When Scott and I first started planning trips together, we thought travel was expensive. But it doesn’t have to be! Read on for 25 easy ways you can save money and spend less on travel as a couple.
Scott and I have been travelling together for over a decade now.
We’ve travelled as boyfriend-girlfriend, when we were first engaged (we even got engaged abroad!), we spent our honeymoon in several different countries and we’ve now travelled together as a married couple for 4+ years. Phew, how time flies!
As you might imagine, we’ve picked up A LOT of tips along the way, so this is the first of many blog posts we have planned all about travelling as a couple.
But for now, I hope you find the following travel budget tips helpful. And more than anything, I hope our advice will show you that you can still have an epic trip – even if you’re on a budget. Let’s dive in…
Before You Book Your Trip
1. Set a joint budget
When travelling as a couple, you have something else to consider compared to those who travel solo. You have to compromise with each other.
Especially when it comes to money, you might not have the same budget as each other. Maybe you’re in different jobs, you have different salaries or you have a different amount of savings.
Before you start planning your trips, discuss how much you can afford to spend on your trip, and realistically, how much you can afford to go over budget should you need to.
This will help you find destinations that you can both afford so that you can enjoy your trip together to its fullest.
Agreeing on and sticking to a joint budget will also help prevent there from being any nasty surprises for one of you during your travels or when you’re planning your trip together.
To help, we’ve created a joint travel budget spreadsheet that you can download and use right now.
2. Set up a joint travel fund for shared costs
Unless you’ve been married for a while, you might not yet have a joint bank account. But you can still have a joint travel fund for shared costs.
The easiest way to set this up would be via a high-earning savings account that you can each pay an agreed amount into every week, month, few months, etc.
You’ll probably want to go 50/50 on flights and accommodation so those costs can come out of your joint travel fund.
A joint travel fund will help prevent one of you from paying more than the other or prevent one of you from suddenly owing a large sum to the other.
You can still have separate travel funds during your trip, such as if you want to buy gifts and souvenirs or head out on separate excursions. These costs would come out of your individual bank accounts.
3. Use expense-splitting apps
Speaking of shared travel funds, you might also find expense-splitting apps helpful – especially if you don’t want to share a bank account between you.
Just don’t let costs build up too much before you pay each other back – it can be scary suddenly having to transfer a large sum of money to someone else.
4. Choose more affordable destinations
Many people think that travel is expensive, and yes, it certainly can be. But there are lots of places in the world that are more affordable – even if you stay in 4- and 5-star luxury resorts.
Even Croatia – as popular as it is – is cheaper than many destinations we’ve been to in Western Europe. Just because it’s in the east.
5. Keep an eye on travel deals and discounts
You might be surprised to hear just how many deals and discounts there are when it comes to travel.
Black Friday and the Cyber Weekend is a big one where you can save considerable amounts of money across flights, accommodation, package holidays, trains and more.
Besides Black Friday, you may also find some deals and discounts when companies celebrate a milestone or offer last-minute deals.
Sign up for newsletters for your favourite cruise companies, airlines, trainlines, etc and you’ll be one of the first to hear about deals and discounts when they go live.
You can also sign up for other newsletters, such as Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) where the sole purpose of their newsletter is to help you find deals and discounts across many destinations and airlines.
Railcards and transport passes can often give you lots of savings if you’re travelling by train or public transport. So be sure to research your destination beforehand to see what you can save and when.
You might also save money with combination tickets for excursions and attractions, such as visiting two places for £50 as opposed to paying £30 for each activity.
Always keep an eye on deals like this where possible and don’t be frightened to ask the ticket staff if they have any deals like this on offer.
6. Choose travel insurance that comes with other perks
Because you’re travelling as a couple, you can often find travel insurance that comes with other perks that are suited to two travellers.
An example of this is if you buy your travel insurance via Compare the Market, you can get 2-for-1 movie tickets and discounts from some restaurants. So you can enjoy movie date nights throughout the year whilst also getting your travel insurance sorted.
You have to buy travel insurance anyway, okay, you don’t have to but we highly recommend it (here’s why!), so you might as well enjoy extra perks and benefits where you’re able to.
Obviously, you still want to choose insurance that’s rated highly by other travellers so that you’ll feel more confident that you’ll be looked after should you need to use your insurance. But ideally, you’ll try and get extra perks where possible too.
