Home » 7 Money Saving Tips To Follow During Your Vacation

7 Money Saving Tips To Follow During Your Vacation




Welcome back Fehmeen today, our occasional guest posting friend who mixes money-saving with humor over at her blog, Loans and Lifestyle.  Thanks, Fehmeen!

Vacations are exciting for the heart but depressing for the wallet. The truth is, there are hundreds of ways to splurge when on holiday, especially when visiting another country with a more valuable currency. Luckily, there are also lots of ways to keep your spending in control, and here are a few promising tips that you can follow once you’ve reached your dream destination.

1. When Shopping Till You Drop

While carrying a credit card on vacation makes good sense (to meet unexpected money requirements) it’s better to cover as many transactions as possible with cash. Since impulse buying is pretty common during this time, your expenses can quickly add up, and even though it’s easier to swipe the card, you often end up spending more than you would if you paid directly out of your wallet.

The same problem arises when your host country’s currency is more valuable than your home currency. Unless you convert prices to your local currency, you are likely to think everything is less expensive even if the reality is opposite. Another problem related to exchange rates is getting the best possible rate. Tourists end up losing a lot of money during the conversion process if they don’t hunt for the best deals at ATMs, exchange houses or banks.

2. When Talk-Talk-Talking Away

Cellphone companies are happiest when you carry their SIMs (mobile phone connections) to other countries because they get to charge the smithereens out of you. It’s usually best to buy a new connection in your host country because call and data charges will be significantly lower than those on your old package. Make full use of free messaging and chatting applications on smartphones. They have the potential to save you big bucks.

3. When Getting Around

A friend of mine recently travelled to London and had an unpleasant afternoon trying to find his way to another friend’s house. He was using the underground tube – a very well-developed and very complex system that takes some time getting used to if you’re visiting from anther continent.  Getting lost on public transport systems wastes time as well as lots of money in unnecessary tickets – let’s not forget the stress bonus. Before purchasing your tickets and boarding these trains, fully understand the route you’re taking, which connecting trains to take, which platforms to exit, and so on.

Unless, of course, you’re in the mood for exploring, then be my guest and enjoy getting lost. 🙂

4. Skip the Cab to Lower the Tab

If you’re in a country with a good railway infrastructure, using a taxi to get around should be your second choice. Taxis are always more expensive because they charge you for the convenience of taking your directly to your destination, as opposed to trains that make several stops along the way. Another friend of mine ended up paying $110 for a 45 minute taxi ride that would have cost no more than $10 had he taken the train – it was late at night and there were no alternatives, but it goes to show how important proper planning is when on holiday.

5. Regard the Travel Card

These smartcards are electronic tickets that let you travel on public transport systems for more than one journey so you can take advantage of bulk pricing discounts. These cards are more prominent in Europe, and features vary from country to country, but overall, travel cards are much cheaper compared to paying cash for individual tickets.

6. In the mood for food?

You may be surprised at how expensive it is to keep your stomach full when traveling. Visiting budget fast food corners at each meal time is unhealthy and taste-bud-unfriendly, but regularly going to restaurants can be very expensive. It’s best to cook your own food if you’re renting a holiday apartment. Purchase a few cans of processed food, some pita bread, rice, sausages, and basic spices, you’re good to go for a couple of meals.

If, however, you’re paying for a ‘Bed and Breakfast’, serve yourself a king’s morning meal and head out for the day. Many travel blogs say lunch menus are less expensive than dinner menus, so eat light at night. Or simply go out and enjoy some street food the country or city is famous for (with fingers crossed to prevent any dangerous bacteria from entering your stomach).

Lastly, if you’re staying at a hotel, avoid the minibar because they charge you double or triple the market price. On the other hand, nobody will kick you if sneak off to the market to purchase refill-items you already consumed from the minibar.

7. Show-off your student-status or credit card

Many tourist spots offer special discounts to students and senior citizens so be sure to carry the relevant identification when on vacation. Theme parks, national parks, museums, and galleries are just some of the places that skim a few dollars off the entry fee (if not waive the entire amount). Similarly, some credit card companies have discount arrangements with eateries, retailers, cinemas, and public parks, so go ahead and pay for the ticket with your card (but remember to repay the credit card bill before the month ends).

As mentioned earlier, these are frugal choices you can make after you reach your destination, but there are also lots of ways to save money before you begin travelling. If you still end up going over-budget, no need to fret. You did your best to curb wasteful spending and now deserve to relish the sweet memories of your vacation.

