Travelers Guide to Save Money

I get it. From time to time, even the most adventurous of us may need to take the time to save money.

No matter how savvy you get with deals and tips, traveling is simply not completely free. And, depending on your job, taking days, weeks, or even months off work can seriously impact that wallet.

But sometimes, saving sucks.

Especially for those who love to wander, the mundane task of saving up can be a bit well, boring and when it’s boring, it’s quite hard to stick to a good saving regimen.

I for one, don’t really enjoy repeating the same activity over and over again nor do I care too much for wasting days away in front of the TV. I find that many blogs or articles to save money that I have read don’t really match my personality type too well and I tend to resist suggestions that don’t really suit my lifestyle. 

I’m one of those ladies that loves to check out new restaurants, shows, and events which definitely makes it difficult to save money.

Obviously, to save money, you must sacrifice a bit, but I have found that using techniques suited to my needs are a lot easier to stick by than the one-size-fits-all model.

I believe that by identifying your values, you can curate a plan that really doesn’t feel like you’re cutting anything out.

As a traveler, I tend to value new experiences, ambiance, and adventures and believe it or not, you can totally fulfill these needs without shelling out big bucks.

Here are things I like to do to help me save money.


table and plate setting to help save money at restaurant

Cut your restaurant budget by eating at hole in the walls eateries

Obviously, it’s not hard to see why eating at low-cost restaurants will save you money and honestly, I think this is extra fun for the adventurous type because foods can often give a little glimpse into a different culture. Focus on finding authentic small family-owned restaurants that are ethnic to give this experience a bit more spice. Not only are you supporting a local family, but you might also be able to try new foods that you never know you loved before.

While you can’t go too wrong with an authentic taqueria, feel free to explore foods from cultures and countries that are less common. As a daughter of a Filipino immigrant, I highly recommend trying famous Filipino dishes like adobo, pansit, and lumpia. 

Make your meals count for two

When my husband and I eat out, we often will split our plate. This keeps out checks really low and let’s be honest about some of the serving sizes in America, THEY ARE HUGE!

Plus, when you split a plate, you might opt for the pricier item that you really wanted on the menu rather than settling for something in your budget.

It takes time to get used to splitting plates, but the savings are so totally worth it.

Luckily, my husband and I almost always order the same thing but I do understand that there may be dietary restrictions, different preferences, or you may be eating alone or with folk that would be strange to share a plate with. Simply save your meal for later instead.

Forgo or limit the number of drinks you order

Drinks can really add to your bill when eating at restaurants and honestly, I don’t think it’s too worth it. Obviously, some food experiences call for a great pairing but that doesn’t mean you need too much to get that effect. It’s fairly simple to reduce down to one or no drinks instead of two while eating out without really changing the experience.

If you must drink more, you can easily have one later at home which also cuts down the chance of being too drunk to drive.

Personally, I feel that if I’m too buzzed with eating, I miss out a bit on the flavors of the meal, not to mention that bloated feeling when intoxicated.


Save money with themed food at home, sushi, Japanese theme.

Skip the restaurants completely by creating ambiance to your home-cooked meals

Cooking at home is a no brainer that is almost always recommended on stories for saving but as I mentioned before, I am tailoring these tips specifically for travelers.

How so?

When I cook at home, I often like to create an experience rather than just a meal. There are a few go-to that I use to do this but here are my favorites.

  1. Look up recipes from a country or region that you have traveled to, going to travel to, or would just like to learn more about. Many countries have at least a few simple recipes with basic ingredients in them.
  2. Use YouTube or any other music streaming service to play authentic tracks from the country while eating. If there isn’t specific music for that region, use a generic track like soft jazz to create ambiance.
  3. Set the table away from distractions such as TV or computers.
  4. Make your plating beautiful with things you already own.
  5. Discuss new techniques or cultures that you may have learned in the process of making the food.

Seriously, this technique can even make the leftover night really entertaining.

Shop at different stores to save money on groceries

Many stores offer great deals on certain items and are marked up on others. This is especially the case if you are looking for exotic ingredients. For instance, I have seen some seriously killer deals on exotic spices and seafood at an Asian market like HMart while my local grocer had better savings on certain veggies.

Make a list and stick to it

It’s a lot easier to stay focused at the store if you have a plan. I like to write down everything I need at the store so my mind won’t wander once I get there.

Better yet, if you can give the list to someone who isn’t too distractable, all the better. My husband will spend as little time in the grocery store as possible and only goes by the list. There is no room for meandering and impulse buying when you are trying to get out quickly.


Woman save money by unsubscribing to emails

Get off email lists for unnecessary retail stores

Unless you know that you need to purchase something from the retailer, opt-out of the emails at least while you are saving. If you knew how many times I end up buying something that I wasn’t intending to because there is a sale, you would understand.

