Travel expenses can add up. When you’re aiming for a longer trip as opposed to a more indulgent one, there are plenty of ways to save money. And the funny thing about saving money is that a lot of money-saving habits will also help out the planet…and your health! It’s like a three-for-one! Well, four-for-one really, because these reusable options are pretty, which is important here at Travel Gear Nerd. So, without further ado, here are some super useful items that will save you cha-ching in the long run so you can spend more on experiences and less on stuff.
1. Water bottle
If you’ve read my post on them, you know that I’m a huge water bottle nerd. And with good reason! Beyond being pretty, a water bottle will save you tons of money while you travel. Because you can often fill it up for free, especially in the US. As opposed to those plastic water bottles that you must purchase. Two dollars adds up fast when you buy them all the time. Plus, plastic. Blegh. Get yourself a nice stainless steel one instead. If the $15 – $30 cost is too much, head over to your local Goodwill. They have tons for about $3 that are as good as new! That’s how I found my favorite bottle!
Pssst! Stainless steel keeps your water colder for longer than plastic and you can even run it over with a car and it won’t break. I know this because I’ve seen it happen.
Lots of coffee places will give you discounts for bringing your own mug. And, if you really want to save money, bring along some of those paper tea bags (the unbleached kind that you can compost!), or loose leaf (see #3). Get yourself some hot water (often about 50 cents from a coffee place or sometimes free) and you’re good to go! Some countries, like Norway, have super hot, clean water that comes right out of the tap!
3. Tea/coffee strainer
Coffee and tea habits are expensive. Save yourself a lot of money by bringing your own (probably higher quality!) loose leaf or coarse-ground and a stainless steel tea basket strainer. The holes are small enough for the finest of teas (I’m looking at you, rooibos!) as well as course-ground coffee. Why stainless steel? It doesn’t leach anything into your hot beverage and it’s easy to wash. I did some research because I really really wanted a basket strainer that fit in my beloved Klean Kanteen thermos and finally found one for you – this one. To use, add tea or coffee to the basket, close it, place in the bottle, and slowly pour hot water over it. Let steep for 2-3 minutes and then remove. Mmm, tasty beverage.
One huge money-saver while traveling is to make your own food if you’re couchsurfing or staying at an Airbnb. Even if you aren’t, if you’re eating out, you can store your leftovers in a tupperware container and boom – instant second meal. (Hint: most hostels have a fridge for your use!) You can also use them for snacks – buy a large size bag of nuts from the store and bring some with you during the day. There are a few options for tupperware, including the do-it-all mason jar, but I personally prefer a large stainless steel container, as I can put bulky items in it like salads and it won’t break. If you want something that’s like a mason jar without the breakable factor, Klean Kanteen makes stainless steel food canisters, some of which are insulated for things like soups.
5. Spork or cutlery set
With a spork or cutlery set, you can eat your own food or leftovers out of your tupperware, thus saving you the money of having to buy new food and saving the planet from single-use plastic forks. Win! I’m in the spork crowd myself. I love my Snow Peak titanium spork and it lives in my day bag and goes everywhere with me. However, if you’re more in the I-must-have-a-spoon-and-fork-and-knife crowd, I hear the To Go Ware bamboo set (that comes with chopsticks!) is quite nice.
6. Water filter
Though an initial investment, a water filter means you can fill up wherever, sterilize it, and you’re good to go. This is especially helpful in places like Thailand where the tap water isn’t safe to drink. I used my Steripen multiple times a day and I never got sick! Take that against buying bottled water there multiple times a day. I have the Adventurer model, which uses camera batteries, and let me tell you, lugging around extra batteries is not my favorite. If I were to buy it again, I would buy the USB-powered version so I could charge it with all my other electronics. And yes, it looks like an inappropriate medical device. 😛
7. Toiletry bottles
Instead of purchasing those adorable (and expensive!) travel-sized bottles from the grocery store that aren’t the stuff you normally use, grab yourself some 3 oz silicone travel tubes and fill em’ up! You bring your favorite shampoo and don’t have to wrestle with trying a new expensive product – win!
As they say in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, never forget a towel, for it is massively useful. Bringing a towel means you’ll never have to pay for one at a hostel. You will also always be covered for the beach. You can use it as a swimsuit coverup, scarf, blanket, and bag in a pinch. AND, you can use it to dry your hand-washed clothes (to save even more!) overnight!
What items do you bring traveling to save money?