Fehmeen blogs at Loans and Lifestyle – a site with semi-amusing articles about moving away from debt and improving one’s lifestyle.


    • That’s right Charles. Many tourist spots have affordable food but its not the case in all countries. Where I live, tourist spots usually jack up their rates 300% just to take advantage of limited alternatives. Thanks for your comments! I checked out your blog – it’s a pretty impressive site with very different article topics.

  1. Abigail says:

    Another danger of using your card: As I understand it, your company will charge you a conversion rate on every purchase. If you have to take out and exchange more cash, at least you’re doing it in one fell swoop, without the jet lagged sticker shock.

    • That’s right Abigail. If you’re traveling to another country, you will be hit with exchange rate fees so it’s better to just convert your money in bulk from an ATM, exchange house or a bank (which offers the best deal). But no harm in using your credit card to get discounts when in the same country.

      I really like your blog and love the tiny logo of the lady actually picking up pennies! Thanks for stopping by to comment.

  2. Michelle says:

    Great tips! Even though I graduated a little bit ago, I still carry around my student ID card. It saves me money sometimes so I just always carry it around.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Michelle. And go ahead and maximize the discounts you get out of your card. Another commenter mentioned he still uses his card two years after graduation 🙂

      Btw, you have a great blog – Making Sense of Cents.

  3. I always look where locals eat when visiting a new place – not only that those places are usually a lot cheaper than the front row restaurants, but they also have the local flavor that I’m looking for. We also set a budget for the maximum amount that we’re willing to spend and have it in cash. We only convert half of it in local currency just to see how much it lasts (and this strategy worked great for us as we always end up spending less because for some reason we only consider as money to spend those in the local currency).

    • Thanks for sharing 2 great tips, C. the Romanian! I have a bucket list item of visiting different countries and trying out their best street food. I just love the idea of trying out different flavors without denting the wallet. And I really like the idea of budgeting 50-50 the way you mentioned. It must really help curb wasteful spending.

  4. Michelle @fitnpoor says:

    One of the best travel lessons I learned was that there were SO many under 26 and college student discounts out there. I really wish I had known that on our first couple days of our honeymoon or when I was actually a college student backpacking Europe!

    • Hello Michelle. Knowing what the best deals and where to find them is usally a result of experience or some heavy-duty web surfing. You mentioned you were honeymooning during your trip so I assume the wedding planning took up almost all of your time, so you may not have had time time to check the internet. On the plus side, your next trip will be much easier on the wallet – provided you take it before turning 26 🙂

  5. The Warrior says:

    Quick tip:

    In 2006, I traveled through London, Rome, Florence, Paris, and Dublin over two weeks. In my backpack, I had a bag designated for each city. In that bag it had a map and the exact dollar amount I could use that day in that city. I had a bag for each day. Every morning, I would wake, grab that bag out and have a blast. If there was money leftover at the end of the day, I’d roll it over to the next day. I was able to travel to these beautiful cities and come home without any new debt.

    That’s the best travel financial tip I can share.

    Happy travels everyone!

    The Warrior

    • This is a great tip! It not only helps you stay organized when visiting some many countries for a short time, but also save money because you set mini-budgets for each day. I would certainly like to know more about how you set your country-wise budget.

    • True, Holly. Money is often the last thing on your mind when out for a much needed break, which explains why it’s so easy to spend more than you planned. Btw, I’ve been following Club Thrifty for a while – great blog! And thanks for the compliment.

  6. These are really good tips, especially for an amateur like me! I haven’t traveled much and I know there are a lot of things to consider when trying to keep costs down, so I appreciate you shedding some light on these things.

  7. Matt Becker says:

    On our recent trip to Costa Rica we temporarily upgraded my wife’s cell phone plan to include unlimited international calling. We pre-set the start and cancellation dates with Verizon so there was no extra hassle, and the prorated cost of the service was about $9 for the week we were gone. That was a pretty simple and cheap way to handle that need.

  8. These are all good tips, especially with the transportation and food. We like to try and find what the locals like to get something more genuine. We actually prefer to use a credit card mainly, as we’d rather not be walking around with a bunch of cash. If you have a card that doesn’t charge you foreign transaction fees then you should be just fine.

