How Not To Go Broke While Traveling Abroad?

Do you daydream about traveling the world? Or maybe just fantasizing about a vacation to the destination of your dreams? Well, the good news is you don’t need to have a money tree growing in your backyard, but you do need to get creative when it comes to managing your finances and working with what you got. Sure, that sounds easy but how do you actually do it? How to save money when traveling abroad and not go broke? This is one of the most common questions people ask me and here I’ll share a few tips I learned throughout my journeys. Let’s start!

Get a credit card that won’t charge any fees abroad

international credit card

Getting a credit/debit card that won’t be charged every time you make a transaction abroad isn’t that difficult as many people think. For some reason, these cards aren’t heavily advertised by banks and hence, a lot of people don’t even know that they exist. Some popular choices include the Fingerhut credit card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and the Charles Schwab debit card. The last one even refunds you in a case if a foreign ATM charges your account by depositing a sum into your account at the end of the month.

Set up a “travel savings account”

travel savings jar

And keep it inaccessible from your internet banking so you don’t get tempted to spend the money you’ve been saving for traveling. Make sure that the only way to access the money by personally visiting the bank. You’d be surprised by just how effective this simple strategy is. I do it all the time and it works great for me.

Book Your Stay Smartly

accommodation tips

Finding the right accommodation for your trip isn’t always easy and there isn’t a one-size-fits-them-all solution. If you’re a young solo traveler, hostels are a great fit. If you’re traveling with a family, apartments are the best option most of the time. Personally, I always try to find accommodation with either complimentary breakfast or a small kitchen, as this enables me to shave off some of my food costs. Finally, don’t forget to research the location of the neighborhood your hotel/apartment is located in. Transportation costs can also pile up rather quickly if you don’t take this into consideration. Finally, don’t forget that a lot of hotels offer reward programs that can get you some perks like a couple of nights of complimentary stay or a room upgrade. Hotels Combined is one of them and it gives you one night of complimentary stay for every 10 bookings.

However, these aren’t the only accommodation tips I have to give you. If you want to save even more on accommodation…

Utilize the benefits of WWOOF

farm stay

The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is a worldwide network that links volunteers with organic farmers. In return for their assistance, the volunteers usually get free accommodation, free meals, and of course, an opportunity to learn more about all the activities related to organic farming. Another interesting alternative that’s becoming more popular is…

Doing a home exchange

Swapping your home with other holidaymakers that are looking for accommodation abroad is a great strategy for people that want to go on a vacation and not pay a dime for hotels or apartments. A lot of people still aren’t aware that this option exists or are aware but are skeptical about letting a stranger stay in their home. And these doubts are completely justified, but if you’re looking to save a lot of money on your next vacation, home swapping is a great option. Another great budget alternative is…

Vacation Rentals

vacation rental

Vacation Rentals By Owner is a website where owners rent their second homes. These vacation rentals can oftentimes provide a lot of privacy, space, and most importantly value for money. On this website, you can find more than 150,000 rentals in over 100 different countries. Last but not least, I can’t talk about budget accommodation if I don’t mention…

Camping in caravans

caravan camping

If you don’t mind sacrificing some of the amenities hotels provide, camping in caravans is probably the cheapest alternative you can find. The best part is that even if you don’t have a caravan, you can always rent one. There are hundreds of websites online where you can do this. However, don’t just expect that this will ALWAYS be the cheaper option. The overnight parking fee some national parks charge can sometimes be even more expensive than staying in a hotel when you combine all costs together. Keep that in mind!

On the other hand, if you don’t want to rent a camper, or are looking to travel longer, you could grab a shiftpod and turn any campground into your home away from home.

Always Bring the Essentials

travel essentials

Always bring the things you’ll be needing with you, especially the ones that get depleted and need replenishing. For example, always have a good travel bottle or tumbler, especially when trekking. Buying multiple water bottles while traveling is an unnecessary cost. Bring a toiletry kit with you for hygienic purposes wherever you will be going. Don’t assume you’ll have unlimited toiletry supplies in the hotel you’ll be staying in. The costs of necessities in other countries can be pricey especially for tourists.

