On Traveling: How to Save Money While You Travel

by Beth Whitman (February 4th, 2013)

Monk with MoneyI recently wrote a post about how to save money for your travels. But I realize that equally important is how to save money while you are actually traveling because all of those hard-earned dollars you tucked away in your piggy bank can get eaten up super quickly once you’re on your way.

Here are some tricks that I use while I’m on the road…

1. Strategize the best way to get from the airport to your hotel. First check with your hotel to see if they offer an airport pickup. I was delightfully surprised during my recent trip to Salt Lake City when I found out my hotel offered a free shuttle service (not only to/from the hotel but around town as well). I didn’t even know it until I called to book a shuttle service with a private company. They were kind enough to tell me that my hotel would pick me up for free. Bonus!

If your hotel doesn’t offer a free service but they will still arrange a pickup, they will likely charge more than a taxi for this convenience. Sometimes that’s OK – you may not want to haggle with a taxi driver in the middle of the night when you land in Dubai. Just make sure you know the upfront cost.

And if you’re up for a bit of a challenge, consider taking a taxi on your own OR figuring out if there is public transportation that will get you close enough to your hotel that you can walk from a dropoff point.

Money saved? Easily $15 – $50 per trip.

2. Walk or take public transportation at your destination. Once you’ve checked in to your hotel, you’ve grabbed a map from the front desk and have a lay of the land, start exploring by foot. I love just wandering around a city (or even countryside) on my own. You never know who you’ll meet along the way or what sights will be ripe for exploring because you’ve simply Metro in Parisstumbled upon them.

You can find printed walking tours of many cities (these are often listed in guidebooks). I find them to be an excellent starting point but I often meander off that track to make discoveries of my own (which usually consists of bakeries).

In Barcelona I walked for hours and hours through the city. But it wasn’t until I discovered a walking tour in my Top 10 Barcelona guide that I started noticing some of the lesser-known Gaudi (and Gaudi-like) buildings. Architecture that I had previously missed during my walks.

On a rainy day in Paris, Jon and I purchased a metro pass and spent the day seeing how many popular sights we could take our photo in front of. That pass likely cost us less than $15 each and it got us through most of the city and all the major sites (The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, etc.). Plus we had a blast, despite the rain. Actually, likely because of the rain – if it had been nice weather, we might have spent the day lazing in a park.

Money saved? Over the course of a trip you could easily save hundreds of dollars if you were to rely on taxis for many of your trips around a city.

3. Stay in a bed and breakfast. Well, maybe not literally a B&B, but when breakfast is included in your hotel stay, you can save a bundle for sure.

I met a couple of gals at the airport in Oslo (Norway, by the way, is an incredibly expensive country). These gals boasted of their ability to eat a large breakfast at the buffet (and, OK, tuck away a few extras in their purse) and then not have to purchase another meal for the rest of their day. I’m not necessarily advocating for swiping stuff from the buffet table, but I’m sure you can relate to how filling up in the morning could get you through much of the day without dropping a lot of money on a large meal or two later.

Money saved? Depending on your appetite, you could save approximately $5 – $25 per meal.

4. Limit your credit card charges for international travel. Most credit card companies charge a fee – anywhere from 1.5% – 3% – for international charges. While it can sometimes make sense if you’re receiving mileage points for these purchases, you have to weigh that against these additional fees as this can really add up if you’re making larger purchases during your travels (think: expensive souvenirs or hotel bookings).

Money saved? The savings might be minor, depending on your spending habits, but wouldn’t rather keep even $20 in your pocket rather than seeing it go to the credit card companies?

5. Carry your own snacks. As I pointed out in this Snacks for the Road post, there are some kashieasy ways to get around having to purchase meals or snacks if you prepare a little in advance of your journey.

When not staying at a hotel that includes breakfast, I simply carry my own baggie of instant oatmeal that I mix with raisins, walnuts and cinnamon. I use the coffee maker in the hotel room to heat the water and, boom, I’ve got my own instant and healthy breakfast.

I’m also not shy about asking for a cup of hot water at a cafe at the airport (or in-flight) and just mixing up my oatmeal on the spot. This came in super handy at the Seoul airport a few years ago when I had a ten hour layover and the cafes and restaurants had no vegetarian options (that has since changed).

If I’m staying at the same hotel for more than a few nights (and there’s a fridge in the room), I might purchase a box of cereal and soymilk.

Money saved? During a week-long vacation, I bet you could save more than $100 by carrying just a few snacks for yourself.


These are just a few ways that you can shave expenses off of a trip – whether you’re traveling for a week or for months. I’d love to hear how YOU save money during a trip.

Travel Well,


Related links:
On Traveling: With Resilience
On Traveling: Solo Safety Issues

Photo credit:
Monk with Money – wonderlane
Paris Metro – edwin.11


On February 4th, 2013 at 9:44 am, Francoise Armour said:

Clever tips, especially for the novice traveller.

Incidentally, in many countries and certainly here in South Africa, B&Bs are cheaper than hotels, offer nicer breakfasts, and more, for example free wifi whilst hotels charge for this.

On February 4th, 2013 at 11:46 am, Beth Whitman said:

B&B’s are usually cheaper here in North America as well. Often, however, they are located away from city centers so it’s a bit harder to get around requiring a car or reliance upon public transportation.

On February 4th, 2013 at 1:59 pm, Bethaney said:

Not eating out for breakfast and getting snacks from a grocery store saves heaps especially if you’re a family. I love the idea of carrying a few oatmeal sachets and requesting a cup of hot water. That’s a great one! You’ll also find microwaves in parents rooms at airports which is great for heating up food.

On February 4th, 2013 at 2:04 pm, Beth Whitman said:

WOW – what a tip about the microwaves in parents’ rooms at airports. I’ll have to check that out next time!

On February 5th, 2013 at 5:48 am, gabi said:

i love the practicality you bring to your readers. we always take public transport and with three kids and kobi who is worse than a child when he’s hungry, always always take snacks. good on you beth


On February 5th, 2013 at 6:25 am, Beth Whitman said:

Thanks, Gabi.

It’s really all just common sense but we tend to loose that when we go on vacation :-)

On February 5th, 2013 at 11:07 am, Larissa said:

All great tips, Beth. We’ve eaten our fair share of cereal in coffee cups, and love taking local public transportation–it makes you feel like you live there, even for a few days.

When renting cars, we’ve also had luck using local companies in some locations. The services might not be as comprehensive (no slick hand-held computers upon return, or maybe locations off airport premises), but if you’re renting for a several days it can make an impact. Often they will be cars with a bit more mileage on them. When driving around New Zealand we had an older Nissan sedan that was perfectly functional, just had a few rattles. My husband cheerfully exclaimed “That’s the sound of $300 in savings!”

On February 9th, 2013 at 9:00 am, Micki said:

I love the tip about looking for a free shuttle to your hotel. We find that the United States is especially good for this in airport locations. There’s something about spending on exorbitant taxi fees that just irks me.

On February 9th, 2013 at 9:10 am, Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com said:

When I went backpacking solo in Europe last winter, I knew it would be very expensive (I’m from the Philippines!). So yeah, I brought my own food, walked a lot, stayed with Couchsurfing members. It IS possible to save when traveling!

On February 10th, 2013 at 6:13 am, D.J. - The World of Deej said:

Great tips…I too am partial to walking or public transportation. Not only is it cheap, it’s the best way to connect with a city!

On February 12th, 2013 at 2:30 pm, Cat of Sunshine and Siestas said:

Great tips, Beth! I tend to go overboard when I travel, even when it’s my intention to save!

Leave a Reply