How to Travel on a Budget: 50 Practical Tips!

Let’s face it, even seasoned travelers like myself want to know how to travel on a budget. Why spend money when you don’t have to? The more you save, the more you have for even more adventures!

Lots of mores!

As I write this post, I am getting excited! Only 3 months to go until we set off traversing the globe again, so I’ve been researching and drawing on my own travel experiences.

Whether you’re a lifestyle entrepreneur, a digital nomad, a professional traveler, or just like planning vacations, here are 50 practical tips for traveling on a budget:

1. Set a Daily Budget

Determine a reasonable amount to spend each day and try to stick to it.

This will help you prioritize your spending. Include all your expenses, such as accommodation, meals, transportation, and activities. This will make you more conscious of your expenses and less likely to splurge on unnecessary items.

2. Travel Off-Peak

Travel during shoulder seasons—the period between peak and off-peak seasons.

You will find that flights and accommodations are much cheaper, and destinations are less crowded. This not only saves you money but also enhances your travel experience.

3. Use Flight Comparison Websites

skyscanner

Utilize websites like Skyscanner, Kayak, or Google Flights to compare prices across various airlines.

These websites aggregate prices and show you the cheapest options. Sometimes they even have exclusive deals that you might not find on the airline’s website.

4. Use Travel Reward Cards

Credit cards that offer travel rewards can be incredibly valuable.

By spending on everyday items, you can accumulate points that can be redeemed for flights, hotels, and other travel-related expenses. Make sure to pay off the balance every month to avoid interest charges.

5. Pack Light

packing light - packing organiser bags

Save on checked luggage fees by packing only the essentials in a carry-on.

Besides saving money, packing light also saves time, as you don’t have to wait for your luggage at the carousel, and it makes moving around much easier.

6. Travel Overnight

Opt for night buses or trains when moving from one city to another.

Not only is it often cheaper than daytime travel, but you also save on one night’s accommodation. Make sure to bring earplugs and an eye mask for a more comfortable sleep.

7. Use Public Transport

Public transportation is usually much cheaper than taxis or rideshares.

Plus, it’s a great way to experience how locals live. Before you travel, check the public transportation options of your destination and familiarize yourself with routes and tickets.

8. Book in Advance

Many transportation companies offer lower rates if you book weeks or even months in advance.

This also applies to some attractions and accommodations. Just make sure to read the cancellation policy in case your plans change.

9. Cook Your Own Meals

By staying in hostels or Airbnbs with kitchens, you can save a lot by cooking your own meals.

Visit local markets for fresh ingredients, and try making some local dishes. This is not only cost-effective but also a fun cultural experience.

10. Travel with Friends

traveling the world with my family - my daughter and I on the beach

When you travel with friends or family members, you can share expenses such as accommodation, transportation, and even meals. This can significantly reduce the financial burden on each person.

11. Free Walking Tours

Many cities offer free walking tours. These are not only an inexpensive way to see the city but also a great opportunity to learn about the local history and culture. Don’t forget to tip your guide if you enjoyed the tour.

12. Use Travel Apps

There are many travel apps designed to help travelers save money.

These range from maps and transportation apps to those that find the best local deals. Some popular ones include Maps.me, XE Currency, and TripAdvisor.

13. Use Hostels

Hostels are usually much cheaper than hotels. They’re also great places to meet other travelers. Look for hostels with good reviews and the amenities you need, like free Wi-Fi or a kitchen.

14. Haggle

things-to-do-in-bangkok-floating-market

In many countries, particularly in markets, prices are inflated for tourists. Don’t be afraid to bargain.

It’s often expected. Be polite, and if you feel like the price is too high, it’s okay to walk away.

15. Use Airbnb

Airbnb can be a cheaper and more authentic alternative to hotels. Staying in a local’s home or apartment can also provide a different perspective on the place you’re visiting.

16. Book Flights on Tuesdays

Many airlines release their sales early in the week, making Tuesday often the best day to find deals. It’s also said that booking around six weeks in advance can get you the best rates.

