Frugal tips for travelling

-Written by Cel

Who doesn’t love to travel? Most of us do, but as we all know, travelling can get very expensive, very quickly. We are definitely not masters at frugal travel – one look at our bloated $7600 travel budget for 2 vacations for two people can tell you that – but we have picked up some ideas and tips that can help to reduce expenses.

1. If you intend to use credit cards in a foreign country, make sure to get a credit card that does not charge a fee or commission for foreign currency transactions. Some credit cards will charge a couple percent, and maybe even a flat fee, on top of the normal exchange rate.

In Canada, I recommend the Amazon.ca Visa – it has 1% cash back (2% for Amazon.ca purchases), no annual fee, and no fees for foreign currency transactions.

2. Do not withdraw cash when travelling unless it is an absolute emergency, or if you are able to withdraw without paying a fee. To make this happen, bring a lot of cash from home and/or push as much spending to your no-fee credit card as possible.

3. Get accommodations with a kitchen. Some hotels or hostels will offer cooking facilities. This saves a ton of money compared to eating out. Don’t think of it as a chore – you get to experience local cuisine and try cooking with new, exotic ingredients.

4. Related to point 3, consider booking through Airbnb. These places can often be cheaper than a regular hotel (even when booking a private apartment), and usually have the amenities of a home like a kitchen, fridge, free internet, etc. If you are comfortable staying in a room in a shared apartment, then it will be significantly cheaper than a hotel.

5. Don’t rely on travel agents – you often will get gouged. Case in point – a travel agent once quoted us a price of $70 each for a train between Budapest to Vienna, which was a 2.5 hour trip. We were able to book a bus, that left on the same day at a more convenient time, for $15 each, and it was also a 2.5 hour trip! It wasn’t particularly difficult for us to do – we just bought the bus ticket on the Hungarian company’s website.

6. Be flexible about where you want to go and when. If your mindset is “I must go to Tokyo on the second week of September” – you will probably get gouged. If your mindset is “I want to go somewhere interesting in Western Europe sometime in the fall” – then you can book based on what is the best price, or what has good sales.

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2 Comments

  1. We travel to China about once a year or two, mostly around winter break or spring break since summer plane tickets are more expensive. But we would get more time with our family during the summer so do you guys have any experience how/where to find cheap summer plane flights without getting gouged?

    • My only advice would be try to be flexible on the dates. If it will be in the summer, it helps if there is a 1-2 month date range, to be able to take advantage of any sales that occur.

      Also, if you fly frequently, sign up for whatever frequent flyer program your airlines have – it will add up if you fly a couple times a year. It is a small amount compared to the cost of the ticket, but it’s better than nothing.

      Hope that helps a bit!

      -Cel

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