Ten ways to save money while travelling

Find out how to see and do more for less

Felicity Hannah - Virgin Money Living Mentor

by Felicity Hannah | Independent Money Mentor

Award-winning personal finance and consumer affairs journalist

Even if you’re travelling on a budget, seeing the world can involve spending an awful lot of money. To help you along the way, we’ve asked some of the UK’s best-travelled bloggers for their top tips. From bargain travel to cheap eats, here’s what you need to know before heading off on an adventure.

Take the right card

Some credit and debit cards charge fees every time they are used overseas. Becky from the blog Becky the Traveller recommends making sure you sign-up for the right card. “Take a credit or debit card that doesn't charge a fee every time you use it abroad,” she says. “They do exist!”

Eat local

When everything around you is unfamiliar, it can be easy to look for the recognisable brands and eat in McDonalds or Pizza Hut. However, Sascha of the Feathers and Butterflies travel blog, says eating local is much more rewarding. 

“My tip is to eat local food – whether it be at street food stalls or in restaurants, local dishes are usually much cheaper. The bonus is you get to experience the culture whilst filling your stomach.”

Plan for discounts

Many museums and attractions have special low-cost days and Julianna Barnaby, the blogger behind travel blog The Discoveries of, says that researching these can result in serious savings. 

“My tip is to find out if the sights or attractions you want to visit have free or discounted days – for example if a museum is free on the first Sunday of the month – and try and plan your days to take advantage of that as much as possible. You'll be surprised how much you can save.”

Pay in local currency

When you pay for items with a credit or debit card, you may be offered the chance to pay in pounds or the local currency. It can be really tempting to choose pounds so that you understand what you’re paying. 

However, Kavita Favelle from the blog kaveyeats.com says that’s a really bad idea. “If you are offered the bill in your home currency, request that the vendor charge you in their local currency instead,” she says. 

“Known as Dynamic Currency Conversion, the process of charging in your home currency allows merchants to charge a mark-up on the currency exchange rate they use, pretty much always resulting in a much poorer deal for you. It’s best to pay in the local currency and let your bank apply the currency conversion at their end.”

Hit the shops

Jenni Sheldon, the writer of the Travel to Recovery blog, says that some forward planning can save a fortune. 

“I buy food from supermarkets rather than eating out all the time. I take zip lock bags and a spork and can eat like a queen for a fraction of the cost.”

Use the web before you go

“My tip is that if you know what sites you want to visit before you leave, download audio guides,” recommends ‘BeckyBecky’ of the website BeckyBeckyBlogs

“You save money over hiring audio guides or buying guidebooks at the attractions, plus your companions will be pretty impressed by your knowledge.”

Go for a walk

In a new city or location it’s tempting to rely on taxis or subways. And that can be an adventure in itself, a great way to meet and talk to locals. However, it’s not necessarily the cheapest or best way to discover a new place. 

Alison, who writes for Up&AtEm Travel, says a walk costs less and can be much more rewarding. 

“Walking can be the best way to travel in, and really get to know, a city. Determine which attractions to visit, or simply pick a neighbourhood, and stroll along a route that lets you get up close and personal with the destination.”

Only take what you need

Leanne, a Scot living in London and the writer of Broke in the Big Smoke, says that seriously cutting back on your luggage saves money and, best of all, time. 

“If the trip is to be a brief one, fly hand luggage only,” she recommends. “Not only will you save money on the flight but time at the airport as you can skip waiting in line to check in your suitcase.”

Travel out of season

The height of summer is when many people choose to travel so if you can avoid choosing the most popular time then you can save a lot of money or simply have more to spend on adventures. 

“Prices are at their highest, everything is booked up, the cities are uncomfortably crowded and all of the locals are on holiday,” recommends Kashyap, from the blog Budget Traveller

“Travel off-season instead for a more local experience. In winter, hotels can be discounted by up to 40% so you can get a great deal.”

Slow. Down.

“Instead of racing from one end of a country to another, or tearing through six countries in six weeks, get to know a region well,” says Craig from the blog Ytravel. 

“Undertaking too many flights, bus trips, train journeys and driving long distances can really eat into your budget. So slow down, take more in, and discover all the cool free stuff.” 

Now that sounds like a good way to have an adventure on a budget. 

Fancy an actual adventure holiday? Check out the ten best adventure holidays

Before making financial decisions always do research, or talk to a financial adviser. Views are those of our mentors and customers and do not constitute financial advice.