into the daily rhythm of the city, and it is something you will not obtain in any museum or tour!

I hope this article has opened your eyes to at least a few new ways to make the explorations of the world easier on your wallet! Does minimalism save money while travel? Definitely! But there are many other ways you can be smart about this and remember the main principle: PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Good luck with catching the wind in your sails, and see you somewhere out there!

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Ieva Miltina
Ieva Miltina Activist and entrepreneur

Ieva Miltina is an activist and entrepreneur of many sorts. By profession project manager of marketing and culture events, in her heart she is a passionate traveler and a cook, soon to become a pastry chef. Deeply rooted in non-formal education she has been involved in youth work since her teenage years and up till nowadays holds a deep interest in innovative approaches to learning and personal development, which she transfers to people from all Europe during various international trainings. Always looking for new discoveries and adventures she happily shares her positive view on the world and the neverending stories with the people who cross her path. While studying hospitality and tourism management she wrote a thesis on home-chefs, which ignited her dream of owning her cozy and heartwarming home restaurant, which will hopefully materialize very soon. Meanwhile writing articles and doing food photography she is working towards another dream of hers - becoming a published author someday. 

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