15 Travel Hacks That Will Save You Time And Money
Travelling is awesome, and we only ever take away the best memories (flashback to when I got stranded in the Egyptian desert because I left my tour group on pursuit of an ice cream truck).
But there is always considerable cost and time involved throughout the whole journey.
The research and planning time, the flights and transport, food, accommodation… it racks up and seeing the bank balance dwindle in the process isn’t fun!
Cue the travel hacks!
Having upped my travel game in 2018 by exploring 5 new countries and moving to Asia, I have picked up some little methods that have made the process a little lighter on the purse strings and take up less of my time.
So below I have put together the travel hacks that I have picked up over time, and sorted them in to ones that will save you time, save you money, and the jackpot… ones that will save you both time AND money.
Travel hacks that save time
Fly from lesser known airports
Last year we flew to and from a tiny airport in France called Limoges Airport. Okay, so the flights are more limited, but there were next to no queues and food was quick and easy to get hold of with little no delays.
Beats the 5 hour queue we had at Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport immigration!
Use a travel planning service
Whether it’s a travel agent with a package service, or to choose to pay some of the seasoned travellers out there to plan an itinerary for you one thing is for sure.
You get less of the stress, and all of the experience. And more time to be excited for your upcoming adventure!
Choose the fast line at airport security
Josh and I always compete to see who can find the fastest line at the airport. Okay it’s a bit sad, but it brings a bit of fun to a monotonous process!
As the proud reigning champion, I can give you my words of wisdom.
Avoid lines with groups or families. They look shorter because all the people are bunched together, but it is super deceiving.
Seek out people who look prepared, and/or business women and men. Look for things like people with passports and visas already out and in their hands. People who look like they are on a mission. They will not be hanging around when it’s their turn at the gates.
Download your destination map with maps.me
Maps.me has the option to download whole cities or countries to your phone. This makes it SO much easier to have a quick scan of your location and find nearby attractions as you aren’t hanging around waiting for mobile data or seeking out free wifi.
Pre-program your map apps with key destinations
No matter which map apps you are using to aid your travels, there is likely going to be an option to save favourite destinations. Or pinpoint areas of interest.
If you save all the main places you know you will be visiting it is quicker and easier to plan and follow routes.
Travel hacks that save money
Buy a prepaid local sim card
Don’t fall in to the trap I did when travelling Japan when I returned to a £200 phone bill because I had been using my phone data without realising.
In most countries it is inanely cheap to buy a pre-paid sim that has unlimited data for a given number of days.
Failing that, seek out free wifi!
Bring a reusable water bottle
It’s not safe to drink tap water in many countries, and it gets under my skin a bit with how much I pay out for safe water to drink here in Hanoi. Not to mention that it has been stored in large plastic containers for forever!
Instead, bring a (BPA free) water bottle and boil water in your accommodation.
It won’t cut the cost completely but it’s certainly cheaper than the endless plastic bottles you will accumulate.
Eat away from tourist areas
Most likely you will spend a lot of your time in tourist areas because that’s where the major attractions are.
And obviously prices from food (and any commodity) are hiked up in those areas. So to avoid it, take a little stroll a few blocks away from the major sites and just watch the prices drop!
Stay somewhere with breakfast included
Okay so you might pay a little more per night for this privilege, but it’s likely to cost a lot more to pay for an extra meal out a day.
It’s also nice, if you’re anything like me, to leave in the morning feeling full rather than a bit grumpy because you’re not fed.
Use public transport
Buses, trains, trams… some of the most fun experiences of travel can be on public transport like this!
It’s also a hella lot cheaper.
When we first arrived in Hanoi we got a bus from our homestay across the city for 7k VND. That’s a grand total of 25p.
Travel hacks that save both time AND money
Pack an extensive but compact medical kit
Ideally, you’ll want to avoid the time and money involved in having any medical attention abroad. I learned that lesson the hard way.
(See here for how to deal with a medical emergency abroad).
Pre-pack for any mild ailment that could be self medicated. E.g. bring painkillers, diahrrea sashes, plasters, bug spray… the whole hog.
Book your flights 50 days before departure date
I used to spend days upon days checking flight times and prices, always being a bit afraid to actually pay out in case they got cheaper.
Well it turns out, the cheapest tickets are usually around the 50 day before departure mark.
Do yourself a favour, and save the time you spend by checking every day to only check around this time, and you’re already looking at the cheapest prices too.
Use a Revolut bank card
I swear by Revolut. If you have never heard of it, it is a solely online bank that you can link to an existing bank account and store money in different currencies.
Personally, I keep mine in GBP because it is what I am used to, but when you pay it uses the current exchange rates.
You can also withdraw money WITHOUT INSANE CHARGES.
I can withdraw up to £200 a month in cash which is all you really need in Vietnam), in the local currency, and not see my money slip away to the banking fat cats. Winning!
Join an expat/tourist facebook group
All of our best travel advice has come from the established online communities in the destinations we have visited.
Expats especially seem pretty proud of the knowledge they have accumulated of their country of residence and are happy to help out the newbies most of the time.
Buy a one year multi-trip travel insurance policy
If you’re a frequent flyer and explorer, have a good look in to year round policies.
You might find that once you add up all the separate policies you buy over one year, it is both quicker and cheaper to buy one policy that covers all of your trips.
As much as I feel secretly proud of myself for using these little travel hacks to save time and money, I want to know what I’m missing out on!
Drop me a comment with your favourite ways to save time and money on your travels and I will happily test them out.