How To Spend Less On Flights & Accommodation
7. Be flexible with flights and hotels
Sometimes, simply by changing your search by just one day, you can find cheaper flights and hotels to the sum of anywhere from £20 to £50 less than what you would’ve paid. Just by changing your search by one day.
For example, when we were booking our recent Eurostar to Brussels, we were planning on travelling out on a Monday and coming back on a Monday.
By changing our search to travelling on a Tuesday instead (so Tuesday to Tuesday), the price went down by about £40 each way. That’s £80 saved by just going one day later!
I appreciate if you’re travelling on the weekend or you’re trying to make the most of the national holidays that we look forward to throughout the year, then you might not be able to be flexible. But if you can be flexible by just one day, then it’s well worth looking into.
Similarly, you can also save money by checking costs on different days in the same month or even comparing prices in March vs April, for example. When you’re booking your flight or train, see if you can look at prices for the full month.
Here’s how you can do it for Eurostar while easyJet has this page to make it easier to find cheap flights. Try searching something like “name of airline + cheap flights” to find equivalent pages on other websites.
8. Travel during off-peak seasons
Speaking of flexibility, if you’re able to travel outside of school holidays then you’ll save a fortune on travel.
Obviously, if you have children, this will be much more difficult for you. But if you don’t have children, make the most of travelling outside of peak times.
Similarly, many destinations have peak seasons. For example, mountain destinations in Europe will be more expensive during the winter because people go skiing and snowboarding.
But if you travel there during the summer months, you might miss out on the snow but you’ll still enjoy the towns and beautiful views – for much cheaper than during ski season.
Likewise, if you visit cities for a short break, you’ll often pay more during the summer months or when the Christmas markets are on.
If you travel in spring and autumn instead, when there’s not really much going on festival-wise or event-wise, you can appreciate the best of the city – for cheaper and with fewer crowds.
We call this travelling in the shoulder seasons and we do it every time we go on a city break (unless we’re visiting for the Christmas markets, of course).
9. Choose “book now, pay later” accommodation and put the money into a high-earning savings account
You can book and reserve some hotels and accommodation right now if they offer a “book now, pay later” option.
Even if you can’t afford to travel this month, if you’re booking a holiday for next year or a few months away, you can try and save some money for your trip between now and then.
One way to do this is to put the money aside into a high-earning savings account. Check out this guide from MoneySavingExpert to find the best accounts.
Ideally, you would put all of the money that you’re going to spend on the hotel into this savings account at the time of booking, so you can maximise the interest, earn money and then use that interest to pay for food, excursions and other costs during your trip.
Or, if you really can’t afford to put that whole amount of money aside right now, save a certain amount each week, each month or every couple of months, and put it into a high-earning savings account.
By doing this, you’ll make more money than if you were to pay for your accommodation right now and travel a year later.
10. Spend less on hotels to spend more on experiences
Many of us who travel on a budget spend less on hotels, so we can spend more on experiences during trips. If you’re anything like me and Scott, then you’ll agree that a hotel room is just somewhere for you to sleep and shower.
Now, hostels are obviously the cheapest accommodation (aside from camping!) that you can book around the world.
While Scott and I would never sleep in a hostel, we have a mid-range budget, so we use 2- and 3-star budget hotels. We then spend some of the money we save on tours and excursions, which naturally, makes for a more exciting and rewarding trip.
11. Consider alternatives to hotels
Sometimes, hotels aren’t always the cheapest option available. It might be cheaper for you to camp, glamp, or stay in an apartment rather than a hotel.
We’re not just talking about Airbnb or Homestay either. Sometimes there are hidden fees associated with these websites, so we tend not to use them.
If you use websites like Hotels.com and Booking.com, you’ll sometimes be able to find private apartments that have a living room, separate bedroom, kitchenette and sometimes even a patio or balcony. But for a fraction of the cost of a hotel room.
12. Check whether your accommodation offers discounts on tours and excursions
Sometimes, not always but sometimes, you’ll find accommodation that also offers tours and excursions that you can book separately with them. And sometimes, they’ll offer discounts on those excursions if you book directly with them and stay at their hotel.
For example, we did this when we were staying on the Big Island in Hawaii. We stayed at Arnott’s Lodge in Hilo and we saved 10% on tours to Mauna Kea and Volcanoes National Park. Both tours were excellent, our stay was comfortable and it was well worth us saving the money on the excursions.
13. Choose accommodation that offers complimentary breakfast when it’s worth it
Check how much extra it’ll cost you to book accommodation that has free breakfast included.
