If you’re visiting a big city, hotels tend to be expensive the closer you stay to the city centre. Even the budget hotels might strain your budget. Consider staying in a suburb or the next small town over. Take a 15 to 20 minute bus or train ride into the city. Hotels and restaurants will be cheaper, and it may even be a cuter area to stay in.
Home swaps or AirBnB are a popular as a way to save while on holiday. They’re good for families or small groups travelling together to share the expense. But do your homework.
As an even more frugal alternative to a hotel, and if you’re young and adventurous, you might even want to give “couch surfing” a try. It’s a system where you register, then are referred to strangers who are willing to let you sleep on their couch. Sign up to host or be a couch surfer with an organization like Couch Surfing. They will connect you with others who are interested in letting you flop on their sofa.
Of course, you have to be willing to give up a little of your privacy when you house swap or couch surf, but you can save a lot of money and make new friends while you’re saving.
Consider booking a fly/drive bundle or hotels bundled with flights. You might be an independent traveller who likes to find your own accommodations, but you might find you can save a bundle by bundling.
If you want to go to a play or the opera, look for half-off, same day sales booths. Many cities, such as London and New York where everyone wants to see a play, have them and can save you a bunch. The only downside is you might not be able to see the latest plays, you may have to stand in a long line, and you might have to pay cash.
When you are renting a car, get the smallest car that you and your group can fit in. Car companies love to say they can “upgrade” you for only a little more but why do you want to pay more if you don’t need the space. Bigger cars take more gas and gas, especially if you are travelling in Europe (although the distances between sites are a lot shorter than in North America) is expensive. Big cars are also a lot harder to park and manoeuvre through those many narrow European streets.
Don’t get the “gas package” where you can return the rental car empty because you’ll never get it to empty and you’ll lose money on that half tank that’s left. Just fill it up near the airport and save money.
Think about your budget and the environment when you leave for your holiday. Your house can save you money if you unplug all those appliances that say in “ready mode” and suck electricity while you’re gone. Lower the hot water heater temperature to “vacation.” Make sure the heater or the air-conditioner is at money saving settings. The house doesn’t need to be heated or cooled as much while you’re gone.
All these little budget travel tips could add up to more travel time … so watch all those little things carefully.