Travel Tuesday

Thrifty Travel Tips

Check out the alliteration in that title! I was struggling with major writer’s block last night and asked my snapchat fam for some travel topic requests to get my creativity flowing again. Maiamonte requested a post on how to budget while traveling so that inspired me to create today’s thrifty travel tips post. There are so many different ways to save money on and during your travels, so I wanted to shed some light on a few of those. With my upcoming trip to Spain in two months, I felt like the timing of this was perfect!

I save a lot so that I can afford to travel, but this does not mean that I’m constantly staying in 5 star hotels, flying first class and eating at Michelin star restaurants. My travels aren’t always super glamorous, especially my solo trips. I try to save money and cut costs any way that I can. The more trips I take, the better at this I have become.

Travel Off-Season 

This will give you the best possible airfare and hotel rates. Places won’t be as crowded and you’ll have less lines to worry about. For Ireland, I traveled in November, which is
considered part of their low season. I believe that for Europe, low season is October-April. I got amazing deals on both flights and hotels. There were also less tourists, which I actually preferred. I also found cheaper flights to Spain in May than I did for the summer months. I think it’s best financially to travel off-season, so do some research and check out what that time frame would be for the places you are traveling to.

Exchange Money At ATM 

For international travel, this will give you the best possible rate when exchanging money. I’ve learned this the hard way. I remember when I flew into Punta Cana and exchanged my money there at the airport, the concierge at the hotel told me to never do that again. lol You will not get the best exchange rate here. My best friend gave me the tip of exchanging at the ATM when I land and I’ve done that ever since. Just make sure that you are aware of the international transaction fees before your trip and minimize that by not making too many withdrawals. For Ireland, London, Paris and Sweden, I only had to withdraw about 2 times for each place.

Using Cash Over Credit Cards 

I know that some people prefer to only use their credit cards when traveling, but from
personal experience I’ve found it better for me to use mostly cash. I’m able to budget myself better and keep better track of my spending than I do with my credit card. I also avoid all purchase/transaction fees by not using my credit card each time. I never carry all of my cash with me at once. I’m very cautious and carful about it. This is also helps me set up a daily budget for myself and I’ll only use my card if absolutely necessary.

Skip The Cabs

You can spend SO much money on cabs and ubers while traveling. It adds up so quickly. Get familiar with the metro and bus schedules to cut down on costs. The bus will always be your cheapest option. This was the best thing my friends and I did in Stockholm. After a few hours of being there we quickly learned that cabs were super expensive. I took the tube everywhere in London and the metro more than half of the time in Paris. I 100% felt this was the best way to travel around. I only did cabs later at night. I definitely saved some money here! In Ireland, my hotels were in great walking distance of most things and I took advantage of the hop on hop off bus, so I didn’t have to take many cabs here either.

Eat Where The Locals Eat

I don’t know about you, but I always feel that eating out takes up a huge chunk of my
budget. It’s a given that the touristy areas are most expensive. I stayed very close to Champs-Elysées in Paris and every restaurant on that strip was super pricey. I only ate there once on my first day. It was the same way with the Temple Bar area in Dublin. I only ate there once as well at a place that I had on my must-do list. Go a few blocks away from these areas and check out the restaurants that the locals go to. I actually prefer this! I feel like this is when you find those hidden gems.

Free Activities

You probably have created your own little bucket list for the city that you are visiting. Chances are, some or all of those things are going to cost you some money. Do some
research before you leave and check out the free activities offered in that city. Most places have free walking tours, free admission at museums, beaches and sometimes parks will have free concerts/shows. I actually just found out that I will be in Madrid during one of their festivals! You can literally do a google search for “free activities in X” and you’ll be surprised what you find!

Check For Discounts

Take advantage of sites like Groupon and Living Social! You can even get those apps on your phone. I admit that I often forget about them, but they usually have great deals for
activities and tours that you can take. This can be a nice way to save a little bit on some of those must-see attractions that you want to check out. You might even get lucky and find a great deal for flights and hotels too. It’s worth looking into.

Travel Off The Beaten Path 

I’ve had some conversations with people lately and this term has been thrown in constantly. I do admit that I’m a sucker for tourist attractions and have no shame in that, but traveling off the beaten path is when you truly get to have a different kind of travel experience. It makes you feel more like a local. Staying away from the touristy areas is actually a great way to save some money too. Check out some of the smaller cities and see what they have to offer. That’s actually one of the reasons why I want to check out a few more places besides Madrid and Barcelona while visiting Spain. I would love to see more than just the big popular cities.

Know Each Place’s Tipping Custom

This is really important to know before traveling internationally. I’m used to tipping at least 20%, but it’s not like that in many other places. Each country has their own tipping custom. In fact, it is not expected for a lot of countries. In Galway, I tipped the bartender at one of the first pubs I went to and he looked at me like I was crazy. I then found out they don’t tip at pubs and only tip about 5-10% in restaurants. I’ll admit not tipping 20% every time I ate helped put a little extra cash in my pocket each day.

I hope that this post was helpful to you. There are seriously a ton of ways to get thrifty with traveling! What are some of your favorites?

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  1. Laura Erickson

    I have been to Madrid and Barcelona. A couple times. You should look into Toledo. It’s Medieval town. Beautiful. We took the bus ..grr..been so long. And def. check out the Flamenco dancers. They pull out a large piece of wood/platform and when they dance it sounds like firecrackers going off. With the shoes. Exciting. And don’t forget the Paella : )

    • Naty

      Thanks Laura! I definitely plan to take a day trip to Toledo. I heard great things! Paella is definitely a must for sure and I want to see the Flamenco dancers too! 🙂

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