32 Travel Tips for a Cheaper and Deeper Experience

We’ve been traveling around the world on and off since 1997, including living in 5 countries for extended periods, so we’ve accumulated our fair share of travel tips along the way.

Whilst our style of travel has evolved throughout those years from being solo travelers, to travelling as a couple, and now as a travelling family, there are some core travel habits that have served us well, and we continue to follow them to this day.

But, for now, the following list of tips will not only help you to have a more enriching and deeper traveling experience, but will help you save money and burn out.

You can listen to our travel podcast where we share how we’ve travel work for every stage of our life. Plus more tips and interviews!

32 Travel Tips

1. Spend More Time in Fewer Places

Instead of racing from one end of a country to another, or tearing through 6 continents in 6 months, get to know a region well. Having to pack and unpack, deal with many airports, bus terminals, boarder crossings and even visa issues can lead to burn out. And too much transport can really eat into your budget.

So slow down and take more in. That way, you won’t suffer from burn out, and you’ll get a better feel for a place and learn about the best things to see and do. Understand that you will never have time to see EVERYTHING. And be okay with it.

2. Talk to the Locals

It can go a long to a friendship, good advice, and even a discount. A good starter is to ask for directions or advice (“Where’s a good restaurant?”). Get a phrasebook and make the effort to learn at least a few phrases of the local language. It can make life easier for you and the locals will respect you more.

Meeting the locals in Dali, China
Hanging with the locals in Dali, China

3. Blow Your Budget

Every now and then throw your daily budget calculator out the window. We go away to experience things and create lifelong memoriesDon’t limit yourself to just traveling for the sake of traveling.

Go splurge on a famous restaurant, see a big concert, attend a mega sporting event, go on a safari, jump out of a plane, do something incredible. Even if you have to go under budget for a few days or a week to compensate for your splurge. It’s worth it.

4. Get Up Early in the Morning

It really is the best time of day. You’ll see a city come to life, there will be fewer tourists, and you will have more time to explore. Also, the early light is less harsh and can be the best time for your photography.

5. Leave Room for Flexibility in Your Schedule

If you’re on an extended trip, don’t pre-book everything. You’ll meet people along the way who will recommend great places you’ve never heard of. You’ll discover interesting cultural activities and tours, and places you thought you only needed 2 days in you’ll need a week.

Places that sound great from your research at home turn out to be a dive. If all your flights, tours and accommodation are pre-booked, it can be costly to change. Go with the flow a little.

6. Travel With An Open Mind

We  travel abroad to experience different cultures, environments, and ways of thinking. Don’t shut yourself off to experiencing all there is to offer. If you travel with an open mind you can have a much more enriching experience.

There are times and moments when other cultures will shock you. Don’t judge them. When this happens, we just sit back and say to ourselves …“Isn’t that interesting?”

7. Sign Up for e-Mail Notifications

The best airfare and hotel sales can go largely unannounced, unless you’ve registered on their web sites and signed up for their e-Newsletters. It pays to belong by signing up to their mailing list. Special promotion codes can save you money and you can also be notified of last minute deals in this way.

8. Become Facebook and Twitter Fans

Go and “like” your favorite travel sites on facebook and “follow” them on twitter. Just like with signing up to their newsletters, it’s getting more and more common for sites and companies to release hot deals directly through their social media channels.

9. Use the Free Days

Attend museums or tourist sites on free days or when they are discounted. Most museums have special discount times or free nights. Before you go anywhere, make sure you look on their website or facebook page to find out if they offer free visiting hours or discounts.

10. Travel Light

Pack the bare minimum because you can always buy it there. Roll things. Choose shoes first, and plan outfits around them. Wear your big hiking boots onto the plane rather than pack them. Stuff your underwear into your shoes even. It’s always best to halve your clothes and double your budget.

Read our post on how to pack a suitcase efficiently.

