How to Travel Frugally

There was a time when travel was a luxury reserved for the rich, but times have changed. It is now possible to see the world without breaking the bank. Allow frugality to shape your travel plans next time. Here are some tips for doing so.

Select your destination carefully

From a frugality standpoint, itís always sensible to visit a place in its off-season Ė and yours, too, i.e. not when everyone else is taking a holiday. Costs for flights and accommodations will be lower, a small price to pay for less-than-perfect weather.

You could also choose to stay local, within your area, province/state, or country. There’s much to be seen in one’s own backyard.

Shop around for flights

Check all neighboring airports, both close to your house and around your destination. Sometimes smaller airports have cheaper flights. Consider connecting flights, which can really bring down the price. (Nobody likes connections!)

Search sites like Expedia and Kayak for the best prices. Keep looking if you donít like what you see. This process can take days of relentless hunting. Change up your date combinations and avoid weekends, which tend to be more expensive. The optimal prices happen around the 8-week range prior to departure.

Avoid paying for upgrades. The cost for an extra few inches of space isnít really worth it.

Look at alternative transportation

See if you can avoid airplanes, which is better for the environment. Search for train, bus, and ferry schedules. Though it will take longer to get somewhere, you could save money on accommodation and see more of the landscape. One fun site to look at is†Rome 2 Rio, which has lots of ideas for alternative ways of getting places.

Once you arrive, figure out how best to get around. Can you rent a bicycle or buy a public transit pass? Car rentals tend to be very expensive, plus gas and insurance.

Consider accommodations

Hotels cost far too much to use on a regular basis, but if you must use one, search with a site like Hotwire for the best deal. Ask local contacts, if you have them, for hotel suggestions. I did this in Jerusalem recently, and ended up at a delightful, quaint hostel owned by a Palestinian family that was very appreciative of the reference.

My approach is always to try to stay as long as possible in one place. That way, you can rent an apartment or house through a website like Airbnb or Trip Advisor. This will likely give you a place to prepare food, which is a huge money saver.

Look into house-swapping sites, like†Home Exchange, especially if youíre traveling as a family for a longer period of time. Ask any friends who might know people in the country youíre visiting. Does anyone have a space you can rent? Use those personal contacts to your advantage.

Have you thought about camping? This is by far the cheapest way to sleep far from home, although you will have to travel with some extra luggage. Take a tent and sleeping bag. Visit†Campsited†for great resources on camping throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland.

Read the fine print

This may sound redundant, but some airline websites are very confusing, which can result in high costs. I once got burned on a RyanAir flight when I didnít realize I had to state my carry-on bags when checking in ahead of time. I assumed Iíd sort it out at the airport. What ensued was a massive 90 Euro fine per bag. I had three bags. Needless to say, I learned my lesson. The budget airline ended up costing me more than an Air Italia flight would have, with more generous baggage allowances.

Travel with food

Take as much food as you can. Make sure youíre covered for snacks and drinks until you arrive at your destination. You do not want to buy food in the airport, where the markup is exorbitant. Whenever I travel with my husband, he takes dozens of pre-assembled bags with dried meat, berries, and nuts for snacking so that he wonít need to buy food every time hunger hits in a foreign country. Itís a smart strategy.

Buy a water filter

Get a small portable water filter and take a good-sized water bottle. This will free you from having to purchase disposable plastic water bottles on the go; itís better for the environment and your wallet.

Buy good shoes

Select your traveling shoes carefully. They must be comfortable, practical, and compatible with various outfits. This is key, because if your shoes hurt or you donít like them, walking great distances will be problematic and youíll be more inclined to waste money on expensive cab fares.

Buy a luggage scale

A luggage scale is not expensive and it can save you tons of money on overweight luggage fees, especially if youíre not a traveling minimalist.

Be prepared to eat simply

You donít have to eat at fancy restaurants in order to get a feel for a countryís cuisine. Go to a market or grocery store. Stick with basic ingredients and assemble those for outdoor meals. Keep restaurant meals to an absolute minimum — perhaps a special event to mark the end of your trip.

Learn to play the currency game

Know ahead of time what the going rates for various things are, i.e. basic groceries, taxi fares, tipping, etc. Shop around for the best exchange rates. This could be an ATM machine, an exchange bureau, or your home bank prior to travel. When you find a good rate, withdraw plenty of cash so you don’t have to pay the fees again for a while. Just be sure to store it wisely, divided up in your luggage and on your body.

Written by Katherine Martinko. This post originally appeared on TreeHugger.

Photo Credit: Arnold Lee/Unsplash


Jim Ven
Jim Ven10 months ago


Jerome S
Jerome S10 months ago

thanks for sharing.

heather g
heather g10 months ago

I think the prices have increased, not gone down recently.

Virginia Miller
Virginia Miller10 months ago

Thanks for the info.

Margie FOURIE10 months ago

Thank you for the information

Ron B
Ron B10 months ago

I'm so old I remember when you could get a decent motel room for $8 and a deluxe one for $10. Wow, are those days ever long gone, frugal or not.

Roslyn M
Roslyn McBride10 months ago

I travelled all over the world in the 70's on $5 a day, it only takes a little thinking out, & working here & there, + living super-cheaply, to be able to do it without being rich at all.

Kathy K
Kathy K10 months ago


william Miller
william Miller10 months ago


Telica R
Telica R10 months ago

Thanks for sharing