Money is one of the biggest factors that prevent people from traveling and rightly so, as travel can be really expensive! It is dependent on when you go, the type of accommodation you choose, the airline you fly and many other factors! However, it really doesn't have to be expensive.
Although I am a travel blogger, we are more alike than you think. Travel blogging is purely my hobby, so despite the stereotype, I do not travel for free. Much like everyone else, I work a full- time job and save for each trip I take! Fortunately, there are no secrets or tricks to traveling often, simply spend less on each trip!
In this post, I will be giving you all of my tips that I have come to find for traveling on a budget. So without further ado, here are 10 genius ways to travel on a budget!
1.Travel During Off-Season
If you don't have children vacations to worry about and you are able to travel during the off- season, this tip could potentially save you hundreds of dollars! Be sure to research when the off-season is for your destination and try to go then!
2. Plan Ahead
Find out ahead of time about parking fees, free activities in the area, and cheap places to eat to avoid unnecessary costs. I usually like to create a Google Doc of my trip and gather plenty of research, from cheaper flight dates to popular, free attractions and transportation! What I love most about Google Docs, is if you are planning a trip with another person, you can share the document with them and they are able to edit and add their ideas for the trip!
3. Find a Cheap Flight
I always use Google Flights, Expedia or Kayak to find cheaper flights. When you are on a tight budget, I would recommend flying a budget airline as they will have the cheapest flights. However, beware of the extra fees and baggage costs, as some budget airlines like Spirit and United charge for carry-on AND check-in bags! In order to find the cheapest flights, it is important to be flexible with the dates you fly and the airline you take. There is no room for being picky when you are on a budget!
Traveller Tip: I have found flying on a Tuesday or midweek, if you can, can save you more $$ than traveling on the weekends.
4. Choose a Budget Friendly Destination
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is important to note. If you find cheaper flights to a more expensive location, that does not mean you have hit a bargain. You should consider the rest of the trip costs and think about how much you are going to spend in total.
Traveller Tip: Southeast Asia and Central America, happen to be some of the most budget-friendly places to visit in the world! I would recommend looking into these destinations if you have a travel bug that just will not go away!
5. Explore Different Accommodations
Depending on your standards, this could be one of the costlier expenses on your trip. If you don't mind staying in hostels, they are a cheaper option and you can also meet some really cool people! However, be aware that in Europe some hostels are just as pricey as hotels, so make sure you do your research, just because its a hostel doesn't necessarily mean it is the cheapest option.
If hotels are more your style, I would recommend staying somewhere with complimentary breakfast, as this will help lower your food expenses. I found that most European hotels with breakfast included, had a delicious buffet breakfast that we were able to fill up on and also take extras to go as snacks! When searching for hotels, I use hotels.com, as you can earn 1 free night for every 10 nights you stay, if you sign up for their free loyalty program.
If you plan on traveling with a larger group, I have found some really great Airbnb's for cheap (if costs are split). These usually come with a full kitchen and multiple bedrooms for everyone in your party.
If you are traveling to South America or Asia, I would look into an all-inclusive resort stay with Groupon or Expedia. However, be sure to check out the reviews, as some of these resorts can be a rip off!
Consider camping if you are going to an outdoorsy place! We were looking into a camper van on our next trip to Colorado! This was an awesome choice because both the car rental and accommodation are included as one cost!
Traveller Tip: If you plan to travel from one destination to another, try to book an overnight train, bus or plane trip, to save on a nights stay at a hotel, hostel or Airbnb.
6. Don't Eat your Wallet
Food expenses is where you can save quite a bit of money when you travel. I would recommend exploring the local grocery store for some snacks to pack in your backpack and make use of your kitchen area in your hotel or Airbnb.
When I first travelled to Europe on a student budget, I brought a bunch of instant, microwaveable oatmeal packets for breakfast. My thought process was that oatmeal can be more filling than granola bars and other snack foods and it is also more nutritious. Every morning before we would head out, we had a packet each and picked up a 2€ coffee and we were good until 2-3 o'clock, if not later. This may sound crazy but when you're on a budget, every penny counts! Which brings me to my next point; go out to eat once day and try to make it "lunch time." Restaurants tend to make their lunchtime meal cheaper than dinner. Take advantage of the time and make sure to eat during "lunch hours," even if its a late lunch! This will not only give you energy for your next adventure but will also allow you to digest your food before you head to bed!
Traveller Tip: Eat like a local, which means avoid eating at touristic spots! You’ll end up with more delicious food, more authentic experiences, and more money in your pocket.
In some European countries, you can get meals for cheaper just by going at a certain time. For example in Italy you order an aperitif which is a glass of wine or other drink that is served with a buffet of finger foods, generally between 7-9pm. Another example in Spain or Portugal is the Menu del dia' which is usually a fixed price lunch menu often under 10€, which typically consists of a three course meal!
7. Use Public Transportation
Subways, Metro and buses are usually much cheaper than a private car or car service! I would recommend using public transportation to get the full experience of the city life! I use Google Maps to help me get from place to place, as the app will tell you exactly which train to get on and exactly where to get off!
If you are traveling farther distances, car rentals are a great option but try to avoid car rentals when staying in a city, as hotels usually charge for parking! Also, rental car companies usually charge more if you are picking up and dropping off at the airport. My best advice for finding cheap deals for car rentals is to start looking for deals well before your trip and try to pick up and drop off your vehicle in a location other than the airport. Car rentals require a little more research than any other transportation, as prices can go up and down quite drastically. I have found that even picking up the vehicle and dropping it off at the same time, can decrease the cost. As you are researching, be sure to check out the cancellation policy for each company. A free cancelation policy means that you can cancel your reservation if you find a better deal with another company later on.
Traveller Tip: If you are in a city that is walkable, I would fully recommend traveling by foot, as you will be able to take in the whole experience of the city! I use Google Maps or Maps on iPhone to help get me from place to place!
8. Keep Miscellaneous Costs Low
Souvenirs- Try to avoid purchasing large and expensive souvenirs that you will eventually forget about or throw out! I like to purchase a sticker and a pin from each location that I visit as a remembrance.
Bring a Water Bottle- Plastic water bottles are expensive and non-sustainable. It is important to carry a refillable water bottle with you, as most destinations have public water fountains to refill your bottle.
Credit Card Fees- Use a credit card with no foreign fees if you travel international. I have been looking into the Venture, Capital One travel card!
Never Pay for a Bathroom- You may not always be able to avoid this cost but if you can hold it, try looking for a free restroom. Libraries, department stores, hotels and cafes usually have free restrooms.
9. City Pass Discounts
Look into city passes for touristic attractions, you may be able to find a pass that combines all the attractions you want to visit and more for cheaper!
Also, if you are a student be sure to bring your student ID as many attractions offer student discounts! I still use my student ID card even though I have graduated and it has saved me over $20! Definitely still worth bringing it, even if they don't accept it :)
10. Free Attraction Days
Many museums worldwide offer free admission days throughout the month. For example, every first Sunday of the month, Paris offers free museum entry and in Rome the Vatican Museums offer free entry on every last Sunday of the month. If you are traveling in the U.S there are certain days the National Parks offer free entry as well! Just be sure to do your research on the days you plan on going so you can be prepared.
Traveller Tip: These free attraction days can get very busy, very quickly! Make sure you wake up early to get in line!
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