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15 useful tips to reduce your travel cost

Are you thinking about traveling soon? Not sure if you have enough money and thinking about how to lower your cost to fit your travel budget? In this article I’ll present over 15 ways to drastically reduce holiday travel costs.

Bank-50   Avoid ATM fee
Always withdraw more money per transaction to reduce the number of times you need to pay the ATM fee + bank fee. In countries like Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam some banks add an extra fee of up to 5-6 dollars per transaction. Be aware that credit cards like Visa and Mastercard have different limitations and fees.

Read more about How to avoid ATM fees in South East Asia

Driver-50  Cut out middleman
Always go directly to the source and avoid using the hotel desk, as they are often more expensive (you pay extra for the convenience). If you want to buy bus tickets, guided tours or excursions, try to find out where the ticket shops are located and go directly to them instead. In this way you will get the best prices. Before you buy tickets at the shop, check the prices online to make sure you get the right price, you might be quoted a higher (unfair) price because you are a foreigner. If you have time for it, check other travel agencies or counters too.

Hotel-50  Hotel rates

Hotel rates are often significantly better online. Thus, remember to check the price on different search/hotel portals, like skyscanner.net, agoda.com, hotels.com or booking.com. If you are planning to extend your stay at the same hotel, try to ask at the front desk for a better hotel and refer to the online rates, which are sometimes cheaper. Remember the discount and free night promotions you get on services like hotels.com (10 nights, get one for free; The average costs of all 10 nights), but always go for the best price.

transport  Get from A to B
A big percentage of your budget goes to transport. So if you really want to save money you need to deal with this issue. Always compare other alternatives; what is the price if I take a bus instead of a cab from A to B. Train instead of plane and so on. Or even take a pick-up instead of a taxi, it’s as low as 0.1 USD for several miles. Always consider if reduced travel time is worth extra/additional cost. It’s really depending on local conditions so it is a good idea to do some research.

 Suitcase Filled-50  Travel with carry-on luggage
Many of the discount airlines, like AirAsia or RyanAir, take an fee for checked in luggage. Even for pre-booked luggage it will cost you around 20 dollars for a short jump between Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur (one way). Domestic flights are about half the price (around 10 dollars). When you arrive to your destination, you are able to save money on some taxi companies and bus routes, because they often take an extra fee per ‘oversized’ bag (sometimes the same price as the bus ticket itself).  Most airlines accept carry-on luggage up to 7-10 kg. Remember to check the limitations on weight and size for each airline.

Trekking-50  Explore new areas on your own

I love to explore new places on my own, particular away from all the major tourist traps. I always do my research  before my next travel destination. This means that I only take a guided tour if it’s to risky or there is limited transport options. But I always consider the alternatives. Be aware that in some cases it can be cheaper to take a guided tour because they are a bigger group, so again it’s up to you how you prefer to travel. Do some research on how the locals get around, find out the prices and compare them with a guided tour. Remember to do research on the risks and bring a good map + backup food and extra water!

Taxi-50  Avoid fake taxis

Be sure you take a real taxi and illegal taxicab operation. How can I see the difference? That can sometimes be very difficult, because they often paint their cars to be a look-alike. Sometimes they even use the same logo with a typo. The presence of a taxi-meter is no guarantee that you’re in a “real” taxi.  So you need to be really careful! A trip in a illegal taxicab operation might end up costing you a lot of money. The guide books or Wikipedia articles can tell you how to spot these ‘fake’ taxis in different countries.

Hot Dog-50  Eat as the locals!
Skip all the tourist traps and go for the restaurants where the locals eat. It’s often much cheaper and also same quality or even better + you get to feel the local atmosphere!
Don’t be afraid to try street food – it’s tasty and cheap. In South East Asia you can get a meal as cheap as 1 dollar, for a decent meal on the streets. On a tourist restaurant, you will need to pay much more, and there is no guarantee for it’s quality! And regarding hygiene, take a look at the small shops before you buy food there; most of them handle the food very well. I ate street food for almost a month with no problems at all. There is of course never a guarantee no matter where you eat.

Bank-50   Know the price level
This item is in the obvious category, but I think many forget the power of this item. Research the price level before you arrive to a new country. What is the price level for water, taxis, food and so on. In many countries in Africa or Asia you ‘will’ as a tourist often get ripped off, if you do not know the price level. When you buy a banana on the streets or take a cab, the locals will often try to ask for much higher prices than what the locals need to pay. Can you blame them for trying! When you know what the ‘correct’ price for a banana is, you can then start the negotiation.
If you are skilled with languages, learn how to say “it’s to much” or the numbers 1 – 10. Then you have a better chance to get the best prices, every time!

Currency Exchange-50  Use different currencies
Work with different currencies for instance Euros or U.S. dollars, instead of just the local currency. This can be a good way to get a better price. When you are negotiating the price try to ask for the price in dollars, and do the math again, this time it could be a better deal for you. You can do it in most countries in Africa, but also other countries where the local currency is unstable or maybe have a high inflation. Remember to bring a calculator or your smartphone to make sure you win the deal!.

Airplane Takeoff-50  Look for promotion / red eye tickets
If money is a bigger problem than your time, one of the single best ways to save money, is to look for cheap flight tickets in advance or even last minute offers. Look for promotion, discounted or red eye tickets in the near future and plan your next jump only based on the price. The key is to be flexible on departure times, length and stopovers. There is often promotions of 50%, and if you are flexible you can book these! Use Skyscanner.net or Momondo.com to find out which airlines are operating on your next destination or even be flexible where to go! Then go directly to the company’s own website to make sure you get the best price.

Taxi-50  Share a cab
If you arrive in an airport where there is no other options than taking a taxi into town or to your hotel, ask other travelers around you if they maybe want to share a taxi with you and split the bill. Especially, if you are a solo traveler, this is a good way to save money and to meet other travelers.

Car Theft Filled-50   GoMore, Uber and so on…

Use alternative transport services, like Uber to lower the cost.


The obvious points, but still worth mentioning

Fork-50  Shop at Supermarkets

Your food budget is easy to adjust from day to day, and an item where you can save a lot of money. So a good advice is whenever you are passing by a supermarket, use time to fill up, because here you often get the best prices. If you wait you maybe end up paying more in a kiosk or cafe. If you have a base, like a car or a room for a longer period go for the bigger items, to save even more. (Make sure you do not pay too much, and end up wasting). Go for items you know you will use like soft drinks, water, fruits, sunblocks and energy bars (backup food as I call it).

Bottle Of Water Filled-50  Go for bigger bottles

It sounds like a silly tip, but think about it. Water is maybe the item which you buy most often on your vacation. If you have a car or a hotel room where you stay several days or you are more a group traveling together, go for bigger bottles as often as you can. Hence, you pay less per liter. Buy 1.5 or even 5 liters of water instead of 0.5 liters. In Thailand 1.5 L bottle of water costs 13 THB ($0.37) where 0.5 L costs 7 THB. (That’s a saving of around 5.5 THB per liter.) Do the math, if you drink 4 or 8 liters per day for two persons in two month.
A good tip is to save your 0.5 L empty bottles and refill them next time you buy a bigger bottle, it’s more handy!.

I hope you like this list. Feel free to make a comment, share this post with your friends, or post your own cost saving tips. Thank you!

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