Travel Blog: Saving Beyond the Big Ticket Items

by Mel Howell

man pulling suitcase in airport

July 16, 2014

Sometimes saving money while traveling isn’t just about big ticket items like great airfare or hotel bargains. You can also find ways to save a little bit here and there. Think about what you may spend on laundry, snacks or local travel…. It can add up, especially if you’re traveling with a family.

So, you’ve been carting dirty laundry around? (hope I’m not getting too personal here!). I’m currently in Thailand, a destination that is pretty much a financial bargain all around. My hotel is happy to provide laundry service and I’m getting (ahem) needy, so I sent a few items out and they magically reappeared clean and fresh on my bed the next day. But, ouch, the cost added to my check-out bill hurt. A day later, not quite so desperate, I went hunting for a local laundry service and had to walk ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE STREET to get laundry done for about a fourth of the cost. Sure, I had to go ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE STREET again to pick it up but that just means added value—laundry and exercise at the same time!

Same principle goes for snack items in the hotel. They are convenient and tempting but the 7-Eleven or equivalent nearby will have better selection and better prices. Take it a step further and head to a local outdoor market or street vendor and you may find delicious flavors and local color too. It’s always fun to shop in another context and the more local you go, the better your savings will be. Note to travelers in Southeast Asia—don’t try to bring durian fruit back to your hotel. You and the locals may love the taste, but your innkeepers probably have a sign posted “No Durian!” If you know durian, you’ll understand why.

Actually, with as much travel as I’m currently doing, I’ve started bringing snacks from home. They are cheaper, often healthier and don’t take up much space in the suitcase. When waiting at an airport, I’ve got something to munch on that keeps me from heading to McWhatever, spending money and adding to my cholesterol count.

One more—find the cheapest way to get around your destination by using local means of transport. Avoid taxis when possible or at least be sure they are using a meter rather than creating their own price. The metro, subway, tuk-tuk, bus, or those two wonderful appendages called feet, will all save you money with a little planning. Just don’t do what I did in Budapest and get off at the wrong metro station in a neighborhood with no landmarks, no address and no phone number. But that’s another story.

Category: Missionary Minded