12 Expert Tips for High Quality, Money-Saving Travel

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

We all want extraordinary travel experiences…on a budget. Because, let’s be honest, the more money you save, the more you can travel. So how can you save money on travel, while still having a fantastic time? Trust me—it can be done! Take a look…
12 Expert Tips for High Quality, Money-Saving Travel

Research all the costs in an all-inclusive

Perhaps you LOVE not having to worry about anything? Then an all-inclusive resort or trip is a good idea…if you do your research. Ask beforehand about everything that is included—and what isn’t. If it doesn’t fit into your budget, it’s not a good deal. The worst part? That sticker shock comes at the end with the additional bill for services, and spoils the great memories of your vacation.
12 Expert Tips for High Quality, Money-Saving Travel

Get around…inexpensively

Have you heard of RideGuru? Whether you are interested in rideshares (Uber, Lyft, etc.), taxis, or limos, this site has it all. It's a search engine for transportation options, with a price comparison tool, so you can ascertain the best way for you to get around inexpensively - and safely. The user forum on the site is a treasure trove of information, travel tips, and more.
12 Expert Tips for High Quality, Money-Saving Travel

Rent a home

We love renting homes or apartments when we travel. Not only do we not have to move around a bit, but it’s a great way to save money…while having a WHOLE place to yourselves! Feeling a bit tired? No need to worry about the neighboring room and their all-night party. You can relax on the couch, with a cup of hot tea and freshly made popcorn, and watch a movie (or read). Save money on meals by shopping at local grocery stores and markets (my favorite part of learning about another culture!), and then having a picnic, or cooking at home.

My favorite memory of a few weeks in Ireland? The recipe for fish chowder we got from our fishmonger in Kenmare. Try it—it’s delicious!
12 Expert Tips for High Quality, Money-Saving Travel

Use your museum pass

Often, museums have reciprocal programs for free admission with your yearly pass. As well, large cities often have a museum pass program, where you can visit more museums for less money. If you’re a museum aficionado, as we are, this can quickly add up to a great deal of savings, while you’re seeing so much extraordinary art.

Check your travel insurance

When you purchase flights and other travel-related expenses with your credit card, do you know what is covered, re: insurance? Are you paying extra for travel insurance that you are already getting with said purchases? Read the fine print, so that you can see exactly what additional travel insurance you need to buy, before you leave.

Take advantage of the free

Most national museums are free—as are concerts in the park, libraries and their events, church services, book and poetry readings, open mic nights, greeter programs (which offer free local city tours, run by volunteers), beaches, hikes, people watching, summer theatre in the park, street art, parks…the list goes on and on. All of these places offer lovely, quality programming—or natural beauty. It makes you wonder why more people don’t look for the free.
12 Expert Tips for High Quality, Money-Saving Travel

Follow in the footsteps of locals

Whether online or by asking (a librarian?!), discovering the places that locals frequent—and recommend—can save you money, while showing you glimpses of a culture and place that everyday travelers won’t discover. Just like you do at home, locals at your destination will be smart with their spending—they know where the cheaper places are and the little tricks used daily to save money. Our favorite site in Europe for local recommendations is SpottedByLocals.com! 

Worldwide, be sure to explore Yelp.com (and search on socials for #yelpelite for what yelpers are sharing!). We also love asking locals their favorite grocery stores and markets, coffee shops, pubs, street art, and the like. Their suggestions will be less expensive than places that cater to tourists. You never know what will happen, either, when you make new friends…you might just be invited to a wedding
12 Expert Tips for High Quality, Money-Saving Travel

Travel during the shoulder season

We love traveling in the shoulder season. There are fewer tourists, often better weather (I absolutely cannot stand being somewhere hot and humid!), and lower prices. It’s the ideal way to save money on travel, because your experience isn’t affected negatively—only positively.

And, as Rick Steves notes, when it comes to eating abroad, order (or purchase) what’s in season! It’s cheaper, plentiful, and provides a glimpse into the food culture of a place.
12 Expert Tips for High Quality, Money-Saving Travel

…and explore smaller cities

They will be less costly, less crowded, and offer a more friendly experience. You might find your favorite coffee shop in the world, or stumble upon an incredible, small museum. I daresay (living in a smaller city myself) that people are friendlier, and go out of their way to help you find great places to eat and explore.
12 Expert Tips for High Quality, Money-Saving Travel

Avoid the tourist traps

See the things you’re absolutely in love with—and then walk a few blocks over, to explore. You’ll find better shopping, restaurants, and prices that are in line with budget-minded folks (locals and travelers alike). 
12 Expert Tips for High Quality, Money-Saving Travel

Use your ID

In AAA? Use it when you’re booking travel (or your car breaks down). Perhaps you’re a student traveler with a student ID card (such as ISIC)—you’ll have a plethora of discounts, as well as travel insurance! Are you a senior? Use your AARP card with glee—there are definite perks! Military? Backpacker? Part of a group? Ask! You might be surprised at the discounts offered for various group memberships. 
12 Expert Tips for High Quality, Money-Saving Travel

Plan ahead

Are you, in writing terms, a pantser or a plotter? Do you plot your travels, down to the very last detail? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants, and just let the wind take you? Whatever your travel planning style, you will save money by planning ahead—in these three key areas:

1. Flights are cheaper when purchased at least 2 months in advance. (Note: I am not counting the last minute fare deals, which you could take advantage of. That stresses me out, not to know a little bit in advance.)
2. Accommodations are less expensive when you book out ahead of time. This is especially true for Airbnb or other home rental services—the high quality, less expensive options get snapped up quickly.
3. Documents can’t be gotten quickly…without paying more for the service. If you plan ahead, you can renew your passport in time (if needs must), obtain appropriate visas, etc.

12 Expert Tips for High Quality, Money-Saving Travel

What are your favorite budget travel tips?