Budget travel does not mean cheap travel. It just means you can enjoy the finer things in life without digging deep into your pocket. A little planning and forethought is all it takes to save money on all components of your trip. hotels, transportation, food, experiences, tickets, etc. This can lead to a few frustrations and compromises, but if you’re creative and smart, you’ll be able to overcome most of them.
So if you’re wondering how to travel on a budget, you’ve come to the right place. Read this guide to planning a vacation on a budget. You don’t have to be a backpacker to take advantage of these suggestions. The tips below can be used by any type of traveler to stretch their money further.
1). Choose affordable places to visit
Some places are expensive all year round and should be avoided if you are on a budget. Choose wallet-friendly destinations like Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, India, Italy or Mexico over beautiful and fascinating destinations like Switzerland, Norway, Japan or the Maldives. Also check the country’s currency exchange rates before planning your trip. If you travel to a place where your currency is strong, you will be richer there than at home. This means you’ll be able to stay in better hotels, take taxis, enjoy premium tours and indulge in a host of other luxuries without breaking the bank.
2). Shoulder travel
Every destination has a shoulder season. Flights, hotels and tours to the venue are significantly cheaper during these off-peak times as the weather may not be ideal. Or there is a drop in tourism after the school holidays/holiday season. So think Greece in September-October, Hawaii in the summer and Southeast Asia during the monsoon season. Not only will you save a lot of money, but you will also have a place to yourself.
3). Find cheap flights
Airfare is one of the most expensive elements of travel. It can drain your travel budget and force you to compromise on other aspects of your trip. So look for ways to save money on your airfare. Be flexible with flight times and days. Traveling during the week or flying at odd hours is cheaper. For example, tickets are usually cheaper from Tuesday to Thursday. Most of us would find those days inconvenient, which is why they’re reasonably priced. But why not change your plans for a few days here and there to save hundreds of dollars?
Using flight alerts, booking ahead of time, comparing search engines, being flexible with layovers, looking at alternative airports and flying on budget airlines are some of the most effective ways to get the best prices. Keep track of discounts and deals offered by airlines. Join a frequent flyer program and use your miles for emergencies and upgrades.
4). Travel on the ground
If you plan ahead of time, you can easily find cheap airline tickets. But if you can’t do that, consider your journey by train or bus. Traveling by train is always fun and gives you an insight into the local culture, especially in countries like India. Not only that, but you’ll be able to see more of the country from your bus/train window. Traveling by train in Europe is extremely simple and convenient, and offers a lot of flexibility. One of the major advantages of traveling by land is that you can get to the city center, while airports are usually located outside the city. This saves time and money when traveling between the airport and the city.
5). Travel light but pack well
Packing light can help you save money on excess baggage, especially if you’re flying with a low-cost airline. A light load will also make it easier for you to get around and use public transport. So bring only what you need and avoid carrying excess baggage. If in doubt, leave it at home. However, be sure to pack all the essentials so you don’t have to buy them on your trip.
6). Save on accommodation
Shop around for the best hotel rates as there are plenty of deals on third-party portals. Make your reservation as soon as possible for some great deals. Just make sure you select the refundable option. Vacation rentals like Airbnb are usually cheaper than traditional hotels, especially if you’re traveling in a group or staying for an extended period of time. They also include a kitchen where you can prepare meals. If you have the necessary gear and equipment, camping is an interesting way to reduce accommodation costs. Couchsurfing is a boon for those who want to say free. The app is the most popular online host network that allows travelers to stay with them for free.
Taking overnight trains or buses is another way to save money on accommodation. Traveling overnight allows you to reach your destination without wasting a day, giving you more time to explore. Staying out of town can sometimes result in significant financial savings. Just make sure you have easy access to public transportation.
7). Walk or take public transport
Walking is the best way to discover hidden gems and learn about the local culture in a new city. Moreover, it is completely free. When you can’t walk, take public transportation. Public transport is cheaper, especially if you are traveling alone. Many cities offer a day/week pass, which is always more cost-effective than buying individual tickets. If you are comfortable driving in a foreign country, renting a car is a good option. When you need to take a taxi, ride sharing services like Uber/Grab/Ola/Lyft are always cheaper than traditional taxis.
8). Spend less on tourist attractions
Free activities can be found all over the world. Historic walks, parks, hiking trails, beaches, and churches are usually free. Most museums offer free admission on certain days. You can also save big by buying a city pass, which gives you free transport throughout the city as well as access to all the top attractions. This is especially true in Europe. Carry your student or senior ID card to receive discounts on admission tickets to attractions and public transportation. Avoid expensive tours and create your own itinerary without the help of agencies or tour guides. Use the available audio guides; they will usually explain everything in great detail.
9). Save on food and drinks
You don’t have to eat every meal out because it adds to your daily expenses. Stay in an apartment/house where you have access to a kitchen. You can prepare your own meals by buying groceries from local stores. It can be fun to experiment with new recipes using locally grown produce and brands. If staying at a hotel, book a room with free breakfast. In cafes and restaurants, lunch is served at a cheaper price than in the evening. So if you want to eat out, do it at lunchtime.
Avoid eating in the main tourist spots and instead look for local eateries away from the sights. The food there will be authentic, cheaper and tastier. Street food in several countries is incredible and so cheap. It should never be ruled out, especially if you’re looking for ways to save money. Cut back on drinks and minimize buying drinks at bars. You can buy from the supermarket and enjoy it outside. Airport food is extremely expensive, so bring something to eat for the trip.
10). Be careful about money transactions
Make sure there are no foreign transaction fees on your credit or debit cards. Get a travel-friendly credit card with airline and hotel chains. This way, you can earn significant rewards that can be redeemed for free upgrades and tickets. Always keep some local currency in your pocket as there may be places where cards are not accepted or local vendors charge extra. In most cases, withdrawing money from ATMs is less expensive than exchanging money. One rule of thumb is to never exchange money at the airport as they charge exorbitant fees.
- If you plan to use your phone a lot while traveling, consider buying a local SIM card for cheap data and calls. It is much cheaper than international roaming plan.
- Connect with some locals who can give you tips on local activities, non-touristy neighborhoods, the best markets, good restaurants, and more.
- Learn about local laws, customs and traffic regulations. So you can follow them and avoid fines.
- Traveling in a group is guaranteed to save you a few bucks. However, travel with people on a similar budget or you could blow your entire score.
- Once you’ve decided on a travel budget, use a budgeting app to track every penny you spend. This makes it easy to see where your money is going and how it can be cut.
- Check the weather forecast for the next few days and be prepared.
- Bargaining is the norm in many countries. Everything must be negotiated, including tours, taxis, shopping, car rental, etc. So if you haggle a lot, you can save a tidy sum.
- Always keep a medical kit handy in case of emergencies, as even minor illnesses can be costly. Medicines available by prescription in your home country may require a prescription in the country of destination.
- If you contract an unknown disease or have an accident in a foreign country, you can pay a lot of money. Therefore, never leave the country without adequate travel insurance. The extra costs can be quite high, but it’s worth it.
To sum up, you don’t need a lot of money to have a real and enjoyable experience. If you have any other budget travel tips to share, please leave them in the comments section below.