Do things locals do

how to save money when traveling

This is my favorite way of traveling. Wherever I go, I always try to mingle with locals and get some insider tips from them. I learn about the best places to eat, the hidden gems of the city, the quickest way to get places, and a lot of other useful information. Not only does this approach help me when exploring a new city but I also get to make some new friends.

Bargain – it’s actually expected in a lot of places

bargain while traveling

In a lot of places, especially in Asia, the starting price for everything you’ll find at the street market is more than double what it’s worth. This is the case probably because a lot of vendors try to profit on clueless tourists but in a lot of cases, the vendors expect that the buyer will bargain.

Don’t eat in touristy neighborhoods

how to save money when traveling

In most cities I visited, walking a few blocks away from the city center can decrease the prices of restaurants significantly. This is the main reason why I always avoid eating in places close to tourist attractions. Another tip that helps is…

Not waiting until you’re hungry to search for a place to eat

If you do, it’s likely that you’ll choose the first convenient option you come across. Instead of doing this, start searching when you’re not hungry and check out all the restaurants nearby before making a decision. Alternatively, you can also save by…

Shopping at farmer’s markets

farm market

Buying fresh food from farmer markets is a cheaper and healthier alternative to packaged food. Additionally, most vendors usually lower down the prices at the end of the day. You can use this opportunity, buy some fresh ingredients and cook for yourself or…

Have picnics and eat street food

street food How to save money when traveling

Obviously, by doing this for at least one of your meals can be a difference maker. Try to have picnics at least for breakfast and talk to locals and ask them about their favorite street food joint. This can oftentimes lead you to some amazing (and cheap) street food. Finally, instead of trying to save on eating while traveling, try eating cheap at home and save money for your trip before departing. One good starting point would be this list of money making apps that can help you save for your next big adventure.

Find free things to do

By doing some research, you can discover a lot of free things to do in the area. Go on a free walking tour. Learn when the museums in the city have an “admission-free” day or at least when they offer a discounted admission. If applicable, use students and senior citizens discounts. And again, if you can’t find answers to these questions, ask locals.

Create a budget and stick to it

I know that setting a budget and sticking to it can be difficult but it can also help you a lot. Before you start visiting places, make a plan of which places will you visit on each day, and which days you will spend more and in which days you will spend less. Always try to find ways to save money but don’t forget to treat yourself.  After all, you are on vacation.

Take your time

How to save money when traveling

Slow travel is my favorite way of travel. Instead of running around trying to visit all places on your list, take your time and get to know the place you’re visiting. Taking a lot of bus, trains, flights (or whatever) in a short timespan can make a big hole in your pocket.

Be flexible when choosing the date

I know it’s difficult and you probably know this, but it helps a lot when your departure and arrival dates are flexible. Additionally, if you don’t mind a long layover, you can get good deals most of the time, regardless of your final destination. One thing I always do is checking out CheapOair’s best deals in my area. It always helps me save a lot and it’s available worldwide. If you want to learn some other tips and tricks I use to get cheap flights, I wrote this comprehensive guide to finding cheap flights.

Get a free extended stopover

Have you heard about multi-leg flights? A multi-leg flight is a flight that includes a long layover, which can oftentimes last for a few days. For example, you can book a flight from New York to Moscow and spend a day or two in Paris in between. The best part is that these few days in Miami are a layover when you book a multi-leg flight. Some travelers get even more creative and they add another (long) leg to their multi-leg flight, thus squeezing in another destination in their (long) vacation while paying for only one flight.

Consider city passes

If you’re planning to spend more than a few days in a city, city cards can be a good deal. They give users free entry to the top tourist attractions and museums, discount at restaurants, and even free public transport in some cities.

Join a local Facebook group to keep a track of good deals

And turn on the notifications so that it keeps showing in your feed. You’ll come across some really annoying posts, but you can also find some surprisingly good deals. Also, take advantage of…

Newsletter deals and coupons

Stay subscribed to a few local travel agencies or travel websites and keep a track of their offers. Also, do your research and find companies that offer discounts and coupons in the cities you’re visiting.

