Travelling is wonderful. It is my favourite thing to do, but my god does it end up being expensive if you haven’t planned it correctly. I once booked a one-way ticket to Norway with the idea of traveling around the country with nothing planned. It was the best experience of my life. It was also the most expensive. Being sporadic is great, but I wish I had done some of these things before that trip to make it more financially viable and also so I could have stayed longer!
Don’t eat out for every meal.
It’s expensive and it is just not necessary. OF COURSE, you should sample the local delicacies and eating out a few times is harmless. But find supermarkets or street vendors; eat from local markets and experience the food from that place FRESH and from the source, just like the locals; or find a hotel that includes certain things like breakfast or dinner. If you are staying in a self contained apartment, act as though you are at home and make sure you have food in the fridge and cupboard. Make sandwiches to take out with you for the day, bring a refillable water bottle (you should really do that anyway), and plan in advance because eating on the go is one of the things that drains funds subtly both abroad and at home.
The same goes for the airport. For me, an airport breakfast is a real treat but I tend to now eat before I leave the house and bring some snacks with me for the airport and the flight (apples, bananas, and a sandwich).
Don’t book from package sites like lastminute.com.
These sites are designed to make it look like you are getting a great deal by packaging a random hotel and flight together and selling it to you as a bundle. Essentially, it’s the lazy girl's holiday. If you take the time to go on to that hotel's actual website you will already save money. And if you go to a site like Sky Scanner and type in your dates you will get numerous flights that are more practical and usually cheaper. It really is as simple as that.
I found a package deal in Turkey for May. The flight was 7 hours with a stopover, leaving at 6 AM. It wasn’t ideal, but I loved the hotel, so I Googled it and found that booking directly through the site it was only £25 per night as opposed to the "amazing" deal Last Minute boasted of at £37. I was already I saving over £100 for the 10-day trip. I then searched for flights and found a direct 4-hour flight leaving at 2 PM from London for £30 cheaper EACH. So I ended up saving around £180 off the Last Minute deal, which, when you’re heading abroad, is a nice little wedge to take with you. In fact, I’d say that’s about how much we spent on food for the entire trip.
Airbnb is your friend.
In popular destinations, hotels can be expensive; so it is worth looking on Airbnb for cheaper options. We chose Airbnb in Bali and got the most beautiful villa with a private pool for a fraction of what we would have paid to stay in a hotel in the same area. I also use Airbnb if I am traveling for work as you can find deals for as low as £15 per night. In some places, the Airbnb is better situated than hotels and is generally more central.
On a side note, the quirkiness and uniqueness of some Airbnb properties is something you just can’t get from a hotel.
Think about whether an excursion is worth the price.
I cannot stress this enough: I love an excursion. They make my travels and holidays, but look at the premium you pay for SOMEONE ELSE to take you there. We paid for excursions in Iceland and Lapland that were great but if we did it again I would have hired a car and found our own way around. There is something so much more magical about the exploration of a place than being taken around in a group of strangers and tourists by someone that is bored and does this every day.
Also, consider if excursions are ethical/cruel. Particularly animal-based activities…elephant and camel rides are generally cruel and the animals are treated very poorly. If you want to see local creatures consider looking for sanctuaries or places that are known for spotting them in the wild.
Local transport isn’t that scary!
Seriously, I live in London and I get the bus and the tube everyday. London is way scarier than most places in the world. A lot of places will have bus, tram, trains, or subway systems that are safe and easy to use. Unless you are somewhere where you have been warned it is genuinely dangerous to take transport I would encourage it. I remember when I lived in LA everyone told me it was dangerous to take the bus, but I didn’t have a car and I didn’t want to get Ubers to the Valley every day for work, so I took the bus and the subway, and I’m still here, alive, and well.
The worst thing you can do is go the wrong way. I do that sometimes here and I’ve lived here for 30 years.
Places with simple transport systems include Norway, the Netherlands, New York, Budapest, Barcelona, San Francisco etc.
Find areas that are less touristy.
This might sound like a pretentious thing to say but you'd be surprised how many of us book the first area or hotel that comes up on Google. We are then surprised and annoyed that it is overpriced, lacking traditional qualities, and full of sunburnt Brits abroad(maybe that is what you like, so no offence intended!). Sometimes staying out of the city centre will find a more traditional area, cheaper hotels, and cheaper eating options, you will also find unspoilt natural beauties and areas that are yet to be touched by the tourist and overpriced average eating spots that are targeted at people on holiday.
Good luck in your travels! Go! See the world! Save your money!