This month I’ve been giving a lot of thought to saving money so that I can travel more in 2015. I’ve already been to Key West, Florida and Whistler, BC this year.  I’m also planning trips to Lima, Peru and Sydney, Australia. That’s a lot of travel in one year and to make it happen I’ll have to be careful with my money.

Sunset from beach at Fort Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.

After leveraging rewards points at the booking stage, the next step is to save money by planning well and travelling low to the ground. Here are seven tips for each.

Plan your travels and save

  1. Travel on the shoulder or off-season. The shoulder season is my favourite time to travel. The crowds are smaller, all the major attractions are still open, and you’re more likely to find great prices on flights, hotels, resorts, and more.
  2. Be flexible on departure and return dates. One day before or after can affect the price of your flights significantly. Be as flexible as possible to save money.
  3. Look for great deals. Check out Expedia+ rewards™ for deals on hotels, flights and resorts. Watch for the single supplement on the latter – this is a surcharge for booking one person rather than two. Some packages will likely have a supplement, but don’t worry about it if the deal is so great that you’ll still be paying less with the supplement included than you would if you were paying the full price.
  4. Compare packaged offerings. Take the time to research and add up the cost of booking your travel piece by piece–flights, hotels, and car rentals–and compare it to booking a package that includes everything. Booking it all together can save you money.
  5. Choose a destination that fits your budget. If, after doing your research you find that the costs just don’t fit your budget, consider another destination. Bologna may not be Rome but it is equally fascinating and far friendlier to the solo traveler.
  6. Book attractions in advance. Whether you’re buying lift passes at a ski resort or tickets to a show, it’s often less expensive to book in advance online.
  7. Borrow before you go. Taking a short trip? Public libraries have guidebooks and maps to lend. With a guidebook costing anywhere up to CAN$30, this amounts to significant savings.

A view from the Delta Whistler. On a brighter day there would be a stunning view of the mountain.

Plan your time on the ground and save

  1. Pack light. This will mean no fees at the airport, faster check-in, and, with a small suitcase or backpack you won’t be inclined to buy souvenirs unless you really, really want them.  My Bare Minimum Packing post will help you achieve this minimalist approach to travel.
  2. Use local transit. Local transit not only gets you around inexpensively but it also gives you a chance to see how locals live. I especially try to take transit from the airport to my hotel as this is often an expensive trip. In London, for example, you can take the tube for £3 as opposed to £10 for a bus or £17 for the express train. That’s a savings of £14 minimum round trip – enough for a very nice lunch.
  3. Enjoy fine restaurants at lunch. Is there a special restaurant you want to try? Book a reservation for lunch rather than dinner. You’ll enjoy the same quality of food, supervised by the same executive chef, but for a lower price.
  4. Save on meals. If you can enjoy one or two meals a day in your room you’ll save plenty for fine restaurants. Buy breakfast and snack food at grocery stores. Consider a picnic with bread, nuts, and fruit. There are many ways to save according to your preferences.
  5. Think before you spend. Before you buy a souvenir consider whether it’s worth more to you than having that amount already in your savings for the next trip. Consider photos. They make wonderful, light, and inexpensive souvenirs. The goal is to end up with less stuff, less financial stress, and more money for travel.
  6. Track what you spend. By having a budget and knowing how you’re doing compared to that budget you’ll spend less. Apps like Trail Wallet will help you do so in multiple currencies.
  7. Never stop saving. Automate the process of moving money from your chequing account to your dedicated travel savings account on a monthly or weekly basis. Do so even as you travel. By saving money every month all year round, you’ll become accustomed to living on just a little less so that you’ll have more to travel on in the future.

What are your best money-saving tips?

My luggage

A carry-on and a backpack or a carry-on and a large purse. That’s it. That’s all I travel with no matter how long the trip.