Are you looking to travel on a budget? If so, you’re in luck! This blog post will share 36 tips to help you save money on your next trip. Whether you’re planning a vacation or just a weekend getaway, these tips will help you keep your costs down. So what are you waiting for? Start reading and start saving!
It’s About Being Creative
I’ve been traveling for two decades, and it was easy to find affordable options for everyone in the early days of my travel. Still, nowadays, traveling can become a very expensive hobby if you don’t know how to travel cheaply.
If you want to travel without breaking the bank, there are a few ways to go about it. Traveling cheap doesn’t mean you’ve to sacrifice comfort or safety; it just means you’ve to be a little more creative and imaginative in your planning
When choosing a destination, it’s important to keep your budget in mind. The cheaper the destination, the more money you’ve left for other things
1) Domestic vs. International Travel
If you’re traveling domestically, you won’t incur international airfare costs. Still, if you’re traveling to New York or Las Vegas, you’ll likely spend more than if you’re traveling to Mexico City or somewhere in Central America.
Because prices in New York and Las Vegas are higher than in many other countries outside of the Americas (except for Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand). So when you choose a place to travel, you should take into account the cost of living in the region
2) National Travel
The most important thing in choosing your destination is the location of the place. The advantage of traveling nationally is that you know the culture and the prices. Also, you’ll recognize the tourist traps faster.
3) International Travel
Choosing an affordable place to stay is the first step to traveling on a budget. If you plan to visit several countries during your trip, you can plan better if you have a rough idea of how much it’ll cost to stay in each place.
Before booking your tickets and accommodation, you should check the current exchange rate to ensure you’re getting the best deal. The exchange rate is the price at which one currency can be exchanged for another. You can use websites like XE or Google Currency Converter to get an idea of how much money you’ll spend in the local currency.
4) Plan Your Trip Yourself Instead of Joining Tours
Tourists are often advised to join organized tours and travel packages, as they offer a cost-effective option and make travel easy. However, if you want to travel cheaply, you should plan your trip yourself.
If you want to see as many places as possible, then a tour is the best option – it’s quick and easy. But if you want to enjoy your trip more and immerse yourself in the culture than just visiting some places, then choose a different way – plan everything yourself! You’ll feel like an explorer and enjoy your trip more.
5) Compare prices
You’ll often find better deals if you book several months or even further in advance if a specific flight suits your needs (such as direct flights).
Check websites like Skyscanner or Momondo to compare prices from different airlines.
Travel with the airlines that offer the most frequent flyer miles, and sign up for airline and hotel loyalty programs to earn points toward free flights and hotel stays (and discounts!).
6) Take Advantage of Student Discounts on Flights and Loyalty Programs
The best way to save money on flights is with a student discount. Most airlines offer discounts for students, and some even let you check your bags for free or at a good discount. If you’re not a student but still want to get the best deal possible, sign up for an airline loyalty program before booking your flight
7) Pack Light
The lighter your luggage is, the more money you can save on airfare. If you can only pack one bag with all your belongings, you should do so because you’ll save money on checked baggage fees. The same goes for items you carry during your trip. Pack only what you need for the trip – less weight means less cost!
8) Travel in the Off-Season
For example, if you’re planning a trip to Europe, don’t travel during the summer or winter vacations when prices are higher, and crowds are bigger. Instead, consider traveling in the spring or fall or visiting the country during a vacation that doesn’t coincide with school vacations. This way, you can save money on accommodation, transportation, food, and entertainment costs.
9) Buy Airline Tickets in Advance, but Not Too Far in Advance
If you’re planning a trip in high season (especially summer), you should buy your tickets as early as possible, but don’t wait too long, or you may pay more.
In theory, the earlier you book, the better your chance of getting a good price and avoiding last-minute price hikes. Don’t book too early, though – usually, airlines increase prices on routes closer to departure. However, if you’re flexible and traveling off-peak, last-minute flights can sometimes be a good option
10) Choose the Cheapest Days
The best way to save on airfare is to book early and choose a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday as your departure day. This way, you have the most options in terms of prices and availability.
11) Consider Alternative Flight Options
Trains, buses, and ferries are often the cheapest way to move around when traveling within Europe or North America, so consider them if they fit your schedule.
12) Stay in Hostels, Airbnb, or Other Inexpensive Accommodations
Hostels are a great option for travelers who want to spend their money wisely and sleep comfortably at night. You’ll find hostels in every major city worldwide, where many young people are traveling alone or with friends on a tight budget. If you prefer privacy, rent an apartment instead of staying in a hotel: You’ll save a lot of money!
