While I travel, there are a few rules I try to stick to in order to save money and make the most of my adventures.
Saving money when you travel mainly depends on how flexible you are, how many luxuries you are willing to sacrifice, and what you want to prioritise.
Do you want to stay longer in one place and really experience it? Do you want to pack in as many countries as you can in a month? Either way, you’ll need to budget in order to fit in as many experiences as you can.
To help you travel more, here are my top five tips to save money for your trips.
1. Where is your money currently going?
If you’re like me, it’s probably going to the bar or eating out.
My main advice would be to see how much you are currently spending and on what. Keep your receipts, or track your purchases on your debit card to find out where your money is actually going.
Second, try find things that you could do without, or do yourself. Eliminate those spendings and give yourself a monthly budget (or a weekly one, however you’d rather do it).
How much do you spend on transport? Would a bike be a more efficient way to get around? How much do you really use your Spotify or Amazon Prime accounts?
Cut everything you don’t need in your life. Sure, that £3 coffee in the morning doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up to £1,100 a year. That’s about a month of travel right there in some cheap countries. You can still get that coffee, just do it yourself and get a reusable cup. It’s all worth it. It’s also better for the planet.
Ask yourself the tough questions, and remind yourself that you’re doing it so you can go travelling.
2. Avoid credit and debit card fees with Monzo
My Monzo card has saved me so much money in interest over the past three months. I’ve actually saved so much that I’ve managed to treat myself to some luxuries without feeling bad.
After travelling for three months, and no job to support me for two of those, I still have £1,000 saved up in my bank account. To give you some insight, I left with a bit less than £3,000. So that’s two months of hostels, tours such as the one at The Great Barrier Reef, flights, buses and eating out. Two months where I would have spent interest using other cards.
It’s insane how much further your money can go if you’re careful where you put it. With Monzo, I’ve managed not to waste my money on massive interest rates or ATM fees. Not to mention that the debit card works with a mobile app, so you can quickly transfer money from your current account to your Monzo easily.
They’re currently replacing their prepaid card to a fully fledged bank account (with a sort code and everything!), so you’ll be able to get your wages into that account, transfer money to UK accounts fast, while still benefiting from the current benefits Monzo provides.
Although they didn’t before, Monzo put withdrawal fees in place. However, they’re still currently cheaper than any bank I know of as you can withdraw around £200 for free every month. Anything over that will incure a 3% fee. However, there are still no charges if you use your Monzo card in a “point of sale” including restaurants, shops or hotels abroad.
As Monzo knows that a community of travellers uses them, you can ask Monzo to send your card anywhere in the world, even if you put your UK address as your main one. It takes a week or two, but hey it’s pretty fast given that most cards won’t send your debit card anywhere but your address.
Their app is also super handy and actually helps you budget efficiently. Monzo keeps track of all of your spendings and manages to separate them into different categories (like entertainment, food, transport, etc.).
I’m not in partnership with Monzo, however, I strongly believe that they are the best option. Their customer service is also light years ahead of other banks.
If you have any other card recommendations, please do share them in the comments section, though!
3. Hostels are your best friends (or use Airbnb!)
That’s really not one which will surprise many of you, but hostels do actually make a difference. They’re inexpensive, even if you go to one which has an awesome decor. They also have the advantage of making it easy to make new friends while you travel! Who knows, you might even end up going on new adventures with them.
If you aren’t the kind of person who enjoys sharing dorms, why not give Airbnb a go? It’s great if you are in big groups especially and usually is priced pretty reasonably. Also, I’ve never had a problem using the site before and I’ve used it in Spain, London and many other places.
4. Take advantage of free activities!
If it’s free, you should be there. Whether it’s festivals, gigs, art galleries, you should go. In most cities, there are so many things you can do for free from going to the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne to swimming in the Lidos in London or one of the citie’s many free museums, or even seeing some new emerging bands.
Also, go hiking. It’s always free and there are usually some pretty decent trails within reach of big cities, whether in the countryside or in national parks. Oh, and find yourself a good spot to enjoyr a beautiful sunrise or sunset!
5. Eat in, Drink in.
One of my biggest monthly expenditure is eating and drinking out when I travel. Not only is it mostly unhealthy, but it also means that I have money haemorrhaging out of my bank account. For travellers, I’m afraid that the student lifestyle of eating and drinking in before going out is the best policy.
Self-catering means you save up quite a bit of money on, for example, scuba diving in Cairns or surfing in Bali. Also, cooking is fun and being on the road means you have to be extra creative!
That being said, you should definitely splurge once in a while. Treat yo’self. Just be mindful of the adventures you want to go on!
6. Be flexible with your travel dates and book smart
A huge step to saving money while you travel is planning efficiently.
Using Skyscanner, Hopper and other flight-comparing websites are my go-to. I especially like to use the features on Skyscanner where you can set your destination to “everywhere” and your dates to “anytime.” The site will then find the cheapest destinations, are the cheapest dates that year.
Honestly, this is how I prepare most of my trips. Also, the destinations are surprisingly seasonal. I managed to grab myself some pretty decently priced flights to Australia in October (the start of their summer) and trips to the Dordogne Valley in France in the middle of summer.
Travelling this way also has the merit of making you discover new places that are off the beaten track, as well as go to your dream destinations cheaply.
That being said, always check on the airline’s website to see if you can find the tickets you saw on Skyscanner for a cheaper price there!
What travel tips do you have?