If it’s about the same as what you would spend on breakfast out and about, then it’s worth considering.
If it’s a little bit more expensive, it might still be worth it, so you can save time looking for a restaurant and start the day with a big breakfast, which might even keep you going through lunchtime.
The only time this doesn’t work is if the hotel is charging something like £15 to £20 per day for breakfast and you’re only planning on eating a bowl of cereal or a croissant. In that case, you’re best going for the cheaper accommodation and buying breakfast elsewhere.
14. Join travel rewards programs
There are many websites out there that offer rewards when you book with them.
Some airlines, such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic also offer loyalty schemes. Very handy if you’re planning on travelling a lot with the same airline.
Speaking of rewards, some credit cards also give you rewards when you book flights or hotels. Whilst Scott and I don’t do that here in the UK, you might find this guide from NerdWallet helpful.
15. Try to get complimentary upgrades as a couple
When travelling as a couple, you have a slight advantage. Okay, a big advantage.
If you’re travelling for a special occasion such as an engagement, honeymoon, birthday or anniversary, you could potentially use this to get complimentary upgrades.
When Scott and I travelled for our honeymoon, our travel agent kindly let the hotels and flights know that we were on our honeymoon, so we were bumped up to Economy+ classes for free and offered complimentary breakfasts on some of the days. And one of those breakfasts was a private table for two facing the beach!
If you’re not booking your trip via a travel agent, simply mentioning the fact that it’s your honeymoon or your anniversary to the hotel or airline could result in a free upgrade.
It won’t always work and we’ve certainly not tried it ourselves, but if you have the confidence to try it, then it’s worth considering. Let us know how you get on!
16. Share toiletries and a suitcase
Another advantage when travelling as a couple is that you can save money on luggage fees by sharing toiletries and only checking one suitcase into the hold.
Obviously, this only works if you pack light like we do. But it can save you considerable amounts of money if you’re happy to try it for short trips.
17. Look out for changes with free cancellation accommodation options
Here’s something we’ve noticed recently. We could only get free cancellation for our hotel if we stayed one less night than we were originally planning to.
We were booking our trip to Belgium and we wanted to stay Tuesday to Tuesday. But there wasn’t a free cancellation option for the hotel we wanted to stay at.
However, by changing the dates to Tuesday to Monday instead, the free cancellation option suddenly appeared.
As we were booking in advance, it made sense for us to be flexible about our hotel stay should we need to cancel our trip at any time. Hopefully not, but you never know!
So if you can afford to be flexible with your hotels, you may find that it opens up various other discounts or perks that will save you in the long run should you need to use them.
18. Shop around to get the best price
When booking your accommodation, shop around! Just like you would when you’re trying to save money on a product.
You may find that the same hotel is much cheaper on a different website than the one you were originally looking at.
That’s a £70 saving for the same dates and the exact same hotel! Try it out on your next trip and see how much you can save.
How To Save Money During Your Trip
19. Avoid using ATMs abroad
When you use an ATM abroad, there will often be fees associated with that – even if you’re only withdrawing a small amount of money. These fees differ across the world.
Our best advice: don’t use ATMs! Either take enough cash with you for your whole trip (but don’t keep it all in one place!) or move on to our next budget travel tip.
20. Use credit cards with no foreign transaction fees
There are a multitude of credit cards out there that won’t charge you if you pay in a foreign currency either to book your trip or when using your credit card abroad.
Check out this guide from MoneySavingExpert to find the best ones. Currently, Scott and I both have a Halifax Clarity Credit Card and our Chase debit cards also don’t charge us for foreign currency transactions. Very helpful!
21. Use more affordable transport options
The downside to this is you could eat into your precious travel time. But equally, if the bus is travelling overnight and you can sleep on the bus, then it’s an effective and cheap way to travel.
There are also lots of budget airlines available – especially if you’re travelling within the UK and Europe. We always fly with easyJet (unless they don’t fly to the destination we’re going to). Ryanair is even cheaper than easyJet, but we’ve personally never used them.
When we travel within Europe, we’ll often try to use the Eurostar, which is sometimes cheaper than flying, more sustainable and much more convenient.
Also, when you actually arrive at your destination, check what’s available in terms of public transport and whether you qualify for free use of it. More on this below.
22. Check if you qualify for free public transport
You might be able to enjoy free public transport in some cities or countries.
As an example, if you’re staying in a hotel or B&B in Switzerland, you’ll be given a free public transport pass to use within the city you’re staying in.
