5 Low-Cost Travel Items That Can Save You Big On Your Next Trip

Traveling can be great fun, but sometimes it requires a bit of creative thinking to figure out how to finance your next trip. Luckily there are some cost-effective purchases that can help you save money in the long run.

1. Tent

Camping can be a great alternative to staying in pricey hotels while you travel, but you will have to pay some one-time costs for a tent, sleeping bag, and a few other camping basics. You can purchase a light, quality tent for under $150 on Amazon. When you consider that is less than the cost of one hotel night in many places, you can see how quickly this investment will pay for itself.

Having a tent also gives you the freedom to sleep in some of the world's most remote and beautiful places. Laws about where you can camp vary by location. For example, it's legal to camp on beaches in Mexico's Baja California, and it won't cost you anything. In the U.S., if you want to pitch your tent at an established campground, you'll usually have to pay, but you may be able to do primitive camping in some areas for free. Check with the U.S. Forest Service or state authorities in the area where you plan to camp. I've camped in many places in the world, and I've never paid more than $30. (See also: Cool Camping Hacks)

2. Water filter

Bottled water can cost $1 or more. That's not expensive, but it can add up, especially if you're in a place where the tap water is not safe to drink.

You can buy an easy-to-use and affordable filter that enables you to drink water anywhere you go. Not only will you save money on bottled water, but you can reduce waste by cutting down your consumption of plastic. It is eco-friendly and budget-friendly.

There are a variety of water filters available. "Water straws" are lightweight and portable. This type of filter won't take up much space in your bag, and usually fits into a standard-sized water bottle. You can either bring your own empty bottle or purchase a cheap one at your destination to reuse.

On a wilderness canoe trip through the Boundary Waters, Minnesota, I found a water straw indispensable. There were no roads or drinking water in the area, and bringing water along wasn't practical because it's heavy and would have taken up a lot of space in the kayaks. The best option was to filter water from the pristine lakes.

Another option for treating water is to use iodine pills, which are cheap and easy to transport. However, the disadvantage of iodine is that you have to wait half an hour for the treatment to become effective, while with a water straw filter system, the water is ready to drink as soon as you've filtered it.

There are also water bottles that have built-in water filters, which can make filtering water even easier. The filters are only safe for a certain number of uses, but they are still economical compared to buying bottled water. (See also: 5 Travel Must-Haves)

3. Luggage scale

A digital luggage scale costs about $10 and can help you avoid paying costly overweight baggage charges at the airport. I've seen these charges run from $50 into the hundreds.

Plus, these scales are light and easy to transport so you can bring them along on your trip. That way, when you're ready to travel home, you won't have to stress about the weight of any souvenirs or other items you accumulated while you were away. (See also: How to Save on Travel Gear)

4. Good shoes

Investing in a quality pair of shoes before your trip is a sure way to save money. If you can walk comfortably, you can avoid paying for expensive taxi cabs to get around once you reach your destination.

Not only is walking a great way to save money, it will also help you stay active and better see the place you are visiting. When you're buying shoes, try to pick a pair that provides adequate support without being too heavy. You'll also want them in a design you genuinely like and a style that can go with most of your clothes. Buying shoes that are versatile means that you can pack a little lighter.

Lems makes comfortable and incredibly portable travel footwear that I use and love.

5. Travel credit card

If you're already planning your next trip, now is a good time to sign up for a travel credit card. A good card will charge you no foreign transaction fees. That's the fee that some cards charge you for any purchases you make in another currency. It's usually around 3 percent, which means if you charge $1,000 on your trip, you'd have to pay an additional $30 in foreign transaction fees.

By signing up for a travel credit card, you can also earn rewards for your next trip. Some credit cards offer bonus points when you sign up that are worth hundreds of dollars in travel. One sign-up bonus I got was so big that I have points left over after using it to purchase a round-trip flight from the United States to Mexico, and a domestic flight in Mexico. (See also: Don't Make These Credit Card Bonus Mistakes)

Many travel cards also come with money-saving perks such as free checked bags on flights, free rental car insurance, free trip cancellation insurance and other types of travel coverage.

The good news with a travel credit card is that you may not even have to "purchase" it at all. Many travel credit cards will waive their annual fee for the first year, as an additional incentive to get you to sign up.

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5 Low-Cost Travel Items That Can Save You Big On Your Next Trip

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