Travelling is for sure one of my favourite things to do. It’s my second passion after fashion. It’s a means to visit some amazing places, meet new people and approach new cultures. I really enjoy being around folks from different countries, I find it very stimulating and challenging. But with all these positive aspects comes one huge and heartbreaking downside: travelling can be very expensive. When you start arranging a trip costs start summing up and, you’ll end up confused but sure you’ll have to sell a kidney on the black market to afford a vacation.
This is why in the years I developed some tricks and ways to save some coins while planning or enjoying my holidays. I don’t necessarily follow all of them at the same time, but I mix them up according to the destination I’ll be leaving for and the kind of trip I have in mind. So here are my 10 WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON VACATION!
- PLAN YOUR TRIP IN ADVANCE
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that you have to book everything one year earlier, but that you should start approaching to the idea in advance in order to get everything on point and don’t have to do last minute rushes. I know that last minute trips are the best for certain people but from my point of view, planning everything in advance is better: I tend to become anxious when I have to do things on the rush.
So what to do? I start by deciding where I would like to go, how many days I’ll stay, and when I’ll be leaving. Then I do some research on Google and buy guides on that specific destination (my fave guides are the Rough Guides: they have loads of pictures, maps of the major attractions, and everything is divided by region). In this way, I will get an idea of what I’ll have to do next such as: when to book the flight and the type of location to chose.
2. TRAVEL OFF-SEASON
This is not always possible, because of work duties or general commitments, but it really helps to save a lot of money: everything is cheaper offseason, starting from the location. You’ll also avoid the crowd and the noise of summer mass tourism. The only disadvantage is that you may not be able to practice some activities since a lot of places are closed.
3. BOOK YOUR FLIGHT SMARTLY
The timing for booking the flight is very important and can affect the price of the whole trip quite heavily. As a general rule, you should buy your tickets with an advance of at least 3 months because that’s when the prices are more convenient. But this rule isn’t always applicable, according to your destination it might be more convenient to book earlier than 3 months, (this happens usually for longer destinations), or later than 3 months when you’re flying closer. To book my flights I always call on Skyscanner.
4. TRY TO FIT ALL YOUR STUFF IN A CARRY ON
Well, hold baggage can be quite expensive according to the airline company you’re flying with. If you make it, cut this expense and fit everything in your carry on, which doesn’t require price addiction. You’ll cut the costs significantly! But how to travel light? Easy to say, but more difficult to put into practice. Leave the unnecessary at home, buy travel format products in order to save space and pack smartly.
5. CHOSE AIR BNB OVER HOTELS
The Air bnb company lately, has risen some controversial criticism, but it remains unquestionably the best way to fix your accommodation at a reasonable price. I loved the platform since the first time I used it and never stopped relying on it since then. You get to live like locals and dive into the local routine. There are so many beautiful and distinctive houses on the site, you’ll be amazed. You can rent an entire house, or just a room, which is even more convenient. And if all this isn’t enough to convince you, it’s quite cheaper than hotels: of course, you’ll have to do the cleaning and you won’t get all the comforts, but the freedom you gain in return is definitely worth it.
Other ways to save money on accommodations are:
- Hostels: they’re not my thing because I don’t like sharing my personal space with strangers, but if you’re more outgoing and open than me you should definitely give them a try. It could be a great discovery!
- Camping and minivans: I can’t wait to try these ones out. Getting to stop and camp basically wherever you want, falling asleep and waking up under the sky must be a unique and overwhelming feeling. It’s completely inexpensive if you already own the equipment, while you’ll only have to spend on the initial investment if you don’t.
6. PREPARE YOUR MEALS
Eating is for me the most difficult part when I travel: living in Italy, I’m well used to excellent food, and when I’m abroad I hardly get to eat meals any close to that. In my view, that’s a full waste of money. So I started paying fun visits to the local groceries stores and cooking my meals when I had a kitchen or just making sandwiches when I didn’t. This was a major improvement because, not only I get to taste the local products, but I also save a lot of coins since, as we all know, restaurants can be very expensive. And it doesn’t mean you’ll never get eat out, but you’re able to be more selective on what and where to eat.
7. USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Most countries have a good public transport system, which can take you anywhere in a quite reasonable time, at a convenient price. Car hiring, on the other hand, is quite expensive because you have to pay the rental, the insurance and then there’s the gas. Another great thing to try out is bike hiring: it’s a beautiful means to visit cities and surroundings, especially in northern Europe where cycling is part of the culture, and there are a lot of cycle paths.
8. TRAVEL IN GROUP
This way most of the costs will be shared among all the group members. The more you are, the less you’ll have to pay. Group trips are great: you share some unforgettable moments with your friends strengthening your relationship. Make sure you travel with people whos interests are quite close to yours, and folk capable of compromising and negotiating, or your vacation could easily end up being a complete nightmare.
9. SET A DAILY BUDGET
It’s not actually a money saver and doesn’t sound like a big thing but you’ll get a huge benefit from doing it. Usually, when you don’t have a limit and a clear idea of your spendings, you tend to keep going not realizing how much money you’re giving away until your wallet is empty. Having a daily budget will make you more conscious of the way you’re spending money, helping you be more rational.
10. BUILD MEMORIES INSTEAD OF BUYING THINGS
I’m so full with memories that I feel I’m about to burst sometimes. I also own a lot of souvenirs from my trips, but none of them has a value even close to the memories I cherish in my heart. This means that if you’re already tight with money, don’t spend on gadgets and souvenirs. Take some nice photos instead, capture a sunset or you and your friends in a distinctive environment. Once you get home print and frame them. That’s the best memento, and it’s almost free!
And if you want to get something for those at home, why not sending them postcards? I really can figure out why people stopped doing it. I love receiving postcards from my close ones, and I enjoy writing and sending them. They forward the authentic emotions of the sender more than any crystal ball or fridge magnet can do.