Top 5 Money Saving Tips

After being on the road for a full year, we have learned our share of lessons when it comes to saving money. Of course, each of these we learned the hard way and it pains us to look back and realize the money we wasted. However, we hope that you will learn from our experience with these top 5 money saving tips for your own vacation or long-term travel adventure.

  1. House sitting - Absolutely one of the best things we did was to help people out by taking care of their homes while the owners travels. In the first 12 months of travel we paid for only 5 months of accommodation, in large part due to housesitting. It is a great way to see the world if you are flexible and open to new opportunities.  If you are interested, we wrote a detailed article on Married with Luggage with more details and discounts for getting started.
  2. Travel slow – there are so many benefits to traveling slowly (mental sanity, ability to meet people, learn about the local culture) but I’ll just focus here on the spending. When you travel slowly you have the opportunity to take advantage of discounts. Most hostels/hotels will offer discounts for as little as 3 nights. Also, if you are going to stay in a place for longer, consider renting an apartment. It can save you significant money and give you a completely different perspective on your travels.
  3. Track spending daily – I’m the first to admit this this is not sexy or exciting. the idea of tracking expenses is about as fun as cleaning the house.  However, if you take 5 minutes at the end of each day totaling your expenses it can make a big difference in your spending. This small effort will help you keep an eye on how much you are spending, but also not require you to try to remember each expense at the end of the month. Using a tool like BudgetYourTrip is an easy way to track your spending and keep a record that will make totaling expenses each month/year much easier.
  4. Lunch not dinner & split meals – when we first started on the trip we were used to eating WAY too much food. This is primarily the result of portion sizes in the United States which extremely big (think 1/2 a pig with a 2 whole potatoes on the side). When we started traveling we realized quickly that food would be a large part of our budget, but there were times we really wanted to eat out. As a result, we learned 2 great lessons that have saved us significant money over the last year:
    • We started to split our meals. This not only helped us each lose over 20 pounds in the first year, but also was a way we could eat out on a much smaller budget
    • Eat out and at lunch instead of dinner. Lunch is almost always cheaper to eat than dinner at a restaurant. As a result we would plan any eating out around the daytime meal and then cooked at “home” for dinner. 
  5. Plan in advance when you are in a more expensive location. We absolutely loved the freedom and flexibility of travel in Ecuador where we could  flag down a bus on the highway, jump on, and always pay $1 per person per hour. The busses were constantly going by, they were reliable (in general), and gave you complete flexibility. By contract, Europe is not quite so cheap or flexible. Of course the trains here give you access to most areas, but they are by no means cheap. Most of the time you will need to explore various options and often book in advance to find a reasonable rate that won’t break your budget. In these situation we have found that a bit of planning can go a long way to making your trip pleasant and under budget. In Europe, for example, you can get great deals on trains and buses if you can buy a couple weeks in advance.  Many times planes are much cheaper, but make sure you include the price to get to/from the airports. While you will need to give up on some flexibility by bringing the dreaded “planning” process into play in the end your monthly budget will thank you for it.
As we showed in our 1st year expense summary traveling, even long-term, does not have to cost a fortune. Whether your next trip is for a few weeks or a few years, these tips should help you save some of your hard-earned yen, bhat, or dollars and let you extend your vacation.
If you have tips of your own, please share. We would love to add them to the site and share them with our readers.
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