11. Make it a Working Holiday

If you’re considering long term travel, a working holiday can give you the opportunity to experience a new culture, gain new skills, and it’s a great way to fund your travels for an extended stay.

By participating in a working holiday, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of the people and their day to day lives, you’ll get a real feel for the heartbeat of the country, and you’ll get out of your comfort zone by trying different and unusual jobs.

12. Consider Living off One Wage

If you are a couple and are saving for your dream trip, consider living off one wage and put the other away into a dedicated savings account. That’s what we did for a whole year and it really adds up.

Read our post on Saving Tips for World Travel

13. Get Flashcards Made Up

If you are traveling in a foreign land with a difficult language, get some flashcards made up with basic commands. e.g. When we travelled China we had a flashcard saying we were vegetarian.

Also, get the hotels business card with the local language printed on it so you can show taxi drivers the location of where you are staying.

14. Bring a Sarong With You

It doesn’t weigh anything and can be useful for so many things like covering yourself in holy places, a bed sheet , a towel, a picnic blanket, a scarf, a sweater, wind protection, a privacy screen. Amazing!

Flight Tips

15. Go Directly To The Airline’s Website

Once you have looked at all your favorite search websites to find your cheapest flight, as a LAST resort go direct to that airlines own website. Many airlines have lower fares that you can only get when you book online at their site. Sometimes airlines like to keep benefits for their own people.

16. Be Flexible With Your Dates and Times

Give yourself the best chance to capture a cheap flight. Leaving a few days before or after your ideal date could mean the difference of hundreds of dollars. Also, taking the red-eye, or flying at unpopular hours increases your chances of getting a cheaper flight.

17. Fly Off-Peak Days

A Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday are off-peak days which usually means lower fares, less passengers, and a better chance of grabbing frequent flyer seats.

18. Join a Frequent Flyer Program

So you can earn points towards cheaper fares, upgrades, and free companion tickets. It may take a while to accumulate points, but they CAN pay off big time if you fly a lot. The programs are free and many airlines are partnered now so they’ll recognize and honor each others miles.

I’ve used my points to fly a free return trip for from North Carolina-Atlanta-London-Johannesburg-Cape Town and back!

19. Sign Up for an Airline Affiliated Credit Card

If you are going to be using a credit card anyways, you may as well start accumulating frequent flyer points. Benefits depend on which country you live in and what cards you have access to.

Accommodation Tips

20. Stay More Than 1 Night

Many hotels and hostels provide their best deals when you stay over more than one night.

21. Call the Hotel Directly

A last minute phone call directly to a hotel or hostel and asking about cheap rooms can prove fruitful. They don’t like having empty rooms so will discount.

22. Stay over Sunday

Many hotels recieve Friday and Saturday night bookings from leisure travelers and Monday-Friday bookings from their business travelers, so there can be a void on Sunday nights. Plus, always ask for an upgrade at check in – they can only say no.

23. Apartment Rental

Most big-city hotel rooms were not built for families with young kids. They usually have no refrigerator or microwave, floor space is at a premium, and neighbors can hear every tantrum. But with an apartment you get more space,  thicker walls, a kitchen, a washing machine, and separate bedrooms.

Our spacious 2 bedroom apartment in Auckland

24. Sleep While Traveling

When taking a flight, train, or bus, try and plan it so you are traveling at night. That way, you don’t have to pay for a night’s accommodation.

Eating and Drinking

25. Go out for Breakfast or Lunch

Try and avoid dinner as restaurants raise prices. OR, have brunch instead of 3 meals a day. Many restaurants offer lunch specials where items on the dinner menu are offered for a fraction of the cost you’d pay for the same meal in the evening.

26. Eat Away from the Tourist Streets

Just go one street or one block over and it will usually be cheaper and more authentic.

27. Self-Cater Where You Can

When we take an extended trip, we make self-contained accommodation with kitchen facilities a priority. Purchasing your own supplies from the grocery store can save you big bucks. Unless you are in Asia where eating out is incredibly cheap.

