8 Tips for Frugal Travel

Kung Fu Death Grip on my $10

Everyone knows I’m a cheap skate…I even admitted to it in this post! However, money when travelling is one thing you want to try and spend less of, unless of course you’re filthy rich. Since I’ve never known what that feels like, I try to get as much value out of my dollar as possible and I’m sure you would like to as well. I’ve come up with some frugal tips on how to save money on your next (and future) trips.


1. A few weeks before departing, find local Groupon or equivalent sites for the place you’re visiting to save big on activities and meals. Australia, Fiji and New Zealand have bookme.co.au (or .fj &.nz) that have great discounts on popular things to do. Check on TripAdvisor for reviews to make sure you aren’t disappointed! I’ve noticed some restaurants advertise on these sites but have gotten horrible feedback.


2. If you’re into cooking while on your trip, take small bags of spices you use a lot to save on having to buy full jars. Just be aware that you will probably have to claim these as ‘food items’ on your Customs form and may be held up at the airport while they determine if they are safe to bring in. Don’t bring fresh fruits or foods like ginger and garlic. These are usually cheap everywhere and Customs doesn’t seem to like seeing those.


3. If you’re worried about spending money on food while traveling, it may be more economical to rent a place with cooking facilities instead of buying every meal out. If you won’t have a car, be sure you’re close enough to a grocery store or can find public transportation to one easily. Ask your potential host what they provide, as you may want to bring some lightweight items from home unless they’re cheap enough to buy there (i.e., measuring spoons, plastic potato masher, veggie peeler, etc.). Pack a couple cloth grocery bags as these are much easier to carry than plastic (and some places have banned plastic bags or charge for them now).


4. If you’re renting a car where you’re going, find out which credit card covers the extra insurance or benefits you might get stuck paying for at the rental counter. Read the fine print carefully or call and ask so you don’t have any surprises when and if something happens to you.


5. If you’ll be gone a while and overseas, it may benefit you to find a bank that doesn’t charge international fees for purchases or ATM transactions. Capital One credit card does not charge international fees and I get money back on all of my purchases. Charles Schwab reimburses any ATM fees at the end of the month and they also don’t charge an international fee on purchases. I’ve saved a ton of money over the last three years using these companies.


6. If you’ll be staying in one place for a long time and find you need not-so-new items to purchase, check thrift shops or their local Ebay or equivalent for deals on items that don’t really need to be brand new. You can save a lot of money on kitchen items or household goods by shopping this way.


7. Second hand shops are a godsend when it comes to clothes and household items. If you want to pack light, take your basics then supplement your clothing items by shopping at thrift stores. You won’t feel bad giving them away to a local family when it’s time to leave or donating them to a charitable cause. It’s also a great way to dress like the locals if you want to try and blend in!


8. If traveling abroad, be sure to take an unlocked cell phone with you so you can buy a SIM card when you arrive. You may be able to unlock your own phone as well, if it’s not already. Search the internet for your model with a term like ‘unlocking iphone 5’. I think the pay as you go option is best as you probably won’t be using it for too much. Although, if you’re a heavy internet user on your phone, a package deal might be cheaper. These usually run about $20USD a month.  I’ve found that sometimes the cell phone kiosks in airports offer deals you won’t find at a retail outlet, so you may want to check those before rushing out the door. Unlocked phones are available on Ebay quite cheaply but be sure to check the frequency bands the country you’ll be visiting uses as not all phones are the same. A simple internet search like ‘cell phone frequency band <enter the country name>’ should bring up a few pages of information.


If you have any travel tips, leave a comment below!


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