Are you broke as hell but still want to discover the world? Say no more. Lucky for you, I know what it is to travel on a budget. I have been traveling with no money since forever. I have been a student with no income most of my life and still managed to travel the world. Having a tight budget shouldn’t stop you from discovering new places. But discovering new cities shouldn’t ruin you either. This article guides you through the process of planning your next exciting expedition at a minimum cost.
In this article you will learn:
- Must-know tips to travel on a budget.
- Brilliant hacks to enjoy a city without spending money.
- Budget-friendly tips to find cheap accommodations and flights.
Stay at a friend’s or relative’s place
One of the things that costs a lot of money when traveling is the accommodation. If you want to make real savings, the best option is to find a place to stay for free. Before looking for an accommodation to rent, make sure that you don’t have a friend or a family member that could host you for a few days.
If you don’t know anyone but still don’t want to pay for an accommodation, maybe it is time to consider Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is a network where you can find a host that will welcome you and let you stay at his place for free. You can find a host anywhere you go. You can check hosts profiles and see what other couchsurfers have said about their experience with them.
Experience home swapping
Another way to stay in a city for a minimal cost is to exchange your home with someone else. You can choose to exchange your entire home or a single room, for as little as a weekend to a few weeks or months. The home swap between two parties can occur during the same dates but can also be non-simultaneous. You can easily find people interested in doing a home swap through dedicated online platforms.
Find a private room to rent
A great (and cheaper!) alternative to a hotel room is to look for a private room to rent in a shared accommodation. The easiest way to find a room is through Airbnb. Airbnb is a community platform where you can book accommodations all over the world. If you have a bigger budget or if you are in a really cheap city, you can also look for a full apartment or a house. On the opposite, if your budget is really tight, you can book a bed in a shared room.
Stay in a hostel
A hostel is another budget-friendly type of accommodation to look for when traveling. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you can book a single bed in a shared dormitory. That means you will have to share your room as well as the bathroom with other guests. Hostels can have mixed dorms or single-sex rooms. Make sure to check that out beforehand to avoid any surprises. If you plan on spending more money, most hostels also have private rooms.
Consider staying in a town nearby
When looking for an accommodation, you might want to consider staying in a town close to the city you want to visit. You can save a lot of money by staying a few kilometers away. Pick a town that is not too far from the city you want to visit and an accommodation relatively close to public transport for more convenience.
Make sure that your accommodation has a kitchen
Always make sure that your accommodation has a kitchen. It will save you a ton of money to be able to cook your own food. The problem with hotel rooms is that you can’t cook anything and always have to eat out. If you book a private room through Airbnb, make sure that the host agrees on letting guests use the kitchen. If you choose to stay in a hostel, make sure that a shared kitchen is available for you to use.
Book in advance
When it comes to finding great deals for flights, my best advice would be to avoid last-minute flight booking. The closer you get to your date of departure, the higher the prices are. The longer you wait, the more you pay, so make sure to book your flight in advance to get the best deals.
If you have the choice between a direct and indirect flight, pick the indirect one. Indirect flights are less convenient and therefore cheaper. Try to pick an indirect flight with a relatively short layover. You want to avoid spending the night in a hotel during the layover. Otherwise, you might spend more money for both the hotel and the flight than you would for a direct flight.
Have flexible dates
When it comes to finding great flight deals, the more flexible you are on your dates, the better. Sometimes, within the same week, some dates are cheaper than others. From one week to another, prices may vary as well. If you want to catch good deals, keep your dates flexible.
Weight your luggage
The last thing you want to do when traveling on a budget is to pay an extra fee at the airport for an overweight luggage. Check the baggage allowance and make sure to meet the requirements. That includes the amount of luggage, their size, and weight. Make sure to check the company’s baggage allowance for your return flight as well. Baggage allowance may vary slightly from one company to another. Always weight your luggage beforehand to make sure that it doesn’t exceed the maximum weight authorized.
Flying always comes along with waiting. Whether your flight has been delayed or not, at some point you will have to wait. Bringing snacks is always a good idea. If you get hungry, instead of paying a fortune for an unhealthy donut at the airport, bring your own (preferably healthy) snacks and save money that way.
The amount of money you can pay for a flight or an accommodation during summer break or Christmas time is ridiculously high. As everyone goes on vacation at the same time, airline and hotel industries increase their prices. If your budget is tight, the best thing to do is to travel off-season. Choose spring instead of summer. The weather is still pretty good and the prices are lower. If you plan on traveling without kids, try to avoid going on a trip during school breaks as well.