If you’ve some time before your flight, try Couchsurfing! Couchsurfers are like Airbnb hosts, except they don’t charge anything, and you stay with them – they want to meet people from other countries! It’s a great way to get to know the local culture without spending much on accommodation.
However, these days hosts are inundated with requests, and in some places, it cannot be easy to find a host. Another disadvantage of Couchsurfing is that it can be more frustrating than spending money on accommodation if you don’t have a good connection with your host. I’ve hosted and been hosted myself in the past, and I’d say I’ve had mixed experiences. But you can also have mixed experiences with Airbnb or a hostel; it’s just that you’re the customer here, whereas, with Couchsurfing, you’re the guest.
If you decide to go with Couchsurfing, read the reviews and choose a verified host. If you’re happy with your experience, leave a good review so others know what to expect, and it’s a great way to thank your host!
14) Consider Using Public Transport or Carpooling Instead of Renting a Car
Public transports or ridesharing services like Uber are usually cheaper than cabs or rental cars because they’re subsidized by other users (like cab companies). However, be mindful of safety when using these options – sometimes, they can be unsafe, especially late at night or in unsafe neighborhoods (website).
15) Buy a Pass
Some countries have rail passes that allow you to travel unlimited times in the country or region for a certain number of days. If you’re traveling by train, check the Eurail website for information on passes that cover most of Europe.
16) Book an Overnight Bus Instead of Flying
This is usually cheaper and offers more flexibility than other modes of transportation, such as trains or flights. For example, suppose you want to get from Paris to Barcelona in Spain. In that case, many buses offer cheap tickets that allow you to explore the cities before continuing without worrying about connections or checking luggage at the airport (though this option isn’t always as convenient as flying). In Southeast Asia, some buses and trains even offer comfortable beds.
Food and Drink
17) Restaurant Options
If you want to eat at a fancy European restaurant, you should go for lunch instead of dinner. Prices are usually lower at lunch, especially if you go during the week.
18) Look Where the Locals Eat
The best places to eat are usually at local restaurants instead of expensive tourist traps. Where locals eat, the food is usually good and inexpensive.
Eating at local restaurants instead of expensive tourist traps isn’t only a great way to save money and get an authentic taste of the country you’re visiting. You can find many good places to eat by asking locals or other people who live there.
19) If You’re Flying, Don’t Buy Food at the Airport if You Don’t Have To
It’s usually a rip-off and not necessary. If you’re traveling through an airport and need something, buy it at the store before you go through security.
20) Try Street Food
Food and drink are some of the biggest expenses when traveling, especially if you’re on a budget.
Street food is very popular all over the world. It’s cheap, authentic, and delicious! The problem is that it’s not always safe to eat street food. You don’t always know what’s in it, where it came from, or how long it’s been out there.
If you’re in a country where the locals eat a lot of street food, it’s probably safe to eat. But check it out carefully. For example, there are foods the locals can digest better, while you’d get sick because you’re not used to them.
21) Don’t Eat Anything That Doesn’t Look Fresh or Clean
It may seem obvious, but if the vendor’s kitchen space doesn’t look clean, the food will likely not be clean either! If you’re buying meat or seafood, make sure it’s cooked all the way through unless you’re in a trustworthy place – this will ensure that any bacteria inside is killed by the heat before you eat it.
Here are some tips on how to eat street food safely:
- Avoid anything with ice – In countries where electricity doesn’t work 24/7 or where hygiene may be an issue, ice can be a breeding ground for bacteria and other microorganisms. If you want something cold to drink, ask for something without ice or get it at a restaurant with a refrigerator.
- Don’t eat anything that looks like it’s been sitting in the sun all day – you don’t want to eat spoiled food!
- Avoid anything with flies buzzing around – Flies can contaminate food, so don’t risk eating from that stand!
22) Cook Your Meals Instead of Eating Out All the Time
Eating out all the time can be expensive, especially in a country where food is expensive. Instead of relying on restaurants for every meal, cook your food in your hostel or Airbnb. Home-cooked meals aren’t only cheaper but often healthier than eating out at restaurants.
If you’re used to eating out, cooking at home may seem like a big challenge. But with a little practice, anyone can learn to cook simple and tasty meals. There are many resources to help you get started, including cookbooks and online recipes. Save your money and your waistline by cooking your meals
23) Drink Water
If you’re in a country where drinking water is safe, avoid buying bottled water and other drinks in stores or restaurants – fill up water bottles from the tap or buy them in bulk at supermarkets (or avoid buying bottled water altogether). Of course, if you’re in a country where drinking water is unsafe, opt for bottled water.