Take advantage of budget travel apps

travel app

Sure, booking in advance has a lot of perks, but sometimes last minute deals on different travel apps can save you even more! So, it’s probably a good idea to scan a lot of different travel apps and compare the prices for let’s say your hotel booking or car rental. This is how I came across this discount that saved me 30% on my last car rental. It’s even better to start using this approach in the planning process because you get to track the price fluctuations and react quickly when you see a price drop or a big discount.

Follow travel bloggers

Passport Symphony How to save money when traveling

Learn from other people’s experiences. Travel bloggers are people that visited the place you’re going to before you and have a lot to share. They can tell you about the hidden gems of the city most tourists don’t know about, restaurants that aren’t mentioned on Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor, and a lot of other useful suggestions.

Sleep While Traveling

sleeper train

When traveling between two cities, try to take an overnight bus/train. This way you can get some rest while traveling and save on paying for a night’s accommodation.

Walk

how to save money when traveling

Stay active and explore the new environment on foot. You can experience and see a lot more from a new city by exploring its street markets and getting lost on its streets. Even if you think you’re too lazy for that, at least try to…

Share Transport Costs

ride sharing

If you’re traveling in a group, skip this tip. But if you’re not, try using local transportation options, ride-sharing apps, shared mini-vans or take shared tours (when that’s feasible).

Make sure your phone is unlocked

Make sure you get an unlocked phone or unlock it if necessary before traveling abroad. Using an unlocked phone allows you to use SIM cards in every new country you go to and getting a local SIM card has been a life saver so many times (at least for me).

Don’t buy souvenirs as soon as you see them

souvenirs

Most of the time, I don’t buy souvenirs at all, but even when I do, I visit a lot of different places and scan their prices. Most people buy something the same moment they see it and without bargaining, getting straight up robbed in the process. Also, try to buy your souvenirs away from the touristy areas. Just like the restaurants, the prices of souvenir shops also decrease significantly the further you get away from the city center.

Pick up some work while traveling

work and travel

You can always pick up some small tasks while traveling that will earn you some pocket money or a free meal here and there. The WWOOF I mentioned above is a great example of that but there are other options too. You can do some work in hostels in exchange for a free stay, work on a yacht, teach English as a second language, find an online job, etc. You get the point.

Have A Staycation

Just because you’re staying at home, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. While living in a city, we usually don’t see our city through an average tourist’s eyes, but sometimes trying this can be equally fun as traveling, especially if you’re trying to save for your next adventure but still want to feel like you’re on a holiday. If you like the sound of that, a staycation is definitely something you should consider. Go somewhere within your area, visit a city nearby or book a cruise with a budget operator like GlobeSailor and explore the beauty of the places around you.

Don’t fall for the “only here trap”

bucket list destinations

Sure, there are certain things that can only be experienced in specific parts of the world. While traveling, this oftentimes seems like a good reason to spend a significant amount of your budget on these unique experiences. And I won’t tell you not to do these things. When you’re visiting a new country you should absolutely do and see things that can only be found there. Just know how to draw a line and steer clear of doing too many of these things. Finally, be smart with your budget and don’t waste your time and money on things you can do at home.

Helpful resources for saving money when traveling

For saving on flights, use Air France’s Discover the World at a low price to save up to 45% on all bookings.

If you want to save on travel insurance deals, check out World Nomads.

When renting a car, use this Sixt coupon to save 15% on car rentals worldwide.

For accommodation, use my Booking discount code and get 15% off on all accommodation bookings wherever you go.

If you’re planning to go hiking, get some gear from Camelbak and save up to 20% on your first order.

Finally, if you’re looking to rent an RV for your next trip, get discounts on all RV rentals from Outdoorsy.

Were these tips helpful? What are your favorite tips on how to save money when traveling? Do you think I didn’t mention some tips that are worth mentioning? Let me know in the comments!

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37 thoughts on “How Not To Go Broke While Traveling Abroad?”

  1. I have been through these points in many blogs, but it is always very important to read through these every once in a while. I tend to end up eating in touristy places or book some really luxurious places at times, and realize that more could be done in the same amount. So I must thank you to bring this up and summarize all the points in one post. It makes it easy to keep a note on the very idea of saving money while traveling. I have just created a Whoof (independent) account, hope that will be helpful in some way.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Shreya- I’m really glad to hear you enjoyed this article and got some useful information from it.

