12 ways to save money on international travel

After two years relatively close to home, more travelers are looking to get out and see the world in 2022.

A recent survey by IMG Travel revealed that 96% of participants plan to travel abroad in 2022, up 11% from before the pandemic. More than half said they felt more comfortable traveling abroad this year, according to the survey.

If you too are ready to hop on a plane or a boat, how can you ensure that you are getting what you pay for, especially with current gas prices and inflation?

We’ve got ideas to help you save money while still seeing the world debt-free.

1. Travel out of season

The shoulder season is when fewer travelers flock to a particular area. It all depends on when you are traveling and where you are going. For Europe, the off-season runs from November to March. In Southeast Asia, it is from June to October. Off-season in North America varies by region.

During the off-season, you’ll save money with cheaper international flights, more economical accommodation options, and fewer crowds.

Pro tip

Many people are planning revenge trips or revenge vacations even as inflation rises. Here’s how to eliminate your travel itch without emptying your bank account.

2. Choose a good travel credit card

Be sure to use a travel credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees. The going rate on most credit cards is 3%, which means you’ll be charged $30 for every $1,000 spent abroad.

Some credit cards have rewards programs for earning free or discounted travel and include travel insurance, which can cover lost baggage and expenses (such as meals, accommodation, car rental) that come with it. a delayed or canceled trip.

A woman waits for the metro to stop before getting on.

3. Avoid airport parking

Daily parking at major metropolitan airports – and also at smaller airports – can be very expensive. In just 10 days, you can easily spend over $100.

Instead of driving yourself, save money by taking a ride with a friend, taking public transportation, or using a ride-sharing service.

Even if you don’t live near the airport, paying for a ride with Uber or Lyft can still be cheaper than parking nearby. To be sure, both Uber and Lyft provide estimated ride calculators that you can use and then compare the estimate to your parking costs.

4. Research all your hosting options

Of course, look at hotels in the area, but don’t rule out other options like Airbnb. You might very well find that it’s cheaper to stay in a short-term rental — either the whole place or just a room — than a hotel room or suite. For example, the average cost of an Airbnb in Italy is $108 per night. A three-star hotel in Italy will cost at least that much, and probably much more.

Choosing an Airbnb will not only give you more space, but you will also have access to a kitchen. You will be able to buy groceries and prepare your own meals, avoid spending more in restaurants and enjoy cooking with what you find in local markets.

5. Be smart when converting currencies

Yes, look for a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, but also make sure you don’t get fooled by foreign exchange fees.

Ask your bank about buying foreign currency before you leave. For example, Wells Fargo offers 70 currencies that can be used in over 100 countries, which means you can put hard currency cash in your pocket before you even leave home.

Avoiding currency exchange kiosks at airports can also help you save. Not only can it be difficult to find local cash when you land, but currency exchange kiosks charge much higher service fees and exchange rates than banks.

Pro tip

Did you know that many banks and credit unions redeem foreign currency? You can therefore scramble to spend your last euros if you wish but without pressure.

6. Check your phone plan

What do you have in your hands that could cost you a pretty penny in extra charges when traveling abroad? Your phone. If you just hop on a plane, travel to another country, and start using your phone, you could rack up hundreds or even thousands of dollars in roaming charges.

Check with your provider before you go instead. You may be able to temporarily switch to an international plan or purchase a travel pass to avoid roaming charges. With AT&T, you can use your phone as you normally would for $10 a day abroad. Similarly, Verizon offers a $100 monthly plan and a $10 daily plan.

Another option is to buy a local SIM card, which can be cheaper for long journeys than a day pass. There are pros and cons to switching SIM cards, so do your research before you go.

7. Consider travel insurance

If you don’t have credit card travel insurance, you should consider purchasing coverage. Premiums can be up to 10% of your total trip amount when you purchase a travel insurance policy from a provider.

Travel insurance may seem like an unnecessary extra expense, but this policy protects your investment, just like property insurance. You spent thousands of dollars on your trip. If something happens, you won’t get any of that money back – and you could spend even more in an emergency – without travel insurance.

Travel insurance generally covers trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency medical care (including transportation), delayed and damaged baggage, and trip delays.

A man walks through the airport with his daughter riding on her luggage.

A man walks through the airport with his daughter riding on her luggage.

8. Light Pack

It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: travel light and stick to hand luggage as much as possible! Checked baggage fees can run into the hundreds, especially if you have multiple flights.

Think versatility when packing, carrying bulky items, and minding your toiletries to fit everything you need into a smaller bag. Also, don’t waste your personal item in a small purse or bag. Take a backpack or larger bag if you can.

If you plan to collect souvenirs, consider leaving room in your luggage. Or plan ahead and pack an inexpensive pair of shoes – like water shoes – that you’ll use but don’t mind leaving in exchange for a little extra space.

9. Get creative with laundry

You can pack even lighter when you’re intentionally doing laundry – because who wants to spend time searching, then sitting in a laundromat in Paris?

You may have access to a washing machine if you rent a house, but you can also do the laundry yourself in a bathtub or hotel sink. It’s free, but it’s not the easiest solution.

If you’re a frequent traveler or tend to live rough, investing in a toiletry bag might be a good idea. The Scrubba 5.3 oz Portable Wash Bag folds up tight and requires no electricity, but has a flexible internal wash board to help you wash your clothes anywhere – hotel, tent, camper. because.

For a nine-day trip, you might only need a few outfits if you can handle laundry quickly and easily.

10. Take red eye on a weekday

Late flights are almost always the cheapest flights, especially compared to international flights that depart in the morning on weekends. Perhaps not the most comfortable option, a weekday red-eye flight saves you money on airfare and possibly accommodation if the flight covers one night of your trip.

Get to the airport early, grab some dinner and a drink, and relax before your long journey. The long flight will allow you to rest on board and mentally prepare for the upcoming holidays or your return home.

Pro tip

Keep your travel budget focused on what you actually want to spend and spend less at the airport.

11. Be intentional about what (and where) you eat.

You’ve done your research on everything else, it makes sense to do the same for your dining choices.

Do you want to eat out at every meal or once a day? Are there certain restaurants or foods you would like to try? You can save money on food when traveling by eating out for lunch instead of dinner, bringing or buying snacks from a store, and packing a water bottle you can refill.

Research your dining options ahead of time so you can budget and take advantage of discounts where you can, like happy hour prices.

12. Save early and often for your trip

Well before you leave, set a target amount for your trip and create a sinking fund to start saving money. A sinking fund is simply a way to budget and save for big expenses like a new roof, a car, or a trip abroad.

Let’s say you’ve set a budget of $3,000 for a trip you’re taking two years from now. If you set aside $125 per month in your sinking fund, you’ll have the trip covered in 24 months. Simply take the amount you want to save and divide it by the length of time you want to save, i.e. $3,000 x 24.

Even without a specific trip in mind, you can create a revolving sinking fund to save for the trip. Whether you save the full amount or not, you will have a good financial foundation for your next trip abroad.

Robert Bruce is a lead writer for The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers around the world earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, giveaways and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest growing private media company in the United States in 2017.

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