I’ve been fortunate to travel to some seriously incredible places around the world. While I love exploring new places and having experiences, these trips often come with a hefty price tag. Additionally, traveling as a vegan can be so difficult if you don’t take time to plan accordingly.
In the last two years, most of my travels have taken place in cold, arctic destinations like Norway, Iceland, and Alaska. The beautiful thing about cold destinations is that there aren’t many other tourists that you’ll encounter. The downside to Arctic countries, however, means that finding anything vegan to eat is often impossible or is incredibly expensive.
Through trial and error, I’ve perfected the art of cheap vegan travel so that my health, hunger, and bank account no longer have to suffer (um who likes paying $8 for bananas in Iceland… definitely not I).
Here are my top 7 life hacks for cheaper travel:
Life Hack #1: Make your own food ahead of time.
I’m not kidding when I say I make all of my own meals ahead of my trips. I purchased a $100 dehydrator from Walmart and have literally used it for every trip I’ve been on in the last three years. It takes planning and preparation BUT you will save yourself:
- So much money- generally avoiding restaurants and buying food on the go anywhere will be cost effective
- The frustration of being unable to find anything to eat
- Having to eat animal products against your will because you don’t want to starve yourself
I promise dehydrating your food ahead will be a game changer for your travels. Even if you’re not vegan, this is just a generally great practice to eliminate feeling like sh*t during your travels and avoiding unnecessary spending.
And before you ask, YES most countries have no issue with dehydrated food in your luggage. I always travel with mine in my backpack, which I use as my carry on item and have never had a problem.
Secondly, you only need access to hot water to rehydrate your meals which is perfect for on the go. I even bring dehydrated meals to eat at the airport to avoid junk and insanely overpriced airport meals.
OR ensure that your accommodations have a kitchen so you can cook your own meals.
Life Hack #2: BYOC
On the topic of bringing your own food…
BRING YOUR OWN COFFEE.
Whether it’s Starbucks Via to mix with hot water, or your own coffee beans, having access to coffee at all times is absolutely essential during your travels.
I like to pack an aeropress and bring my own beans to ensure that coffee can be had at any point. This also will ensure that you don’t end up spending hundreds of dollars on pricey coffee because it certainly adds up. I’ve been guilty of spending so much money on coffee while I travel and it seriously is an unnecessary expense.
Life Hack #3: Camp where possible as much as possible.
Places like Iceland and Norway are quite pricey for Air Bnb’s and hotels. To combat this, I always try to make a point to try to bring my own tent and camp. In Iceland, there’s a lot of areas where you can wild camp. Personally, waking up next to a waterfall is much more appealing than sleeping in a hotel anyways. I’ve saved tons of money while traveling by renting a car and camping.
Life Hack #4: Get a travel credit card that rewards you.
I use the Business TD Travel Visa and the points are ridiculous for Expedia. I’ve saved thousands on flights and car rentals from my Visa points alone. A lot of sites like Expedia, have special member’s only discounts if you have one of these credit cards. American Express also has some fantastic travel cards that give you access to airport lounges, and reward you with flights.
Life Hack #5: A return flight is not always cheaper
In general, buying a return ticket can save you money on your overall travel expenses. If you’re travelling to certain destinations, I’ve actually found that two one way flights can be cheaper than getting a return flight.
This takes time, but is SO worth the payoff if you can be organized and willing to put some effort into playing detective. Last November, I spent 3 days mix and matching flights to Tromso, Norway in an effort to save money. My efforts certainly paid off when I got two flights (myself and my partner) for the price of less than one return flight from Toronto- Tromso. Two round trip flights were going to cost about $3000 from Toronto to Tromso in November.
I used apps like Sky Scanner and Hopper to find the cheapest days to fly to Europe in November and the cheapest destinations. From these apps, I was able to discover that flying from Toronto to Reykjavik to Oslo to Tromso and back was $1200 total for the two of us. Again it took time and attention to detail (aka flight times) but we made it work and saved over $1500 dollars!
Life Hack #6: Pack l-i-g-h-t
I had to spell it out because I can’t put enough emphasis on the word light. If you pack light you will avoid such costly fees for checked luggage. Checked luggage often adds an extra $50 your flight cost.
Research your destination like crazy and figure out what the absolute essentials are. Only pack what you need and plan outfits ahead of time. Bring garments that you can recycle, mix and match, and are versatile. Where your heaviest pieces on the plane. When I was travelling to Norway I wore my hiking boots, shell, and midlayers on the plane.
Will it be rainy? Wear your GORE-TEX shell and rain boots on the plane to avoid taking up unnecessary space in your carry on, you get the idea!
Life Hack #7: do things that are free.
I know this might not always be possible, but I really do believe the best way to experience a place is on your own two feet. Personally, when I travel I always try to do the free activities. My favourites are to find the best hiking spots, chase waterfalls, or hunt for hot springs. If you’re like me, you’re traveling for the outdoor adventure side of things so often these activities don’t cost us a thing unless it’s to get into a National Park.
IF you’re going to spend money, budget for experiences like bike or surfboard rentals!
Chat with locals ahead of time
This sub tip is not for everyone but if you’re active on Instagram then take advantage! Don’t forget that Instagram is a community and there are so many people out there who are happy to give you recommendations on the area you’re visiting. Often times, these people have the inside scoop on the place you’re travelling to and will be able to tell you about all of the best hiking spots or beaches.
To find these locals, I usually search hashtags or look up geotags from the area I’ll be visiting. You can usually tell by a person’s profile if they live there or not. Shoot them a DM that you’re visiting the area and are inspired by their photos, the worst that can happen is that they won’t answer!
What are some ways that you have saved money while travelling?