    • Thanks for the compliment, John. I agree that following the local’s favorite eating spot it a great idea because you get the best flavor for the most reasonable price. And you’re right, carrying lots of cash can be risky (perhaps it’s better to keep it in your account and convert the money in small bundles every couple of days) and you’re lucky your credit card doesn’t charge extra on forex transactions – many credit card companies around here do charge an extra fee.

  9. I use my grad school ID to get into the Museum of Modern Art for free even though I graduated!

    If you have a no-transaction fee credit card, it can be smart to use for larger purchases, like hotel/hostel costs.

    As someone who lives in an urban area, I’m used to walking a lot but many people aren’t. Take it easy walking on vacation and don’t rush things and enjoy the views. 🙂

  10. I’m traveling for a couple weeks starting this Saturday, so this is a great & timely post. I’m definitely trying to use cash more (got a 10% discount at one hotel for our entire stay if we paid cash) but will be hiding it in various parts of my body and luggage to spread out the risk. 🙂

    • It makes me all happy inside to know these tips will help you – that was the basic idea behind posting here on The Frugal Farmer 🙂 And it made me laugh to read about your ‘cash security’ strategy. I hope it works out for you!

      I read your article about the possibility of traveling to Peru. If that’s your destination, hope you have a great time!

  11. Great tips! “On the other hand, nobody will kick you if sneak off to the market to purchase refill-items you already consumed from the minibar.” – that is a funny and something I never considered! Wouldn’t it be easier to stock-up on booze and snacks and never have to open the minibar in the first place? The practical alcoholic in me I suppose.

    • Lol. Now that’s an even better idea 🙂 We usually do that (buy minibar items beforehand) but this tip was more for people who end up emptying the fridge before realizing how expensive the stuff is. It’s not too late to fix it.

  12. We try to never pay for cabs or checked luggage. It can be a bit of a hassle at times, but we’ve found some pretty cool things and adventures from walking, especially in Rome and Venice (well that would have been a water taxi, but you get the point).

  13. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

    This is great advice! I still have my student ID in my wallet, even though I graduated 2 and a half years ago. I can’t use it around the town the college is in – they know it’s too old! – but farther away I can be sneaky and get away with it.

  14. Travel light – it will save you money (no checking bag fees, easier to navigate public transportation so you don’t have to take cabs, etc), and more importantly it will save your back!

  15. lyle @ the Joy of Simple says:

    Hey Fehmeen and thanks for the enjoyable and insightful read 🙂

    I don’t usually travel, preferring my vacations to be spent at home, but I found that most of your tips could be applied nicely to staycations as well!

    Thanks again and take care. All the best.


    • Thanks for commenting. A lot of people complain of exorbitant phone bills charged for roaming services. A friend of mine who traveled abroad recently told me a simple outgoing SMS costs 10 times the usual price. It’s shocking, really.

  16. Agreed with all things convenience, many times the taxis will take you for a longer ride than needed if you don’t speak the language, restaurants will be expensive if you don’t know places locals eat at, etc. a little research can save you a lot.

  17. Excellent tips! If I were to sum it up I’d say be more of a traveler than a tourist, eat where the locals are eating, if you can shop where they do – more often than not they know best and you get to enjoy the experience, immerse yourself in another culture all the while keeping a huge chunk of your precious money.

    • That’s very well put, Simon. I always marvel at the travelers on Nat Geo for knowing exactly where to go to get a proper feel of the country. They hardly visit tourist spots, are willing to go deep into the city to try new things, and leave the country with nothing but find memories.

  18. It is so easy to blow a lot of money at this time of year Laurie. Food and travelling costs are my big expenses during the holidays and I really need to keep an eye on them. Thanks for the tips.

  19. All great tips. I would not recommend carrying cash though on vacation. At least not a lot of cash.The reason for this is that you will have to get your money exchanged. While many countries offer great services for doing this at good rates, there are others who do not and it is very easy to get ripped off. I would personally recommend getting a credit card that offers a no foreign transaction fee. You’ll still have to pay the exchange rates when you take out money, but you know you aren’t getting ripped off. Also if your credit card gets stolen, you can call the company and have some form of recourse. With cash, not a chance.

  20. Thanks for the advice, Alex. I agree, carrying a lot of cash can be dangerous and it’s best to do a bit of market survey to determine which place to get the best exchange rate. In some countries, its banks, in others it ATMs and exchange houses…And I agree, a credit card should always be with you when traveling to meet any money-related emergencies.

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