Planning to go abroad, be it for business or leisure visits, can cause some unease: from booking your flights, to spending at your destination, and everything in between, it can seem like a bit of a headache managing your money when you travel.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
“You don’t have to be rich to travel well.”
– Eugene Fodor
Eugene was onto something, there – that’s why I’ve put together 6 handy tips to get you saving when you go abroad, allowing you to get the most of your pounds, dollars or euros abroad.
1. Know when to book your trip
If you wanted to get the cheapest rates when you travel on the London Underground, you wouldn’t set out at 8:30AM – Saving money is about knowing when to set off on holiday as much as it is spending while you’re there. Start saving ahead of the game when it comes to traveling – knowing when to book your travel and how best to do so could be the difference between an expensive flight and some huge savings!
It seems like a no-brainer not to travel during the UK school holidays, but when should you be booking? Book as early as you can – avoid the last minute deal scramble and book at least 5 weeks before you set out. Also look out for “Shoulder Seasons” when travel booking is at its cheapest (think ‘off peak’ international travel) – some examples of this when booking from the UK include when kids go back to school (September), and just after the Christmas Holidays (January).
Top tip: “Shoulder Seasons” apply differently for each country – look into national holidays and breaks where you’re traveling and try to work around them to get the best deals!
2. Get to know the currency you’ll be spending in
Foreign exchange rates change from day-to-day, and week-to-week – getting to know these ever-changing rates is a great tool to save money when you travel. Keep an eye on FX rates, looking out for the stable rates and the high exchange rates, cashing in when the best deal is available to you. You can plan your travel around the rates in certain currencies, traveling to countries which would allow you to get most out of the £, or whichever currency you pay in day-to-day.
Getting to know the currencies also helps you to avoid ‘Dynamic Currency Conversion’ when paying abroad. When paying abroad, the merchant (often hotels) will ask if you’d like to be paid in your home currency. Whilst this comes with a sense of familiarity, it often comes with an exchange rate hike, so be sure to check what currency you’re paying in, and how much!
3. Get the inside scoop on how to save – make use of the ‘Sharing Economy’
There’s no better way to save than by having the locals (and other travellers) help you on your travels. You can access everything from cheaper accommodation to local carpools, to cheap and alternative tour guides by plugging into the “Sharing Economy”.
The Sharing Economy has boomed in the past few years and is a great way to save money while you travel. Sites and apps such as Couchsurfing, Airbnb, Uber and EatWith connect you with the locals – local hosts, local drivers, even local chefs – who know the best deals from the inside. With a couple clicks in the app, you can get in the inside scoop on these deals and start saving too!
4. Make use of local promotions
If you can’t access the benefits of the Sharing Economy whilst traveling, there are still ways to save by living like a local while you go about as a tourist. One of the best ways to achieve this is by getting your hands on ‘City Cards’ (also known as ‘Tourist Cards’) – you don’t have to be a typical tourist to make use of these!
City cards give you access to great deals on a range of local amenities; from free transport, to free city guides, to discounted food and entry to local attractions. You don’t always have to think outside of the box when it comes to saving abroad.
5. Eat smart, save smarter
One thing you’re going to encounter abroad is food. Lots of food, most of it great and unique to the country or city you’re visiting. There are a number of ways to save on food while traveling, and they don’t mean you have to miss out on the best food:
Be your own chef: Buying your own food and preparing it for a week is undoubtedly cheaper than eating the same amount as restaurants for a week. If you’re staying at an Airbnb, or a number of hotels and hostels, there will probably be kitchen facilities available – use these. You can easily spend as little as £10 a day buying food supplies from supermarkets abroad, compared to spending upwards of £20 to eat in restaurants in the same city – that’s 100% extra. Cut those costs and save money by being your own chef on your travels!
Go local: If you do decide to venture out for meals while traveling, try to avoid the big chains and ‘tourist trap’ restaurants. They might be harder to find, but there are great offbeat diners and eateries abroad without the heavy price tags attached.
There are a number of great apps to take you right to the front door of these cheap, local eats, too – for example, OpenRice, operating in large parts of East Asia, is a one-stop shop for finding local cuisines.
6. Keep on top of your travel finances with smart travel tech
When it comes to saving money, there’s a lot to be saved while you spend it! If you travel a lot, you’ll know how difficult it is to get the best rate, or even know how much you’re spending on your travels. Fortunately, you can ahead with some smart travel tech.
Get on top of your spending no matter the currency or the card with Curve. With Curve, you can upload all your credit and debit cards to a single card and app whilst you travel. Purchases made in your home currency (of the 15 and counting supported currencies) are fee-free, and purchases made with in currencies different to your underlying card’s currency when you travel come with a 1% fee, compared with the typical 3% with other debit and credit cards.
Looking for more travel tech to help you save while traveling? Look no further!
With the above tips, you can start spending smarter while you travel today! Looking for more ways to save while living the digital nomad lifestyle? Check out the rest of the blog.