10 Ways To Be A Thrifty Traveler
1. Take Public Transportation
Public transportation can be confusing, especially in a foreign country, but it can also be a great way to save money. One of the best ways to be a Thrifty Traveler is to take public transportation from the airport. Do a quick Google search before boarding to get an idea of how much your ride should cost and how to pay. Google Maps typically has subway/tram/bus schedules built in under the public transportation option.
Local taxi cabs are almost always more expensive than Uber. You are also less likely to get ripped off with Uber because you aren’t paying cash, and you can view the recommended route on your phone while you ride. If you don’t have Uber yet use my link for $15 off your first ride!
Thrifty Tip #1: Uber won’t allow you to get picked-up at the airport in many cities, or they will force you to take a more expensive Uber black car. To get around this drop your pickup pin slightly outside of of the airport. Then request a pickup. Once they accept your request, call or text through the app and let them know you are at the airport. This little tip works and will save you a lot of cash over a taxi!
3. Google Flights
Google Flights is the quickest and easiest way to search multiple dates using their calendar view. It’s also not evil like some other flight search engines which track how many times you’ve been to the site and ratchet up prices. Before booking a flight I always search Kayak as well. You can sometimes find cheaper flights on Kayak once you’ve narrowed down dates with Google Flights.
Check out our article on how to book the cheapest flight possible to learn more ways to save on your next flight.
We here at Thrifty Traveler love Airbnb, and we consider it a much cheaper and more interesting alternative to hotels. The best thing about Airbnb is you can book anywhere in the world, such as my last trip to Cuba. If you haven’t given Airbnb a try yet, you should sign-up and you’ll receive $40 off your first booking with our link.
5. Be Flexible With Travel Dates
If you want to save the most money when booking a flight, your best bet is to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Those days generally have the lowest airfare. It’s no surprise that a majority of the flight deals posted here at Thrifty Traveler are on those dates.
Mrs. TT and I use SeatGuru before every flight to ensure we pick the best seat on our next flight. SeatGuru is a website that features aircraft seat maps, seat reviews, and a color-coded system to identify which are the best seats on each aircraft. Never get stuck in a seat without a window or next to the restroom again!
7. Planes, Trains, or Automobiles?
If you are traveling in Europe, we recommend booking trains through Rail Europe and cars through Europcar. In the US, Hotwire is a great option for cars, but search Kayak before booking to compare prices.
If you have never tried high-speed rail, you’re missing out. You just walk to the train station, which is usually in the center of the city, and get on the train and go. It’s fast, more scenic, and can be cheaper than flying. Always factor in the cost to get to the airport in the cost comparison. Rental cars may make sense depending on where you are going and how many people are with you. Gas is expensive in Europe, but if you have four or more people traveling you, it may make sense. Want to learn more about driving in France? Check out my guide!
8. Google Maps
I use Google Maps on a daily basis. I recommend using both the desktop version and mobile app. If you have T-Mobile (free international data) or sign-up for Verizon Travelpass you will have access to Google Maps almost anywhere in the world. We always use Google Maps to determine subway or tram schedules in any city we go to and use it for walking as well as driving directions. If you have an android phone you can also save maps to your phone and travel without cell service! This feature is coming to iOS in the near future.
- Thrifty Tip #1: T-Mobile offers free international data in 120+ countries. The service typically offers 3G speeds but it works for texting and Google Maps, which is all I really care about. Avoid other services with high fees and data charges.
- Thrifty Tip #2: T-Mobile offers free Wi-Fi calling which can be used to make phone calls anywhere you have Wi-Fi, even outside the country. All calls to the United States are free from anywhere when using Wi-Fi calling.
9. Forgotten Charger
I’ve forgotten my fair share of chargers over the years. Try the front desk before going out to buy an overpriced one. The front desk almost always has a couple extra chargers people have left behind.
10. Never Pay ATM Fees again!
If you are a frequent international traveler, there is no better option than opening an online debit/checking account through Charles Schwab. There are no ATM withdrawal fees ANYWHERE in the world. You read that right! This is a no BS solution to avoid ATM fees at home and abroad! (Read our review)
11. Book with Points and Miles (bonus tip!)
Points and miles are the key to being a Thrifty Traveler. I’ve been in the points game for over six years and visited some incredible places for next to nothing. In the past year we have made 10 trips on points and miles, including Lake Tahoe, Havana, Cuba, and we flew Business Class to Europe last summer. Why pay for flights and hotels when you can earn points and miles to cover your trip? The huge value from miles and points is the reason I started this blog! Check out our beginner’s guide to credit cards to get started!
Next Thrifty Traveler articles you should read:
- Beginner’s Guide to Credit Cards
- How to Book the Cheapest Flight Possible
- 10 Tips for Booking Award Tickets
- The Best Time to Buy a Plane Ticket
- Thrifty Tools for Planning your Next Eurotrip