#HackIt | Budgeting | Personal Finance | Travel | Article
Unconventional Ways of Saving Money While Travelling
by The Simple Sum Team | 11 Aug 2022 | 7 mins read
This article is brought to you by HSBC Personal Banking.
With almost the entire globe lifting travel restrictions by now, more and more people are planning holidays overseas and there has definitely been a surge of people ‘revenge travelling’.
But it’s been so long since some of us last hopped on a plane that we might have collectively forgotten how to be thrifty while on holiday.
And as ways to save money on travel are a dime a dozen, we’ve decided to crowdsource some lesser known yet novel ways of saving money while abroad without compromising on your overseas experience.
1. Bring along portable lunch boxes
This doesn’t just save you money, according to Regina, a 35-year-old sales executive, it’ll also help you contribute less to food wastage when overseas, especially if you’re headed to a country or region where the food portions are significantly larger than what you’re used to in Singapore. Very often the leftovers are sufficient to feed you for another meal, so you get to save on food overall.
Try to find a container that’s air-tight and leak-proof so that the food doesn’t get out while you are on the go. It’s a bonus if it’s collapsible when empty so it doesn’t take up a lot of space when not in use. And if you’re someone who values sustainability, carrying your own containers to pack food in doesn’t just reduce food wastage, but also your single-use plastic usage.
2. Look for dinner or the next day’s breakfast at supermarkets
Most supermarkets don’t just sell food you need to prepare – there’s often a cooked food section and a bakery section. And very often, past a certain time, these items will be marked down significantly – up to 50%, since they shouldn’t be kept around for more than a day after purchase.
“I’ve picked up discounted sushi and sashimi in Japan for dinner, as well as chicken schnitzels in Australia for a fraction of the price they would cost in the day just by scouring supermarkets before they close for the day,” says marketing executive Crystal, 30.
Pro-tip: You can use a credit card that would rack up points, rewards, or cashback when buying food at the supermarket to maximise your spending as you travel.
3. Be a master chef
Even if you don’t look for marked down items, heading to supermarkets and local farmers’ markets to buy ingredients to cook your meals is a great way to save while on the road, says Sarah, a 32-year-old content creator.
Groceries will cost you far less than what restaurants would charge for a “proper” meal, and you get to pick what goes into your homecooked meal, using fresh produce from that country. The only problem is that you’ll have to book accommodation that comes with a kitchen or cooking facilities to do this. Or you could pack along a mini rice cooker! You’d be surprised by the meals you can whip up with the handy device.
Besides grocery stores, you can also look for restaurants that are willing to give away leftover food at the end of the day at huge discounts. But, of course, don’t go knocking on the door of every restaurant on the streets – according to Rhys, 40, there are food wastage apps and sites you can use to locate these places such as Flash Food (US and Canada) and Too Good To Go (US, Canada and Europe).
Also, ensure that you’re not racking up excessive foreign exchange fees by buying your produce in bulk. Or if buying in bulk is not possible, use a card that charges you low to no foreign exchange fees in the country you’re in.
4. Store your foreign currency in a multicurrency account
Gone are the days when you had to go down to the money changer to buy a foreign currency before you travel. You can now save yourself the hassle by opening up a multicurrency account for your travel plan. Many countries now have adopted cashless payment methods, so you can use a debit or credit card attached to a multicurrency account when spending overseas.
Just make sure to use a card that doesn’t charge you expensive transaction fees and doesn’t carry hidden costs, advises Nowell, a 27-year-old music teacher.
With a multicurrency account, you still get to earn interest on your savings balance in the account, and hold multiple currencies to spend in different countries (and you’ll earn rewards or cashback on your card spending too!). You also get to monitor the exchange rates for the currency at your destination country, and take advantage of the best available rates before you travel instead of subjecting yourself to the prevailing rates during your trip.
It’s also safer than carrying large amounts of cash around as you won’t need to worry about suddenly getting mugged. A multicurrency account can make your life a hundred times easier… and safer.
5. Travel at night and save on accommodation
If you’re headed to multiple cities or provinces in whatever country you’re in, local artist Ana, 30, asks that you consider booking overnight travel arrangements (plane, bus, train rides or ships) so you don’t have to spend additional funds booking a hotel room for the night.
This is a great option for backpackers and those who aren’t too attached to the idea of sleeping in a hotel. You can get options on trains that allow you to fully stretch out while lying vertical, and even your own room if you travel by ship. They may be more expensive than a day time ticket, but if you include the money that you’ll need for accommodation, it always works out to be cheaper.
6. Use up your loose change before heading home
If you happen to need to carry cash when you travel, just this once, don’t keep the change. Be sure to use up all your loose change while you’re abroad, according to local account manager Nicole, 31, because you won’t be able to do anything about them once you’re back in Singapore. Money changers will not accept coins, so you’re going to be stuck with them for a long, long time–unless you return to the same country to correct your mistake one day!
Just because you’re taking a much-needed, long-awaited holiday doesn’t mean your personal finance has to as well. These are some ways you can save money without skimping on the experience of finally being able to travel after two long years of being pretty much landlocked. So, before you get on that plane, consider what you might want to do differently this time to save a chunk of your holiday fund–to be used for the next holiday, perhaps?
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²Applies to successful retail purchase, online shopping and cash withdrawal made via the 10 supported currencies. If you do not have sufficient foreign currencies to complete the transactions, we will convert the transaction at a prevailing rate as determined by the bank and bill you in Singapore dollar.
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