17. Use Couchsurfing

screenshot of couchsurfing landing page

Couchsurfing allows you to stay with locals for free. It’s not just about free accommodation but also about cultural exchange and making new friends. Be respectful and considerate when staying with a host.

18. Travel Insurance

travel safety tips - Safety Wing

Though it seems like an extra expense, travel insurance like SafetyWing can save you money in the long run in case something goes wrong, such as a medical emergency or loss of luggage. Make sure to read the policy details.

19. Pack Snacks

Food at airports and tourist spots can be overpriced. Bring your own snacks, like nuts or granola bars for those moments when hunger strikes.

This small habit can save you quite a bit in the long run.

20. City Tourist Cards

Many cities offer tourist cards that provide free or discounted access to major attractions and public transport. If you plan to visit many attractions, this can save you a substantial amount.

21. Use a VPN

Express VPN - website homepage

Sometimes prices for flights and accommodations can be cheaper when booking from a different country. A VPN changes your virtual location, allowing you to check prices from different countries.

22. Eat Street Food

things-to-do-in-thailand-street-food-tour

Street food is often cheap and delicious. It’s also a fantastic way to experience local cuisine. Just make sure it looks clean and safe. Opt for busy stalls as high turnover usually means fresher ingredients.

23. Use a Water Bottle

Bring a refillable water bottle. It’s more environmentally friendly and saves you money. In countries where tap water is not safe to drink, look for water refill stations or use a bottle with a filter.

24. Walk

pai-thailand-walking-street

In compact cities, walking is often the most economical and enjoyable way to get around. You can take your time, take photos, and discover hidden gems that you might miss when using public transport.

25. Avoid Tourist Traps

Places near major tourist attractions are usually overpriced and not always the best quality. Walk a few blocks away from the tourist areas to find better and cheaper options.

26. Go to Free Museums

Many cities have museums that are either always free or have specific free-entry days. Plan your visits around these times. These cultural experiences can be just as enriching as the costly ones.

27. Travel Slowly

Constantly moving from one place to another can be expensive. By staying longer in one place, you can take advantage of weekly accommodation rates and have more time to find cheap local spots.

28. Use Currency Exchange Wisely

Currency exchange centers, especially at the airport, usually have bad rates. Withdraw money from ATMs for better rates, but be aware of fees. Also, always choose to be charged in the local currency.

29. Use Student Discounts

If you’re a student, always ask if there’s a student discount. Many places offer reduced prices for students. Just make sure to carry your student ID with you.

30. Work Exchange

screenshot of workaway landing page

Websites like Workaway and WWOOF connect travelers with locals looking for help with various tasks in exchange for food and accommodation. This is not only a way to save money but also a unique cultural experience.

31. Use Local SIM Cards

Roaming fees can be exorbitant. When you arrive, buy a local SIM card. This will allow you to use the internet and make calls at a much lower rate.

32. Choose Cheaper Destinations

Some countries are significantly cheaper to travel in than others. Countries in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, or Central America often have lower living costs compared to Western Europe or North America.

33. Pack a First-Aid Kit

Having basic medicines and first-aid supplies can save you from having to find and purchase them at a local pharmacy, which can be particularly expensive in some countries.

34. Share Meals

In many countries, especially in the USA, portion sizes can be very large. Consider sharing a meal with a travel companion. This saves money and prevents food waste.

35. Research

professional traveler - tripadvisor forums

Knowledge is power. The more you know about the place you’re visiting, the better decisions you can make about where to save money. Look for local blogs and forums for insider tips.

36. Avoid Single Supplements

Some hotels charge a single supplement, essentially penalizing solo travelers. Look for accommodations that don’t charge this fee or consider staying in a hostel or Airbnb.

37. House Sitting

screenshot of trustedhousesitters landing page

Websites like TrustedHousesitters connect travelers with homeowners looking for someone to take care of their home and pets while they are away, often in exchange for free accommodation.

38. Bike Rentals

Many cities offer bike rental programs. Biking is often cheaper than public transport and gives you the flexibility to explore at your own pace.

39. Find Free Entertainment

Look for free entertainment options such as concerts, street festivals, or public events. These can often provide some of the most memorable experiences of your trip.

