You've probably read countless posts about changing your habits to save money before and during a trip, and opting to travel in the low season rather than high season, and so on.
Yes, those tips are good and they will help you save money before hitting the road and while on the road, but I want to share with you a few more unconventional ways to save money during your trip. It's all about stretching your buck as much as possible.
1. Save money more efficiently
Often times, when you go grocery shopping you save money on food. Several supermarkets do have certain items on sale, and they print the savings from those on sale items on your receipt (i.e., You saved: $3.55). Transfer that small amount of money into your savings account. It might not look like much, but you need to look at it in a cumulative way. Today you saved on groceries; tomorrow you have 10% off a tour, the next day some other saving. After a while, it feels like you're saving money for traveling while traveling.
Also, and this is one of my favorite savings tips, do small weekly transfers from your checking to your savings account (say, $20). Practice this while saving for the trip and while on the road. Psychologically, it is easier to save smaller amounts of money on a recurrent basis than bigger amounts of money once a month or so. Trust me, you'll see the difference.
2. Consider a Cruise
I know, cruises are for old people. Well, that's the image they are associated with, but it's not true. Cruises have changed and now are for all ages, and they can be excellent money savers.
The cruise industry is extremely competitive, and they often do their best to cut costs to the bare minimum. Cruises yield substantial savings by allowing you to pay for your food, lodging, and entertainment together in one low price. But, beyond that, cruises are also your means of transportation from one city/country to another. So, in Europe, for example, this is a great way to save money because you're on an all-inclusive trip that will take you to several cities across the continent's coast.
In addition, sometimes, Transatlantic cruises are a cheaper option to airfares for traveling between the Americas and Europe.
3. Don't Be Afraid of Disasters (Hear Me Out)
We don't like disasters or unrest, but they do happen, and often. People are often afraid to travel to affected destinations; even long after the disaster or unrest has taken place. The lack of interest and reduction of tourism in these countries brings down the prices in airfares, accommodations, tours, and other travel related items.
I traveled to Egypt one year after the revolution, and while it was not politically stable at the moment (yet not dangerous), the country was a breeze to travel in. Egypt is a cheap destination already, but it was even cheaper when I went since tourism had dropped to its lowest; just 10% of its typical visitors.
Yes, you have to do your research and not just rely on the news, since they obviously focus on the disaster/unrest part of the story. Countries are much more than that, and once your'e there, you'll realize that you can travel in these places safely and cautiously. Again, do your research to make sure it is safe to travel and where to go in the country to stay away from any danger.
4. Ask about Repositioning
If renting a car, call the company and ask them if they have any repositioning inventory. What this means is that they have too many cars in one location and need to transfer them to another location where there's a shortage. They don't have the staff needed to do this, so this is where you come into play.
If by luck you're traveling between two cities where the repositioning is needed, often times they give you the car rental for free (you only pay insurance and gas), and they give you X number of days to go from one city to the other. In theory, you're doing them a favor.
An example of this happened to me in New Zealand, where I had the opportunity to take a Campervan from Christchurch to Auckland with free rental for 5 days. I was going to travel between those two cities, so why not?!
This doesn't only apply to cars, though it is the most common. It also applies to cruises and airplanes.
5. Go local, even before getting to your destination
When looking for tours and activities online, try your best to visit the local operators page, instead of a global aggregator. They will have the cheapest price, since there is no middleman charging commission. Also, try checking airfares and accommodations through local search engines from your destination or the local version of an international page (for example, skyscanner.co.th for Thailand). Sometimes they have other options not available on international sites, and more often than not, they are cheaper.
It is also a good idea to check the local Groupon page or similar kind of site that offers highly discounted items and experiences through daily deals. Groupon has several international pages you can easily find online, but also Google search local deal pages from your country. These can often help you save 50% or more on tours, food, and more!
What are some other great budget travel tips?