30 Tips for Traveling on a Budget

Budget Travel Tips

When people hear about how often I travel, they often ask “How do you afford to travel so often?” or “It must be nice to have so much money to travel.”

The truth is this is a myth. Traveling, while it can be very, very expensive, does not have to be! There are many shortcuts and tricks for being able to travel the world without breaking the bank.

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1-Travel to the cheapest countries. Choose wisely when picking your next destination. Sure, the bucket list places are great (when you can afford them). But if budget is a concern for you choose the less expensive countries and travel more!

2-Stay with friends! Do you have friends located around the globe? Connect with them and ask them if they would be willing to host you for a week or two. It will save you loads on hotel costs.

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3-Cook your own meals! Going out to eat can become expensive. By going out to you are potentially spending $40-60 (or more!) on a meal. If your accommodation has a kitchen or kitchenette make use of it! It could potentially save you hundreds from your food budget!

4-Travel in the off-seasons. While you may miss out on the best weather, traveling in the off season can save you money! Off-season travel also has another perk-less crowds! For example, don’t choose Cancun over spring break-more money and more people!

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5-Fly on the off days and stay flexible! Certain days of the week tend to be cheaper than others. When purchasing your tickets play with days and see what deals you can find. Choose the cheaper days!

6-Don’t settle for one! Use multiple search engines to find the cheapest and best deal you can find! Spend some time researching, don’t settle for the first good deal you see.

7-Avoid the costly attractions. The money you can pay for attractions can add up very quickly. Instead of going for all of these explore on the unbeaten path. This can save you some money as well as open up some new adventures!

8-Subscribe to Scott’s cheap flights. Scotts Cheap Flights sends out alerts on cheap airfare for destinations all over the world. There is a free membership as well as a premium membership and the frequency of alerts you receive depends on your membership status.

9-Consider using alternative airports. I have found that many times when searching for flights if I choose one airport over the other the tickets are considerably cheaper. There may be a longer drive, but in the long run it is worth it!

10- Use the couchsurfing app. The couch surfing app connects you will travelers all over the world who are offering accommodations to travelers. If you don’t mind staying with strangers this may be a great way for you to go!

11-House-swap! If you feel comfortable allowing someone into your home house-swapping may be a great option. Instead of paying for a place to stay you simply switch homes with someone and avoid the costs of a hotel.

12-Use Airbnb. You can find great deals with Airbnb. On my recent trip to Torronto a group of us stayed in a 6 bedroom, four bathroom home for less than $150 a night. You can find many even less expensive options and have a private apartment or home to yourself.

13-Camp! Camping can be free or inexpensive, depending on where you choose to stay. If you are hiking there will be many locations where you can pitch a tent and stay for free. There are also many great locations where you can pay an inexpensive rate per night and camp out at a campgrounds. It is much less expensive than staying in a hotel and if you don’t mind doing it, it will save you money!

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14-Sleep while you travel! If possible plan your travel time around sleep time and sleep while your fly or take the train-it will save you money on accommodations.

15-Stay in hostels. If you don’t mind sharing accommodations hostels can be a great choice. They are usually very inexpensive and give you a place to sleep. You may even meet a life long friend!

16-Have a picnic! This will both save you some money and give you an enjoyable experience. Pack your lunch and enjoy a picnic in Central Park in NYC, under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or on the grounds of El Morro in Old San Juan.

17-Dine where the locals do! These restaurants are often cheaper and will also give you more of a feel of what local life is like. You may just find some great, unique food as well!

18-Opt for fast food occasionally. Okay, this is something I would not normally recommend. But it is undeniable that fast food is generally cheaper than a fine dining restaurant. If you are trying to save money I would recommend choosing a fast food restaurant occasionally to reduce the cost of food.

19-Check local attractions for any free or discounted admission days. Many museums/attractions offer specific days of the week or month that have discounted or free admission. Do your research and try to plan your visit around these days.

20-Walk! Avoid the cost of transportation by walking to your destinations assuming they are in walking distance. You will also get to see more of the destination this way! I found that walking through the streets of NYC allowed me to experience and see more the city more than taking the subway would.

21-Purchase a city pass. Many large cities offer passes that include entrance to many main attractions and often times access to a bus route, which could save you hundreds in the long run.

22-Bring your student ID. Many museums and attractions offer discounted prices for students. Bring your ID and save money! Make sure your do some research being going and see which attractions offer these prices so you don’t miss out!

23-Pack light and avoid paying baggage fees! The less you bring the less luggage you will need and the less you will pay the airline in baggage fees. When at your destination make sure you don’t go spend happy on souvenirs. Souvenirs take up space in your luggage and buying to many can result in extra baggage fees. Take this one from me-I learned it the hard way!

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24-Make use of public transportation (avoid taxis). Buses, trains, and subways can be a cheaper way to see your destination than renting a car. You can usually find inexpensive bus passes that will get you from place to place. Taxis tend to be the most expensive form and I would recommend avoiding them if possible. If you must use them, I would recommend going through Uber or Lyft.

25-Bring a water bottle. Drinks can get expensive and are not something that you can skip, especially if you are staying active throughout the day. Bringing your own water bottle will help you avoid paying $5 for a water.

26-Develop a plan. Have an idea of what you want to do and what the cost will be. Try to stick to this and avoid unplanned costs. I find that when I am traveling if I have a plan and know what I’m going to be spending money on it helps me avoid overspending/spending money on things that I don’t need.

27-Book your flights early. The earlier you book a flight the cheaper it will most likely be. If you wait til last minute your wallet will pay the price!

28-Travel in groups and split the cost. The more people that are traveling the less the cost will be for each person if you split the cost. You will be able to do more and pay less if the cost is split between 5 people rather than one or two.

29-Avoid airport stores. This is a trap I fell into once (and only once) when I first began traveling. The prices at these airport stores can be outrageous. Bring what you need with you and try to hold off on the drinks/snacks until you get on the plane (assuming your flight includes drinks/snacks).

30-Travel to countries where your local currency is strong. Depending on currency conversions your money may be worth more and go further in certain countries. For example, when traveling from the US to Canada $1 USD will be worth $1.35 Canadian dollar, so you will be getting more for your buck when you exchange. Research which countries you can make the most of and choose them!

Remember-you could save up for months and take a luxury trip somewhere (which is great) or you can spend wisely and travel more! Which do you prefer?  

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