Travel is one of the great pleasures of life. It is also the most expensive. Not least of all because of the tiny costs that build up during the trip. The first time I went on holiday alone, I ended up spending three times my usual cost on little beauty, hygiene and medical products alone. I didn’t even realize I had spent so much until I saw my bank account upon returning home….$300 over budget, ouch!

Saving money is simple if you put some thought into it. These are five items that you can pack to effortlessly slash travel costs, and leave you returning home without the anxiety of what you spent.

1. Food!

This is probably the biggest expense that we underestimate. Which is understandable, as there is no way of knowing exactly how much food items cost in an area until you get there. But you can help that by bringing some food with you when you go. Obviously, this depends a lot on how you are traveling. When driving somewhere, I will often pack a cooler with meals I have made ahead of time and frozen in bags. I always use vacation rentals, or at least hotels with an available fridge and microwave. Items like peanut butter and bread for sandwiches also help. One interesting idea a friend of mine uses for her family of five is to stop at a second hand shop when it town and grabbing a crock pot for a couple of bucks. Then they spring by the grocery store every day for some simple items to throw into it for a hearty meal they can start in the morning and came back to it at night. It may be too involved for some, but an interesting idea nonetheless.

2. Coupons

A great way to save money anywhere, you can look ahead on websites a day or two before you leave to find coupons and deals to take along with you. If you are in the US you can call ahead of the trip and order an Entertainment book filled with fantastic deals in everything from restaurants to fun venues. Though just going around the web will usually find you enough coupons that you won’t have to do this. It is also a good way to save money while out of the country, as more places abroad are starting to offer online printable deals. Coupons for large chains are great as well, as they usually work at all locations across the nation.

3. Mini Bottles

One of the easiest ways to throw money away is buying travel sized anything. Yet the annoying regulations at airports, including both charging for luggage space and the amount of liquids allowed, necessitate it. Get around it by picking up some reusable mini bottles such as these simple ones from Darice. Then just fill them with your shampoos, conditioners, cleansers, body washes, lotions and other needed items. You can even get reusable squeeze tubes for toothpaste. Frequent travelers really shouldn’t miss out on this one.

4. Travel Pillow, Mask and Earplugs

You have been laid over or delayed, and it isn’t just a simple couple of hours. You will be stuck for the night, and you need to find yourself a hotel. Or do you? It may seem shocking when you walk through and airport and see people sleeping on the ground. But you would be surprised by how common it really is, and how useful. Just put down your bag, lay an inflatable travel pillow on top, put on a mask and earplugs, and cuddle under your jacket. Not the most comfortable of beds, but it will work for a few hours of zzz’s while you wait for your flight. And it will save you a lot of money.

5. App Heavy Smartphone

We all keep our smartphones with a foot of ourselves at all times, don’t we? Well, you can rely on apps to provide a lot of assistance during your travels. From finding the cheapest rates on hotels, flights, shopping or restaurants, to learning of problems like travel conditions, finding cheaper gas prices, maps, ect. Then there is the entertainment value. That book you are paying $15 for in the airport gift shop that you will literally only read three chapters of? Forget it, just use an ereader map, game, or even watch a movie/tv show on your phone.

Have a tip for saving some green while traveling? Let us know in the comments.

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