24) Don’t Spend Too Much Money on Food and Drinks at Tourist Attractions
Buying snacks at these places will cost you more than buying them elsewhere – even if they look cheap. Instead, buy snacks at grocery stores near tourist attractions. Most grocery stores have a wide selection of snacks you can choose from. Some stores also offer prepared sandwiches and wraps for customers who want to eat on the go.
25) Book Activities Online in Advance
Booking your activities in advance online is another way to save money while traveling. You’ll often get discounts when you book online with special codes or coupons. So it’s worth checking before you pay full price at the attraction or leisure center. If there’s no discount, at least you know the available time slots. That way, you can plan and avoid long lines when you arrive at the attraction or amusement center.
26) Take Advantage of Free Attractions
Some of the best travel experiences are free, such as a walk in a park. There are also many other ways to take advantage of free attractions. Here are some great ideas:
- Visit local libraries – which are often free, and enjoy reading their books while relaxing on their couches.
- Visit public parks and gardens – which are often free but sometimes charge a small fee for special events or concerts.
- Take advantage of free or discounted days at museums and other cultural institutions by planning when the opportunity arises. For example, many museums offer free admission on certain days of the month or year – so check the calendar ahead of time. In some cities, like London, admission to museums is free all year round, but try to go on weekdays to avoid long lines!
27) Buy a Local SIM Card With Data for Your Phone
Buy a local SIM card with data for your cell phone. If you plan to make local calls regularly or need more data for the Internet, this can be a cost-effective option. You can also access free maps and directions through Google or Apple Maps.
28) Don’t Buy Souvenirs and Fragile Items in Tourist Stores
Souvenirs are often overpriced and tacky, while fragile items may not make it home in one piece. Instead, buy handicrafts or artwork made locally from street vendors or markets – these are one-of-a-kind items that will help you support local artisans and reduce your environmental footprint by using less packaging material for your products (thus saving on shipping costs).
29) Shop Local
Shop at local supermarkets rather than large chain stores or convenience stores, as they’re usually cheaper than the latter. This way, you can save a lot of money grocery shopping abroad!
Think Outside the Box
30) Participate in a Volunteer Program
Some volunteer programs can help you find affordable housing, learn more about the culture while you help, and allow you to stay longer. If you want to travel and do something good for the world simultaneously, volunteering may be the perfect option for you.
Many organizations offer volunteer opportunities abroad. These programs can last from a few weeks to several months and usually have a specific focus, such as education, health, or environmental protection.
Before you choose a volunteer program, do your research thoroughly and make sure it’s reputable. Once you find a program that’s a good fit for you, contact them and ask any questions.
Inquire about visa options or ask the organization if you need a specific visa. Nowadays, many countries require an appropriate volunteer visa, so even if you’re working for free, you can’t always do it on a tourist visa.
Volunteering abroad can be an incredible experience that will stay with you forever.
31) Look for an Online Job
An online job is a great way to earn some extra money while traveling or even a full-time income. There are many different types of online jobs, so there’s sure to be something that fits your skills and interests. Here are a few tips to help you find an online job that suits you.
First, take some time to think about what kind of work you’d like to do:
- Do you want something flexible that you can do on your schedule?
- Or are you looking for a structured job with set hours?
Once you have a general idea of the type of work you’re interested in, you can start looking for online jobs.
There are many different ways to search for online jobs. A good place to start is by searching job boards or freelance websites.
As for the visa, if you have an online job, there are many visas for digital nomads, but they aren’t cheap or often require a decent western salary, which not all online jobs offer.
32) Join a digital nomad community
If you’re looking for an online job or struggling to keep one, a digital nomad community can be a big help. Here, members share tips on how to work and travel legally and find a place to live and a job. The community can also be a great way to make friends and explore new places.
When traveling, many traps are easy to fall into. Here are some common traps and how you can avoid them:
33) Avoid Overspending
When traveling, it can be easy to get careless and spend more money than you intended. To avoid this, check local prices before going out or buying souvenirs.
A good source for this is Numbeo, which allows you to compare the cost of living in different cities worldwide.
Users create Numbeo, so prices are always up-to-date and accurate. You can search for specific things like restaurants or transportation or get an overall view of costs in a particular city. This way, you can plan your travel budget well and ensure you don’t spend too much.
