Best Value for Money
Le Village Royal, Paris
Travelling costs a lot of money. Or not. It all ends up with where you choose to go and stay and what you like to do. Some of the most amazing things are for free. At least if you like spending time in nature experiencing mountains, beaches and visiting local restaurants far away from more touristic areas. You also save a lot of money if you plan your trip carefully. Follow our 10 tips to make the most out of your travel budget.
Our top 10 tips to get
the Best Value for Money
1. Mixing is key
We really like spending time in boutique hotels and eating tasting dinners but we neither can afford it nor appreciate it after the second or third time on a trip. We have found out that our thing is to mix expensive lodging and food with cheaper hotels or camping on the country side and simple (but still great) food at small local restaurants and bars.
Spend for example one day having a fabulous tasting dinner and staying overnight at a design hotel. Then spend a few days and nights eating local food, sushi take away, a sandwich or youghurt for lunch in a park and sleeping at a cheaper hotels, renting an apartment or freecamp depending on where you are.
Freecamping by Djupvatnet, Norway
Marquez de Riscal, Spain
2. Spend your time like you really want
Spending time like you really want probably sounds like the most obvious thing to do. But have you ever stood in a line to something you are not even really sure about what it is? At least we have. Simply because it is in every guide book and all the other tourists go there.
Ask yourself if you really, really want to visit that museum, take that gondola or go on that sightseeing tour? Or do you choose to do it because you feel it is something you ”have” to do. Would you go there if you visit the city again?
Thing is, some activities, especially those with a lot of advertisement, take a large part of your budget. Choosing activities with focus on your own interests will probably save you a lot of money.
City vacations are expensive but you can have a lot of fun in a city as it is. For kids it can be exciting to get up really early and be all alone in squares, avenues and alleys. A bonus is that it also brings great photo opportunities.
Mona Lisa in Louvren, Paris
8 a.m. on a Saturday in Barcelona
3. Go off-season
This is probably the best tip of all if you want to save money. Not only are the travels and hotels cheaper but there are also less crowds and better service. You can perhaps even shorten your trip with a day or two since you do not have to queu for everything.
Cloudy warm day off-season
El Camino, San Sebastian, Spain
4. Choose where to stay with care
Where you choose to sleep overnight takes a large part of your budget so saving up on that part makes the trip less expensive. Staying outside the very city center is one way to save money.
The downside of staying a bit off is that you might have to spend time and money on transportation, money that you could have spent on a little more expensive hotel in the city center. Also, perhaps you could even have shortened your trip with a day or two when not having to go by bus to the city centre every day.
Sometimes staying on the countryside might also be part of the trip, for example if you like spending time in the mountains or if you are just planning a day´s visit in the city center. That takes us back to tip number 1. Mixing is key.
Also, if you are a family of four or five you need to give lodging some extra attention since you do not want to end up paying for two or even three rooms unless necessary. We have realized that a suite (with two extra-beds) might be cheaper than paying for two standard rooms. Also, in the US lots of double rooms come with 2 queen size beds and you are allowed to book the room for 4 people without any problems. There might be an extra charge for breakfast.
Finally, it is always a good thing to book an apartment for a few nights on a round trip. It gives you that extra space. It can also be a really nice thing to cook your own dinner for a few nights using local ingredients. Perfect if you visit a market!
AirBnB is super popular and really gives you the possibility to meet with the locals. However, I find it annoying with the extra charges added in the end and it is not always the cheapest way to rent a house or an apartment.
The hotel Iriarte Jaruega, 20 minutes
north of San Sebastian, Spain
5. Compare and combine flights and hotels
Taking a (cheap) late night flight and sleeping at an airport hotel when you arrive might be cheaper than flying in the next morning. As a bonus you also get a whole extra day to spend.
Also, taking a cheap early morning flight and spending your last night at an airport hotel can be a good thing compared to going later next day. Of course it is not that great spending time at an airport hotel in the evening so you have to be prepared on that.
Southern Ridges Trail, Singapore
6. Search for fantastic experiences that are for free
Visiting national parks is a great way to get an adventure for almost no money at all. However, it is often difficult to find information about free hikes. Most information include offers to go with a guide or on a group hike. That might be just fine for lots of people but we like to go on our own and my guess is that some of you prefer that too.
One typical example of a thing that is for free is the absolutely fantastic Southern Ridges Trail in Singapore. I love walking up among the trees on canopies and wow that is what we got there!
I actually saw this place on the flight to Singapore as it was part of the ”safety movie” on Singapore Airlines. I was determined to go there on our way back from Bali. But, guess what! It was almost impossible to find information about it. I tried all the searching tricks I know before I got a clue where it even was and then Singapore is a small country.
The hike turned out great and lots of people have asked me about how to get there.
Garden Route, South Africa
7. Be flexible about where to go
There are a lot of beautiful places that are not so well-known but just as fantastic as those Instagram hot spots.
Try to find those and you will find out that hotels and food are a lot cheaper and it is less crowded. One example is the northern coast of Spain (except San Sebastian). There are so many lovely little villages and the nature is stunning.
Another example is Andorra which probably is crowded in Winter but almost empty during summer (except for the capital - Andorra la Vella).
Check the offers airline companies have. Sometimes it is really cheap to go to places like Amsterdam in January, Biarritz in October or Rome in November.
8. Book early
If you do have to go on large holidays like Christmas or Easter, simply because you have kids at school or because that is the only time you can be away from work, then plan and book a year ahead. I have never found a cheap flight on a large holiday in the last minute.
Booking early also gives you more possibilities to choose the flight you want to maximize your trip without long stop-overs.
Booking early also increases the chances to book the hotels you want to stay at. The best ones are always booked first. The only chance to get a great hotel when booking late is if someone cancels. Which happens.
Key West, Florida, USA
9. Even the smallest things count
Buying water everyday costs money and plastic bottles is a waste for the environment. An easy way to come around this is to bring your own water bottle and fill it at home or at the airport (after safety) if possible.
The Botanical Garden, Las Palmas, Spain
10. Plan and book your own trip!
There are lots of great travel agencies that can help you to set up the perfect round trip. Sometimes it is probably worth it. You do get a lot of help and support for the money you pay. But sometimes it is not that hard to arrange it all by yourself. It partly depends on where you go and how used you are to plan and travel.
We get a lot of travel inspiration from travel agencies. When we find a round trip we like we do a rough estimate of the cost if we plan and book everything by ourselves instead. We usually end up saving about 25-50 %, especially for a family of four.
Choosing where to go