Travel Budget Management:
Smart Ways to Reduce Travel Expenses



Since the global economic and financial crisis had started, we've been more and more preoccupied with reducing costs of living, some of us even giving up on enjoyable travels.

Though there are financial problems pretty much in every country in the World, we still shouldn't give up traveling! It can be fun, but we'll have to tighten out budget and squeeze the most out of our itinerary.

Regardless whether traveling at last minute or having booked in advance, you will have to make a thorough analysis of what you are spending on during the trip as well.

Let's see how to shrink expenditures and still have pleasant trips to remember even decades after!

Overview of the Traveler's Budget

Here's an approximate estimate pie chart reflecting expenses made by the average traveler. What do we buy and how much do each categories of purchases occupy within our whole budget?

Examine this pie chart and imagine how your graphical representation of expenses would look like. It will be slightly different, but most travelers have a similar one to this one.

We've created this chart based on our own experiences during both short and long trips and have decided to present it without numbers, amounts of money spent in order to make it more comprehensive. (Currencies would differ anyway and we wanted to show the proportions rather than the amounts).

Of course, the basic travel services eat up most of our budget. 40-60 % of our money is spent on accommodation and transportation. You buy yourself a plane ticket or cruise ship package, hotel rooms for a few days and airport or ship port transfer services. most of your money is gone.

The third biggest category represents spending on food and hygiene. We spend money in restaurants, we even buy more drinks while on our trip. We will most likely buy and bring more personal hygiene items with us in our luggage.

Leisure and entertainment activities include museum tickets, show tickets, bus tour tickets etc. Just about anything that's not a basic travel service, but is certainly needed in order to make the trip fully enjoyable. This category will vary from visitor to visitor. If you like art and design, you will most likely spend a lot on museums... Some prefer photographing cities and walking, they will spend less on museums...

How to Better Manage Your Travel Budget?

As you have seen above, the transportation and hotel services consume most of our budgets and they're among the most rigid services as well. You can easier modify your eating habits, potentially reduce daily expenses while on a trip, but how to shrink the amounts of money spent on flights, hotels...?

We're taking a look at all of the above presented slices of our pie chart...


This includes not only expenses on flights, boat trips, but also rental cars, taxis, subways etc.

There are situations when it's better to rent yourself a car and drive around, as you will spend less than on trains, buses or flight tickets. But it will also be more time-consuming.

Try taking trains and ferries over airlines. They will cost less, especially if they are within the economy segment.

Try the low cost airlines, as an alternative to the conventional carriers, in case you cannot find last minute flights. Low cost airlines usually don't have late booking deals (check our article on why low cost airlines have no late discounts), but have substantially lower prices than the conventional carriers.

Subways are among the least expensive and fastest vehicles for getting around in urban areas. Taxis cost more, buses are slower. Consider buying a subway pass or a multi-pass for multiple means of transportation in order to be more efficient and spend less.

Carry less luggage on airplanes by taking account of the limits. Some airlines will charge you for the big luggage anyway, others have limits of up to 15 kg or up to 20 or 25 kg. Rarely you will be allowed to bring suitcases weighing up to 30 kg. Less and lighter luggage means less waiting times, you will get around easier and you will not spend for excess weight either.


This includes hotels, resorts and other facilities for accommodation.

If you could not find advantageous last minute hotel rates, then consider searching specialized sites, such as,,, and compare the results.

Calculate your itinerary well, so that you don't have to later modify or cancel hotel reservations, as it will most likely cost you.

Join reward-offering travel sites. One of them is, they give away bonus points for all bookings. After accumulating enough points, you will be able to use the points for paying for future bookings.

Don't buy anything at the hotel, don't even touch the minibar! All these will cost you extra! A lot more than if you'd buy from a local shop.

Sometimes internet and TV watching is a paid service. Make sure you know whether it's free or paid before you check in. If you don't have free internet within your hotel room, consider going to free WiFi access areas in the city, for instance, cafés, bars, restaurants.

Alimentation & Hygiene

This includes spending on food, drinks, personal hygiene items etc.

Buying food on your trip will cost substantially more than when you made your own meal at home. Try buying food from supermarkets instead of eating at restaurants and bring some storable food with you and consume it at your hotel.

It's a great idea to bring an electric water heater and make your own coffee and tea in the hotel room.

Bring all personal hygiene items you require. Calculate the optimal quantity required. Keep note of the fact that there will be some items freely available at the hotel.

Leisure and Entertainment

Museums, exhibitions, clubs, discos, theme parks, theatres and tour buses all cost extra.

Pick a few important ones to pay for, but don't effectuate extensive spending in these services. Some of them aren't at all better than the ones you'd find at home. Perhaps you can give up the tour bus services, after all, walking and taking subways will cost you less.

Consider the free attractions: some buildings look great from the outside, there are parks and some cities have great viewpoints on higher ground for admiring the panorama. For all these you don't have to pay a dime!

Other Expenses

Here's all the rest... other categories of expenses...

Travel insurance is a necessity. But there's not just a single type of travel insurance. There's a vast series of insurance policies, various events are supported, prices vary quite a lot. Pick a cheap, adequate insurance for you, your group/family.

Buy adequate souvenirs: post cards cost less, figures and statues cost a lot. Don't spend too much on souvenirs and do take account of the fact that buying any souvenir along the main roads, near the primary attractions is far more expensive than elsewhere. Expect an economy of 15-30 % when buying a bit further from the most frequented areas.



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