Splurge or save? 6 tips to wisely spend money while traveling

What’s your travel type? Are you a save-and-scrimp type, looking for every opportunity to avoid paying full price? Or are you more of a let’s-splurge-on-this-once-in-a-lifetime type?

There isn’t any right or wrong in spending money while traveling, honestly. It’s all about how much your bank can tolerate. Or, perhaps, how much hard work you put in before your trip to save up. And, of course, your preferences.

But who would mind saving some bucks without compromising on the experience? No one, right? And, especially when the airfares are skyrocketing with each passing day, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be looking for ways to save.

So, here are a few tips to help you save money while traveling without making it seem like you’re penny-pinching.

research destination to save money while traveling
Properly research your destination to save money while traveling

Know your destination inside out

We are confident you didn’t randomly pick a destination to soak in the sun and dance all night. You would have done your research about the place.

If you haven’t, well, it’s never too late.

You would want answers to the following to ensure you don’t miss out on good deals:

  • When is the ideal time to travel to get the best airfare?
  • Are there any specific days or months when the flight prices are low?
  • When is the peak season, and what are the prices like then? Pigeon Forge, for instance, is the busiest during summer and fall. So, you’d want to travel during the spring to get the best deals on hotels and attractions.
  • Similarly, are there any specific places for shopping in Pigeon Forge where you can buy affordable but good-quality souvenirs?
  • What about public transportation? Is it readily available, and how much would it cost on average per day?
  • Would renting a car or using public transport be inexpensive?

The internet is a treasure trove of all such information. A little digging will give you all the answers you need. And knowing your destination will help you save a lot of money while traveling.

card for saving money while traveling
Use a debit or prepaid card to avoid spending too much money while traveling

Carry a debit card

Do you have no control over your spending habits when you have cash? If yes, it’s time to get a debit card. Since the debit card is connected to your bank account, you can only spend what you have. It is a great way to stick to your travel budget and save money while traveling.

Another advantage of using a debit card is that it eliminates the need to carry large amounts of cash, lessening the risk of loss and theft. Some debit cards also offer redeemable rewards points for free travel or other benefits.

However, don’t roam the streets and dine in without any cash in hand. Have some local currency with you at all times for emergencies.

couchsurfing saves money while traveling
Use Couchsurfing to save some money while traveling

Don’t underestimate the power of Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is an excellent way to connect with locals and get insider tips on the best places to eat, drink, and shop. You can also use it to find people with similar interests as yours and make travel buddies. And the best part: the cost is minimal. Your local friend may also know some hidden gems off the beaten path that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Access to the kitchen and laundry is another cost-saving benefit of Couchsurfing. You can cook your meals and do your laundry rather than eating out all the time and paying for laundry service at your hotel.

experiences to spend money while traveling
Choose memorable experiences to spend your money while traveling

Experiences vs. products

What would you choose: an LV bag or a hot air balloon ride over the picturesque landscape? That’s a no-brainer for sure.

Experiences make for great memories that last a lifetime. On the other hand, products are temporal and will lose their value over time. So, invest in experiences rather than products. Go hiking, take a cooking class, or go on a wine tour. Do things that will create lasting memories.

You could choose to do one free and one paid activity each day. For instance, you could go for a run in the morning and then treat yourself to a nice dinner in the evening. Or how about soaking in the sun on the beach and then taking a surfing lesson?

It doesn’t mean you should spend all your money on experiences and return home with no souvenirs. Balance is key. A few small trinkets will suffice.

Oh, and if there’s a 70% off at Zara’s, we won’t blame you if you go on a shopping spree.

pack light to save money while traveling
Avoid bulky luggage and travel light to save money while traveling

Pack light

Do you realize how much money you end up spending on baggage fees? Often, we pack so many clothes that we never even wear. To avoid this, list all the activities you plan to do on your trip and pack accordingly. For example, if you’re going hiking, you’ll need comfortable shoes and clothes. And, if you’re going to the beach, pack your swimsuit and sunscreen.

Packing light will also make it easier to move around. You won’t have to waste time waiting for your luggage at the airport or lugging a heavy suitcase around.

Bonus tip for saving money while traveling
If you’re traveling within the US, consider taking advantage of their low-cost airlines. They offer great deals on flights, and you can often find round-trip tickets for less than $100. Just be sure to pack light to avoid paying baggage fees.

listen to music to avoid spending money while traveling
Avoid thinking about shopping to have more money while traveling

Distract yourself

Do you know that the bright lights, the overall noise, and the crowd can significantly increase your temptation to spend? Yup, that’s right.

With Shein or IKEA, you might feel everything is so “reasonably priced”. You may want to buy everything. But it all eventually adds up to a bigger sum in the end.

So, ask yourself, do you need that $15 dress or that $0.99 spatula? No, you don’t. What you need is self-control.

One way to avoid overspending is to distract yourself. When you feel the urge to splurge, do something else. Take a walk, listen to music, or call a friend. Tell yourself you’ll think about it later.
It’s also helpful to have a set budget for shopping. Once you’ve reached your limit, walk away.

Final thoughts

Your travel experience is supposed to be enjoyable, not stressful. So, don’t put yourself in a difficult financial situation by overspending. Check the currency rates, convert where necessary, and stick to your budget.

It also helps to book hotels and flights way in advance. You can find some great deals if you plan wisely.

And, while you can, get access to a card with no foreign transaction fee. In the long run, it will save you a lot of money while traveling.

About the author

Mirela Letailleur The Travel Bunny

Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe. Creator of unique free travel guides and local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.

Read more about Mirela Letailleur

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