Travel is a luxury. Most of us feel so lucky when we get the opportunity to travel that we demand the absolute best for ourselves. After all, if you travel wisely and stick to a budget, it just means you’ll be able to afford to do it more often! International travel just might seem a lot more affordable if you implement some of these saving tips!
1. Go During the “Off” Season
When you’re researching a destination, there are often recommendations about the best time to visit a given country. The recommendation is typically based on details like ideal weather and key festivities. However, this “ideal time” is also always the most expensive time to visit.
Everyone wants to go to Bali when it’s sunny versus monsoon season. Or, go to Japan during the cherry blossom season. But, if you’re okay with going during the less popular months, you’ll often save yourself a significant amount on both your plane ticket and your hotel stay.
(By the way, Bali’s monsoon season usually means a downpour of rain for a very short amount of time. And Japan has a lot more to offer than just its cherry blossoms. Not such a bad compromise!)
2. Travel With Someone
We are big on encouraging solo travel trips – they’re rewarding and a great way to connect with yourself. But, if you’re looking to save money, traveling with someone is the way to go. When you have a travel partner, you can split food, lodging, some transportation, and more.
3. Consider Extended Layovers
When you’re purchasing your plane ticket, you’ll notice direct flights are typically more expensive. The more layovers and the longer the layovers are, the cheaper your flight is. If your layover is just a few hours, you’re usually trapped at the airport, as it’s too much of a hassle to leave. But, if you spot a flight with a layover for several hours or days, you’re essentially getting two vacations in one.
For example, you might be on your way to Europe and get 26 hours in Iceland. If you’re up for an adventure, an extended layover can save you money and give you an extra experience.
4. Get a Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees
At some point during your international travel, you’re probably going to use your credit card. Many cards have an additional 2-3% surcharge on foreign transactions, which can add up during a trip.
First, do some research to find out if your card has these fees. If they do, consider switching to a competitor with a no foreign transaction fee card. You can always cancel the card when you return, but it can save you a lot of money during the trip.
5. Save On Luggage Fees
Try to avoid luggage fees, such as checked baggage charged or overweight fees. If you can make it work, consider taking only a carry-on with you. Consider using a soft carry-on bag, which is easier to fit into overhead bins. Don’t forget that you can also do laundry while you’re on your trip. Taking the time to do laundry on your trip will allow you to pack fewer clothes.
If you prefer to bring a checked bag, weigh it before you leave for the airport. Most airlines will charge significant fees for bags that are heavier than the mandated allowance.
6. Pack a Refillable Water Bottle
This is a simple but cardinal rule for international travel. When you’re traveling, the price of bottled water is often absurd, but you need it, so you end up paying. From the airport to tourist spots, you’ll be glad you’re not shelling out five to ten dollars every time you need some water. And while you’re at it…
7. Pack Snacks
Similar to bottled water, airports charge ridiculous prices for food. If you know you have a layover, pack yourself some airport-friendly snacks. These snacks will likely come in handy at some point during your holiday when you’re in a rush but feeling hungry.
8. Use Free Wi-Fi
If you’re confident that you can get around without data, skip purchasing an international phone plan. Instead, use apps like Whatsapp and Skype to connect with your travel partner or people back home. Every time you need to use your phone, find a store or cafe with a free wifi connection.
We recommend researching whether your destination country and region have many free wifi spots before you lock into this decision.
9. Seek Out Non-Tourist Dining Spots
Think about your city for a minute. Most likely, you know the “tourist traps” areas of mediocre restaurants that charge ridiculous prices. It’s usually the restaurants closest to major tourist attractions that the locals avoid at all costs.
Never grab a bite to eat around popular tourist experiences. Often, there are many great, authentic restaurants just a few blocks away that offer a much better experience at half the cost. They rely on great food to stay in business, not on location.
Do your research before your trip. Try to avoid tourist spots, instead find the small independent stores where local people eat.
10. Never Buy Currency at the Airport
When it comes to international travel, cash is king. You will need cash at some point during your trip. Whether its to eat at a street cart, purchase a souvenir in a market, or tip a vendor, cash is essential.
Always plan ahead and get your cash out at a bank. If you didn’t have time to go to the bank, never buy currency at the airport. The currency exchange bureaus at airports often charge up to 8% to 20% in fees for even small transactions! Instead, opt for going to an ATM at your destination. You may be charged a small bank surcharge, but this will be significantly less than the airport currency exchange fees!
Bonus tip: If you pay with a card, always pay in the local currency when given the option on a debit machine. This way you’ll be charged on the exchange once, not twice.
11. Avoid Chain Hotels
If you want to avoid paying extravagant hotel charges, consider booking with an independent hotel or a Bed and Breakfast over a major hotel chain. These smaller lodgings are often up to 30% cheaper and still provide an exceptional guest experience.
International travel doesn’t have to break the bank if you do it right. Just a few smart decisions can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars on your next trip.