15 Tips on How to Save Money When Traveling

Traveling can be be stressful, especially when you are trying to do so on a budget. There is so much to see and vacation time is precious, but if you plan ahead and keep these simple tips in mind you can eliminate some of the stress and make the most out of your time!

1.     Be flexible!

Be open to new destinations and dates. Choose a destination based on the price or have a list of destination you’d like to visit and book when it’s the right price. The more flexible you are, the more places you’ll get to experience.

 

2.     Keep up with travel gurus.

Follow and subscribe to people who make it a living searching for flight deals. My two favorites are: The Points Guy http://www.TPG.com and Thrifty Traveler http://www.thriftytraveler.com . I also love Nomadic Matt  https://www.nomadicmatt.com/.

 

3.     Book early!

The earlier you book, the better. I always search for tickets 8-9 months head of time. (I like to know what I’m doing ahead of time, so I book way ahead of time). Sometimes there are flash sales, mistake fares or just awesome deals that are thrown out there. Book now, ask questions later! Buy insurance and some airlines will let you cancel up to 24 hours after booking – read the fine print.

 

4.     Use Google Flight Search!

http://www.flights.google.com it is my go to search engine! It never fails me and I can search any date, any place, whichever way I want to make it there. Search for the flights and then book directly with the airlines.

 

5.     Book from major cities.

If you live in or near a major city i.e. Chicago, New York, Atlanta, San Fran, L.A. definitely book from there. I’m based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and our terminal is quite small. If I find a deal flying out of Chicago, I’m booking it! A one-way to Chicago is 1 hour flight and on good days will only cost me $30-$40. And I always make it two trips in one.

Sri Mariamman Temple, China Town, Singapore photo by David Lund

Sri Mariamman Temple, China Town, Singapore photo by David Lund

6.     AirBnB

I have not stayed in a hotel since AirBnB has been available (with one exception to Bangkok).  Once you get your tickets booked, research the different neighborhoods in the country you are going to. Find out which one works best with what you want to do and see, and then book. I’m a single mom of two boys, and I don’t have a lot of money to throw down at once. So when I have a little extra cash, I’ll use it to book my accommodations. There are other options available for even cheaper accommodation – couch surfing, hostels, or reaching out to friends in the area to crash for a night or two. Hotels are not really necessary anymore IMO.

 

7.     Don’t book tours ahead of time!

Especially in SEA. It’s ok to search for different tours and options, but book them when you arrive at your destination. A lot of the times, the hostel or AirBnB host will be able to offer tours at a deal or help you book the tours at their currency rate.

 

 

8.     You don’t need to rent a car. Uber!

Uber is nearly EVERYWHERE! Do some research on how to get around in the cities you’re headed to. Most likely it’ll tell you “Public Transit.” If Uber is not available, do research to see which taxi companies are most reliable. If you need to get from one city to another, look at train options or charter buses. If all fails, hire a local driver and see if you can split the cost with another traveler going the same direction.

 

9.     Look for free tours

There are many tour operators all over the global offering free tours. Do some research and read recent reviews. Sometimes, there’s no booking needed, you just show up to the designated meeting place. The tour guides work off of tips so be a good tourist and tip!

 

10.     Travel by train in Europe.

Traveling by train in ALL of Europe is extremely cheap! Depending on where you are and where you want to go, you can purchase tickets 3 months ahead of time for as low as $15 a ticket one-way. The closer you get to your traveling date, the more expensive it’ll get. Some Euro train lines will only allow you to book 2 months ahead. I use Seat 61 at http://www.seat61.com to get all my questions answered about European train travel.

Pyramid of the Moon, Teotihuacan, Mexico photo by PaShia Lee

Pyramid of the Moon, Teotihuacan, Mexico photo by PaShia Lee

11.     Free events.

With a little bit of research, you can find free events going on, festivals and offers for discounted tickets to museums and shows. Bring your student ID for additional discounts.

 

12.     Foodies.

Go to the grocery store or market and buy fruits and bread for breakfast. Have lunch at a street stall or market and then head out to a local pub or bar for dinner and entertainment. Get away from tourist areas for food. Sometimes, just walking 3-5 blocks away from tourist attractions will get you amazing food at local prices.

 

13.     Pack light.

Airlines are beginning to charge for large luggage even overseas. Save money on baggage fees and pack minimal. See Indie Traveler’s blog on how to pack minimally https://www.indietraveller.co/how-to-pack-light/ . Hostels and AirBnB will have laundry facilities or laundry services, use them. You don’t need that much clothes/shoes/dresses/sweaters etc. for a few days. And it’ll be so much easier to maneuver with just a backpack or carryon.

 

14.     Set a daily spending budget…

And STICK TO IT! There are many ways to save money while traveling. When you walk into a restaurant, ask to see a menu right away; if it’s out of your budget, it’s ok to walk away.  If you’re shopping at bodegas, flea markets, or open-air markets, don’t be afraid to haggle prices, just make sure it’s acceptable in the country you’re in. But be mindful of art pieces; take into consideration the time and effort it takes to create a piece. Don’t go over budget buying souvenirs for your friends and family. It’ll just be tossed out eventually. Instead, print postcards of your travel photos and give those as gifts.