As someone who has worked in email marketing, catchy headlines are used to get you to open that email and once you are in, you are much more likely to buy whatever we are selling. What’s more catchy than a once in a lifetime sale?

Retail stores always have sales and I promise you that they will come back around once you are done saving. Resist temptation and put a hold on retail emails.

Instead, subscribe to blogs or travel ticket watch sites to keep your eye on the prize. I like to create a Pinterest board of ideas for where I’m going and check discount sites like Kayak or CheapOAir, HostelWorld, and AirB&B to look up flights and hotels or create alerts for when flights go down. I feel like keeping my mind on vacation when aimlessly browsing helps me stay inspired to stick to my savings plan. Remember, everything adds up when it comes to saving money.

If you desperately need an item, compare prices

Now if you do actually need something, take the time to compare and save. Online shopping and user reviews have made this easier than ever since you don’t actually have to set foot in a store. Just watch out for added shipping fees.

This also goes along with brands. While saving, I may opt for a less flashy brand than I originally wanted. You can easily look up reviews to see if another cheaper product accomplishes the same goals as the pricier ones. Be careful though because if you purchase something cheap or that you don’t like that much, you may never use it making it not so much of a bargain. Luckily, companies usually allow for customer reviews so you can get a firsthand account of how well the product works. It takes a bit more effort but you can end up scoring a killer deal without sacrificing quality.

Personally, I’m a total Maxinista since I love finding my favorite brands for cheap but much like with avoiding emails, you want to make sure you’re not too drawn in by the sales.  Like with groceries, make a list of what you need when going to these kinds of stores. The other things can wait until after your done saving.

Try to fix things before purchasing a new one

Honestly, this is just a good skill to have. It’s good for the environment, good for your wallet, and can give you valuable skills that can help you when you are traveling. You never know what may happen on a trip, even the most bougie of adventures. It would be great to know how to fix things on the spot rather than relying on stores.

Especially in foreign countries, there may not be your everyday Targets or Grocery stores and the products on sale may be limited.

Instead, use YouTube and blogs to build your scrappiness and learn how to fix whatever you may need fixing.


Opt outside

Woman save money by opting outside sitting in outdoor fireplace

Ok, I’m a bit biased with this one since I do blog about camping a lot but there are so many things you can do outside that is way more cost-effective than a night out in town. While National Parks can get pricey, look into State Parks for great day hikes, camping, and adventure. Usually when camping, I opt for free BLM land to pitch our tent so all we are spending money on is food. Obviously, when it comes to camping, you need some gear, but it has been accumulated over time and not pricey to add more.

If you need help on your first time camping to check out my story below to get you set up.  

RELATED: Beginner’s guide to camping

Now if camping is too ambitious, do not fret. A picnic or a hike can suffice. In the summer, we love to take our propane grill out and grill up some burgers. It’s way more fun than just cooking at home, especially since I do the cooking in the house, and it only costs the amount the groceries would normally cost.  

There is a magnitude of ideas of what you can do outside but the most important thing to remember is that there are many great activity options that can be fun and still save money. I mean, this is honestly how I got through the daunting task of saving for the wedding. Ugh!  

Be a local tourist

man checking out local Christmas market

As a traveler, I crave new fun experiences and trust me when I say this, there are still new fun affordable experiences in your hometown. Here are some of the ways I like to be a local tourist.

  1. Check out a museum and research before you go. There are often free or discounted days.
  2. Head to a new park and have a picnic.
  3. Dress up and take cheesy photos at the typical tourist spots.
  4. Search for public art installations. Your Instagram will thank you later.
  5. Use social media like Facebook Events to get tips of local and free events. Their algorithms will set you up for things you are already interested in.
  6. Dare yourself to check out a new district of part of town you aren’t used to. If you are in a more rural spot, find a new hike or natural phenomenon to check out.
  7. Try a new type of activity you have never done. When we travel, we are much more open to trying new things than when at home. Maybe try that Karaoke Bar or that Poetry slam you’ve been skipping on.
  8. See if there are any events or cheap activities at your local rec center.
  9. Volunteer for a local charity. I once volunteered at the animal shelter and all the kitty fun melted my heart.
  10. Check out a lower level sporting event. My family loves baseball and would check out the minor teams for a significantly lower price than MLB games. Plus, you get to get autographs and meet players.

Bottom line is that when you have a traveler’s soul, you may not be content with staying still. I totally get it. Luckily, as a traveler, you have probably become savvy about where to save and where to spend. I know that I have and with a little concentration, you can be on your way to saving enough for your next adventure.

What are your go-to tips to save for a big trip?

Let me know in the comments and if you like what you read, please subscribe!

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