How to Travel on a Budget
Contrary to popular belief, traveling does not always have to be expensive. While it is a privilege to have the time and money to travel the world, you don’t necessarily have to be rich to experience other places. There are things you can do to enjoy your travels without draining your savings. Check out these hacks to save money on your next adventure.
Packing Well Is Key
Packing is one of the most important things you can do to stretch your money. Take some time to consider what you will need for your trip so you don’t have to spend your money on buying new things while you’re there. What kinds of clothes will you need? What activities will you be doing? Prepare as much as you can.
Inevitably, you will have to make purchases on your trip, but minimizing this cost will have a huge impact on your budget. Space is usually a huge factor when traveling as well, so consider what things are functional and what is necessary versus what can be left at home.
Travel Through The Night (And Rest)
If possible, travel overnight! This saves you time and money so you can get the most out of your trip. If you can take a flight or train ride overnight instead of during the day, it saves you a night of having to pay for accommodations.
While you’re planning out your travels, look into overnight travel options and do this when possible. Also, you can complete your long travel at night so you have your days to enjoy the palace you’re visiting. Save money and give yourself more time to explore!
Minimize Eating Out $$
Food is one of the biggest expenses while traveling. Eating out for every meal adds up, but what is the alternative? To save some extra cash, go grocery shopping and make some of your own meals. This doesn’t have to take up too much of your time.
Obviously, you’ll probably want to try some of the local delicacies and restaurant recommendations but try to sub a few meals out for meals cooked yourself. You can make some simple meals in your hotel or hostel. Many of which have kitchen facilities. You’ll be shocked to see how much you save when you grocery shop instead of eating out.
Look up Free Activities
There are free things to do anywhere you travel. Do some research on the place you’re traveling to beforehand and ask locals for recommendations. Many museums and parks are free to explore. If you’re going somewhere coastal you can always spend a day at the beach.
One of the best free things to do while abroad is walk around! You’ll meet new friends, discover fun places, and immerse yourself in the destination. While you’re exploring, you might even discover new fun things to do along the way. You’ll find some of your best experiences didn’t cost a thing!
Pick a Budget and Stick to it
Planning a trip requires some research. Look into your destination and the average cost of things like food, accommodations, travel, activities, etc. Take these estimates into account along with your budget to find a realistic number to stick to.
Keep your budget in mind throughout your trip and do your best to stick to this number when you’re traveling. Having a budget laid out for you will eliminate some stress while you’re enjoying your trip.
Use Skyscanner for Cheapest Flights
Skyscanner is a great resource for those of us traveling on a budget. You can plug in your travel dates and arrival/destination airports and it will provide you with the cheapest flights available. Pro tip: Tuesday through Thursday are the most cost-effective days to travel.
Try to plan your trips so that you don’t travel on weekends because these are the most expensive days to travel. Skyscanner also has an application you can download on your phone to check flight availability while you’re out and about.
Avoid Tourist Traps
“Tourist traps” is a term that refers to popular tourist destinations and activities that attract (you guessed it) tourists. These are the most expensive places to travel to because they have such an allure. Do your research so you don’t find yourself falling for these tourist traps.
Besides, the best way to get to know any place you visit is by exploring on your own and with locals, rather than hitting the most populated tourist spots. There are tons of hidden gems that will be equally exciting to explore and will save your wallet in the process.
Choose your Destination with Care
When you’re planning a trip you want to factor in the cost. Some places are much easier to travel to on a budget than others. Selecting your destination is going to impact the amount of money you spend in a major way.
It’s also important to choose your destination with care because you want to be prepared for what to expect. How much does food cost there? Are there fun activities to do for free? What are the “must-see” attractions? Do your research now and you’ll thank yourself later.
A great way to save money on travel is to go in the off-season. During travel season, the travel industry increases prices because the demand is higher and they know people will pay it. Europe is a great example of this. If you’re planning a trip, you might consider looking up the most popular times of year people usually go, and do the exact opposite.
Of course, people usually travel to places in the on-season due to weather, so you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of unpredictable weather. On the plus side; however, it will be less busy and you won’t have to wait in as many lines.
Use Public Transportation
Learning how to get around in a new place is very important for safety, convenience, and saving money. Public transportation is one of the cheapest ways to get around. Depending on where you travel, public transportation might be the ideal way to get from A to B.
Take some time to learn what kinds of public transportation is available in the city you visit. Taxis can be expensive and unsafe in some areas, so it’s helpful to have a little information regarding transportation before you leave for your trip.
Bring Your Own Water Bottle
Take your own reusable water bottle! It’s not only good for the environment, but it will allow you to fill up at water fountains without having to ever pay for water on your trip. Most Starbucks will offer to fill your bottle for free, as well.
In countries where clean water isn’t as readily available, a lot of travelers use a filtered water bottle. This is particularly helpful if you are backpacking or camping. It might not seem like it makes a huge difference, but not having to buy water on your entire trip is more money staying in your pocket. Plus, you’ll be reducing your plastic waste.
Take Advantage of Rewards and Air Miles
If you travel frequently, airline miles can help you save a fortune in travel costs. All you need to do is stick with an airline that offers quality services and stack up your points. Most airlines’ loyalty programs award “miles” or “points” to their loyal customers.
These points are your pass to discounted and even free flights in the near future. As you fly and use airline credit cards, you stack up points, and inch closer to your free or discounted flights, flight upgrades, hotel stays, and even car rentals.
Book Your Flights Early
Have you ever waited till it was almost time for your trip before you booked a flight? Chances are that flight fares have gone up, and you will have to deal with the regret. It’s never a pleasant feeling.
You will get the cheapest rates and save more by booking your flights in advance. But make sure you aren’t too early, as prices are on the high side during the first few days after tickets are released. By “advance,” we mean 100 to 21 days before your trip.
Travel in a Group
Some travel experiences are maximized and better enjoyed when they are shared. But there is one more obvious benefit. Group travels are cheaper because the group can split the bills on many things such as car rentals (if you insist).
So, if you can find a group or partner headed to your destination, and you believe they are people you would be comfortable with, then that’s your chance to keep costs down.
Shorten Your Trip as Much as Possible
We know you’ve got all that free time on your hands but spending all of it on vacations can leave a massive dent in your pocket. Consider scaling your trip back a couple of days.
For example, your pocket will thank you if you reduce a 5-day trip to 3 days. Think about the extra cost for hotel stays and food you will save when you spend a shorter time in that destination.
Consider Staying with Friends or Family
Have you ever thought of the possibility that a friend or family member, no matter how remote, lives close to your holiday destination? You should. Staying over at a friend’s or family member’s while on vacation can put smiles on your pocket.
You will save up on those money-sapping accommodation costs and if you are lucky, even on feeding. Next time you plan a trip, make sure to ask around for a friend or family who stays around. You just may never know.