How to Save Money on Travel Budget By Nearly 15%

We are a generation of smart travellers. We plan. We travel light. We use apps instead of hiring travel agents to plan our vacation. We don’t buy a holiday package. We spend months reading blogs, surfing websites and doing research on Instagram to make an itinerary that suits our travel goals.

In addition to all this, you can use the following hacks on how to save money on your travel budget by nearly 15% , so you can take your next vacation sooner than you anticipate:

1. Get a new credit card and make use of the bonus points for travel

save money on travel budget

This is a clever trick. Seasoned travellers use it. There are 2 ways you can do this:

  1. Apply for a new credit card which offers bonus points on joining to new customers. Make use of these bonus points to book hotels, flight or rent a car. Getting either one of these would bring down your budget by 20%.
  2. Get a travel-specific credit card offered by hotel chains, credit card companies and banks. On becoming their member, you get great deals on travel or double or triple points on your purchases which can be redeemed for travel. There are also perks like lounge access, more checked-in baggage, early check-in and late check-out with such cards. Following are a few popular travel credit cards:
  • Amex Platinum Travel
  • Citi PremierMiles
  • SBI Air India Signature
  • HDFC Diners Club

Pick the one that suits your needs. Whether you opt for 1 or 2-make sure you pay attention to annual fees, interest rates and late payment charges to not negate the benefits of the bonus points on joining.

2. Use Airbnb, ditch hotels

hacks save money on travel budget

Hotels are not always fancy. There have been times I’ve booked a hotel using a travel portal in a remote location and when I reached there, few of the amenities were not available. The worst of all is when you think you’ve booked a room inclusive of breakfast and you don’t get it. It has happened to me twice.

The better and now a popular alternative for travel enthusiasts is Airbnb. Besides, it is at least 20% cheaper than an average hotel in a city, Airbnb offers the best cultural experience. AirBnB hosts are more accommodating and helpful than hotel staff, who are bound by hotel policies.

If you are staying for the long term, you can cook your meals, wash your clothes and use other services which hotels offer at a premium. A decent hotel, if booked at a short notice, in Gurugram would cost you INR 2,600. On the other hand, a top-rated Airbnb would cost you INR 1700.

That’s 26% less! Besides Airbnb often have an attached kitchen which lets you make your breakfast, snacks, tea etc. helping you save much more on eating out.

3. Buy snacks from grocery stores than from the stores near the attractions

save money on travel budget

Regular travellers always carry a backpack. Stuff your important documents, photography gear, charger, snacks and water bottle in it. Barring a few attractions which don’t allow backpacks because of security concerns, you can carry a backpack to almost all the places.

So pack your favourite snacks in it. A fruit or a simple and filling cheese sandwich is easy to pack. The day you arrive in a city, buy snacks like granola bars, fruits, basic veggies, chips, biscuits, chocolates from a grocery store than to pay an outrageous amount at the store near the attraction. If you have kids, packing snacks and fruits is a must.

4. Always carry a water bottle and refill

hacks to save money

It’s important to stay hydrated. Water bottle is one of the most important things to pack in your backpack while travelling. Don’t buy a packaged water bottle. They are expensive at touristy places and they put a burden on the planet. Do you know more than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day?

Looking purely from cost perspective, a water bottle which normally costs INR 20 can cost up to INR 60 at an attraction in India. While travelling abroad, say New York City, a water bottle can cost up to $6.

Save that money, carry a water bottle, refill it. Most attractions have a provision of drinking water, you can refill it there. Or you can refill it at the restaurant where you would have your lunch or dinner.

5. Take weekly or daily public transportation pass than a cab

save money on travel budget

This tip would be more useful if you are travelling internationally, especially in Europe. Europe has a robust public transport system which is faster, efficient and cheaper than cabs or car rentals.

These weekly or daily passes can be used on all types of public transport-buses and metros. For example, a 7-day pass for Rome costs Euros 24 for an adult which is half the price of a single cab ride from Rome International Airport to the city.

6. Use rideshare apps instead of taxis

Using rideshare apps can help you save up to 20% on a single ride. They are faster and safe. Uber Pool, Ola Share, BlaBlaCar, and SRide are among the top rideshare apps in India. Internationally, Uber, Lyft and Grab are the most preferred by travellers to save money.

The only drawback, if you consider it as one is that sometimes you have to walk a short distance to catch a rideshare cab. Rideshare cabs are not only better than taxis but renting a car.

7. Don’t waste money on all the tourist attractions, keep a mix of free and paid

Plan your trip to the T. In addition to researching to get the best hotel or flight deal, spend more time in making the itinerary. Read blogs and travel websites. Ask your friends who have been to those places. Ask for recommendations on Facebook. Make an itinerary that is a mix of free and paid attractions.

For example, while travelling to New York City, there are tons of free attractions-Times Square, Central Park and Walk on the Brooklyn Bridge. And if you want to see the city from its iconic skyscraper-choose between the Empire State Building and the World Trade Centre. Don’t do both.

Spend quality time at one place than merely running from one attraction to another just to cover all the popular spots. Make memories rather than ticking off all the places from your list.

8. Travel during the off-season to avoid the crowd and to save money

save money on travel budget

Off-season travel comes with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plus, it’s less crowded and cheaper. Go to New York City in the winter to enjoy the Christmas decorations and heavily discounted shopping. Go to Kerala in the monsoon to get the vibe of rains and backwaters.

Explore Chandigarh, Jaipur, Bangalore when they are less crowded. Don’t plan when schools are closed for summer, autumn or winter school breaks. Hotels are cheaper, streets are less crowded and you will experience the city in its true character.

Save money on your travel budget with these handy tips.

9.Use travel guide apps and not hire tour guides

Tour guides are expensive. Plus, in some countries, there is a minimum tip of 6% in addition to the service. With the entry ticket, this can eat up your budget. A better alternative, which you can use at your own pace without worrying about the hourly rate of your tour guide, is apps or audio guides.

The only requirement is to have a smartphone. Download the audio tour and pause, play and rewind at your own convenience. For travellers planning a trip to Europe, I strongly recommend Rick Steves’ app. Another popular app is PocketGuide.

Some attractions have detailed audio guides eg. Louvre Museum in Paris.

Use these smart tips while planning your next vacation to save money on travel budget by 15%. In addition to saving money, these ideas can help plan a relaxed, fun and memorable trip.

Do you have any more ideas to add to this list? Please share in comments below.