If you haven’t already figured out from my dozens of travel related posts, I absolutely love to travel. It’s my favorite thing in the world. I never got to travel growing up, and it was always attributed to not being able to afford it. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that I could still travel without having a trust fund or a gigantic excess in my bank account. I’ve found great ways to save on vacations by thinking outside the box, giving camping a try, and remembering what I really am traveling for.
People think travel is financially out of their reach, especially when you start talking about leaving the country to have a whole new experience. It seems like a massive expense and much more than local travel, but if you know how to save, it won’t be that bad. Here are twelve easy ways to save a ton of money on any traveling you are doing out of your own country.
How to Save Money While Traveling Abroad
- Understand the currency exchange.
A sure fire way you’ll end up spending more than your budget, is if you don’t even know what you’re spending. Be sure to understand how currency exchanges to the country you’re visiting. Do research ahead of time by using Google’s converter tool. Also there are several free currency calculator apps that you can download to your phone so you can figure out transactions as you travel.
- Find free things to do.
When people are traveling abroad, they can become intimidated and just start going with the flow and doing what they think they should be doing. But no matter where you are, there are free things to do. Sightseeing, monuments, parks, libraries, free events and concerts, and nature trails are just a handful of free things to explore. Do research ahead of time to find out where the free things are. In addition, if you plan ahead you can earn and redeem your free flights and free nights for your trip.
- Watch out for credit card charges.
Call your credit card company prior to your trip to see policies on making a charge abroad. They may charge you a hefty foreign transaction fee for charging something in another country. If you plan ahead, you can get a no foreign transaction fee credit card to use. In addition, let your credit card company know anyway that you are leaving the country. Seeing a purchase made in a foreign country could flag your account, and they may freeze it for security purposes. While if your card was really stolen, this would be wonderful, but if you’re in another country and are depending on your credit card for lodging, food, and transportation, this can be detrimental to your trip.
- Pack light.
Be sure you’re aware what the weight limit is for your luggage for the flight. If you end up packing too heavy, you can get charged a big fee.
- Know phrases in the native language.
Being able to communicate is essential for a safe and fun trip and can also save you money. You want to be sure you know how to ask how much something costs and understand directions and the menu to avoid wasteful spending.
- Check your phone plan.
You might have unlimited minutes right now, but it can be a completely different story when you are out of the country. You can end up paying a fortune on calls when you’re away. Instead, see what your plan includes and price how much it would cost to change to an international plan.
- Plan before you go.
Like with any trip, make a flexible game plan before you go. You’ll want to create a budget like you always do for travel. But keep in mind that prices vary greatly between countries. Research the average cost of transportation, lodging, food, drink, and entertainment. You could find this out by visiting the city and country’s official travel website, reading travel articles and reliable travel blogs, and asking friends, family, and coworkers their advice.
- Know the protocol.
When you’re doing your planning, also get a feel for how things work. Even countries frequently visited by tourists are still very different than your own country. Little things you wouldn’t think of can end up costing you more money than needed. For example, in America, it is customary to tip 18 to 20 percent in restaurants. But in other countries, it is significantly less or may not even be customary to tip at all. Another example is sometimes sitting in one area in a café can cost more than another or you could have to pay to use the bathroom.
- Travel overnight.
When my best friend traveled through Europe, she would plan it so she was on the train or in the air overnight traveling to the next spot. This was smart because she had to pay for the transportation anyway, but now she eliminated having to pay for a hotel room that night.
- Consider buying travel insurance.
Traveling to another country is always a little less predictable. What you are covered for in your home country, you may not be covered for abroad. Check to see what your current health and dental insurance covers abroad. You might not be covered in another country or you may want to have coverage that could fly you home if you needed. Also, you should be aware of the cancellation policy on your flights and other transportation as well as any lodging you’ve booked. Your travel insurance may be able to cover any unexpected cancellation fees.
- Eat and shop like the locals.
No matter where you are traveling to, tourist filled restaurants and areas are usually more expensive. Opt for a more off-beat experience and shop and eat like a local. They know the best deals and how to get more bang for your buck. Simply ask around and do a bit of research before you head out.
- Consider alternative accommodations.
Hotels are fantastic, but check out alternatives to hotels to save money on your trip. You’d be surprised at how great some hostels could be, how friendly and welcoming strangers could be, and how camping can save you a ton of money.
What are some ways to save money while traveling to another country?
One cleaver tip I learned from back packers to pack light. Things like vitamins, mouth wash, tooth paste, spices,etc. are welded tight in plastic straws for each individual use. They open with scissors. The straw end of the straw is made liquid and sealed using pliers. Those 1/2 inch diameter straws for fruit smoothies are especially handy. Get the straws that are clear.