Updated: Apr 23
I’ve done some crazy things to save money while traveling… If you’ve been following my blog for a while (thanks by the way if you have!) then you know how I love to save money when I’m traveling. I almost see it kind of like a game.
I love making goals for how much I want to spend on a trip and seeing if I can beat the number and I’m always thinking, “How can I save more money on this trip than I did on the last one?” Since I’m always traveling on a budget, this helps me save even more and leads me to some crazy ways to save money while traveling.
They work, but I can’t say I would recommend them all… Most of the things I do to save before traveling, I don’t realize are going to be as crazy as they really are. So here are some things I’ve done that have saved me money, and don’t necessarily recommend. Sometimes saving money costs you more pain than it is worth. One thing I do recommend to help you save for traveling is a good side hustle, you’ll make extra cash so maybe you don’t have to do these things!
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1. Wearing 6 sweaters, a winter coat, and two scarves will make you really toasty at the airport.
Wear all your clothes onto the plane with you so you don’t have to buy bags. Saves at least $40 each way.
You read that right. This past Christmas I was looking at flights home and most were over $250 each way. I was not about to pay that much for a one-way flight! So, I went on Spirit Airlines instead.
If you’ve ever flown Spirit then you know they only allow bags that fit under your seat as many budget airlines do. This is an issue in winter oh and on Christmas when you’re trying to bring home gifts. So, I wore basically all my clothes on the flight home and yes I saved $100 but I was definitely sweating through those layers and rethinking my decision! But it was one of those you’ve got to go for it moments and I actually used all the sweaters as a really nice pillow during the flight.
2. Overnight 3rd class trains in China are so glamorous
Second class train tickets with more private cars are over $115 each a ticket, third class tickets are less than $80. Saves $35 a person.
Before visiting China, I did a lot of research on how to get from Shanghai to Xi’an and Xi’an to Beijing. Flights were a little pricey but there are lots of overnight trains for a much more affordable price. I looked online and could find zero pictures from Westerners but I was able to read about it on different websites. I asked my travel buddies if it was cool that we saved and did the overnight train instead of the high speed train or a flight.
They said yes. We stepped on the train and definitely regretted it a little bit. Train cars were 6 to a person with one bathroom for the entire car which was quite used by the time our overnight train was over if you know what I mean. Also, because we chose the lower class seats, our beds were not cushioned and we are unsure how recently they had been washed. It was then that I realized why there are no pictures online. None the less, we were able to save and it’s definitely a story to tell!
3. Forget Uber, let’s take the train!
Uber was $60, train is $5. Saves $20 a person.
Once after a night out in New York City, my friend and I wanted to catch an Uber back to our hotel from the south part of Manhattan to the Upper West Side. This was definitely an issue and we were looking at paying at least $70 for an Uber. We were shocked and decided the train runs every 30 minutes, we will just take it instead. Unfortunately, we missed that train and had to wait 30 more minutes. We then get to the next train station where we fell asleep and missed yet another train.
My friend was also convinced during this 2:30 AM wait that there was an excellent musician playing music in the subway station. Thankfully, I talked her out of buying his CD right then. We finally made it home after 4 AM. We could have gotten back at 1 but that $30 each was too much to pass up. Oh and if you’re wondering, we looked up the subway guy’s music later – it was not good.
4. I just need a bed to crash in.
AirBnB or hotels in Manhattan are over $150 a night. Shared place last minute was $72. Saves $78.
Once when I was headed to New York City, I wanted a super cheap place to stay so I looked at AirBnB. I was able to find one super last minute and for really cheap. The only thing was… I couldn’t check in until 9 PM and I had to check out by 9 AM. It was the weirdest hours! But for less than $70 a night in New York, beggars can’t be choosers. So I stayed just 12 hours at that weird shared room AirBnB and I think I’ll splurge for somewhere I can sleep in next time.
5. I’ll Just Sleep on the Plane
Overnight flight $410, flight on the same morning $650. Saves $240.
Who needs sleep am I right? Wrong. The older I get, the more I value my sleep… However, I somehow keep deciding to take these overnight flights to save extra. I just booked a $293 flight to Europe this winter that leaves New York City at 12:30 am. There must be something wrong with me! This year alone I’ve taken 3 overnight flights. I’d love to say I’m good at sleeping on flights but honestly I’m not. When the flight is $200 cheaper than everything else you can find though, you make a sacrifice!
Now that you think I’m crazy and might be just a little over the top when it comes to saving money, have fun and find more ways to save! I would love to hear about your crazy ways to save money traveling too. Done something a little over the top? Let me know in the comments below!