34) Beware of Thieves and Scammers
Getting ripped off or scammed can make a trip very expensive.
Some communal scams and traps happen everywhere, such as petty crooks, and some are location specific
Some examples of common scams are when someone pretends to sell something but is really just trying to pick your pocket or when someone asks for directions and then takes your purse or wallet when you’re not paying attention
Many site-specific scams occur in tourist areas, where people pose as tour guides or sell fake tickets to attractions. It’s important to beware of these scams so that you aren’t taken advantage of while on vacation
If you’re unsure about a situation, it’s always best to play it safe and walk away. Trust your gut: it probably is if something seems weird to you.
You can also Google “scam,” and you’ll find plenty. Just type in “scam” and the name of your city, state, or country, and you’ll get a long list of results from credit card scams to fraud factories. From there, all you’ve to do is pick out the results that are relevant to you.
Whether in the United States, Western Europe, Latin America (north and south America), Africa, or Southeast Asia, there are all sorts of scams, so it’s important to be aware of them. This is especially true if you’re traveling to a new place where you’re not familiar with local customs and laws. A little research can go a long way in protecting you from scammers.
35) Getting Sick
When you travel, you’re exposed to new germs and bacteria. To avoid getting sick, wash your hands often and stay away from sick people.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from illness while traveling is to wash your hands regularly. Be sure to wash your hands after using the restroom, eating, and coming in contact with contaminated surfaces.
It’s also important to avoid sick people when traveling. If you can, stay away from people who’re coughing or sneezing. And if you do come into contact with a sick person, wash your hands immediately
When it comes to travel, time is also money. You don’t want to spend your travel budget in bed when you’re sick
36) Get a Travel Insurance
Travel insurance covers the cost of medical treatment abroad, lost or stolen luggage, and other mishaps while traveling.
Before buying a policy, check with your health insurance provider to see your benefits abroad. You may already be covered for some medical expenses but not others. For example, your health insurance may not cover you for emergency evacuation or repatriation.
And remember, even if you’ve travel insurance, it’s always best to take steps to prevent getting sick in the first place. That means getting vaccinated before your trip and taking basic precautions like washing your hands frequently and avoiding close contact with sick people.
Even if you’re very careful, something can happen at any time. A friend who travels regularly once had an appendix and had to fundraise to pay for his surgery.
Health insurance may seem expensive, but try going to a hospital without insurance, and in some countries, they won’t even admit you if you don’t have insurance.
What good is saving money if you aren’t alive or intact to enjoy it?
Benefits of Traveling on a Small Budget
Traveling on a budget is one way to save money, but there can be even more benefits than expected.
You Have a More Authentic Experience
One of the biggest benefits of traveling on a budget is getting more out of your trip. When you stay in hostels or eat on the streets instead of in restaurants or hotels, you get a better sense of what life is like there. Instead of being just another tourist driving around the city, you’ll become part of the community.
You’ll Discover Things That Most Tourists Won’t Discover
Another great benefit is that you’ll discover things about your destination that most tourists wouldn’t find even if they tried! For example, if you take public transportation everywhere instead of cabs or Uber, you can find hidden gems in every city that most people would never see otherwise. You might even make friends with locals who invite you to dinner or even a wedding in some countries!
You Can Travel Longer and See More Places
You can do it on a budget if you want to travel longer than a week or two. You can stay in hostels instead of hotels and eat in restaurants cheaply instead of expensively. This way, you’ll have more time in each place and see more of what the country has to offer while still being able to afford everything.
You Learn New Skills
When you travel cheaply, you’re often forced to do things yourself that you’d normally pay someone else to do. This can include cooking your meals, doing your laundry, and even finding your entertainment. This may sound not very pleasant, but it’s some great benefits.
For one, you’ll learn new skills. Cooking is a good example of this. You’ll quickly learn how to make simple but tasty meals if you cook for yourself. Plus, you’ll save a lot of money by not always eating out.
Doing your laundry is another task you may not enjoy but will become second nature over time. And again, you’ll save money because you won’t have to pay for laundry services.
You Become More Conscious
You’re forced to be more resourceful when traveling on a tight budget. This means you’re more likely to research your destination before you leave and more likely to talk to locals and get recommendations after you arrive.
All this planning and research means you’re bound to learn more about the world around you. You’ll learn more about the different cultures, customs, and ways of life. Plus, traveling on a tight budget means you’ll have to be more flexible and adaptable. This can lead to amazing experiences you’d have missed out on if you’d planned everything.
