It is no surprise that some people are more thrifty than others, they are somehow very resourceful and able to save money to fund their travels. I’m not as thrifty as I would like to be but I’ve always gotten questions on how did I save money to start traveling when I was in college. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years that could help anyone who really wants to travel.
Disclaimer: These tips are derived from my own personal experience and of others who have given me tips. It is only to serve as a guide for those who are interested. It is in no way to suggest that they are the one only ways to help you save money for your travels and I was not paid to mention these corporations and brands in any way. After all, everyone have different commitments in their lives.
Sell Unused Items
I had so much stuff when I used to work in retail, the temptation to shop everyday were so strong I usually ended up spending my monthly salaries on clothes and shoes. I’ve accumulated so much, that it was spilling out of my closet. There were things still with their price tags and I don’t see myself wearing them ever. I had to sell my old clothes, unused cosmetics online to people who would actually need them more than I ever did. Sure, you might not make as much as the price you bought them for but getting 50-70% than nothing is still better than letting clothes rot or cosmetics expire. I’m aware that it’s not much to fund the entire travel but I usually save the money for my daily spending (food, commute) while traveling.
Useful apps such Carousell, Craiglist, thredUP and websites such as eBay and Facebook (yes your own Facebook account) have been created to make reselling much easier so do take advantage of the thriving world of social media.
Take up Freelance Jobs
This is a no-brainer but one might ask – what jobs can I do to make money? Apart from your day jobs, moonlighting might be a viable option to make the extra cash. There are plenty of freelance jobs available in the market. I once worked as a sales promoter that paid MYR200 a day for three days and made close to MYR700 after commission. That paid for my week-long trip to Perhentian Island. I have friends who are taking up copywriting jobs for small businesses & restaurants, doing graphic designing gigs for wedding cards and so on. It helps if you are crafty, but if you’re not, maybe you could try speaking to your employer about doing overtime for extra cash.
Being young and living in the city, there’s always immense peer pressure to go out and about but if you have a nice home it’s always better to bring the parties indoors. You save money from parking, fuel, toll and even paying exorbitant amount on food and drinks you can easily substitute at home. Save the ‘going out and about’ until you’re in a different city, country and explore! We usually skip on the daily cafe coffee that some of our friends spend on and trust me, RM8 a day can accumulate and it could be your traveling money.
Reduce Monthly Bills
You don’t actually need to subscribe to your expensive local entertainment provider. There’s plenty of websites online that allows you to watch shows for a very minimal fee (sometimes only when you need it). If you’re surviving mostly on internet tv, you should check if your smart tv supports apps like Youtube, Vimeo and so on (it’s free, of course). At least while you’re traveling, you don’t need to pay these monthly bills too.
Track your phone bills, check out the latest offers of call packages with data. I made a mistake of leaving my phone plan to the ancient one I signed up years back and it was racking up like mad. I decided to change it recently and merged to a family plan with my partner’s line. It has helped so much to reduce my monthly bills.
This is something I have yet to try as our points system in Malaysia are not as rewarding as it is in more developed countries but plenty of travel bloggers are using this system to allow themselves to travel all year round. Check out these articles to find out more on airline miles hacks:
- Beginner’s Guide to Free Flights
- Frequent Flyer Master project
- VICE: Travel Hacker Explains How To Travel Around The World For Free
Skyscanner Random Destinations
This is something that my younger sister taught me. Since she is living in United Kingdom, she have been using the Skyscanner app to find out destinations that she could get to for cheap! Instead of using it to search for flights and comparing rates, she just simpy uses it for a random search to find out cheapest flights out of her nearest airport so I decided to try it out (p.s: This only works if you’re willing to go to non-specific destinations):
Student and Teacher I.D
If you’re a student (or teacher), do register for the international student I.D from ISIC before you go traveling (NOT the ones given to you from your university). The ISIC card is the student/teachers card that is recognised all over the world and allows you to claim for special discounts i.e park entrances, hostel stays and so on. Take advantage of their app to find out discounts near you and get special rates on certain tours and flights.
P.S: There are special discounts in certain stores like Topshop etc if you flash this student I.D too.
Membership Programs and Ticketing Programs
Some hostels have membership programs that gives you discounts if you sign up as a member and stay in their chains of hostels like Hostelling International while others like Booking.com gives you a different rate once you start signing up and make bookings through their site over time. There are also sites online in most countries set up by their tourism boards to assist travellers and tourists such as the Holland Pass, City Pass (America), iVenture (multi-cities) and more that allows you to buy tickets for attractions in bulk which is cheaper than buying them at the entrance.
Walk (A Lot!)
Forget Uber, forget Lyft and other transportation methods (unless needed) cause it will cost you money. The best way to keep your cost to a minimum and to keep fit is to walk everywhere. Of course this does not apply in every destination but we try to walk as much as we could whenever possible. In Amsterdam, we skipped the trams and even the bicycles so we walked everywhere. This way, we save money and we get to go through small alleys and explore better at our own pace. Just remember to wear comfortable shoes, and try to record your steps if you have the appropriate gadgets. It’s quite fun to see the step counts everyday compared to if you’re at home.
Live Like a Local
As a local, you’d be more frugal when it comes to spending unlike when you’re on a holiday but who says you can’t live like a local and enjoy like a traveler. Find local joints from forums, blogs and browsing through Instagram geotags – they’d be more economical and budget friendly. Set a realistic budget per day, enough for meals and commuting while scouring the city for free or discounted attractions and shows. When traveling on a budget, buying food off local farmer’s markets, local vendors in housing areas tend to be cheaper than those near an attraction or main city areas.
Check Hostel Notice Board
Hostel notice boards are really, really helpful when you want to explore a destination whilst on a budget. You may find people who are looking for other travelers to chip in for a ride, and even excursions to explore the city by hostel volunteers for free or a small fee. This is one of the best ways to make new friends if you’re traveling alone as well as helping you save some money than going with tour operators.
In some cities such as New York, museums and attractions have off-days which means anyone gets to go in without paying exorbitant entrance fees. Do note that you would have to swim through a sea of people, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. It’s great if you’re just dropping by for a quick look so you get to spend the money on something you’d be more interested in. There are always free entrance evenings or community tours/ classes so do check with the establishments you’re heading to.
Buy Food After 9 p.m
In most markets or stores, fresh food has to go before closing hours or it’ll be trash. Take advantage of these marked down prices to get food for breakfast, snacks and to cook meals. They’re usually still good for consumption, so you could save some money on top of cooking your own meals. Breads, sushi and other perishable goods are always discounted just before the store closes. Some supermarkets even have 1-day old or marked down items that you could use during your trip as it is close to expiry and it’s a great option when you’re looking for quick meals and snacks while traveling.
This does not work everywhere but there’s a chance that you’d be able to get free accommodation while traveling in hostels or bed and breakfasts by offering labour skills. Some travelers save money by working for a few hours as cleaners at the premise in exchange for a free stay. You could also house-sit if you’re planning to travel long-term and take care of a house and their pets while the owners are away via websites such as Nomador and Mind My House.
Hopefully some of these suggestions would work for you as some of them worked for me. There are more ways to save money to travel other than these, of course. If you have any other suggestions, leave them in the comment box below. All the best!