And when booking a hotel or hostel look for one with breakfast included. Also, have picnics, barbeque’s, and house parties. This saves precious money. And take your own food on flights, buses and trains where practical.

28. Eat from the Street Carts and Vendors

It’s cheap, and the great thing is you can see what is actually being cooked and is cooked fresh right in front of you. Pay attention to where the locals eat and what is popular, that way you can be assured it is safe to eat there.

Read this guest post on The real reason you should eat street food on your travels

Khao San Road in Bangkok, Thailand

29. Leave the ATM Card at Home

When going out drinking, just take a certain amount of cash. When the money is gone it’s GONE and you won’t be tempted to withdraw more. Your wallet and your head will thank you in the morning!

30. Drink in Before Going Out

Then, take advantage of any happy hours and don’t drink expensive import stuff – give the local stuff a go.


31. Travel Like the Locals

Use public transport where possible. You get great knowledge and insight by hanging with the locals, it costs you less, and is a more authentic travelling experience.

We have met so many amazing local people from traveling at close quarters with them on public transport.

32. Walk as Much as You Can

You can experience more things just by wandering around a city and getting lost, talking with locals, and people watching. It’s a great way to soak up the local culture, and get a real feel for the atmosphere of a place.

Get active and see things at a slower pace, and walking is always FREE! You can explore local markets, wander around and take lots of photos, or even hike to the top of a hill for an awesome view. Stay in accommodation that allows for this and you will also save money on transportation.

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Our list of 32 travel tips will help you save money and help you to experience a deeper and more enriching travel experience around the world.

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111 thoughts on “32 Travel Tips for a Cheaper and Deeper Experience”

  1. Fantastic tips on how to travel for extended period of times! We want to travel Australia, but we dont have any set time frame. I like your tip about exploring each place in more deepth, and also asking the locals for directions. We hope to be on the Road for as long as we want to keep going! There are so many amazing places waiting to be discovered.

  2. Great tips here! Everyone always assumes that we’re millionaires to be able to travel as much as we do, but with a little care in choosing accommodation, eating street food and taking public transport it’s often much cheaper to travel in many parts of the world than it is to stay at home! And like you said, not only do these tips help save money, but they often provide more opportunities to engage with locals and have a deeper experience. Win-win!

    1. Hi Audrey,

      Wouldn’t it be nice if it were true, the millionaires part 🙂

      But yeah, it’s really about prioritizing and making smart choices, particularly if you want to travel for extended periods. And the street food in many countries is more often than not the best experience.

  3. Excellent tips. In particular: 2. We visit wineries when we can – wonderful way to meet the locals. 4. Early morning is definitely the way to go – you can have a siesta especially in hot countries. 25. In France, there are wonderful midday specials you never see at night because they are geared to business people. Tip 33: Make sure you download a dictionary onto your smart phone for each country. It’s very important to know how to say “hello”, “goodbye”, “please” and “thank you” in the local language.

    1. Hey Fraussie,

      First of all, with a name like that, can I assume you’re half French half Aussie?? Lol..

      And I agree with you, it’s really makes a difference being able to say the basic commands of the local language. Safe travels.

      1. Yes, first 22 years in Townsville and more than 1 1/2 times that in France. At 6 my daughter was indignant that we hadn’t learnt the basics in Chinese for a 24 hour stopover in Taipei. Lesson learnt I’ve made the effort ever since!

  4. Another way to save $ while traveling and immerse yourself in a new culture, even with a family, is to use CouchSurfing.org, workaway.info or wwoof.org to find places to stay and/or work in exchange for room and board. Or if you have a house to exchange, use homeexchange.com to trade accomodation with someone in a place you’d like to visit.

    1. Hi Paige,

      We are still to try Couchsurfing, but I know it comes highly recommended by many people. Must make a point of incorporating it into our schedule next time.

      And we definitely plan on house sitting in the future.