40. Ask Locals for Tips

Locals often know the best places to eat, visit, and shop. Don’t be shy about asking for advice. They can often direct you to hidden gems that are not on the tourist radar.

41. Use Library for Freebies

Some local libraries offer free or discounted passes to local museums, zoos, and other attractions. Check the library’s website or ask the librarian for information.

42. Use Deal Websites

screenshot of groupon landing page

Websites like Groupon can offer substantial savings on activities, meals, and even accommodations in the country you’re visiting.

43. Alternative Airports

Sometimes flying into or out of a secondary airport can be significantly cheaper than using the main airport. Just make sure to factor in the cost and time of getting to and from the airport.

44. Carry Small Change

Having small denominations of the local currency can be handy for small purchases, and in some places, it is necessary for public toilets or local buses.

45. Flexibility

Being flexible with your travel dates and destinations can save you a lot of money. Sometimes changing your departure date by just one day can make a big difference in flight prices.

46. Avoid Expensive Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages can be pricey. Limit your consumption or buy it at a local store and enjoy it at your accommodation.

47. Use a Money Belt

Protect your money and essential documents by using a money belt or hidden pouch. This is especially important in areas known for pickpocketing.

48. Take Advantage of Duty-Free

If you need to purchase gifts or specific items, sometimes buying them in the duty-free area of the airport can save you money.

49. Volunteering

get paid to travel the world - volunteer

Some organizations offer food and accommodations in exchange for volunteer work. This can be an incredibly rewarding way to immerse yourself in the local culture while giving back.

50. Set Fare Alerts

Many flight search engines allow you to set alerts for specific routes. They will notify you when prices drop, allowing you to book at the best possible price.

Remember that traveling on a budget is also about making choices.

Sometimes it’s worth spending a little more on an experience that will really enhance your trip, and other times it’s better to save. The key is finding the right balance.

Here are three top considerations for how to travel on a budget safely and healthily;

3 Top Considerations for Traveling on a Budget Safely & Healthily

1. Budget Travel Styles

Understanding and choosing a travel style that suits your budget is essential. The way you travel can significantly impact your expenses. Here are a few budget travel styles:

  • Backpacking: Involves traveling with minimal luggage, often staying in hostels or budget accommodations, and using cost-effective transportation. It is popular among young and solo travelers.
  • Slow Travel: Staying longer in one place to immerse yourself in the local culture. This style can save money as you can avail of long-term accommodation discounts and reduce transportation costs.
  • Working Holidays: Involves volunteering or taking short-term jobs while traveling. This can offset some of your travel costs and is also a great way to immerse yourself in a new culture.
  • Travel Hacking: Utilizing credit card points, frequent flyer programs, and other rewards to reduce the cost of flights and accommodations.

2. Staying Healthy on a Budget

Maintaining your health during your travels is crucial, as getting sick can be both costly and disruptive. Here are some tips:

  • Travel Insurance: Invest in a good travel insurance policy that covers medical expenses. This can save you from hefty hospital bills in case of an emergency.
  • Vaccinations and Medications: Ensure you are up-to-date with necessary vaccinations and carry essential medications. This prevents avoidable illnesses and the associated costs.
  • Eat Wisely: Opt for hygienic eateries and avoid street food if you have a sensitive stomach. Drink bottled or purified water in countries where tap water isn’t safe.
  • Stay Active and Rested: Engage in physical activities but also ensure you get enough rest. A balanced routine keeps you healthy and energized.

3. Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them

Falling victim to a scam can be a major setback for budget travelers. Here’s some travel safety tips to stay vigilant:

  • Research Common Scams: Before you travel, research common scams in the destination you are visiting. Being aware is the first step to avoid being tricked.
  • Keep Valuables Safe: Carry only what you need for the day, and use a money belt or hotel safe for important documents and valuables.
  • Be Skeptical of Unsolicited Offers: Be cautious if someone approaches you with an unsolicited offer, especially if it seems too good to be true.
  • Stay Calm and Walk Away: If you feel like you’re being scammed, remain calm. Often, scammers rely on pressuring you into making hasty decisions. If something feels off, it’s okay to walk away.

