At one point or another, you’ve probably looked up ‘how to save money while traveling’ or something of the sort. I’ve looked on countless websites before I embarked on my New Zealand excursion. Some were helpful, while others were just a bit too general. Here is a list that I’ve compiled from my experience abroad as a recent college graduate funding my own excursion to New Zealand (not the cheapest country out there). Maybe you don’t need these cheap budget tips because you’ve got wealthy parents or already have a stellar job at this young age, but if you’re in college or a recent graduate in an ordinary financial situation like me, hopefully you’ll find these helpful. There will be a time in your life when luxury traveling will be the way to do it, but that time is not now honey.
No. 1: Travel out of season
This, im sure you’ve heard before, but flights fluctuate throughout the year depending on the season. During school and holiday breaks, you will find plane tickets sometimes almost double than what they are on off-seasons so the travel industry can profit off of families who cannot travel at any other times. So tip number one, if you can help it, travel during an off time when the prices aren’t hiked up.
No. 2: Be accomodation-savvy
Trade in your hotel suite for hostel stay at a level you’re comfortable. Renting out a bunk in a hostel will naturally divide the cost by the number of beds in the room, but is also a great way to meet new people who may be keen to travel with you. With this option, you can make friends from around the world and maybe even travel together for other parts of the trip and cheapen rental cars, food options, or future stay. Another great option is renting out an entire home (if you have multiple people) or just a private room in an entire house from AirBnB. Renting a spare room in a persons home will not only knock down the price, but will also give you your own insider tips on the best spots in your destination.
No. 3: Make connections and use them
One of the biggest things I have learned while traveling abroad is to be friendly and make connections, you never know where they will take you. From your stay in a hostel, fellow hiker, or adventurer on your tour, do not be afraid to meet new people and get connected. From my two months of being in New Zealand so far, I have now made friends that I can stay with in Amsterdam, Austria, Holland, France, Germany, Switzerland, several parts in the States, and all across New Zealand. In fact, even on my flight into New Zealand, I chatted with a mother and son in the seats next to me who offered up their place to stay when I travelled to the South Island. When I head over there in a few weeks, I have plans to stay with them for three nights to explore Milford Sound, Fiordlands, and Te Anau. I’m telling you, make connections from around the world.
No. 4: Be smart about when you fly
Similar to off-season flights, consider taking flights on midweek days. Airline statistics show that flights on Tuesday and Wendnesday are the cheapest, followed by Thursday. During the weekend, as you can imagine, price flights will increase for those taking weekend trips.
No. 5: Embrace the norm
Once again, drop the luxury and embrace public transportation. Research the best way to get around in the area you’re visiting. Consider the train, bus systems, trams, and ferries to travel from one place to the next. Do your research because sometimes buses and trains are cheaper than planes, but sometimes they aren’t. Consider overnight flights and train rides, as long as the area is safe, it’ll also cut off one night’s cost of overnight stay.
No. 6: Don’t eat your cash away
This one is a biggie for me. Eating out is one of the biggest spenders when traveling, not to mention it takes up time during your day for adventures. Consider packing a lunch or picking up a lunch at a local grocery store or farmers market instead of sit-down restaurants. Also, hostels typically have a fully equipped kitchen, consider cooking for yourself instead of eating out. It is usually healthier, cheaper, faster, and you can meet more new people. At the same time, treat yourself every so often. If you do eat out, opt for water instead of soda or alcohol; both your wallet and waist will thank you for this one later.
No. 7: Earn while you travel
This one isn’t always possible, but consider finding ways to earn while you travel. Consider working-holiday visas to enjoy travel for months to a year on end. Pick up a few shifts at a coffee stand or bar. Consider finding irregular babysitting gigs on the side, or see if freelance work is an option for you. Now a days, the opportunities are out there, you just have to look for them.
No. 8: Be smarter in touristy areas
It’s fact that these touristy areas are more expensive than a local area. If you visit, my biggest advice would be to stay smart while you’re there. Keep in mind that food, activities, and merchandise are all more expensive in these areas. There’s usually lots of free things to do nearby main tourism hotspots as well, just be cautious of the money-sucking activities plastered on billboards. Go see the iconic, must-sees, but plan ahead so you don’t get sucked into paying overpriced food and save it for something better!
No. 9: Bring a water bottle
This one may seem odd but will help you financially. By bringing your own water bottle, you will save money on buying water bottles and drinks throughout the day. Plus you’ll be staying hydrated and helping the environment. Its a win-win-win.
No. 10: Go where your dollar is strong
If you can help this one, try to plan your trip where you’re up on the dollar. Right now, its 1 NZD to .73 USD, it’s makes it better when your spending your money. It’s like everything is almost 30% off.
No. 11: Take advantage of complimentary breakfast
If you’re booking a tour, bus, or accommodation, take advantage of complimentary breakfasts, thats one more meal that you don’t have to pay for, and some snacks if you take a few things in your backpack to go.
No. 12: Group travel
This one is pretty straight forward, the more people that go, the cheaper the cost is. Consider renting a car with 3 other friends and split the price in fours. Similarly, rent out all four bunks in a four-person hostel room for the night and split the cost down and have a giant party room for you and your friends. If you all aren’t picky eaters, grab some staple meals and pitch in. You’ll be surprised by how much you can save when you all go in on it together.
No. 13: Explore without tours
Go off the beaten path and explore the country without travel agency booked tours. Some tours are a great way to see the destination, so choose wisely and save where you can. For instance, take a boat tour of a certain place and save on other areas by self exploration.
No. 14: Find your discount stores and Asian markets
Just like you would in your home town, find the best and cheapest grocery store in your area. Often times there are discount or dollar shops that have basic living and cheap replacements. As well, find your nearest asian food stores to shop for fruits and vegetables. You’ll find food items are dramatically cheaper at these markets, but be sure to buy your meat at regular price from your local supermarket.
No. 15: Use helpful apps and websites
Last but certainly not least, use these helpful apps to get discounts on accommodation, transportation, cheap eats, discount tours, and more.
- Flights: skyscanner, grabaseat, expedia, jetsetter, priceline
- Accomodation: hostelworld, booking.com, airBnb
- Transportation: BlaBlaCars, Jucy Rentals, Ezi Rentals, Go Rentals, Rideshare
- Food: EatWith
- Tours: Vayable, bookme.