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Travel is meant to be the only thing you buy that makes you richer. But let’s face it, when it comes to the reality of your post-holiday bank balance, it rarely feels that way.
However, travel doesn’t have to cost the earth. Keep reading for our top money-saving travel tips.
1. Travel out of season
If you aren’t tied to school holidays, travelling out of peak season can save you a considerable amount of money. You’ll also avoid the crowds: double win. If you can be flexible with dates, sites like Google flights and Skyscanner let you compare flight prices across the year, so you can find the cheapest option.
2. Go off the beaten track
Generally, the more popular a destination, the more it’ll cost you to go there. Avoiding mainstream tourist spots can help you get more for your money, while exposing you to exciting new sights and cultures.
Have a read of our guide to Europe’s hidden gems for some inspiration.
3. Go self-catered
Booking an apartment through Airbnb or an equivalent tends to be a much cheaper option than staying in a hotel, particularly if there’s a big group of you. You’ll also save cash on meals.
4. Sort your travel money in advance
Taking the time to research your options and planning ahead pays off when it comes to travel money. You’ll get a much better rate if you order your currency online via home delivery, click & collect or a prepaid card than you will last minute at the airport or at an ATM abroad.
5. A reusable bottle
Save cash (and the planet) by bringing along a reusable water bottle. You should be able to find water fountains in public spaces across most cities, saving you the unnecessary cost of plastic bottles.
6. Plane snacks
You can’t bring liquids through airport security, but you can carry food. Airport food tends to be hugely expensive, so be savvy and pack snacks for your journey.
7. DIY mini toiletries
Instead of forking out on overpriced mini toiletries or buying a big bottle of sun-cream when you get to your destination, invest in small refillable bottles that you can take with you whenever you travel.
8. Make use of public transport
You wouldn’t splash out on taxis for every journey in your home city – so why do it when you’re away? Most cities have excellent public transport systems and more are introducing great public bike rental schemes. Even better, if your journey is walkable, try travelling by foot: walking is a great way to explore a city while saving cash.
8. Always pay in local currency
When given the option, always pay in the local currency rather than Pound Sterling on card machines abroad. This save you paying a conversion fee.
9. Set yourself a budget (and stick to it)
It’s all too easy to slip into the ‘treat yourself’ mentality when you’re on holiday, but if money is tight, it’s worth setting yourself a budget for how much you want to spend. This could mean only bringing a certain amount of cash out with you each day, or travelling with a prepaid card, which you can top up with however much you’d like to spend and easily track your budget.
10. Explore beyond the tourist spots
Generally, the closer you are to a major tourist attraction, the more everything will cost. Adventure outside a city centre, and you’ll find much cheaper (and probably more authentic) restaurants and bars. Similarly, if you explore towns and cities beyond a country’s capital, you’ll get much better value for money.
11. Connect to free wifi
Avoid expensive roaming fees by making use of the free wifi in cafes, libraries and public places across most cities.
12. Visit museums for free
Lots of museums and galleries don’t charge for entry, and those that do often offer a free day each month or discounted hours at certain times in the week. It’s always worth doing your research and investigating the cheapest times to go.