  5. Wow, absolutely one of the best blogposts that shares my views on travel. Reeeeally hit the nail one the head for me in many ways!! Thanks so much, guys!

  6. Great list. One of our tips for hostels is check out what is happening in the evenings. Lots of big hostels have bars and theme nights but don’t knock back the small hostels that offer half board, a wine a cheese night or an opt in meal for a few bucks if you help cook it. Some of our best nights have been with a small group at a small hostel away from the party scene. A great way to meet ppl that doesn’t involve going out and drinking and spending.

    1. Hey Sam,

      You are correct, many of the better hostels provide great value in the evenings. I think one of the best we’ve stayed in for this was the Green Tortoise in San Francisco.

      Staying in on the odd occasion and meeting like minded travellers over a few beers has definitely provided some of our fondest memories and created some lifetime friendships.

  7. When you don’t have time to learn the local language, download the Google Translate app to your iPhone or iPad. On a recent trip to Tuscany we stayed a month in a small town with only 2 English speaking locals. We used Google translate for the rest and got by very well. I can’t say the same for Google Maps (got misdirected more than once).

  8. Great tips Craig. In recent trips I have really learnt the value of travelling slower, staying in one place longer and getting to know the locals. It makes the travel experience so much better, and saves money as well.

  9. All of this is such good advice, especially the part about skipping dinner since the prices are raised. Brunch and then a late lunch would probably be SO much cheaper.

  10. All really great tips. The translate apps for the iPhone and iPad were invaluable this summer in Turkey. After exhausting Italian and English and still getting puzzled looks I found a WiFi spot and grabbed Google translate. Boy it made life easier.

  11. Q & I have trouble with pre-booking everything. Especially because wherever we go tends to be high-season so we’re worried about lodging being unavailable by the time we arrive to the destination. Hopefully our RTW will have room for flexibility, we’re planning on it.

  12. Awesome tips. Here’s one…

    If you’re flying from the states to Europe, Find the cheapest flight from your local city to the cheapest city in Europe you can find. You can then take one of the budget airlines like Ryan Air or Easy Jet to your desired destination for just a few bucks most times.

  13. Super informative post, all those tips were great! We also downloaded a free app from the Thai government that’s called Speak Thai (for our iphone) and it gives us Thai words translated- you can also have the app say the words in Thai for you! It’s been a great app especially in the beginning of our trip on a tiny island trying to use the toilet!

  14. Hi,
    I really ejoyed your travel tips. I have not been around the world, but I have used some of your travel tips in the past and its nice to know we think on same lines. I usually get a map of the city and map where I want to go, and plan, if possible a city tour on the first day and then I know where to go back and spend my time. Like you said, take your TIME!!!! ENJOY!!

    1. Taking one of those city tours can be useful to decide where to focus on like you said. We took a great one in Savannah, Georgia.

      And then just got lost wandering around for a few days 🙂

  15. A really excellent, comprehensive list. Learned from so many of the general whilst I was travelling and ended up living in New Zealand for 6 months. Wouldn’t have had it any other way.

  16. I highly recommend Couchsurfing, even if you don’t feel comfortable staying with a stranger at first there are a lot of events and meet-ups. For example when I arrived in Lima a local arranged a day where she showed us her city, she was practicing her English and she showed us things we could not have known about elsewhere. All completely free.

    1. i wish we did couch surfing before kids. i think it might be a little tricky now. They would have to have a big couch 🙂 But absolutely great advice for solo or couples travel. Sounds the bomb!

      1. I still wouldn’t discount it, I met a few traveling families that couchsurfe d with families only. In a lot of cases the families wanted to expose their children to new cultures.

        I have actually never stayed on a couch, I usually had my own bedroom and sometimes bathroom. I have heard that the couchsurfing families are the same way and in one case they had their own guest house.

        Just a thought 🙂

        1. Great to know. We might look into it. I just assumed that most people wouldn’t want families. And if they have their own guest house then we are there!!

