50 Smart Travel Tips To Save You Money and Time

It's said that it's in a traveler's nature to share knowledge and along travel tips.

Over the course of my 7 years on the road I've learned a few invaluable travel hacks that have saved me time, money, and stress - not to mention kept me out of trouble. I decided to compile the travel tips into this article and share what I've learned along the way with fellow travelers.

So whether you've been traveling for a while or you're just thinking about it, here are my most useful travel hacks - may they serve you as well as they did me.

One of the biggest lessons I learned on the road is that it can be extremely expensive or super cheap depending on your style of travel, standards, and expectations. All of these change over time and lessons are learned. However, it pays - quite literally - to have the right advice from day one. 

While traveling as a budget backpacker, every expense was huge to me. In fact, in my first year of backpacking, I was eating one meal a day in Europe to cut costs down (I don’t recommend this). Since finding remote work and running a blog, I’m able to choose a certain level of “luxury”… for example, Airbnbs over hostels, Ubers over buses, etc. 

The biggest money-saving factors of travel are:

  • Travel Region: The biggest hit to your budget will ultimately be decided by where you choose to travel to. We’re talking Southeast Asia vs Western Europe. No joke, you could live a month in Bangkok on what some people would spend in a day in Paris. At the end of the day, every expense, whether accommodation, food, or activities will come back to this key factor.
  • Travel Frequency: Moving costs money. Unless you’re hitchhiking, moving is just generally expensive, so traveling slow and moving shorter distances is a more affordable way to travel.
  • Accommodation Standards: This ties in to point 1, but generally if you’re a budget-conscious traveler, you’ll need to lower your accommodation standards - particularly when traveling in pricy regions. 
  • Food Choices: As a vegan traveler, this is a big one for me, personally. I have traveled both non-vegan and vegan and there is a difference in both expense and experience, but it does depend on where you are in the world. Street food is almost always the right way to go if you’re traveling Asia and Latin America - and can apply in parts of Europe too. However, in the West, you’ll save much more money by shopping and cooking your own groceries. In many parts of Asia, however, you can eat - and eat well - right off the street and for cheaper than you could cook the meal yourself.

It’s in a traveler's nature to remain budget-conscious, and over the years these are some of the top money-saving travel tips I wanted to share.

budget-friendly travel tips

Money-Saving Travel Tips

1. The "best" room in a cheap hotel is often better than a standard room in an expensive hotel.

2. Travel with multiple bank cards and let your banks know your travel plans before leaving home.

3. Search flights in the local region, currency, and language to save money.

4. Use an onward ticketing website for destinations that require an onward ticket. This will save you big on unused flights.

5. Add duct tape to your expensive equipment. This will make it appear broken and old and less likely someone will steal it.

6. Use Booking.com's "Genius" feature to save money on hotel bookings.

7. Eat where you see locals - not tourists.

8. Cancel flights within 24 hours by booking with Expedia.

9. Negotiate with Airbnb hosts. They can alter their prices and send you a custom deal.

10. Airport transportation is always more expensive. Share rides with other backpackers when possible.

11. Never pay extra for an airplane seat. Ask your check-in agent for a window/aisle/exit row and they will most likely accommodate.

12. Don't convert cash into local currencies. Use ATMs to withdraw for fewer fees.

13. When it's too late to cancel your hotel reservation & get a refund, call and push back your reservation a week. Then call back the next day and cancel your "new" reservation.

14. For long layovers, check if you're qualified for a lounge based on your credit cards or frequent traveler programs.

15. Bring a fanny pack on flights. This will not be counted as your carry-on luggage.

16. Long-term travelers avoid the urge to pick up gifts along your travels. They will often break before they make it home.

17. Research your destination's "barter culture" before arriving. You'll likely need to know at the airport.

18. Buying new pay-as-you-go SIM cards in a new country is often cheap than using your roaming rates.

19. Many attractions offer student discounts (especially in Europe). Bring your expired student card as the expiration date is rarely checked.

20. Some travel insurance will cover basic pharmaceuticals. If so, make sure you get compensated.

21. Take overnight flights and sleeper buses to save a night on accommodation costs.

Packing travel tips

22. Save room in your pack and roll your clothes instead of folding them.

23. Pack lighter by buying toiletry items at your destination.

24. Make room for a small medical kit with essentials. You'll be thankful for it.

25. Pack duct tape in your medical kit - you'll be surprised how handy this becomes.

26. Bring a spare pair of dry socks in your carry-on. Once settled into your flight change into them.

27. Travel with a 3-port, 6-foot extension cord so you can always charge and keep your belongings close to you.

28. Pack binder clips to tightly close loose curtains and block out light. You can also use these to turn regular hangers into skirt/pant hangers.

29. Always travel with flip-flops. You can use these to shower if staying in a hostel.

30. Travel with a diva cup if you have periods.

31. Bring a pen, especially when you're on airplanes. It'll save you from asking for one when filling out immigration and customs forms.

32. Use packing cubes. And keep one spare for dirty clothes.

33. Keep some essential items in your carry-on bag in case the airline loses your check-in luggage.

Safety travel tips

34. Make sure your friends/family are aware of your travel plans.

35. Don't admit to traveling alone when approached by a stranger. Always say a friend/partner is waiting for you.

36. Try to arrive at new destinations early morning and avoid arriving late at night.

37. Never let anyone "take" you somewhere. Always be aware and in control.

General travel tips

38. Who you travel with is often more important than the destination - choose wisely.

39. Wake before sunrise when cities and attractions are empty. You'll get a better experience, lighting and photos.

40. Tour companies often overcharge for experiences you can do on your own with a little research.

41. Download offline maps and translation apps before arriving at a new destination.

42. If a flight is canceled, don't wait in line. Call the airline directly.

43. Skip the concierge. Ask cleaners/bar staff for recommendations.

44. "Stupid" and "cheerful" attitudes transcend cultures. and may get you out of sticky situations. Never act aggressively.

45. If you want to sleep on a plane figure out what side of the plane the sun will be hitting - then book the other side.

46. Reduce jetlag by getting onto your new schedule ahead of time.

47. Free up your phone's storage before leaving home.

48. People gravitate to their dominant side. This means choosing left lines at airports and attractions is often the faster way.

49. Use the bathroom after you've gotten through immigration, not before. This will ensure you're not stuck behind your entire flight in line.

50. Remember, you will only ever be in this place, in this exact moment of time once. Don't forget to take it all in.

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