11 ways to travel smarter and cheaper in 2023

With the rising cost of living, many of us are reevaluating our spending habits. But does that mean international travel is off the cards? Not in my book. According to HSBC’s global money survey, a quarter of people (27%) have now set a stricter travel budget due to the cost of living, but I think people will still be keen to travel abroad. Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways to travel smarter and cheaper when when going on holiday.

From using the correct bank card to maximising cash back and claiming tax back at the airport, it is still possible to make your money go further. After travel blogging for almost 10 years, I have combined all of my tips to travel smarter and cheaper in 2023.

Jess in Jasper, Canada

This post has been sponsored by HSBC UK

11 ways to travel smarter and cheaper in 2023

1. Travel with a bank card that has zero transactions fees

More and more of the world is going cashless, which means having a zero transaction fee credit or debit card for travel is more important than ever. Without one, you could be paying up to 2.99% on all of your overseas card payments, which means you could be charged £25 in fees alone for spending 1000 euros. Some cards also offer zero fees on cash withdrawals too, rather than a cash handling fee of 2%.

HSBC UK have recently launched their fee-free Global Money account to help travellers cut costs, with zero transaction and withdrawal fees when abroad. There are plenty to choose from on the market so be sure to do your research.

2. Always pay in the local currency when using a card

This is an easy one to remember. When using your card abroad, you will be given an on screen option to either pay in your own currency, or the local currency. Paying in the local currency will always make the transaction a little cheaper due to exchange rates.

3. Use cash back sites to earn money on all your travel bookings

I’ve recently discovered the power of cash back sites such as TopCashBack.com. You could earn up to 10% cash back on all your online purchases using cash back sites. In terms of travel, these sites really come in to play when booking high ticket items such as flights, hotels, package holidays and even individual tours.

Jess in the Black Forest, Germany

4. Be sure to claim tax relief at the airport for any overseas purchases

Not everyone knows that you can claim VAT (or your host country’s equivalent) back at the airport for all of your holiday shopping. The main things to remember is to keep all of your receipts as proof of purchase, and you must claim this at the airport you are departing from. Look out for the ‘tax refund’ or ‘reclaim’ desk in your departure airport and be sure to factor in enough time to do this before your flight.

5. Sign up to frequent flyer programmes to collect free airmails for future trips

It really pays to fly consistently with airlines in the same frequent flyer programme, whenever possible. Air miles become particularly valuable when travelling long haul and can soon add up to provide you with discounts, or even free, future flights. You can also get additional perks such as lounge passes or seat upgrades. Some of the main frequent flyer programmes include; Oneworld, Virgin Atlantics Flying Club and Flying Blue.

TUI Dreamliner

6. Before booking a flight, clear your cookies and check the prices on different browsers

This is one of my classic travel booking hacks. If you clear your cookies and open a new browser e.g. Chrome, Safari or Firefox, you may find your flight price to be cheaper. This is because cookies can track how often you have visited a webpage, and if you visit a certain amount of times in a short space of time, the prices may increase. It’s incredibly sneaky and always very satisfying when you manage to beat the system. Give it a try.

7. Travel out of season whenever possible

It may seem an obvious one, but it makes a huge difference to the total price of flights and hotels. A savvy traveller will not only consider dates and seasons in their home country, but also in their destination country. For example, if I were to travel from the UK to the US in November, I know the flight prices will be increased due to Thanksgiving, even though Thanksgiving is not widely celebrated in the UK. It’s also worth looking into school holiday dates in your destination as well as in your origin country.

According to HSBC’s global money survey, one in five (20%) are travelling out of season to save money, with October the most popular month

8. Eat and drink local produce

When in Italy, drink Italian wine. When in France, eat French cheese. Local produce will always be better value as there are no import costs involved, not to mention fresher and more authentic. Support local when you can.

Tasting local pasta in Ischia, Italy

9. Withdraw smaller amounts of cash

Withdrawing smaller amounts of cash will make it less likely for you to end up coming home with spare cash which you will then have to pay to exchange back. It will also make you less likely to loose large amounts of cash whilst on your travels. If you can find a bank card that does not charge for withdrawals, withdrawing little and often is the way forward when it comes to cash.

10. Don’t tip excessively

It’s always worth doing a bit of research on the tipping culture of your destination, as there’s a chance you could end up ‘over tipping’. It varies vastly around the world.

Jess in Stockholm, Sweden

11. Be aware of common local scams

Scams will be more likely in some destinations than others, but tourists and travellers will always be seen as easy targets. I recently visited Barcelona so I Googled ‘common scams in Barcelona’. It’s reassuring to feel like you have this knowledge during your travels so you know what to look out for and what to avoid.

Read more tips from HSBC about how to manage your travel money outside the UK.

Read more from The Travelista; 3 morning rituals to improve your mental wellbeing

What are your top money saving tips whilst travelling? If you have any more to share or found this post helpful, be sure to leave a comment in the box below. Jess x

Jessica Ruth Gibson is the Founder and Editor of Travelista and an award-winning travel content creator of 10 years. She lives in York, UK with her son and has travelled to over 50 countries; her favourites being Italy, Canada and Vietnam.

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