  17. Fantastic tips, great list!
    When I travel to other cities, I always choose to walk or public transports. This is a good way to learn about the city and experience the local people’s life style. Thanks for the excellent tips!

  18. Excellent advice, and best of all not only are most of these traveling habits simple, but can actually enhance your experience while traveling. Getting out of your comfort zone is one of the most exciting aspects of travel.

  19. Excellent tips! Some other ones: check out VRBO, AirBnB, and Craiglist’s Share/sublet housing sections for lodging. Negotiate like you are at a night market in Thailand. 🙂 Oftentimes, you can get a deeply discounted stay off the posted nightly rate if the owner hasn’t booked up that particular time period and you offer to pay cash upfront for a prolonged stay. Also offer to dogsit or go shopping at the market if you post a “housing wanted” ad on craiglist when you plan to be somewhere for longer than a few days, that has allowed me to rent much nicer places and have great pooch to explore the city with or help out the elderly and get to hear local stories from the times past. 🙂 Eat street food, just make sure the seller has some kind of hand sanitizing system nearby. Always keep anti-upset stomach meds on you when traveling to street food heavy countries. Make friends with and tip your local taxi/shuttle well and they’ll put you on a best local form of public transportation to the next city. Smile with your eyes when unsure of the situation. Dropping the unnecessary “the” and extra adjectives and using the simplest tense of a verb eases the locals understanding of your English.

  20. This is my favorite way to travel! I love being able to get fully immersed in the culture and learning to understand the people, I feel like I have a much deeper experience doing this. Thank you for all the great tips.

  21. Awesome list of tips, Craig! I never thought of making flashcards for expressions that I couldn’t remember. Genius! Also totally agree with the tips about going more local and making friends with locals. I feel like it totally enhances one’s experience of the country.

  22. #4 is a great tip of your that I follow. We try to be the first people to different tourists sights when they open up.

    I will have to try #13. In China, I used to copy the symbols our hotel name out of guidebooks but I usually did this on moving trains or some other non-optimal time. People would always laugh at them even when they understood.

    Thanks for the tips – this is a great post.

  23. As a recent grad trying to see the world, pinching pennies is extremely important for me. I would like to travel forever so I’m hoping to make my savings last. Since I don’t really drink or smoke, that’s a big area I can save in.

  24. All good tips, I enjoyed the article, and have been traveling since 1994, first alone then as a pair then as a family just as you have.

    The world is just too awesome to stay in one spot.

  25. That’s excellent – especially the part about scheduling loosely. Picking the right town is essential; I love the mountains, and the cheapest entertainment is when it’s built into the Myrtle Beach resorts oceanfront. The kids love, it doesn’t cost anything, and a lot of the stuff that does isn’t that expensive. Especially on the restaurants – just drive away from the ocean for a few minutes and start looking around. That is something I like to do no matter what city I am going to!

  26. Gorgeous tips, the fullest list of all the cheap travel tips I’ve ever stumbled upon! I would only add that one thing regarding the Eating & Drinking:
    1. It’s always great to buy food in local grocery store and arrange a picnic in one of city’s parks with great views and tasty local products.
    2. Make a research on the cheapest local food and eateries and use this knowledge to save up on food. For instance in this article there’s information on how to dine in Morocco, Egypt and even Paris for some few euros: http://www.traveling365.com/2013/03/cheap-travel-tips-how-to-save-up-on-food/

  27. What a colossal and helpful list of tips! Thank you! I agree wholeheartedly with sending more time in one place. I’m guilty of whizzing through a lot of places in a short period of time, but the few times I knew I had 3 or 4 days in the same place I’d sigh a big sigh of relief that I didn’t have to unpack or pack for a few days… Just relax!!!!!!!!

  28. Hey Caz & Craig !
    Great tips! I especially love the tip about leaving your ATM card at home/hotel, travelling on cheaper days and most of all the blow your budget tip. I always feel guilty if we do something fun or expensive – like the Tiger tour in Bangkok we did or dinning on a rooftop restaurant but then I think, hey why not! We are here to have fun and we don;t go crazy like this everyday!

