How to travel frugally (and have fun)

Mr. Frugal and Ms. Happy have just come back from a long vacation from Asia and Europe and we had so much fun learning how to travel frugally. We want to share these tips we learnt with you and hope it will be useful for you too.

Tip 1: Always Plan Ahead

The biggest money-saving strategy is to always plan ahead! You will get a much cheaper flight and hotel if you reserve it ahead of time. Plan ahead not only means you can save money, but time as well. Always book a ticket online before you go to the museums, attractions, etc. For example, when we were in France, we booked the ticket to the Louvre the day before so that we avoided being stuck in line for more than one hour.

You should really book the ticket online and visit a popular site before the crowds

Tip 2: Find a Travel Reward Credit Card

There are so many options there if you want to find a travel reward credit card and you definitely should take advantage of them. These benefits include:

  • More points paying back
  • Free access to airport lounge
  • Hotel credits, etc

Usually, you either pay some annual fee or spend certain amount of money for the first 3 months of registration. You should decide the card based on your situation. In our situation, Mr. Frugal used the points generated from his credit card to buy Ms. Happy’s flight tickets (Thank you, Mr. Frugal!). And we also enjoyed the free access to most airport and hotel lounges, which means we saved a lot on food.

Tips 3: Live and Eat – Go Local! 

We used Airbnb most of the time (except if we have local friends who are willing to welcome us to their home). For us, it not only saves a lot of money (compared to living in a hotel), you can also learn how to save money from the locals. A lot of Airbnb hosts would love to share their favorite cheap (but delicious) eats with the guests and we have never been disappointed with their recommendations.

Another trick to save money on food is to eat like a local. There is nothing wrong to go to a fancy restaurant for the unique experience (and we occasionally do that), however, most of the time we are just happy to live like a local. That means when you are in Iceland, eat a lot of seafood. And when you are in Paris, sit by the Siren and enjoy a baguette sandwich with less than 5 euro.

My $2 noodle in Taiwan
We also like to try a little more fancier, occasionally









Tip 4: Use Free Apps as Your Local Guide 

It is amazing to see how many apps are there to be your local guide. what’s really impressive about these apps is that they have offline GPS navigation which will save data (and money) on roaming. For each site, they also have a description about its history, highlight, etc.

Ms. Happy has chosen GPSmyCity on this trip. It has more than 1000 cities  walking tours in this app, and you can just pay $12.99/year to access all of them. Also, if you can just pay $3.99 to access one city.

Tip 5: Try Free and Discounts

When we were in Taiwan, we found that most local bakeries start to sell at a 50% discount after 6pm.  We got a lot of snacks by taking advantage of it and had a lot of great and cheap pastries. We also like to research on restaurants that we’d like to eat at and schedule our visits based on their happy hour. When you are on vacation and don’t have to be bound with your work schedule, why not take advantage of your freedom? 🙂

Having beers at Happy Hour in Iceland

Final Tip: Be Creative  (and it’s fun!)

Want to see a beautiful view of Paris? You don’t have to pay a $50 ticket to get on top of the Eiffel tower. Try to find other options. This is another good way to learn more about the city (instead of picking up the most obvious one). For Ms. Happy, her choice is paying 10 euro to get on the ferris wheel and 6 euro to the dome of Sacre-Coeur.

The view from a 10 euro ferris wheel

That’s the point of the whole frugal traveling thing, right? This is a game and you will have a lot of fun by being creative of your own trip designer.



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