Define a budget and stick to it
It is very easy to make unnecessary expenses when being on vacation. How many times have you spent way more money than expected during a trip? To avoid unnecessary expenses, set a budget for the entire trip and stick to it by keeping track of your expenses. Define a clear and realistic budget for the entire trip and divide it by the number of days. That way, you will know exactly how much money you can spend daily, which will help you stay on track.
Visit by yourself
Try to visit places by yourself instead of going on paid excursions. The only time you need to book and pay for an excursion is when you need a guide to assist you for security reasons. In that case, do not try to go there by yourself as it might be unsafe. Otherwise, just grab a map and figure out your way around by yourself.
Look for free activities
No matter where you are, you will always find free activities to do. Parks, gardens, forests, beaches, monuments or art galleries are usually free. Make sure to experience the free things before going for the paid ones. Then, pick wisely which paid activities you want to do by figuring out, through online reviews, if they are worth it or not.
Consider renting a bike to explore the city
Renting a bike for a week is a lovely, but also very cheap, way to explore a city. If you are staying somewhere through Airbnb, Couchsurfing or home swapping, kindly ask your host if a bike is available for you to use. That way, you will be able to make your way around for free. Otherwise, check rental bike shops online and pick one with good prices.
Use public transport
Keep your money in your bank account by using public transport instead of renting a car. In most cities, public transport is cheap and convenient. The cost of renting a car can easily blow up your entire budget. First, you will have to pay for car rental and gas. But you can easily add an extra cost if you end up damaging the car.
Cook your own food
One of the biggest tips I can give you if you want to save money during your trip is to buy and cook your own food instead of eating out. On vacation, people tend to eat at restaurants more than usual, which is completely normal. Vacation is a time when you disconnect from your everyday life. But be careful not to end up broke because you disconnected a little too much! Eat out occasionally and cook your own food to save money.
Plan ahead when and where to eat
Cooking your own food on a regular basis doesn’t mean completely avoiding restaurants either. It is important to discover and enjoy local dishes. To enjoy eating out at a minimum cost, plan ahead when and where to eat. Check restaurants’ menus and reviews online to select a nice restaurant with good prices.
Avoid restaurants near tourist zones
A general advice you can apply mostly everywhere is to avoid eating out at restaurants near tourist zones. Again, try to look for online reviews before deciding where to eat. Sometimes, you can even check the menu and therefore the prices. That way, you will know exactly how much you will spend and will be relatively sure that the food will be good.
Eat out for lunch and not dinner
Lastly, to save money while enjoying a good meal, I recommend eating out for lunch and not dinner. Prices almost always increase from lunch to dinner, even though it is the same restaurant with the same food and service. Most restaurants also have menus with good prices only available during lunchtime. Be smart and eat out for lunch and not dinner to enjoy your meal at a minimal cost!
Choose your destination wisely
The very last tip I can give you if you are traveling on a budget is to choose your destination wisely. Some cities/countries are way more expensive than others, which means that you will have to spend a lot more money for your accommodation, public transport, and food. Always make sure that the country you want to visit is affordable for you. Eastern Europe, South America, and Asia are great options. They are beautiful but also relatively cheap travel destinations.
Traveling on a budget is totally doable and comes with different options.
To save money on your accommodation you can:
- Stay at a friend’s house.
- Experience Couchsurfing.
- Try home swapping.
- Book a private or shared room through Airbnb.
- Book a single bed or a room in a cheap hostel.
- Stay in a town close to the city you want to visit.
- Make sure that your accommodation has a kitchen.
To save money on flights:
- Book your flight in advance.
- Fly indirect.
- Have flexible dates.
- Travel off-season.
- Check the baggage allowance.
- Bring snacks.
To have fun without spending too much money:
- Define a budget and stick to it.
- Avoid excursions and visit by yourself.
- Look for free activities.
- Explore with a bike or public transport.
Finally, to save money while enjoying local dishes:
- Eat out occasionally and cook your own food most of the time.
- Plan ahead when and where to eat.
- Avoid restaurants near tourist zones.
- Eat out for lunch instead of dinner.
You can save money while traveling by being organized and keeping track of your expenses. It also depends on the cost of living of the country/city you want to visit, which is why I strongly suggest that you do your own research before choosing your next travel destination.
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