By considering your travel style, staying healthy, and being vigilant against scams, you can make the most of your travels while sticking to your budget.

These considerations are fundamental to having a smooth and enriching travel experience without unexpected expenditures.

How to Travel on a Budget – Summary

Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean skimping on experiences; rather, it’s about making smart choices that maximize the value of each dollar spent.

The key takeaways for a rewarding budget travel experience include:

  • choosing a travel style that aligns with your preferences and budget
  • prioritizing your health to avoid unexpected medical costs
  • staying vigilant to protect yourself from scams

Being informed and planning ahead can significantly enhance the quality of your travels while keeping costs in check.

One crucial aspect of planning is ensuring you have reliable travel insurance.

For budget travelers, a highly recommended option is SafetyWing Insurance.

SafetyWing offers affordable travel medical insurance, which is invaluable for peace of mind and financial protection in case of unforeseen medical emergencies. It’s flexible, designed with the traveler in mind, and easy to purchase even after your journey has begun.

As you embark on your next adventure, don’t forget that smart budgeting is an enabler, not a constraint. Take that leap, explore new cultures, make lifelong memories, and do it all without breaking the bank.

How to Travel on a Budget – FAQs

What is the meaning of budget travel?

Budget travel refers to the practice of traveling while minimizing expenses and seeking ways to make the most of a limited budget. This means being cost-conscious regarding transportation, accommodation, food, and activities.

Budget travelers often look for the best value options rather than the cheapest, aiming to have enriching travel experiences without overspending. This can involve staying in hostels or budget accommodations, using public transportation, eating at local eateries, and looking for free or low-cost attractions.

How do you travel for a year on a low budget?

Traveling for a year on a low budget requires careful planning and flexibility. Here are a few steps to consider:

  • Choose Affordable Destinations: Opt for countries with lower living costs, such as those in Southeast Asia or Central America.
  • Plan and Save: Prioritize saving money before your trip and set a realistic daily budget for your travels.
  • Work or Volunteer: Consider working holidays, remote work, or volunteering in exchange for accommodation.
  • Travel Slowly: Slow travel not only lets you immerse yourself in the culture but also saves money on transportation.
  • Be Frugal: Cook your own meals, use public transport, and avoid expensive tourist traps.
  • Travel Hacking: Learn the art of travel hacking to utilize credit card points and frequent flyer miles for flights and accommodations.
  • Have Travel Insurance: Make sure you have travel insurance to avoid unexpected medical costs.

How can I travel the world with little money?

Traveling the world with little money is challenging but possible through creativity and adaptability. Here are some tips:

  • Work Abroad: Take up short-term jobs or freelancing work as you travel.
  • Couchsurfing and Hostels: Use platforms like Couchsurfing for free accommodation or stay in hostels.
  • Hitchhiking and Rideshares: In safe and common areas, hitchhiking or using rideshare apps can save on transportation costs.
  • Earn While Traveling: If you have skills like writing, web development, or photography, you can earn money online while traveling.
  • Utilize Reward Programs: Use airline and credit card reward programs to your advantage.
  • Travel Light: Pack minimally to avoid additional baggage fees.

What is the cheapest way to travel around the world?

The cheapest way to travel around the world involves a combination of strategies:

  • Round-The-World (RTW) Tickets: Consider purchasing RTW tickets from airline alliances, which can be cost-effective for extensive travel.
  • Low-Cost Carriers: Use low-cost airlines for regional flights and always be on the lookout for promotions and deals.
  • Overland Travel: Where feasible, use buses and trains instead of flying.
  • Hostels and Alternative Accommodations: Opt for hostels, guesthouses, or services like Couchsurfing.
  • Eat Like a Local: Shop at local markets and eat street food.
  • Free Attractions: Take advantage of free museums, parks, and walking tours.
  • Travel Slowly: Longer stays often mean reduced accommodation and transportation costs.

Remember that while traveling cheaply, it’s essential not to compromise your safety and well-being. Always be informed and make sensible decisions.

About the author

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