    1. You have to have those special moments. If you travel the whole time on a strict budget it doesn’t really feel like a lot of fun after awhile and that you are doing anything amazing. It just feels like sacrifice. You have to have the balance

  29. These are great tips. I like what you said regarding traveling with an open mind. Indeed, we should be flexible and open to diverse cultures that we will encounter as we travel. To enjoy the experience, we should allow ourselves to experience the uniqueness of each culture.

  30. Hi Craig,

    I noticed you mentioned you were vegetarian. I am semi-vegetarian, meaning that I do not eat red meat. I have always had a love for traveling, especially because of the delicious food. However, I have always been apprehensive because in places like Europe meat is very prevalent. How did you manage to be vegetarian while traveling? Did you feel as if you “got the whole experience” foodwise? Thanks in advance for replying, I have always wondered about this.

  31. Such valuable tips!
    A very practical checklist, it is very important to immerse yourself in the culture of the place of travel and try new experiences. No. 2 “Talk to the Locals” is most important for every traveler because It’s a great way know their custom & culture.

  32. Good tips! I tried something similar to no: 13 in China. I wrote down important words in my pad so I could order in restaurants but I got ‘menu’ and ‘bill’ mixed up and didn’t realise for three months! Got a lot of funny looks and laughter! Good job I’m not vegetarian!

  33. Davide about cheap trips

    For the extreme travelers, you might learn how to hitchhike and dumpster dive: nothing cheaper than that! 🙂

    1. It depends on budget and what you want to see. You’ve got to be very clear on the things you want to see in each place, that will help you to know which countries you should spend the most amount of time in. Then you factor in your budget and possible work opportunities. We have a great planning section in our upcoming ebook which launches in the first week of Novemeber. Don’t miss it.

  34. Great tips! We also try to stay in hostels with kitchens and cook as much as possible. It’s amazing how quickly money goes when you eat at restaurants all the time. Tupperware is also a godsend for snacks and meals on the go! Awesome article!

  35. Love this! I agree that it’s important to blow the budget every now and then. Most days, however, I’ll try to be fairly strict and live more like locals than tourists – as in shopping at supermarkets (love foreign supermarkets!) and stuff.

  36. Some superb travel tips listed, especially like the one about the use of ‘flashcards’. What a terrific idea if traveling to a foreign country. I certainly could have use a few cards for a taxi, toilet and others over the years. Thanks for sharing!

  37. I agree with you. Early mornings are the ideal time to know the place with less people around and more visibility. Excellent article.

  38. I love these tips! They’re really practical and I learned some new things; thank you so much for sharing! I can’t wait to use these on my next trip!

  39. Travel Adventure

    This is a fantastic, amazing travel site for all travelers. Excellent sharing and tips! Thank you!

    1. Yeah it’s a really great website. I’ll actually be visiting this site to read more on people’s adventures around the world!

  40. Hey Craig, lovely advice 🙂
    I do really like the numbers 2, 3 and 28. Initiate talks to locals is a kind of “MUST” if you wanna experiment and see the real side of the country you’re visiting; And asking and getting advice from them will not only help you, but it’ll bring some joy, pride to the locals people.
    As the budget can be a real constraint, I usually think about my calculations after my travel, not during; just in order to enjoy my holidays and not miss a thing.
    Eating in street… lovely!! specially in Asia.

  41. Thank you for all of these wonderful tips! I am in the process of planning a 1-year world trip, and #5 is something I’m struggling with! I don’t want to pre-book, because I am hoping for that awesome advice along the way that you mention. But I am not sure how far in advance to book things… the first month? two months? Any advice would be super helpful! Thanks

  42. Great Post! Traveling with your family is one of the most thrilling ways to fill your holidays. If you are speculating where to travel next, here are some of the best break spots in the world.

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