How to Save on the 5 Biggest Travel Expenses and Still Have an Incredible Trip

You don’t have to diminish your experience to save money while travelling! We’ve assembled practical tips to help you save on five of the biggest travel expenses: transportation, lodging, food, excursions, and shopping.

Save on Travel Expenses

1. Transportation

The average family spends about 44% of their travel budget on getting to (and from) their destination. Flying is most expensive way to get around, with cruise ships at a close second. These expenses are unavoidable if you’re travelling overseas, but there are ways to spend less on vacation transportation.

  • Timing is important when it comes to airfare. The best time to buy plane tickets is 8 weeks before the day of your trip; the most expensive times are when the flight is announced and two weeks before takeoff. Buy early, but not too early.
  • Travel off-season. Airfare rises and falls with seasonal demand. You’ll save money while travelling in the off-season, like the weeks immediately after a big holiday or celebration.
  • At your travel destination, take the scenic route. Planning to travel by taxi? Know that the most direct route is usually the most expensive. Consider using public transportation and commuting by foot when you can. You’ll save money and get a more immersive experience of your destination.

2. Food

One of the best parts of travelling is indulging in local cuisine. But those meals add up fast. More than 80% of the average traveller’s food budget is spent in restaurants, bars and cafés. Here’s how to spend less while still getting a taste of the culture.

  • Stock up on food at local markets and grocery stores. Store it in the micro-fridge in your hotel room. That way, you can enjoy at least one fresh meal a day in your hotel room without paying the restaurant premium. Be sure to request a room with a micro-fridge when booking your hotel.
  • Dine outside of tourist areas. Restaurants are always more expensive in touristy areas, and they aren’t necessarily the best your destination has to offer. Instead, try an out-of-the-way spot with a positive rating on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
  • Carry snacks with you on daytrips. Stockpile snacks in your hotel micro-fridge and take some with you when you go out. These will help you stave off mid-day cravings and avoid spending extra at food stands and vending machines

3. Lodging

Hotels are another significant expense, especially in major tourist destinations. Fortunately, there are lots of options for travellers who want to spend less on a bed and a roof over their head.

  • Avoid ordering room service. In most cases, the convenience isn’t worth the added cost. If you’re known to indulge in a midnight snack, store something tasty in your micro-fridge instead.
  • Always compare prices – but do it incognito. Some hotels and booking services use your browser history to manipulate the prices you see. Turn on your browser’s incognito mode to avoid price hikes.
  • Stay with friends and family when you can. Don’t hesitate to ask your acquaintances abroad if they’re willing to let you spend a night!

4. Excursions

The cost of excursions, entertainment, and activities vary widely across different destinations. In any case, these “things to do” amount to a major portion of travel expenses, especially for families. Planning ahead can help keep these costs manageable.

  • Buy a multi-excursion package deal/pass. Many tourist destinations offer package deals that bundle various popular stops into a single purchase. The Toronto CityPASS, for instance, includes visits to the CN Tower, Casa Loma, the ROM, Ripley’s Aquarium, and the Zoo or Science Centre.
  • Choose destinations where the location itself is a trip. You don’t have to pay extra to see incredible sights in historic cities like Rome, Paris, or even Quebec City. The same goes for sunny destinations with public beaches.
  • Prioritize the excursions you really want to do. Don’t feel compelled to hit every iconic tourist spot in town. Focus your time and money on things that matter to you. Many people find that seeing a live show or going hiking creates more lasting memories than touring the same monuments they’ve seen hundreds of times on TV.

5. Shopping

Shopping isn’t a huge travel expense for everyone, but some of us just can’t resist the draw of souvenirs and duty-free. Keep these things in mind if you know you’ll want to shop on your vacation.

  • Avoid shopping near major tourist attractions. The more foot traffic the area receives from tourists, the more vendors can charge for their goods. The same goes for restaurants.
  • Use credit or debit whenever possible. Paying with plastic gets you better exchange rates compared to paying with cash and gives you recourse in the event that the product is defective or the service a scam.

Don’t buy specialty products you don’t know much about. Most people know better than to blindly trust a salesperson back home when they claim a product is top-of-the-line — they go online and research the product first. The same should apply to products purchased on vacation. If a vendor claims a product is special or high-quality, verify before you buy.

5 Ways to Use a Mini-Fridge

Small but mighty, mini-fridges have all the benefits of a full-sized unit in a pint-sized space.

They’re perhaps best known as a dorm room staple, keeping home-cooked leftovers and tasty beverages cool for hungry college students. But it’s time to think beyond the dorm! There are many ways these versatile appliances can make life more convenient.

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Here are a few other cool ways to use a mini-fridge you may want to try!

Stay Energized at the Office

Do you spend most of your days working at a desk? If so, a mini-fridge can be a solid addition to your workspace. Use it to store homemade lunches, coffee, cream or milk, snacks, or drinks.

