Frugal Travel Tips

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A few frugal travel tips will ensure that you can "get your travel on" when you start longing for far away places.

Budget traveling does not in any way diminish the vacation experience, in fact, it can be quite the opposite.

Here are some ideas that take a big bite out of your travel expenses while still delivering the "vacation to remember".

Frugal Travel Tips That Stretch the Vacation Budget

  • House sit - One of our favorite frugal travel tips is house and/or pet sitting. You can house sit your way around the world or start a perpetual staycation close to home. There are lots of resources on the internet and my preference are the ones that have a large database and allow a visitor to look at what they have for listings, and even set up a profile, before paying for a membership. Sites like Trusted Housesitters (US) have a large database of sits and sitters to choose from.

    More about being a house sitter.

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  • House swap. - Instead of leaving your house unoccupied, consider a vacation house swap. It's an idea gaining considerable ground and it addresses some issues that crop up when you travel. Having someone live in the house appeases insurance companies and discourages lowlifes who look for homes with evidence that the owners are away.

    Occupants notice little things - like leaks, before they become big things - like floods. But the very best part is that you're living in their house while they're in yours.
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  • Take the bus. - The bus is an experience that shouldn't be missed and it's a supercheap way to get around and mix with the belongers. Some of the most interesting things we've seen have been while riding public transport. In Mexico, don't be surprised if someone boards and starts strumming a guitar and breaks out into song - some more talented than others. They collect tips then depart a few stops further along.

    In Antigua we boarded a small bus and quickly all of the seats were taken. A woman tapped me on the shoulder and pointed. Wide planks had appeared from somewhere and the passengers were placing them between the seats (one end on each seat straddling the aisle) making more room. Once the bus was full from one side to the other, we were off!
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  • Get a kitchenette. - If you decide on hotel type accommodation, opt for a kitchenette. You can save a ton by making some or all of your own meals. And while you're saving all that money you get the experience of shopping for ingredients and meeting people who are knowledgable about the area you're visiting.
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  • Shop at local markets. - Find out where and when the market is. When we visited Antigua WI the open market was teeming with vegetables, fruits and spices some of which were familiar and others we could only guess at. Chuckling at our naiveté the vendors answered our questions, encouraged us to sample their goods and bagged our purchases. We selected nutmeg with the mace still clinging to its outer shell and an assortment of fruits and veggies for next-to-nothing while the heartbeat of Antigua washed over us.

    woman shopping at organic market in La Paz, Mexico

    In Mexico, most towns have a roving market place where the vendors set up once a week. They make the circuit and sell their wares in a different pueblo each day of the week. It's an experience to walk through and if you're looking for anything from clothing to tools to farm fresh vegetables the market is the where you should start. Once, in Las Varas, a bent and withered man slowly wheeled his barrow filled with a towering honeycomb - dripping with honey and the bees still hovering 'round.

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  • Eat local fare. - The least expensive way to go is to eat what and where the locals eat and truly experience the gastronomy of the area you're visiting. Foods grown nearby and in season are always the least expensive, the freshest and the tastiest too. Imported goods always cost more so immerse yourself in the regional culture and save some bucks at the same time.
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  • Do lunch instead of supper. - When you decide to go out for a meal make it lunch (or breakfast or brunch). Supper menu items are priced about 50% higher than morning and afternoon meals. It's better to eat your big meal early in the day anyway.
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  • Long term accommodations. - If your stay will be for weeks or months book only one week accommodations online. Online booking is convenient but frequently you can get way better prices if you walk around and ask around once you reach your destination.
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