While a vacation should be your time to splurge and indulge, you want to make sure that your bank account isn’t completely wiped clean by the time you return home! I have learned a few money saving travel tips; most of which start way before you even go!
1. If you’re traveling international, get an ISIC card.
An ISIC (International Student Identity Card) allows you to prove that you are a student, opening up a “world” of benefits with student discounts in 130 countries. This came in handy when I traveled to Paris last month. Benefits include discounts on flights, restaurants and sightseeing locations. The card ranges from $4-$25 US dollars, depending on your location – and worth every penny! Check out their website for more information.
2. If you’re traveling domestic, book smart.
There’s no need to stay in big, fancy, expensive hotels when traveling. I mean, how much time do you plan on spending there anyways? As long as it has a comfy bed, enough space to store your suitcase, and a decent shower – it sounds good in my book! One of the easiest money saving travel tips out there is to book your stay at a smaller motel. Many of them, like Motel 6, offer all the amenities you would need (AKA: everything that those big, fancy, expensive hotels offer) at a fraction of the price. In fact, Motel 6 is renovating all of their locations nationwide with a fresh, modern look for an even better lodging experience.
3. Book your flights early.
This is one of the first money saving travel tips I give anyone who is traveling by plane. The longer you wait, the more booked each flight gets; which means the seats are in high demand – which in return means the prices for the seats are going to go up. Annoying, yes, but it’s reality. ALWAYS compare prices; never settle on the first decent price you find – there’s probably a cheaper option if you do a little research. Another thing to keep in mind is that flights are less expensive during non-peak seasons (also called shoulder periods); think times like January right after New Year’s, September during back to school, and April after spring breaks are through. Obviously a much more inconvenient time to travel (hence why it’s cheaper), but if you can book your trip during this time, do so!
4. Ask if there are student discounts available…everywhere and anywhere.
It never hurts to ask this question, no matter where you go. Seriously…dining, shopping, entertainment venues – just ask! Check websites like Studentrate to see if there are any deals around you; you’d be surprised to see how many retail stores in the US offer great student discounts. If you’re going overseas, refer to #1 on this money saving travel tips list!
5. Eat at home (during travel and before hand).
This is a tough one, especially in a college setting. But by minimizing the amount of times you go out to eat before your trip, you will save a ton of money. Instead of going out and ordering that pizza, make one at home – now you’ve got more money to spend on a nice dinner during your vacation. You can also save a ton of money if you don’t eat out for every, single meal during your trip. Pick up a few things at the grocery store; like breakfast bars and fruit you can eat on the run, or even items to create a picnic – now you can enjoy the scenery of your destination and a tasty, inexpensive meal!
7. Consider options like AirBnB.
AirBnB is basically a service where you can rent people’s rooms or homes for a certain amount of time for a relatively cheap cost – a great option if you really want to immerse yourself in the life of the locals. My first time personally using AirBnB I rented a guest house for 4 nights and it cost only $250 compared to a hotel that would have been double the price. The only downside is that you have to pay upfront, so just make sure you do your full research before you commit to renting a place.
7. Utilize all of the amazingly, wonderful apps that are available to you.
Like Trail wallet; this awesome app keeps track of every single purchase you make while traveling, even breaking them down into categories – making it very easy to see which areas of spending you might need to cut back. If you plan on traveling overseas, make sure you install apps like WhatsApp to send text messages using WiFi and not spend tons on international texting.
8. ALWAYS WITHDRAW! NEVER EXCHANGE!
This is one of the biggest money saving travel tips I accumulated while traveling overseas. Your bank card will always have way better currency exchange rates than ones at the airports or at currency exchange locations. So instead of bringing cash with you to exchange at the destination, just take cash out of the ATM once you arrive. You’ll probably want to make bigger withdrawals, too, since ATM fees can add up quick. (And make sure you let your bank know when you are traveling so they won’t flag any of your purchases as fraud and put a hold on your card!)
9. Avoid taxis if you can.
Taxis tend to be higher in price and more expensive than a lot of the other options available to you. Research the local public transportation in the area you are vacationing and see how the locals get from place to place (another great way to truly live like the locals). Consider options like Uber, Lyft or even ride-sharing apps like Hitch-a-ride; they will definitely be cheaper than a taxi.
10. Travel with others.
One of the best money saving travel tips out there is to travel in a group; the more people. the more opportunity to split costs! Plus, traveling with a group is tons of fun – good company, good times!