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40 Budget Travel Tips Every Wanderlust Should Know

40 Budget Travel Tips Every Wanderlust Should Know

If you’re missing the road, what better time than now to begin preparations for the next great adventure? But before you get too far into your planning, be sure to check out these great tips and websites to avoid paying too much. These will make saving cash a breeze!

General Budget Travel Advice

1. Stay far away from touristy restaurants and instead go down a few blocks and eat where the locals do.

2. Travel during the low-peak season and avoid traveling during the summer and around holidays.

3. Enjoy a nice picnic instead of eating out. You can experience the local culture’s day-to-day activities, as well, by shopping in their grocery stores.

4. If you’re traveling between countries, try to do as much buying of needed items as possible in the cheaper countries where your dollar can stretch farther, then avoid the souvenirs in the more expensive ones.

5. Understand what your options are for rail passes, especially if you’re in Europe.

6. Buses are the best method of transportation if you’re just trying to get around a city. They are your cheapest option outside of walking.

7. If you do drive though, be careful where you park. If a thief recognizes a tourist’s car they are much more likely to break into it.

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8. Use a wallet-friendly airline. Europe has very competitive airlines and that drives down the price. In many instances you can get a flight to another city for less than the price of a rail pass.

9. Negotiate deals. You can always ask for a cheaper price on the phone with your airline or hotel.

10. Use a museum pass. Many of the passes will pay for themselves and you will be able to keep coming back.

11. Bring a water bottle. Paying for pop and water adds up quickly and that money can get you another night in a hostel every week!

12. If you’re in a hot environment and you have the option, stay at a hostel that only offers cold running water instead of hot and cold. It’s cheaper and you probably won’t be feeling like a hot shower anyway.

13. Hotels generally have a ton of extra toothbrushes, paste, shaving cream, razors, and even phone chargers. Ask if you can have them before you go out and buy them yourself.

14. Go where the dollar is strong. You’ll be able to get a much bigger bang for your buck and be able to extend your trip by weeks or months.

15. Take advantage of complimentary breakfasts to get as much food as possible and save some for snacks later.

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16. Bakeries generally offer half-priced goods at the end of the day to keep things fresh. It’s a great way to get some good food for little outlay.

17. Always look to get free admission to museums and other local activities that may be going on.

18. Don’t go overboard on souvenirs and instead buy something like a postcard or just take your own photos. Plus, the extra weight can add up, as backpackers will know.

19. Do things as a group if possible. Whether that’s carpooling or going on a tour, you can typically get better deals.

20. Don’t take what you don’t need. The extra weight will cost you when you’re boarding the plane and anything you need can be bought cheaply when you arrive.

21. Plan out your day so you know where your money will be going. You don’t have to plan the whole trip, but looking over your day in the morning is a great way to cut costs.

22. Get travel insurance before you leave. While it does cost money, it’s totally worth it if you get injured, and can end up saving you a lot in the long run.

23. If you’re traveling by train, take the night train. It will save on accommodation and once you’re used to it, sleeping won’t be a problem on them.

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24. If you plan on visiting a tourist town, stay next door and take public transit into the town. The prices will be much cheaper in the town over.

Budget Websites

25. Search deals online at JetsetterPriceline, or Hostelworld to pick up some great last-minute deals.

26. Go couchsurfing. You can stay in locals’ homes for free and get a more in-depth experience of their culture.

27. Keep up to date on all things travel miles by following awesome travel bloggers like The Points Guy.

28. Use many different flight search engines, but hands down, Momondo is the best that I have ever seen for scooping up great deals.

29. If you’ve always wanted to travel by sea you can join Crew Seekers and experience what it’s like to be a pirate! Well, kind of.

30. Check out VirtualTourist so you don’t get lost. They crush it in the guide department.

31. There are a lot of great tour companies out there so check out those that are highly rated. I suggest taking a look at G AdventuresIntrepid Travel, and Gate 1 Travel.

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32. Discount cards are a great way to save cash and if you’re a student, STA Travel has one that’s bonkers.

33. Another really cool card for backpackers with fewer restrictions than STA’s card is the VIP Backpackers card.

34. Volunteer on a farm so you can stay for free with WWOOF!

35. Use a travel rewards card while you’re traveling. Every dollar you spend goes right back into your next trip and can earn you a free flight. You can use creditcards.com to compare cards.

36. Check out local programs for possible tax refunds. Thailand has one that will give you 7% back on luxury goods!

37. Get a card with no foreign transaction fees. This will save you a lot of unnecessary costs. You can use creditcards.com again for this.

Apps

38. Check out the Hotel Tonight’s app to get great last minute deals.

39. Use Yelp to find anything and everything in your local area. It’s a great tool to compare nearby businesses.

40. Plan your vacation with Trip Saver by Nomadic Matt to keep track of your budget. You can set daily spending limits too!

Featured photo credit: Siim Teller via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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