When we tell people that we’ve been travelling since 2008, they often think that we’re either incredibly rich, or incredibly cheap. The fact is that we are neither. We don’t make a ton of money from our online earnings, but we’ve mastered many aspects of travel that allow us to save big money while on the road.
There’s no point in spending extra money when you don’t have to and we’re all about finding the best deal and keeping more cash in our pockets for future travels. We also don’t limit our lifestyle with strict budgets or restrictive spending habits. Basically we do what we want, when we want and we attribute a lot of our freedom to the fact that we are able to utilize certain tricks and secrets every day. We’re going to share our best secrets here so that you too can spend less and travel more. Below are some simple tips that will help you to do just that!
Call The Hotel Directly
Hotel reservation websites like Booking.com and Expedia, often add surcharges onto the cost of the hotel room. We’ve booked hotels online in the past, and then showed up at reception only to find that we were paying $10 – $15 more per night, simply because we booked on the web! It’s good to find your desired hotel with Trip Advisor, and then call the hotel directly to get the proper rates. If they are cheaper than you can find online, try to book the hotel over the phone and save some money.
Take in a Time Share Presentation
It’s actually quite amazing how much money you can make / save, just by saying “no” to a pushy timeshare salesman for a few hours. Payment for attending varies from a complimentary lunch, free accommodation and some gifts, to cash in pocket. I had a time share executive offer me $180 USD to attend a free lunch in Puerto Vallarta, not a bad days work!
Cook For Yourself
Whether you pack a picnic, barbecue with friends or rent an apartment with a full kitchen, there is no doubt that you can save huge money by preparing your own meals. Even if your hotel doesn’t have a stove, you can pick up fruit, vegetables, lunch meat and bread from the local grocery store and head out for a picnic. With rising restaurant costs, travel cooking has never looked so good.
Stay in Guest Houses, B&B’s & Hostels
For some reason, the word “hostel” has become synonymous with dorm bed, partying backpackers and grubby bathrooms. This simply isn’t the case. We frequently stay in hostels not only because they’re cheap, but they almost always offer the best value, and the best vibe for money. We never stay in dorms either! Hostels normally offer nice double rooms with clean bathrooms for a fraction of the cost that you would find in a hotel. Guest Houses and B&B’s also offer better services at lower rates than hotels. It’s nice to feel like you’re part of a family while you’re travelling and that’s why we usually opt for Guest Houses, B&B’s or Hostels. Give them a try!
Couch surfing is so much more than just a free sofa to crash on. It is a worldwide network of cool, travel-minded people who are willing to share their home, their friends and their town with you. Even if you don’t sleep on someones couch, you can attend couch surfing meetings and get to know local people in the area that you’re travelling. They’ll tell you all of the cool spots and you’ll learn how to save money as well because they are generally a budget-minded crowd.
Look For Complimentary Breakfasts
When you’re booking your hotel, look to see if there’s a complimentary breakfast included. In many cities, a cheap breakfast is still going to run you around $10, so if a couple of books a hotel room for $50 / night, but they both get breakfast, that’s nearly 50% savings.
Become a House Sitter
We’re huge advocates of house sitting because it has completely changed the way we look at travel. Join TrustedHouseSitters.com and browse hundreds of homes around the world, just waiting for someone to come and stay. The best part of house sitting is that you often get a furry friend to look after while you’re there. We saved over $24,000 in accommodation costs in 2014 using Trusted House Sitters, so we can definitely vouch for its eficacy.
Canadians love camping, so this shouldn’t come as much of a shock to your system. Bring along a tent and a sleeping bag and consider camping for part of your trip. Many countries around the world have a plethora of campsites and sometimes it’s even free to camp. Here in Mexico, you can camp on most beaches for free! In Mongolia, we spent 8 days camping and trekking in the open steppe and we barely spent any money for the entire time we were gone.
Sleep in Transport
If you can book an overnight bus, plane, train or taxi ride… do it! Hotel rooms are often your biggest expense while travelling, so as long as you’re not the kind of person who can’t sleep in transport, then consider the overnight travel trick.
Note: In some areas, it is unsafe to take buses / cars at night. Always check the current situation before taking night transport.
Bargain, Bargain, Bargain!
Haggling for prices is not only expected in most countries, it’s actually a time-honoured tradition. Most salesmen and women are fun to bargain with and you can actually make some new friends in the process. If you’re buying something in a market overseas, you should almost never pay the ticketed price. But know your surroundings. If you’re going into a Mexican Wal-Mart and bargaining for chocolate bars at the til, you’re not going to get very far.
Always Use Your Best Rewards Credit Card
You should know by now that if you’re not racking up points while you’re travelling, then you’re missing out on some major perks! Make sure that when you’re making purchases abroad, you’re using your best rewards credit card. Also remember that you should only withdrawal cash from an ATM with your credit card as a last resort. Hefty fees and immediate interest can put a nasty dent in your credit card statement after a vacation.
Do Your Own Laundry
Before you leave on your next trip, go and buy a universal sink plug and some laundry detergent. Some hotels and laundromats can charge upwards of $10 for a load of laundry and those costs can quickly add up. It doesn’t take long to soak your cloths in the sink, wash them by hand and hang them on your balcony.
Never Pay For Internet
Ironically I’m writing this using an expensive 3G USB internet stick because there is no internet in my current location, but generally I never pay for wi-fi. These days, the world is full of cafes, restaurants and bars that offer complimentary wireless internet. Just look for that beautiful sign on the road that reads “free wi-fi” and never pay for internet again.
Try Using the Local Version of the Same Website
Due to the rapid change in currency rates, it could be much cheaper to book using the local currency. How do you do that? Go to the local version of the same website. You may not be able to read the language, but usually it’s pretty obvious and you can save a few bucks for your trouble.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
Whether it be for a move into business class on your flight, a free extra night at your hotel or a complimentary breakfast… always ask! It doesn’t hurt to request certain things and you’d be surprised at how often they say “yes”. Those with the confidence to ask are often the best travel hackers because they find discounts and freebies everywhere they go.
Some countries allow you to fill out a form before you depart at the airport and receive a full tax refund for all of the purchases you made while in the country. Depending on how much you spend, these refunds can be huge! Always check to see if tax-refunds are available in the countries you visit.
Do Free Stuff
You don’t need to spend big money to have fun, in fact, you can have a blast without even opening your wallet. Some free activities you can find in travel include:
- Bike rentals from certain hostels & guest houses
- Laying on the beach
- Hiking to waterfalls and lookout points
- Some Museums
- Most churches, mosques, synagogues and cathedrals
- Town walking tours (Great walking maps in Lonely Planet guide books)
- People watching in parks and plazas
- Window shopping
- Street performances, concerts, cultural shows and street fairs
- Soccer games
We love the off-tourist or shoulder seasons for travel. Usually the country is more lush, the locals are on holiday and the prices are at their lowest. Consider off-season travel for your next holiday and you may never go back to a busy Christmas vacation again.
Travel Around Home
Sometimes overseas travel is just too expensive, or your don’t have ample time for a good vacation. Try travelling around your home country on holidays or on long-weekends. A couple of trips a month can really break up your year and you may be surprised how fun it is to travel around Canada.
If you want to make travel a bigger part of your life, then there is no reason why you can’t make steps towards your dream destinations today. Whether you want to head around the globe, or just venture into your own backyard, you should be able to confidently plan your trip today with the travel savings tips in this article. You may just end up on the road for longer than you think!