When I first started planning my trip to the UK this summer, I Googled the heck out of this topic. How in the world do you save money while still having the time of your life traveling? Believe it or not, it is possible. Through trial and error, I’ve found the following five ways that saved me this summer.
1. Take the bus
While it can be more convenient to fly or drive somewhere, nothing can beat the price of a cheap bus ticket. Some of my tickets were as cheap as $5 to travel across the country. Not to mention I saved more than $150 when I went to Paris.
Another pro of traveling via bus: you actually get to see the country you’re traveling through. If I would have taken a plane to Paris, I wouldn’t have been able to say I sailed across the English Channel and saw the white cliffs of Dover. I got to see the beauty of the countryside without the hassle of messing with a GPS.
And with today’s amenities, it’s not all that bad. I had wifi on most of my buses and more legroom than I have had on airplanes.
Tip: If you’re going to Europe, look into MegaBus. If you’re in the UK, you also have the option of National Express.
2. Eat large at night
I know this might sound backwards considering breakfast is supposed to be the biggest meal, but hear me out. I took a bag of bagels for breakfast and ate mostly sandwiches for lunch when I traveled nonstop for two weeks. This left me with more than enough money for dinner and maybe even an afternoon snack.
That’s why I was able to spend $40 on one of my meals out. I saved wisely and planned accordingly. I’m definitely not saying you have to starve yourself. I surely did NOT do that. I just ate cheap, generic food for some meals so I could better enjoy others.
Yes, hotels are nice and can be fun. I always enjoy feeling like a big kid when I go to a hotel and the reservation is under my name. However, I’m sure as we all know hotels can be expensive and sometimes not even worth the money you paid.
Enter airbnb. This has easily become my go-to for accommodation. I’ve only done it twice so far, but both times were absolutely amazing. The guy we stayed with in Belfast ended up showing us around the town that night. We wandered up to the college (pictured above) and had some pretty great laughs. He scheduled a tour and taxi for us and made sure we had plenty to eat. He was what made our time there memorable.
So what is airbnb you’re asking? It’s a website where people from all over the world list their place and charge you to stay there. I use it because it links you to locals who know what you should do too. The lady we stayed with in Edinburgh had a guide book waiting for us when we got to her apartment and gave us the rundown on the city. Go check out the website for yourself at airbnb.com.
Then, there’s couchsurfing. I’m yet to try this, but it seems like an equally great option, and you don’t have to pay.
4. Book earlyish
I am one of the worst procrastinators you will ever meet. Maybe I’ll fix that someday.
But really, booking early can only work for your benefit. I’ve had to miss out on a few trips because I didn’t book early enough. You not only run the risk of seats running out or the company setting a deadline, but you are likely to pay more if you wait too.
Plan ahead. I booked a ride on the Hogwarts Express in Scotland but missed out because I didn’t realize it was three and a half hours away from where I was staying. Once I realized that, it was too late. Train tickets were outrageously expensive and only ran at certain times. So plan early and book early.
5. Don’t waste money on souvenirs
I know, I know. It’s easy to think you absolutely need that snow globe, but you probably don’t. Unless you have a collection then you shouldn’t buy frivolous stuff that will just collect dust.
At the beginning of my time in London, I fell into the trap that I needed to buy a bunch of souvenirs. I bought some good stuff, but I also bought some useless stuff. As a result I had to miss out on other things.
Don’t be afraid to buy a thing or two, though. Like I absolutely needed the world’s smallest thing of whiskey in Scotland because well, it was adorable. And yes, I got ID’ed for it, and me and the guy just laughed.
All of these things saved me at least $500 this summer if not more, and I don’t feel like I sacrificed a good time in the process at all. In fact, it made it more enjoyable on top of saving me loads of cash.
How do you save money when you travel?