Ten thrifty travel tips

Travelling can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to explore the world without it costing the Earth. Whether you are watching the pennies or just don’t want to spend more than you have to, here are ten thrifty travel tips:  

Tip 1: Pick your location carefully

Some locations are notorious for being incredibly expensive, while others have earned themselves a reputation for giving you great value for your money. If you are looking for a short-haul break then this could involve a city break in Krakow, whereas if you’re considering a location further afield then perhaps you’re looking at a couple of weeks in Thailand. There are ways to make the more costly destinations cheaper if you really want to visit them, but if you’re feeling thrifty, it’s best to choose a destination where your pound will go further. That way, rather than panicking that the money you have budgeted for your trip is already disappearing just a day in, you’ll have barely made a dent.

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Tip 2: Be flexible

When booking flights, if you can be flexible with both the time, day and even the month that you travel, then you’ll be able to save yourself a significant amount of money. If you can, it is also best to avoid flying on weekends. Tuesdays and Fridays actually tend to be the cheapest days to travel (although be aware that Friday can also be the busiest) while Sunday is usually the most expensive. Look into travelling just out of season so that you can still enjoy the destination while taking advantage of the cheaper prices. Finally, it’s worth checking airports, as it might be cheaper to drive slightly further and fly from a different airport to the one you had planned.  

Tip 3: Book attractions in advance 

There is usually plenty you can do for free in your chosen location, from soaking up the sun on the beach to sightseeing at famous landmarks. But, there will no doubt be a few activities that you’ll want to experience too. So, it’s a good idea to do your research before you visit and find the ones that best fit in your budget. You’ll typically save money by booking your attractions in advance and often saves you queuing.

Tip 4: Combine your activities

As well as booking attractions in advance, it’s worth looking into options that allow you to combine them. There is often a city pass available – Paris, Brussels and Rome offer these, for example – that means you pay one set price and this then gives you access to a number of the top attractions. Not only does this mean you aren’t booking each one separately, you’ll also save on the overall cost.

Tip 5:  Get the most for your holiday money

You don’t want to keep withdrawing money while you are on holiday, as you’ll pay a commission fee on top of a charge for taking the money out. If you do need to withdraw cash, it’s best to take out a large sum rather than smaller amounts, as and when you need it. The exchange rate can change in the weeks leading up to your trip, so keep an eye on it and change your cash into local currency at the best time, before you travel. Avoid changing it at the airport just before you fly, as this is often the worst exchange rate. It’s also worth ordering a travel card such as FairFX, Monzo or Revolut – this can be used to take out cash and pay like your normal debit or credit card but will give you the best rate on the day and avoid charges.

Tip 6: Avoid tourist traps

Tourists can be seen coming from a mile off – get caught out and you’ll spend a lot more than you should. Firstly, eat like a local and not only will you get to sample the local cuisine, you’ll also save some money. It’s best to avoid restaurants in the most touristy areas, especially around the main squares. Step just a short distance from here and you’ll save yourself a significant amount. Likewise, if you fancy a spot of retail therapy, avoid the souvenir shops and head for markets instead. 

Tip 7: Pack light

You may have got a great deal on flights, but the cost can shoot up significantly when you add on a suitcase. Take a carry-on bag and try to squeeze in everything you need for the trip into this. While you are packing for the flight, it’s worth packing your own food too. Food on the plane or even in the airport terminal will be more expensive. It’s also worth taking a reusable water bottle – it will have to be empty as you go through security but then you can fill it up once you are on the other side.

Tip 8: Choose bed and breakfast

When you are looking for a hotel, opt for one that includes breakfast. This will save you money, as you won’t need to eat three meals out a day and you may even find that it keeps you full until dinner. Alternatively, an apartment would enable you to make your own breakfast, lunch and dinner, if you wish. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat out, but it will save you a lot of money if you can buy the ingredients from the local shop and make a couple of meals yourself.

Tip 9: Use public transport or walk

It may be easy to jump in a taxi but the cost will quickly add up. Start by booking a transfer to and from your hotel in advance as this will be significantly cheaper and easier than doing it once you arrive. Then, once you are there, use buses and trains when necessary or, for shorter distances, walk – this is always the best way to really discover a destination. 

It’s worth seeing if there is a sightseeing bus – this is a great way to see the city and travel between popular landmarks and attractions. You’ll often get a discount on entry to them too. If you are travelling longer distances during your break it’s worth booking an overnight bus or train – that way you get to your destination and you’ll have one less night’s accommodation to pay for.

Tip 10: Park at an airport hotel

If you have an early flight and plan to drive to the airport then it might be worth looking at staying at a hotel the night before. You can park your car here when you arrive and don’t need to move it when you check out. You can actually leave it here for the duration of your holiday. You’ll get a few extra hours in bed in the morning and will save on the cost of the airport car park.

Follow these thrifty travel tips and you’ll be able to have an enjoyable holiday, without clearing out your bank account.