Frugal Travel Tips Pt. 1 – Transportation

Frugal Travel Tips Pt. 1 – Transportation

Transportation: Because we all need to get somewhere somehow.

This is a breakdown of transportation options when travelling and how to pick the best one(s) for your budget. In general, the following are the most common modes of transportation in order from least to most expensive:

  1. Walking
  2. Cycling
  3. Carpooling
  4. Bus & Subway
  5. Taxi & Rideshare
  6. Train
  7. Airplane

I do not include a car in this list, because owning and renting a car are two very different expenses. However, at the bottom of this post I do mention one alternative car renting service.

I hope this list gives you a good idea of which transportation options you should utilize to fit your budget!

  1. Walking - at virtually no cost (besides bodily energy), this is your most frugal and budget friendly option! Walking is a staple in medium and small cities. Rather than taking a bus or train, walking allows you to see more of a location and allows you to make spontaneous stops to peruse a shop or explore random side streets.
    1. Favorite cities to walk:
      1. Cordoba, Spain
      2. Geneva, Switzerland
      3. Edinburgh, Scotland
  2. Cycling - Most large (and some smaller) cities now offer bike rental locations. If you’re lucky, some Airbnbs might even offer a bike to explore with. For a small fee, you can take out a bike and rent it by the hour or day. This option makes me a little more nervous if there aren’t good bike lanes or a helmet available. However, a bike gives you more freedom and speed than a bus or walking.
  3. Carpooling - There are a few carpooling apps that more people are beginning to use as a cheaper alternative to ridesharing apps. For these apps, a driver sets out their beginning and ending location, and you can choose to join along for a set cost. Language isn’t normally a problem thanks to the plethora of translation apps nowadays.
    1. Two apps I recommend:
      1. Blablacar (Europe)
      2. Waze Carpool (United States)
  4. Bus & Subway - Let me just say, I LOVE public transportation like subways and buses. A lot of cities are getting better at providing navigation tools and maps for public transportation users. Another perk is you can read, work, or people watch. A lot of cities offer day passes, which are perfect for trips shorter than a week.
    1. My Favorite Public Transportation Cities:
      1. London, England (using an Oyster Card)
      2. Washington D.C., USA (using a SmarTrip Card)
      3. Istanbul, Turkey
  5. Taxi & Rideshare - Honestly, I wasn’t sure where to put this category in the lineup, because sometimes it can be very expensive or other times it’s super cheap. I will say, Google Maps is a good app that allows you to compare Rideshare app costs. Also, check with locals about best modes of transportation, because sometimes taxis are the cheapest and best option (a keen example is Amman, Jordan). This category differs from carpooling in that the latter is usually cheaper, but the former is more verified and controlled.
    1. Most common rideshare apps:
      1. Uber
      2. Lyft
      3. myTaxi
  6. Train - Not be confused with a subway, trains are good for covering longer distances outside cities. When traveling in Europe, trains are common and a good midpoint regarding cost (after buses). If you choose to take a bus long distance, just know you are saving money, but it will take significantly more time.
    1. If traveling long distances in Europe, I highly recommend looking into purchasing a Eurail pass. You can customize the duration of your trip as well as destination countries. If you decide not to use it after purchase, you may get an 85% refund or exchange it for a different kind of Eurail pass. This was very helpful when I bought a pass,but had to abruptly cancel my trip when my grandmother passed away. Thankfully, I still got a good amount of my money back.
      1. Please feel free to use my referral link as well. I will get a very small percentage of your purchase by doing so. It’s greatly appreciated!
  7. Airplane - My first love: air travel. Although it can be costly, if done properly, it can be super cheap (read: budget airlines). If you’re looking for a flight, I suggest start searching IMMEDIATELY. Most of the time, prices only go up over time. Thankfully, having a family member in the airline industry has allowed me to glean some tips:
    1. Use a flight comparison tool. My favorites:
      1. Hopper (mobile app only) One of the best features of this app allows you to “Watch” a trip, where it will notify you if the price of a certain trip you are looking at increases or decreases from your initial inquiry.
      2. Google Flights. Very similar to the Hopper app, it has a clean format to view all your options.
    2. If searching on a browser, make sure to make it “private” or “incognito”. I’ve heard countless stories of how looking at a flight one day then closing the tabs and looking the next day caused the price to jump significantly because certain websites were tracking.
    3. Fly with less luggage. I’ll have a whole post on this later, but less luggage means less stress about losing something as well as potentially saving costs on budget airlines like Ryanair.

Finally, I want to mention the car rental service. Much like Airbnb where you rent peoples’ homes, you can rent someone’s car! Turo is a relatively new service available in the United States and Canada that I’ve used previously, and I loved the ease of it! It was SO much cheaper and easier than renting a car from a classic rental agency that has so many strict regulations on age and credit card ownership needed (no thanks). If you’re interested, use my referral link to sign up and try it out!

I feel like this list is exhaustive, but honestly, I know there are so many other services, apps, and nuances to transportation in travel. I hope these tips help you make the best choice for your budget.

Let me know in the comments below if you feel like I missed something important or have a question!

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link to Eurail. If you purchase a product, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

About Shannon Pedersen

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