Likewise, the Swiss Travel Pass is relatively cheap and will save you money if you plan on travelling around Switzerland via the train. You can even use it on the Glacier Express!
There are lots of countries like this where you can save money just by travelling in a slightly different way from what you would normally do at home, so be sure to do your research before and during your trip.
23. Try some free activities
While there are many tours and excursions that cost money, there are also lots of free activities that you can enjoy on your trip.
Try searching for free things to do in the city that you’re going to and I’m sure you’ll find all kinds of options such as free walking tours (where you only pay an optional tip), or you can go on hikes and walks and see some stunning views for free.
You’ll also often find plenty of free museums within cities that are well worth doing. Some may be free of charge to visit year-round while others might offer free entry on certain days.
For example, the 9/11 Memorial in New York City is free of charge to visit on Mondays every week (if you’re able to secure a ticket when they become available every Monday morning).
24. Share your meals and do some self-catering
If you go out for dinner, consider sharing your starters and desserts to save money. In some cases, you might even want to share the entire meal!
For example, when we were travelling in the US and Hawaii, we couldn’t eat the big portions that were being served to us on our own. So if we spent $15 on a meal, that meal fed both of us, so it was only $7.50 each.
Likewise, if we’re spending a week or more somewhere, we’ll often try to get an apartment that has a simple kitchenette with a hob, microwave, kettle etc so that we can do some self-catering.
We don’t feel the need to eat out every night as it’s not what we would do at home. So we’ll often eat out half of the time and eat at the apartment the rest of the time.
25. Take food with you!
And if you really want to save money, you can even take some food with you. You’ll need to check customs regulations for the country and destination that you’re leaving and going to, so you know what’s allowed.
But in a lot of cases, you’re able to take dry food with you. That could be crisps, nuts, sachets of porridge, pasta, chocolate, packet noodles, packet soups; things like that. These would do perfectly fine for breakfast and lunches.
We did this when we visited Iceland because we knew that food out there was going to be expensive – and we’re very, very glad that we did this. Here’s the food we took with us for five days in Iceland. Doing this saved us a ton of money!
We ate out once on that trip and spent £30 on a pizza that we shared between us. This was a few years ago now, so I’m sure it’s even more expensive today!
READ NEXT: Food Packing List For Travel
BONUS TIP: Sharing Responsibilities vs Divide & Conquer
When you read couples travel blogs like ours, you’ll often find a difference of opinion. Okay, that goes for most things, I realise.
Some couples advocate sharing responsibilities. When Scott and I first started travelling together, we made sure that everything was shared.
We planned our itineraries together, we booked hotels and flights together and we were both in charge of directions during our trips.
The reason we did this is because we wanted to make sure that neither of us could feel guilty for getting something wrong, and if we had a travel fail (of which we’ve had many over the years!), it meant we could simply laugh about things rather than cause arguments.
Now that Scott and I are a lot older and we’re a lot more aware of who we are as a couple and who we are as individuals, we now agree with the “divide and conquer” method.
Scott’s much more money-savvy than I am, so he’ll often find the best deals on hotels, tours, excursions, flights, etc.
While I’m more organised than Scott when it comes to planning itineraries, so I’ll suggest where to go and when and Scott will find the best deals for us to make the trip actually happen.
Once he’s found these deals, we might need to make small changes to our itinerary, which isn’t a problem if it makes the trip more affordable yet still epic. We see it like I’m “the wishlist girl” and he’s “the realism guy”.
If you have similar differences as a couple, such as one of you is really good at one thing and one of you is really good at another thing, take advantage of that!
Learn from each other and take advantage of the fact that planning your trip might actually end up being a lot quicker if you stick to what you’re good at.
READ NEXT: Our Tried & Tested Itineraries
Read More About Planning A Trip Together
I hope you’ve found our tips helpful! When travelling as a couple, you have lots of opportunities to save money and spend less on travel, so definitely take advantage of that.
If you’re after even more tips to help you plan your next trip together, then you might enjoy reading some of our other couples travel blogs, such as:
- The Complete Travel Planning Guide for Couples
- Couples Travel Budget Spreadsheet [Free Template]
- 13 of the Best City Breaks for Couples in Europe
Or maybe we’ve already written about a destination you’re considering for your next trip? Check out this page to read more about the places we’ve travelled to together.
Did you like this list of travel budget tips for couples? Why not pin or bookmark this blog post now, so you can refer back to it later?