Savor Your Trip and Save Big With These 5 Slow Travel Tips

By Nick Wharton on 12 October 2015 0 comments

I've been on the road over five years in total and in that time I've seen 45 countries. This may sound like a lot of places to see, but it averages around six weeks per country. And that slower travel rate has served me well.

In my experience, by staying put and traveling slower, I've not only formed a better connection and understanding of the places that I visit, but I've also saved a lot of money along the way. Here's how.

1. Accommodation

Where you'll stay is one of your biggest travel expenses — and a great place to look for savings.

Long-Stay Discounts

If you know you're going to be staying at the same hotel for more than a couple nights, you can ask for a long-stay discount. I've had hotels offer many free nights just by asking!

See also: Best Credit Cards for Hotel Deals and Rewards

Vacation Rentals

Whenever you're booking a hotel or resort for a two-week or longer stay, you're spending a lot more money than you need to (even if you get a discount). If you decide to stay in one place for two weeks or more, you may just find that vacation rentals will give you much more bang for your buck.

Local Apartment Rentals

Vacation rentals are cheaper than hotels, but if you stay in one place for two months or more, you can save even more money by renting a local apartment. Once you start getting into local rentals and out of the vacation rental space, you can find some amazing deals. Vacation rentals are generally reserved for short stays (two weeks to two months) and are often owned by expats, meaning they are more expensive than regular apartments.

On my recent two and a half month trip to Mexico, I paid $50 per night for a small room with a double bed at a hostel. That's $1,500 per month if I had stayed for 30 days! Luckily I only stayed for a couple of nights while searching for an apartment. Vacation rentals were charging at least $1,000 per month, but within three days of looking around I had found a lovely, Mexican-style, two bedroom, two-level local apartment with a large kitchen and dining room for just $400 per month! I landed this price because I was staying "long-term."

House Sitting

Longer stays in each place will also give you the ability to easily find house sitting jobs. It's not easy to line up one-to-three night house sitting gigs while you're moving around a country quickly, but if you plan to stay in one town for a couple of weeks, you may be able to find a house sitting job and get free accommodation.

2. Transport

Your transportation costs can add up quickly, so be smart about how you choose to get around.

Car Rental

It's no secret that the longer you rent a car, the less you pay. A few years ago, I rented a car for five weeks in South Africa and it only costed me $20 per day, including all insurance! All major car rental companies will offer significant savings when booking a car for a month or more.

If you're traveling to a new country every week, you won't be able to take a long-term rental because most car rental companies don't want you to cross borders with their cars. Drive around one country for a few weeks or months and watch the savings add up.

See also: What Does Car Rental Insurance Cover on Your Credit Card

Public Transport

You won't actually get a discount on public transport tickets by traveling slower, but you'll definitely be buying less bus, plane, and train tickets. Many buses and trains cost around $5 per hour or more depending on where in the world you are ($1 per hour in Asia). These costs quickly add up if you're taking a seven-hour bus ride every two days. That's $525 a month!

3. Tours

You don't need to spend all your dough in order to explore your chosen destination.

Time to Shop Around

I can't count how many times I arrived in a city in the afternoon, booked a tour that evening, and left on an excursion the next morning. There's nothing wrong with this kind of speedy shopping, except when you return to town and find the same tour for half the price at another agency! Traveling slower will give you time to shop around and find the best deals on tours.

Spread Out Your Sight Seeing

Taking a tour every day and trying to see everything in a short visit can be expensive. If you give yourself a bit more time, you can spend time doing things that don't cost money, like an independent walking tour or a relaxing beach day.

Taking Advantage of Free Days

Many museums, galleries, and historical sites around the world have special days each week when entrances are either discounted, or completely free. By staying in a city longer, you'll have a better chance of being able to take advantage of these days to save money.

4. Food

Food is a major part of the fun when it comes to traveling, but don't spend all your money on one meal!

More Time to Find the Local Joints

Sometimes it takes some searching to find the best, cheap restaurants in a city. The more time you spend in each place, the more time you'll have to explore and find your favorite hole-in-the wall restaurants with the most delicious food and the best prices.

Discount Days and Festivals

Just like museums and galleries, restaurants almost always have special discounts on different days of the week. If you are traveling quickly, you may miss these days, or not even find out about them. Festivals are also on fixed dates and so you'd have to get lucky to catch one if you're moving from place to place every other day. Stay in one town for a month and you're likely to witness some sort of festival or event that's offering free food and free entertainment!

Cooking in Apartment Kitchens

This is one of the best ways to save money while traveling and it goes with the first tips in this article about renting an apartment instead of booking a hotel. When you have a kitchen, you'll be able to buy your own groceries and cook for yourself. A cheap breakfast in a restaurant may cost upwards of $10 (depending on where you're traveling), while a similar breakfast cooked at home won't likely break a dollar.

5. Visas

More border crossings means more transportation costs, and of course, more entrance visas. Depending on what part of the world you're exploring, visas can range from free, to $150 per entrance. When I was traveling in Central Asia for three months in 2013, I spent over $300 in entrance visas and invitation letters alone because I was moving to a new country every two weeks. This is an extreme case because of the heavy bureaucracy and high cost of visas in this area, but visa costs add up no matter where you're traveling. Stay in one country longer and avoid getting charged (and paying border guard bribes) so often.

Slow and Steady…

Travelers often like to pack multiple cities in one trip to see as many places as possible, but not only can you save money by staying in one place, the experience of living in a foreign place longer than a few days can be just as exciting. See our favorite travel rewards credit cards that will help you get to your dream vacation sooner!

Are you a slow traveler? Where have you been? Where are you going?

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