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Five Essential Tips for Low Cost Travel

Money saving travel tips

Jetting off on holiday in the coming months? Taking a vacation can be one of the most exciting periods of anyone’s year – but the costs do tend to rack up. Travel isn’t cheap, and neither is the cost of living in most countries. Here are five essential tips to help you keep your costs as low as possible, so you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank!

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Avoid Tourist Areas

Unfortunately, most tourists are seen as marks for touts and other scammers when they’re in an area which is a popular tourist destination.  Pickpockets are on the lookout for an easy target, and prices of everything from taxis to menus can miraculously double when people notice you are a tourist.  Keep a close eye on your belongings, and try to ask prices from locals so you know how much things ‘should’ cost to stop you getting ripped off. Aside from being singled out in this way, prices in these tourist hot-spots are steeper than anywhere else. Food stalls often double their costs, while admission to these places is also a small fortune.  

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Tourists are usually easy to spot!  Photo credit via Flickr by zoetnet

If you have your heart set on visiting one of these places, do so – they are usually popular for a reason after all.  However, try to find the balance between fulfilling your bucket list and getting off the beaten path.  Even walking just one street over from the busy thoroughfare can make a huge difference! But just make sure to be prepared, take everything you need with you, including water, and remember to eat before or after going there. Your wallet will thank you afterwards.

 READ MORE: Tips to Beat the Pickpockets 

Travel in Off-Season

Use your head and think about when people are likely to be travelling. For example, prices will naturally rise during summer months, or any period when children aren’t attending school like public holidays. There may also be large events or festivals going on in the location you’re headed to which cause prices to be ramped up.

The optimum time for travel often falls around May and September – before summer prices, and while kids are still not free to travel. There’s a good chance at this time the weather will still be relatively good.  If you can be flexible on your travel dates by just a few days you can make a huge difference to your budget.  When you check flight prices use a tool like Skyscanner’s monthly view to see if flights are cheaper around similar dates.

READ MORE: How to Find the Best Black Friday Flight Deals


Haggle to get the best price in local markets
Haggle to get the best price in local markets

When you are shopping for gifts & souvenirs, don’t accept the first price you’re offered by market vendors. Make sure you always haggle down and get a more acceptable value for the item you’re trying to purchase, which works for both you and the vendor. TINZ provide intrepid holidaymakers with a list of haggling tips and advice, which could make a massive difference to your final sales price.

Some of their top tips include:

  • Starting high as you can
  • Shopping around for a bit first
  • Keeping a strong poker face
  • Knowing when to walk away

Follow this advice and you’ll experience far greater success than you might have anticipated when you next haggle, saving you a bunch of cash.

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead can have a major impact on your financial situation when abroad. If you have the forethought to think about what you want to do prior to travel, you can set a rough budget in your mind. Hotels and transport prices can usually be checked in advance so you know how much they are likely to be.  Often, buying tours and tickets in advance online is cheaper than buying it on the day, and you can usually skip the lines too.  Try using online planning tools to help you keep to a basic plan, and make it far easier to keep your spending in check.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Essential Travel Planning Resources

Eat Street Food

Street food is cheap and tasty!
Street food is cheap and tasty!

The food you find in market stalls will almost always be cheaper than that which is peddled in restaurants in tourist areas. If you’re worried about health factors, check to see which stall the locals are buying from – or where the local police by from!  If they’re happy, you’ll be happy so it’s a good indicator of where the tried and trusted options are.  As the saying goes; there is safety in numbers so you know where is a good spot, where the food is freshly made & hasn’t been sitting out too long.  Trying the local specialities in a real locals joint is far more enjoyable than eating in a sanitized tourist restaurant, so take the plunge and enjoy!

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: How to Find the Best Local Food while Travelling

Have these tips helped you when it comes to saving money on future trips? Make sure to keep them in mind when you head out on your travels.

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5 Essential Tips for Cheap Travel

This post was written in collaboration with TINZ.

Just to let you know, this post may contain paid or affiliate links, which help to maintain Tales of a Backpacker and give me the chance to keep travelling, and to keep creating awesome content for you!

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Last updated: October 28, 2019

14 thoughts on “Five Essential Tips for Low Cost Travel

  1. Francois - virevolte says:

    I liked those advice – also :
    1 – Compare price between each booking website and use a cashback website (we end up with around 10% cashback off on each trip)
    2 – Be flexible with your dates and do not hesitate to stay one more day in a place to get a cheaper ticket
    3 – Be wise – maybe it’s worth saving 150 EUR on a plane ticket, maybe it’s not to eat in a shady place to save a couple of euros.

  2. Archana Singh says:

    Being a frequent traveler, these days I don’t travel in the peak season. Shoulder season is my favorite and I run away from touristy places. They are so damn expensive. And yes, I do plan in advance.

  3. carla says:

    I love planning ahead. Makes my trip all the more exciting. Also going local, i meant eating local food, buying local and staying in local community homestays can make your travel cheaper and you smarter!

  4. Tami says:

    Good tips! It helps to blend in a little. Not dress so outlandishly different from the locals, and try to pick up a few words in the local language. You won’t stand out as much as a vulnerable tourist that way.

  5. Suruchi says:

    It is a wonderful post and we too follow most of these. Booking tickets in advance and choosing Airbnb or local accommodation helps to save a lot during travels. Local foods are always great to try and using public commuting services too helps for low cost travels.

  6. Anna @ shenANNAgans says:

    That is a most excellent suggestion you made to eat where the police eat, although it did make me giggle as I only ever see police eating fast food like Maccas. Haha!
    And its my poker face that kills me every time I try to haggle. So don’t have much success with that. But I figure practise makes perfect, so maybe Ill master it. 🙂

  7. Vanessa says:

    I love traveling in the off season – this is my favourite tip of all! Everytime I hear someone complain that they didn’t like a destination or that they found it overpriced, it was always in the peak season. Low season = low prices = low crowds. It’s the way to go!

  8. Katherine says:

    The only thing I don’t do on this list is haggling but that’s mainly due to the fact that I try and avoid buying more things! Great list on tried and tested ways to save money when travelling.

  9. Megan Jerrard says:

    Love this post, such great budget tips – I totally agree on avoiding touristy areas – there are so many natural parks, gardens, lookouts, museums and markets are free of charge or simply require a nominal fee. And avoiding the touristy areas allows you to see the true culture and beauty of a destination by walking the streets and living like a local.

  10. Sreekar says:

    That’s a cool list. Here are a few more.
    1. Stay in hostels
    2. Use public transport
    3. Try alternate airports. As the closest may be the most expensive
    4. Use large transactions on ATMs
    5. Don’t let travel points guide your travel plans

  11. Sherab Tenzin says:

    In many countries, gifts and souvenir shops give commission to tour guides out of sale proceeds which’ll be added already in price. So don’t go with guides.
    And no matter street foods don’t come clean in many cases, eating at street saves quite a lot.

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