      Reply
  2. These are great tips, and ones that I also use to budget for travel. Having just returned from a destination where the food was very expensive, I think your point about eating street food and/or investigating more local restaurants is important: Simply asking locals for recommendations can be very fruitful. This is why I usually try to stay in neighborhoods, e.g. in Rome, rather than closer to the main attractions (particularly if the public transportation system is good). Your tips are great reminders for everyone – thank you!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Merryn! I’m truly glad you could get some useful tips from this article and I hope some of them help you in your future travels.

      Reply
  3. These are some solid points. A san avid budget traveler I agree with everything you said these are great ways to save money and to earn a little cash while you’re abroad. WWOOF is literally such an amazing resource that more people should take advantage of

    Reply
  4. I totally agree with you on all these points. The point about bargaining for stuff is also applicable when visiting Africa where bargaining is common practice. I learnt that doing the things that locals do saves me a lot of money especially when it comes to the cost of meals. Thanks for this great round-up!

    Reply
    • Indeed, Lora. I haven’t visited many countries in Africa yet but from what I could see, it’s exactly the way you described it.

      Reply
  5. Travel credit cards helps me to ease my travel expenses. Also here in Asia, where many countries promotes using e-payment, I make sure that I have enough funds to use, so that I wont need to visit the currency exchange which gets me additional charges.
    And of course, I minimize impulsive SHOPPING!

    Reply
  6. Lots and lots of great pointers here. Always great to have a reminder on how to be more budgeted. I agree that walking and eating local street food are great ways to save pennies. Especially in places like Asia where it is pretty cheap! But when I was travelling through more expensive countries like Austalia and New Zealand, I always tried to find hostels which had communal kitchens where you could cook, as eating out is just way too expensive there.

    Reply
    • You’re absolutely right, Nikki. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts 🙂 I really appreciate it

      Reply
  7. Great tips! My Chase Sapphire preferred has been a total gamechanger with double travel points and no foreign transaction fees.

    Reply
  8. Oh another tip I learned is making friends to locals and stay with them for free. Many places in Asia also very glad to offer free hosting in exchange of good family photos, or story coverage for their small business.

    Reply
    • Absolutely, Blair. The more local friends you have, the more opportunities you have to save money when traveling to a new place 🙂

      Reply
  9. These are some great tips. I can swear by the separate travel account. It is so helpful to plan your trips. I am going to bookmark it. Its a handy post which is quite helpful. Loved it.

    Reply
  10. Thank you for this informative and helpful post Daniel, I find it rather easy to spend more than budgeted when I’m abroad but i will defiantly try out these tips on my next big adventure.

    Reply
  11. I absolutely love that you recommend not waiting until you are hungry to start looking for something to eat. I’ve done this way too many times and regretted it just about every time. I always end up walking around aimlessly and then eating somewhere lame. One of these days I’ll learn to plan ahead.

    Reply
    • Indeed, Eden. It might sound like a small thing but as you said, we oftentimes find ourselves regretting our choice simply because we wanted to get something to eat ASAP 🙂

      Reply
  12. You have made a great list and have mentioned some of the most helpful ways of saving money. Its very important to have a savings dedicated for travel. I always plan, dedicate a certain amount for extravagance and save rest for essentials. Reading and learning from others experiences is very helpful. It has saved me time and money, a couple of times. I prefer hotel apartments where one can cook and have your light meals than eat restaurant food every day.

    Reply
  13. Great details on how to travel budget friendly. Working while traveling and home exchange are unique ideas which I have not done before and one day, I would surely opt for it. Rest of the things I do most of the time, like walking, not eating at touristic places, carrying essentials, doing some free things. Btw, I loved your Auto rickshaw(tuk-tuk) photo which I think, you took in India.

    Reply
    • I’m really glad to hear you enjoyed this post and got some useful tips from it, Yukti. Thank you and yes, the photo was taken in India 🙂

      Reply
  14. I’m learning a lot from this blog post. Though, I haven’t travelled abroad that much, but still, this is such a great help for me. Doing what locals do is always what I do whenever I travel. Also, having a separate travel fund is something I should consider to practicing. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    Reply

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