If you’re anything like us, then you love to travel and preferably as much as possible. To travel is to enjoy incredible experiences, see amazing sights, encounter unique cultures, meet new people and become a more well-rounded, open-minded individual. While we can’t speak for everyone, clearly a huge part of what it means to be human is to enjoy exploring the world and seeing more than just the place we live. This is not a new phenomenon as leisure travel began at least 300 years ago! There are countless sayings and quotes pointing out the many benefits of travel with one of the most famous being:
— Sarah Gallo (@5foottraveler) 10 February 2017
While in many ways this quote is very true because of all the amazing reasons mentioned before that travel enriches your life, unfortunately the cold reality is that money is a serious factor. Unless you win a travel competition or have rich friends or family prepared to pay for you (sadly we don’t!), travel does cost money and is not always cheap, especially if you want to visit more exotic locations.
There is a dilemma in life for many of us; if we work less we have more free time which should in theory give us more time to travel, but most of us need to work to be able to afford to travel. Fear not though as we’ve got some great tips to give you on how to save money when travelling. Hopefully by using these ideas you can afford to take more trips each year or at the very least have more money to spend on your trips!
Save Money on Your Flights
Flights are often one of, if not the biggest expense on any holiday, so being able to save money on them will already put you in a great financial position before you even take off. We’re not just talking pocket change but potentially hundreds of pounds (or your own currency). This can make a huge difference on your holiday as not only will you be excited to be setting off on your holiday but also be happy in the knowledge that you’ve made a big saving on your flights! With all this extra money you can afford to enjoy more meals out on your holiday, go on more exciting excursions and generally do more while you are abroad.
- Times, days and airports make a difference
The cost of flights to the same destination can vary hugely depending on a number of factors, including the airport you fly from and to, time of day, day of the week and which month you are travelling in. If you are not especially constrained by when you can travel and which airport to and from (most major cities have multiple airports), then you can make significant savings. Airlines generally operate by the supply and demand model and most people prefer to travel at more convenient times of the day, at weekends rather than during the week and to and from the most convenient airports. If you are prepared to fly early in the morning or in the evening, during the week and to/from alternative airports then you will enjoy significant savings.
- Travel off-peak if possible
We also highly recommend travelling off-peak for example not during school holidays, or when major events are happening in your chosen destination (unless that is why you are travelling there for of course). Airlines dramatically push up the prices of flights during these periods because they know they can, but if you don’t need to take your holiday at these times then you will save a lot on your flights prices because the demand is much lower.
- Clear your browser of cookies when searching for flights
This might seem like a strange suggestion, but multiple sources such as Business Insider have verified what might have seemed like just an urban myth. Often what people will do when they are searching for flights is keep checking back during the week or day in the hope that the prices will magically become cheaper. In fact this often has the opposite effect. One moment you can be looking at one price, but then if you check five minutes later it has gone up significantly and you wonder what is going on? Many different investigations into this have show that airlines track your flight searches through cookies, so they can see when you are interested in a flight. You may think when you see it at the increased price that you need to book quickly before the price increases again. Instead clear your browser search history and the cookies and the flights will often return to the cheaper price.
In order to help you find the cheapest flights based on a number of factors such as airline, airport, time and date, then we definitely recommend using a flight comparison website such as SkyScanner.
Choose your Currency Exchange wisely
When and where you exchange your currency can also make a big difference on what kind of deal you get and how much money you have to spend while you are abroad. If you are going to be using cash while abroad then we strongly recommend that you don’t wait until you get to the airport to change your money. Once again this is a case of supply and demand and if you are exchanging currency at the airport then your options are very limited. Therefore the currency exchange companies that operate there charge a premium because of supply and demand in the same way as the airlines.
- Where to exchange your currency
The best option if you want to take foreign currency abroad is to check the rates using xe.com which provides live exchange rates on over 180 different worldwide currencies. It offers a quick and easy foreign currency exchange system. You can then use a website such as Travel Money Max (UK) to find out which currency provider will give you the best rate on your currency. It is often advisable to order currency rather than going directly to a bank or travel agent. Your currency can be delivered to your home, collected in store or collected at the airport you are travelling from. If you order currency ahead of time you are almost certainly guaranteed a much better rate than if you bought the currency either directly in store or at the airport. It also best to take a larger amount so you avoid having to change more money abroad.
- Travel cards are a great option
One of the reasons many people choose to take foreign currency with them is because most banks or credit card companies charge you a fee for using your debit/credit card abroad. Not only that but you also get charged a fee at the ATM where you are withdrawing money, or places that you shop. The downside of taking cash with you though is that it can get stolen or lost and is generally more inconvenient to carry around. A great alternative to cash or your normal card is a travel card. These can be loaded up with foreign currency and generally provide better exchange rates and lower fees. They are safer than carrying around cash as they require a PIN and be blocked if lost or stolen. A great option that we recommend is from Volopa which offers a travel card with no hidden fees or last-minute transaction costs. You can load multiple currencies to your Volopa card and you can keep-track of everything via your online account.
Beat Extra Baggage costs by travelling light
These days because many of us own so many things, especially clothes, it’s hard for us to decide which to bring with us on holiday. This often results in packing far more than we actually need so we then have to check-in baggage or even suffer from excess baggage costs because we have gone over the weight limit.
- Be selective in what you take
If you’re only going on holiday for a week do you really even need to check in a big suitcase or could you manage just as well with only your carry-on luggage? Or if you are going with your partner or family you could take one check-in suitcase between you. Often people think that they will need a variety of different outfits to suit every possible occasion, but what invariably happens in you only end up wearing half of what you take. To maximise the amount of clothing you can fit into your bag use simple space saving hacks like rolling your clothes. It is also definitely advisable to weigh your baggage before you get to the airport to avoid any unnecessary charges if your luggage is too heavy. Not only does taking fewer things save you money, but it also means there is less to haul around during your trip, less to worry about and fewer options to have to choose from in terms of what outfit you wear.
Save money on your Travel Insurance
When travelling abroad it is always advisable to have travel insurance just in case of any unexpected accidents, especially if you are intending on going on any adventurous excursions!
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Definitely don’t try and save money by not buying travel insurance at all though, as it is much better to be prepared rather than risking a much bigger cost. On the other hand by shopping around online you can save a lot of money on travel insurance. It is also much better value to buy annual multi-trip travel insurance rather than paying an on the spot price for a single trip.
Make the best use of mobile technology and Apps abroad
Mobile technology and apps have come a long way in recent years and are now a hugely useful tool for travellers, allowing you to save time and money when travelling. For example with the TripAdvisor app you can check out all the local restaurants in the destination you are staying and compare not only their reputation but also the prices. This is also the case for different excursions and things to do.
With the Google Translate app you no longer need to buy phrasebooks or foreign dictionaries if you are trying to converse in the local language. You can also check out travel guide apps such as the Lonely Planet Guides app which is packed with tips and advice from on-the-ground experts. These apps are great as unlike a traditional guide book they won’t become outdated as they are constantly updated. It means you don’t have to buy expensive guide books and also you can cut down on the weight of your luggage. All you need is your mobile phone.
These are just some of the great ways that you can save money both before and during your next trip, but there are also many more. What are your favourite ways to save money when travelling? Let us know in the comment section below or via our social media channels. Also please do share this article if you found it useful and think it could help others.