Saving Pennies on the Road: Cost Saving Travel Hacks

The best things in life are free – especially when you're traveling on a budget.


Photo © iStock/Joel Carillet

Luckily, for many budget travelers, some of the most memorable and rewarding travel experiences come without a price.

Our fellow nomads share the best things they’ve done on the road – without dipping into their pockets.

Walk around – it's free

"When we hired a van and drove around the South Island of New Zealand, we chose to stay at DOC campsites – most of which are totally free! Unlike Australia, most of the National Parks in NZ don't ask for payment upon entry – which means it's free to walk down there too.

We hiked to the top of Avalanche Peak in Arthur's Pass, walked the 10km long Hooker Valley Track, trudged up a steep hill to see Humboldt Falls, took a stroll through a freezing creek in Milford Sound – didn't pay a cent."

- Milly McGrath

"We went for a road trip through Krabi, Thailand, and made an accidental stop at Wat Tham Suea (Tiger Cave). There, we did a 184ft hike up a hill. We could hear monks praying, and saw where they lived (Old Tiger caves).

We also did a tough climb up 1,237 steep steps to the Temple (about 280m elevation), for 360 views of mountains, farms and the city in the distance."

- Veronica Mercado

Free cultural experiences

"Malaysian Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadhan with an ‘open house’ for friends and family. If you can score an invite it is the best way to experience the local culture and feast on some of the best Malaysian food you will ever have."

- Isaac Entry

"Bahrai Temple – Holi Festival. Getting almost crushed by the charge of festival goers, being covered in powder, witnessing the procession. It was insane."

- Jesse Chard

"I attended the private birthday party of the Sultan of Surakarta in Java, Indonesia."

- LashWorldTour

"Chat to strangers while you're traveling. I met the most incredible people, and learnt so much from them! Strike up meaningful, passionate conversations on the way. That's my purpose to travel."

– Tushar Chaudhari

Right place, right time

"Stood in the mile of a busy highway at dawn and watched the sun come up over the pyramids."

– Sandra Robinson

"I managed to talk my way into getting a free ticket to the Burning Man festival in Nevada, USA."

– Niki Argent

"I once ended up on a nudist beach with four girls from Chile."

– Scottie Gordon

Other free things you can do

"If you’re short on cash in Japan and need a bite, head to the foodcourt level of any large department store. Every counter offers free samples covering snacks, mains, and (especially) desserts. By the time you’ve done a lap, you’re guaranteed to be stuffed and had a great sample of everyday Japanese cuisine. Double-win."

- Martin Hong

"Couchsurfed with some amazing people – and hosted a few too!"

– Jon Ayres

"Free buggy ride through Hyde Park."

– Handan Tamay

"Sliding down a stone slide in Sachayhuman in Cuzco, Peru."

– Halli Moskowitz

"Walk the Galipoli peninsula in Turkey, rather than taking the 70 lira tour. Finish with a swim on Anzac cove."

- Adam Lovell

"Ride bikes through the tulip fields of Holland in April... amazing beauty all around, and it's free!"

- Katy Ryan Levin

"I hitchhiked for months (free), sneaked and stayed nights/days in the few famous haunted places (free), sneaked into hostels for a showers (free), met lots of people on the way been offered to stay in their houses over night and dinners breakfasts (free), slept in a tent with a 'private zoos' (bears, coyotes, moose, snakes, scorpions) around me (free)."

- Sinine Elu

What is the best thing you've done for free on your travels? Share your experience below!

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