with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

How Travelers Waste Money on the Road

Fodors offers “8 Ways Travelers Waste Money on the Road”, which offers some good basic tips:

  1. Not reading the fine print on the credit card for foreign transaction fees.
  2. Avoiding hotel websites – online prices can be cheaper.
  3. Travel only during high seasons – off season can save you money.
  4. Renting cars – use your feet, trains, buses, and other methods of travel.
  5. Not considering alternative to hotels – hostels, tents, renting a house, RVs…
  6. Eating in fancy (and expensive) restaurants – check the menu prices before you eat, and look for fun off-the-beaten path spots where the locals hang out.
  7. Ignoring budget restraints – be smart about your spending.
  8. Not knowing your destination – planning can save you money.

Here are a few more from us, the two world traveling fools.

  1. Go where you are told not to go: During the five years of the Intifada in Israel was the time to head to Israel. No tourists, no lines at all the popular places, and red carpet treatment because they were desperate for tourists. You can save money and have a better time avoiding the crowds by going places the media says you shouldn’t go to.
  2. Eat out in the market: Who said you always have to eat in a restaurant. Our best meals were found scrounging around in farmer’s markets buying fresh fruits and vegetables, along with sandwiches, meats, cheeses, and breads. Sit in a park or on a bench and enjoy a lovely outdoor picnic.
  3. Drive pre-dawn or late night to the next location: Whether with your own car or renting a car, if you drive early in the morning or late in the night, away from rush hour and heavy traffic times, you will save gas and money with less stop-and-go driving.
  4. Buy daily or weekly rate metro tickets: You might only be in a large city for five days, but the week metro ticket pass might save you money instead of paying for each day. Some cities offer a day rate which is cheaper than paying for three trips. Do some quick calculations on where you have to go while there, and you might save some pennies by going with daily or weekly rates.
  5. Walk: It’s difficult to walk from one side of Madrid to another, but a good 10 or 15 block walk won’t hurt you. It will save cab fare and you’ll get to see more of the area. Put some walking into your schedule and save money and get more exercise as you travel.
  6. Don’t bring a big purse: If you are a shopper, don’t carry a big purse with you when exploring the shops. This means you have to hand carry whatever you buy through the rest of the day. If you have a big purse or backpack you are more likely to buy things to fill it up. Limit the size and limit the stuff you spend money on.
  7. Don’t buy a travel wardrobe: I’ve seen people spend more on travel clothes for a trip than they spent on the trip. Don’t. Travel in simple clothes, solid colors with a color theme for mix and match. Simple dress t-shirts, slacks, a skirt, sweatshirt or sweater, and a scarf (for men and women) and one to two pairs of shoes is all you need. The days of making a fashion impression when you travel are gone. Wear comfortable. Wear what you already own, or buy cheap stuff at WalMart, Kmart or Target. Then leave it behind so there is more room in your suitcase for all your tourist shopping goodies.
  8. Get lots of cash at once: When hitting the ATM/Cash Machine, get as much as you can at one time. If you are charged foreign transaction or conversion feeds, it is usually a flat fee rather than a percentage, so you save money by taking out what you need for three days instead of only what you need for each day.

Do you have any tips to help travelers save money, or avoid spending money, on the road?


  • Posted February 22, 2007 at 23:25 | Permalink

    Buy daily or weekly rate metro tickets: You might only be in a large city for five days, but the week metro ticket pass might save you money instead of paying for each day. Some cities offer a day rate which is cheaper than paying for three trips.

    Case in point: MTA New York City Transit sells a one-day Fun pass, which goes for $7 and affords you a whole day of unlimited rides on the subway and bus (although not express buses).
    In general, buying these all-day passes save money, but many locals here take advantage of the 30-day unlimited ride MetroCard, since it gives them more flexibility in what they can do with their lives.

  • Posted December 20, 2007 at 12:54 | Permalink

    Pack light would be a major – try to only take carry on luggage or one check-luggage bag between a couple. This’ll save you baggage handling fees on many airlines, coaches and some taxis. And save your back too.

    Look at private rooms in modern hostels rather than hotel rooms. Most modern hostels are clean and all of them have a friendlier atmosphere than hotels.

    Book transport in advance. When we looked at travel in britain we found we could travel by plane (1 hour 20minutes) for the same price as a coach (11 hours)! If we booked the plane a month in advance rather than the coach the day before.

    And here’s secen tips for eating out cheaply that we’ve formulated over the last two years on the road.

  • Posted December 20, 2007 at 22:58 | Permalink

    Pack light is a constant recommendation, but your travel tips are dependent upon where you are traveling, both to and from. I’ve found cheaper airline tickets waiting until the last minute – and others were cheaper if I ordered them in advance. It all depends.

    And for some, taking the coach/bus is an important part of their travel experience. Speed isn’t everything. :D

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