20 Ways to Stretch Your Travel Money

Evelyn Hannon from Journeywoman.com asked readers from 100 countries for their top tips for saving money on the road. In this blog post for HostelBookers she shared her top 20…

1. Use Craig’s List

On a recent three week visit to Tucson, I accessed Craig’s List – Tucson and found an 18-speed Schwinn bicycle for sale for $25.00 After test-riding the bike I bought it and happily cycled around Tucson during my visit. It would have cost $20/day for a bike rental while the transit system is not very comprehensive in Tucson. I got lots of exercise and enjoyed being under my own power.

2. Carry an ID that gives you a discount

If you’re a student, a government employee, a senior (CAA/AAA) or in the military, bring membership ID to prove it. Many places offer discounts for museums, amusements, shopping and accommodation.

3. Don’t exchange foreign currency you haven’t spent

You lose something every time you buy or sell foreign currency. Didn’t spend all your money? Unless it’s thousands of dollars hold on to it for the next time you travel.

4. Share costs if you can

When I travel with my sister we have found that ordering one entree to share along with a salad and appetizer is usually more than enough at most restaurants. When we feel extra hungry we get recommendations for a nearby Indian restaurant. Most offer a buffet style meal at very reasonable prices.


SERVAS is an international network of hosts and travelers building peace by providing opportunities for personal contact between people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. Through Servas, travellers have opportunities to meet hosts, their families and friends, and join in their everyday life. Where convenient, hosts may offer two nights (or more) accommodation and invite travellers to share a meal.

6. Fly mid-week

More people fly on weekends. These travellers also often try to make it a long weekend so Mondays and Thursdays are busy, too. If your schedule allows it fly Tuesday and Wednesday for the best fares. That’s what I do.

7. Don’t buy books

Some hostels have a ‘leave one/take one’ library. I have read some great books this way. See if you can sell or trade the books you brought with you for credit towards new or used books along the way.

8. Find out museums’ free days

Do your research. Some museums are free all the time, some the last hour of the day and others on certain evenings. As entrance fees can be quite high in some countries, I like to make use of these museum ‘free days.’ I find out about them on the internet and by picking up free tourist information at local tourism booths.

9. Join Women Welcome Women

This organization fosters international friendship by enabling women of different countries to visit each other. Members of Women Welcome Women are of all ages and backgrounds and come from many parts of the world. Any woman may become a member, regardless of nationality, religion, home circumstances, etc.

10. Don’t shop on main street

The people who run these shops pay more rent to be in the centre of all the action. So it makes sense that they will have to charge you more for their wares. Take a little stroll down some of the side streets or wander into the neighbourhoods. Or, wait until you take a side trip into the country. This is where you’ll get much better value. I still have two fabulous Italian pottery plates that I bought for a pittance in a little grocery store in Positano, Italy.

11. Find outlets and thrift shops

Check out secondhand clothing shops at your destination. I found Scandinavia especially good for this. What may look like old or out-of-fashion in one country, will look cool, retro, cosy and quaint back home. Plus if you are travelling from country to country, you can always recycle such inexpensive clothes without feeling guilty.

12. Good restaurants are cheap at lunchtime

When I do go out for a nice meal, I go for lunch when the menus are much less expensive. Also I’m not the only woman sitting alone. There are many businesswomen enjoying a meal by themselves at that time, too.

13. Swap evening theatre for matinees

Especially if you are a solo traveller who chooses not to stay out too late in the evening, going to a matinee or preview performance in place of a regular evening one is a perfect solution. It suits your needs and you save money doing it.

14. Turn tote bags into gifts

All supermarkets are now working hard to be eco-friendly. They’re also trying to create reusable and stylish shopping bags for a very low price. For a dollar or two you can buy one for every one of the girlfriends who can’t wait for you to come home and relate all your travel adventures. Guaranteed they’ll be showing them off the next time they go shopping.

15. Shun English menus

In non-English speaking countries be aware that if the restaurant menu is also in English, it’s probably a tourist spot and you will generally pay more.

16. Drink what locals drink

While on the road don’t insist on ordering the same alcoholic drinks you are used to at home. Doing that will generally cost you a fortune. Instead try something new and drink the less expensive beers and wines of the regions you’re visiting. That said, drink less wine and more water. It’s better for you.

17. Get wise to local buses

Do your research ahead of time to know what your transportation options are. For example, either bus #350 or #351 from Charles de Gaulle Airport into Paris connects to the Metro. It’s a little longer than a taxi but much cheaper. Cost is three metro tickets or €4.80. The bus terminal is next to the train terminal.

18. Find free water

Keeping hydrated while flying is important. Buying water in airports is expensive and during the flight attendants aren’t always available when you’re thirsty. My solution is to take an empty water bottle with me through security and then fill it at the drinking fountain on the other side. When travelling abroad, I go to a local grocery store and buy a large jug of water from which I keep refilling my small water bottle.

19. Eat at a university campus

Whether you’re 18 or 80, pay a visit to the local colleges or universities. They usually have a cafeteria that serves both students and staff. Alternatively, look for eats close to universities and pop into any crowded place. The food will probably be cheap, fresh and good.

20. Cook at hostels

Tuna casserole is a cinch to make, the ingredients are inexpensive and the finished product can be shared with new travel friends. You’ll not only save money you’ll be the star of the hostel.

Tell us your money-saving tips in the comments…

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