5 Common Money Saving Tips for Travelling (That Leave You Angry and Poorer)

Ryan Ong



For your financial safety this December, we’re throwing light on all the bad travel advice you’ll encounter. From TripAdvisor to Wiki How, from seasoned travel agents to a drunk Australian tourist I spoke to in the Gents, we’ve compiled this list of money saving tips to AVOID:


1. Get the Cheapest Hotel

Too many Singaporean travellers check prices, but don’t compare reviews. This is what comes of living in a country with hotels so sparkling, we can eat off the bathroom floors – we assume there’s a minimum living standard, and that the rest of the world also adheres to it.

But I’ve been in three star hotels – in parts of Western Europe no less – where the showers have no hot water, the table’s more comfortable than the bed, and the television only shows Sesame Street re-runs from 1987.

Sure, the price may have been great; but if after two nights you snap, and need another hotel on short notice, any potential savings will be out the window.

Better advice would be to find the most value for money, not the cheapest. So read the reviews, and don’t hesitate to fork over a bit more cash for quality. You could regret it otherwise.


2. Skip the Travel Insurance

Some people are claiming travel insurance is unnecessary, if you already have an insurance policy.

That’s a misconception. Those people are thinking in terms of physical well being, which granted, your insurance policy probably covers. But travel insurance covers more than that. Like situations when you go to Paris, and your luggage goes to Hong Kong – and never comes back.

Also, God forbid if you get sick or injured in a…how to put this politely…in a country where medicine involves witch doctors, or binding broken bones with jungle vines and hope. An air ambulance back to Singapore will run into five digit figures – are you sure your insurance covers that?

Besides, there’s no reason to skimp on travel insurance when some credit cards give it for free. Check out our review of the best cards to get free travel insurance or go straight to MoneySmart.


3. Avoid Tour Packages for Pricing Reasons

If you want to sight-see alone, that’s a good reason to avoid tour packages. But if you want to avoid them because they’re “not worth it”, you’re on the wrong track.

With few exceptions, tour operators will get better bargains than you’d find alone. They can bring several busloads of tourists to a restaurant / hotel, whereas you can bring maybe a few friends and your own behind. Most tour guides are also sincere, and will help you negotiate a better deal at markets, when the hotel wants to charge an extra fee, etc.

For tips on finding cost-effective tour packages, follow us on Facebook.


4. Pick Uncommon Travel Methods or Lodgings to Save Money

Maybe you can save a few bucks taking a coach instead of a local flight. Or by getting a hotel that’s far from the central region (see point 1).

Well don’t. It’s a sucker’s discount.

“Saving money” is the reason I once spent nine hours on a tour bus, singing “Row Row Row Your Boat” 17 times and seeing maybe one cow. That concluded one entire day of my five day trip to Germany. The trip back blew yet another day.

As for the hotels, I’ve also tried to save money on “fringe area” lodgings. This is often followed by insane cab fares, as I’m forced to make 40 minute commutes to town all the time. Don’t make the same mistake.


5. Get the Old Travel Guides, They’re Cheaper

Getting old travel guides is indeed cheaper. But some things are priceless…like the look on your face when you travel 11 miles to a nightclub, only to find out it closed down when Atomic Kitten was still charting.

Old travel guides tend to go into discount bins for $9 to $12. New travel guides are around $30. Considering a big vacation will cost you thousands, I think you should spare the extra $18 to make your trip worthwhile.

Also note that, in some countries, things like transport information can change quickly. If the information in the old guide is obsolete, why spend money on it at all?


Have you ever gotten any bad travel advice? Comment and let us know!

Image Credits:
Bifford the Youngest

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.