 

15.     Budget yourself for scams.

Scams are everywhere. Put it into your budget. There really is no way of avoiding scams and mishaps. And don’t let it ruin your trip. I have been scammed in India, Thailand and Vietnam. But it’s not like it was hundreds of dollars. Just a few bucks here and there. You don’t really know if you’re getting the best deal until the next person comes along with the same item for a cheaper price. Or you get into the taxi and forget to tell the driver to turn the meter on. It happens to even the best travelers. I like to think of it as giving back to people.

Tubingen, Germany photo by PaShia Lee

Tubingen, Germany photo by PaShia Lee

I hope this helps when you’re traveling on a budget. Let me know your tips and tricks on how to travel for cheap. Happy Wandering!

10 Things We Loved About Berlin

We went to Germany this past month and just fell in love with it. That country is so diverse and the people are very kind. We were fortunate to be able to meet great locals and get to know the areas we were in. Here are 10 things we loved so much about Berlin. 


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1. The Bike Life

Berlin is famous for being a bike-friendly city. There are clearly marked bike lanes and bike rental shops all over going for about 12 euros a day. The commuter traffic was nearly as thick with bicycles as it was with automobiles, and there were many scenic routes through the parks.

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2. Good & Cheap Eats

You can find all types of cuisine in Berlin from Middle Eastern to Asian. It's also one of the cheapest culinary cities in Western Europe. The Currywurst is famous (and tasty) and pork knuckle is a German classic, but don't skip out on the donner kebabs (a personal favorite). Pictured are some Lebanese lamb chops and a spinach-feta bread boat.

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3. Museums

Berlin is home to some of the top museums in the world, and the most famous are all located on Museum Island. The buildings here are beautiful and for a small fee, you can access all the museums or just one. You can easily spend a whole day here, or if history is your jam there is a 3-day pass that gives you access to all the museums.

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4. Public Transportation

Berlin is a massive city and it's all well connected by public transportation. We suggest getting a daily or weekly pass (depending on how long you are there) to get the most bang for your buck. We were on public transit for all our stay in Berlin and found it really easy to use and thankfully it's clean...ish.

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5. Hole-in-the-walls

This city is full of character(s) and charm. The bars in Mitte are a great site to see. This place is called Schnelle Quelle, an antique store and bar. The owner has been collecting his items for 15 odd years before moving into this hip neighborhood just a year ago.

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6. History and Memorials

There is much history in Germany, and Berlin was at the heart of it. Learning about the history of this beautiful city and seeing the memorials gives you a sense of the enormous gravity this city has had on History. Moments can be chilling but its important that Berliners are working to keep their history alive and remembered.

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7. Bier Gartens

Summer time is when everyone is out enjoying the sun. There are plenty of bier gartens to choose from. Our guy recommended Kulturbrauerei, a 25,000 square meter former brewery with a large courtyard that has been changed into shops and restaurants. Pictured is some damn fine currywurst washed down with a refreshing Berliner Pilsner.

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8. Mitte

Meaning Middle, Mitte is a large neighborhood that cuts through Central Berlin. You'll find all the attractions here from the Reistch Dom to Museum Island. Everything is near to this central location, and the public transportation was only a couple blocks away from anywhere we went.

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9. Vibrant and Diverse Culture

Berlin is full color and personality. Every inhabitant makes Berlin, BERLIN and what makes us love this part of Berlin so much is that, Berliners are not afraid to be themselves. They are who they are and they are not ashamed of it. Go Berlin! Here a street performer works the crowd in the blazing heat.

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10. The Patio Life

Summer time = Patio Life. Mostly because there is no air conditioning (in most of Germany but especially Berlin), but also why the heck not? Suns out guns out! Every restaurant you walk up to will have outdoor seating, and it's the best way to enjoy people watching and an ice cold beer.

Honorable Mentions

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Alexander Platz

(During the Street Performers Festival)

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Weissensee Jewish Cemetery

Weißensee is the largest Jewish Cemetery in Europe.

Singapore: Treetop bars and Merlions

The Island-nation of Singapore is delightful and unique as its Merlion mascot.  The Lion-headed fish is sits at the head of the Singapore River and overlooks the city in Merlion Park.  Wether you are experiencing the city during the day or at night there are wonderful things to behold.

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Modern day Singapura is dazzling.

The skyline from Marina Bay Park is awe inspiring.  The 360 degree view from atop the Supertree gives you views of the Port as well as the downtown skyline.

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Within the Botanical Gardens lies the National Orchid Garden.

 

Stunning arrangements surround you in this one-of-a-kind, hyperbole-proof magic land.  Seriously no praise is enough for this garden.  60,000 orchids and thousands of species and hybrids can be found in the core part of the Botanical Gardens

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The island is made up of multiple cultures. 

A large portion of the island is inhabited by Chinese, Indian, and Malay residents, which make up distinct regions such as India Town where this elephant is located.  The diversity has lead to a unique flavor on the island.  While the bold may try some Fish Head Curry (made of red snapper) its a must to try the deliciously sweet and spicy Chili Crab. 

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Singapore is always working on new ambitious projects.

The Supertree Grove in the Gardens by the Bay is a relatively new development with 160-foot trees covered in beautiful, exotic flora. Stick around for the Garden Rhapsody every night at 7:45 and 8:45.  Soon they will also host the world's largest indoor waterfall, which is sure to be another spectacle that shouldn't be missed.