Tourist on train in Hong Kong

You've saved up to take a dream vacation, but it's easier than you think to overspend while you’re away. Learn to save money and be a savvy traveler with our tips for pinching your pennies while on vacation.

Don't break
the travel bank

Stay at guesthouses and hostels

Smaller establishments aren’t always cheaper than larger hotels and resorts, but more often than not, opting for guesthouses and even hostels can save you a lot of money. If you’re wary of staying in a hostel as an adult, as a couple or as a family, don’t be. Gone are the days of cramped, loud dorms being the only option. Most hostels now offer family rooms, single rooms and doubles (or triples), depending on who you’re traveling with, and most also have the option of en suite bathrooms for an added cost in case you don’t want to share.

Stay outside the major tourist zones

The closer you are to major attractions, the more expensive everything is going to be, from food to souvenirs to accommodation (see: Times Square). Sure, you want to stay somewhere convenient to all the attractions you want to see, but consider opting for accommodations slightly outside of where most of the major hotels are. You’ll likely notice a drop in per-room price and you might just discover a hidden gem of a neighborhood by being a bit more adventurous.

Make good use of your in-room fridge

We’re big advocates for stocking up on things like yogurt, fruit and granola for quick, cheap in-room breakfasts, or cheese and bread for snacks or on-the-go lunches for less. A fridge can be a huge money-saver no matter where you’re staying, from major cities to out-of-the-way haunts. If you’re going on a tour or spending the day sightseeing, packing a quick sandwich you threw together with some cheese, bread and veggies can save you from overspending on pricier snacks being hawked by vendors.

Try to stay somewhere with a kitchen

Even better than having a fridge is staying somewhere with a kitchen (either communal or private) so you can cook up basic dishes as a way to avoid going out for every meal. Even a week of going out for breakfast, lunch and dinner can really add up, so head to a local grocery store or market and grab some basics like coffee, milk, cereal, bread, eggs and cheese to cut back on food costs while you’re away.

Trade cabs for local transport

Cabs can get expensive, as can the shuttle buses and organized transportation you book through tour companies. Sometimes it’s the only way to go, but if you can, opt for local transportation — one of the easiest ways to save while you travel. Whether you’re zipping along on the metro in Paris, the sky train in Bangkok or taking a “chicken bus” in Belize, you’ll save more if you minimize your use of taxis.

Skip package tours for DIY adventures

While it’s not advisable to go everywhere on your own (i.e., into the jungle), there are countless tourist attractions around the world that don’t have to be visited with the help of a package tour. If there’s something you want to see that is accessible by local transportation or taxi if that’s more feasible, why not grab your traveling companion and check it out?

More travel tips and trends

5 Ways to experience your next destination like a local
8 Unique cabin retreats
Hotels that help you embrace your adventurous side

Photo credit: RuslanDashinsky/iStockphoto


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Comments on "Top tips for saving money while you travel"

Beth February 15, 2013 | 4:22 PM

For us, we plan a budget ahead of time and stick to it. We usually set aside money for different activities and meals we plan, and then have some extra cash for extra things that may come up. And we NEVER go over budget!! It's hard but always worth it.

Tammie February 13, 2013 | 3:01 PM

All great tips! I like the suggestion of stocking up on food from the grocery store to avoid eating out so much. Whenever I take a trip I find that I spend most of my vacation budget on meals leaving me with less money to enjoy other things. Eating out a lot during your travels also gets unhealthy and adds to your waistline which is another good reason to do it less. Thanks!

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