Having a mini-fridge at your desk will keep you well-fed and hydrated throughout the day, without the need to use that germy water-cooler or nasty lunchroom fridge. Stock the mini-fridge with healthy snacks to avoid the temptation of the office vending machine.

Mini-fridges are great for home offices as well, since they save you a trip to the kitchen (and its many potential distractions).

Store Homegrown Food

There’s nothing like eating your very own homegrown produce. But when it comes time to harvest, your fridge becomes full to the brim with fresh fruits and vegetables! Make room for more with a mini-fridge in your pantry or garden shed. The same goes for eggs from backyard chickens!

Keep Food Allergens Separate

Managing food allergies can be a challenge, especially when it comes to kids. When a child has a food allergy, families do their best to keep the foods in question out of that child’s reach.

But what about food that needs refrigeration? You can keep allergens on their own shelf in the fridge, but they will still be in close quarters with the rest of the food.

There’s a better solution: keep foods containing allergens in their own separate mini-fridge. A mini-fridge can easily fit a carton of milk, eggs, peanut butter cups, or other common culprits for food allergies.

Have the Best Bar Fridge

No one likes it when thirsty party guests rummage through their kitchen fridge. They may be your friends, but they don’t need to know about your emergency cheesecake stash.

Instead, get a mini-fridge to use as a designated drink fridge for your bar or rec room. Your beverages will stay cool, your guests will be happy, and your party will be way more organized.

Enjoy Cold Drinks in Any Room — Or Even Outdoors

Sure, a full-sized fridge is great. But it’s not exactly mobile. A mini-fridge, on the other hand, can go just about anywhere if there’s a place to plug it in.

You could stock your workshop or garage with choice beverages, or indulge in snacks by the poolside. A mini-fridge can make your car-camping experience all the more convenient. The potential ways to use a mini-fridge are limited only by your imagination!

8 Tips for Traveling With Kids

Sometimes, even just going to the grocery store with your kids can be a hassle. Traveling is the dream for many, but it might seem like an impossibility to travel with kids. It is doable, however, and here are a few tips to make it a bit more manageable.

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Travel Light

Nothing takes the wind out of your sails like lugging around half your belongings, plus the kitchen sink. When packing, be ruthless. Only pack what you know you will need, not for every eventuality. Yes, it’s good to be prepared, but if you’ve packed to make sure your outfits always match, it’s time to rethink.

This goes doubly for children. Kids tend to pack things they don’t need and forget the things they actually do need. Your best bet is to do the packing for them.

Dress for the Weather

What’s worse than being stuck out for the day and being too cold or too hot? Having a child that’s miserable from being under or over-dressed. You either need to make sure everyone is dressed properly when they leave or can change to suit the weather.

If it’s cold but likely to warm up, make sure everyone has some way to carry their extra layers as they shed them off.

Plan Ahead

When traveling, it’s common to want to see as much as possible in a short amount of time. Plan your routes to make the most of every outing. Your hotel concierge should be able to point you in the right direction for sights and attractions that would be fun for kids as well as adults.

Some kids need structure to enjoy themselves, so a bit of planning can go a long way.

Take Your Time (and Add Buffer Time)

Going anywhere with kids, whether you’re travelling or not, can take longer than you expect. Children are easily side-tracked, and it’s important to allow time for them to explore and learn on their own. So, add a few extra minutes here and there to stop for food, bathroom breaks, or other unexpected detours.

Go With the Flow

While it’s good to have a plan and stick to it, kids can be completely unpredictable. They may get tired, or they might see something they just have to go and check out. This tip ties into the previous and will help you to avoid stress.

Don’t be afraid to switch things up. Sometimes the best vacation memories happen from a spur of the moment decision.

Use Public Transport

Kids love things like trains or buses. And there’s no better way to soak in local culture than immersing yourself in the way they get around.

Buses and trains tend to take circuitous routes, so sit back and watch the new locales and streets pass by. You might even see something you’ll want to hop off and check out!

Give Your Child a Camera or a Notebook

Keeping your child busy with a project is a great way to protect your sanity. Give your son or daughter a camera—a basic one can be found super cheap—or even just a notebook and pen to log every sight or memory. They’ll have fun, and they’ll also build something they can take for show and tell and keep as a souvenir for the rest of their lives.

Choose an All-Suite Hotel

One of the biggest challenges of staying anywhere other than home is not having the amenities that you’re used to. This is doubly the case with kids.

Having an all-suite hotel room means you’ll have extra room for the little ones to spread out and play, and mom and dad don’t need to stress about taking the kids out for dinner. With an attached fully-equipped kitchen, an all-suite room means you’ll have a home away from home to cook those family recipes that your kids are used to.

Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be a nightmare! Just remember a few of these tips and you’ll be sure to have an amazing time seeing the world with your family.