Money Talks, So Should You

Nerd on the Cheap: My travel tips

Owen O'Riordan
by Owen O'Riordan , Dimespring 30 (@OwenJOR)

Traveling is often much more expensive than it needs to be — planes, accomodations and tourism can cost a pretty penny. But recently I’ve had to travel on the cheap. Here are some of the things that helped me be a frugal traveler.

Planning — I’m not much of a planner, but that’s cost me money in the past. So I have to be an adult and actually plan some of my trips, which has led me to some cheap or free resources for good travel tips.

  • Forums: I frequent a few travel forums and have gotten some great advice from locals on what to do, where to do it and how much to pay. Reddit Travel and Lonely Planet are my favorites.
  • WikiTravel: A wiki-based travel guide that offers great tips on getting in, out and around a country. It’s quick and easy, and has helped me get some great travel deals.
  • Old guide books: I hit up a few second-hand bookstores looking for guide books. Last year’s books are WAY cheaper and a great on-the-go reference. Plus countries don’t change that much in a year. Do they?

READ: 25 best travel sites

Airfare — The prices of plane tickets change more often than Optimus Prime dies (a lot.) While looking for deals seems like a good idea, they’re not always easy to find.

  • STA Travel: STA is a great alternative to regular airfare if you’re under 26. Plus your card gets you great discounts all over the world. And for those of you over 26, don’t travel. Seriously, it’s not worth it.
  • Travel out of season: I’ve been to loads of places out of tourist season and have been able to avoid crowds, cut down on expenses, and see the place for what it really is. It’s a great way to see what tourists don’t often see.
  • Fly standby: It’s not always pretty, but you can get some cheap seats if you’re willing to risk being stranded at an airport for a few hours. If that’s a risk you’re willing to take, flying standby can save a few hundred bucks.

Accomodations — I can make myself comfortable pretty much anywhere, but I’ve found that police officers in most countries don’t care for that particular skill. So I often have to pay for accomodations, but I try to do it cheaply.

  • Hostels: Always a good choice, especially with the amount of info and reviews you can find on them. They’re usually pretty cheap and they are even cheaper if you are a member of Hostelling International.
  • Connections: This is a little less reliable, but can make for some awesome trips. I’ve stayed with distant relatives, friends of friends, and distant relatives of friends. They can give you the inside scoop on where to go. And sometimes they are the best part of a trip.
  • CouchSurfing: There is a little risk involved here, but I’ve only had good experiences. You can register at CouchSurfing's website for free or pay for verification. Make some friends for a future trip, or just come home with lots of weird stories.

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With these travel tips you can save your money for the best parts of a trip — food, drink and T-shirts! Find out what locals eat and get some of that. Chances are it can be found pretty cheap. Don’t just show up at the first place that looks comfy or speaks your language — risk a little and go for an experience that money can’t buy!


Owen O'Riordan is 24 years old and constantly looking for work. He is a copywriter by day, nerd by night (most of day too). Owen is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and attitudes on personal finance.