Disadvantages of Cheap Travel
Cheap travel is a good choice for people who’d like to travel but don’t have enough money.
However, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and cheap travel has drawbacks. Let’s take a look at what they’re:
Traveling on a Small Budget Can Be Difficult
Traveling on a small budget can be difficult if you have a family. You’ve to make sure everyone has a place to stay, there’s food for everyone, and if you’ve kids, you’re traveling in high season, which is the most expensive time to travel
You also must ensure you can all get around without spending too much money. Luckily, there are a few ways you can travel with your family on the cheap.
One way to save money when you travel as a family is to find discounts. There are often discounts for families at hotels and restaurants. There are also discounts for admission to attractions and museums. Another way to save money is to plan your trip. You can book cheap flights and hotels at the best prices.
Cheap Travel Is Often Less Comfortable
This is because budget airlines usually offer less comfort, which can make travel less convenient. Also, hotels at cheaper prices are often lower quality and aren’t as well maintained as their more expensive counterparts.
Finally, cheaper modes of transportation such as busses and trains can be more crowded and less comfortable than a plane or private car. Despite these less-than-ideal conditions, many people choose cheap travel options because they’re more affordable.
Cheap Accommodation Means Less Quality Sleep
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. This is especially true when it comes to accommodations. If you look for lower quality accommodation, expect the rooms to be smaller, less clean, and in need of repair
In some cases, guests may even have to share a bathroom with other guests. Even though this type of accommodation is often cheaper, it’s important to remember that there are trade-offs for this.
You Spend More Time Calculating Than Enjoying Yourself
Calculating can be helpful when it comes to making important decisions, but it’s important to find a balance.
Overdoing it can lead to anxiety and stress, which will affect your mental and physical health. If you’re spending more time calculating than enjoying, you should cut back and give yourself a break.
Every once in a while, allow yourself to relax and live in the moment. It’s okay to make mistakes – we all do! – but try not to dwell on them. Instead, focus on the good things in life and enjoy the journey.
You Could Miss Out on Some Great Experiences
Regarding travel, some experiences are only possible once in a lifetime. If you’re willing to travel far, sometimes it’s worth it if you miss out on something for very little money. However, it’s important to consider the cost of missing out on other opportunities. If travel is your life, you may miss out on great family and friends experiences.
Budget Travel vs. Mid-Range Travel
If you can’t afford or don’t want luxury travel, there are two categories: Budget and mid-range.
Budget travel is the most popular choice among backpackers and budget travelers because it allows you to travel on a budget and still have fun.
A budget traveler won’t be staying in luxury hotels, eating at fancy restaurants, or taking expensive tours. They’ll stay in hostels or campsites, eat street food, and take day trips from the city you’re visiting.
Mid-class travelers tend to stay in nicer hotels and eat at better restaurants.
They do more excursions and activities than budget travelers because they’ve more money to spend on travel expenses. They also tend to be more flexible in their schedule than budget travelers because they don’t have a strict budget that limits how much they can spend on any given day of their trip.
It’s important to understand that budget and mid-class travel have advantages and disadvantages.
Budget travel has the advantage of being cheaper and more flexible. You can stay in hostels, use public transportation, and take day trips to places you wouldn’t have time in a hotel.
Mid-level travel has the advantage of being more convenient. You can choose where to stay, book in advance, and take long train rides or flights between destinations.
Whatever you decide, there are pros and cons. If you want the best experience possible, combining both types of travel into one trip might be best!
Is It Cheaper to Be a Solo Traveler or Go on a Road Trip With a Group?
That depends on how much you’re willing to spend, how far you want to travel, and what kind of experience you’re looking for.
Traveling alone is probably the best option if you’re on a very tight budget. You can save money on cheap airfare, lodging, and transportation (but remember that it’s important to be safe).
However, if you can afford it, traveling with friends or family members can be a great experience and help you save money in other ways, for example, by sharing meals and souvenirs and giving each other tips for the trip. Unless they tend to choose more expensive places than you (e.g., restaurants, hotels, etc.)
The cost of a trip also depends on where you’re traveling and how long you’ll be gone. If you’re planning a domestic flight within Europe or North America, it’s probably cheaper to fly alone than with others, so you can save money on a cheap flight deal and meet everyone on location.
If you’re traveling as a couple, it’s cheaper than family travel. However, if you’re traveling with children or teenagers, the cost may be lower per person, especially if you rent an Airbnb.