17 tips to travel on a budget
Ready to discover 17 tricks that will help you save some money on your trip? Let’s begin!
1. Choose an affordable destination
The first tip, and perhaps the most obvious, to travel spending less money is to choose a cheap destination. Planning a trip to the United States or Switzerland, is quite expensive. It is not the same as opting for countries like Turkey or Vietnam, which are much cheaper.
The cost of living in each country will greatly impact your travel expenses: food, accommodation, transportation, etc. Therefore, if you want to travel more for less, choose an affordable destination. Although if you want to travel to a more expensive country because it is your dream, do it! By following the following travel tips, you will still be able to reduce the budget of your trip.
2. Search for affordable flights
The transportation to your destination, depending on how far you wish to travel, usually takes a large part of the budget. Unless you are going to go by car or use land transportation, where prices do not usually vary that much, you will have to buy flights.
Before buying flights, I always use and recommend Skyscanner, since it gives you the possibility to play a lot with dates and airlines and, in this way, choose the cheapest flights.
A very useful function that this flight search engine has is that it allows you to leave the destination section empty. In this way, the same search engine will organize the destinations according to price, from cheapest to most expensive. So you can choose your destination according to the price of the flights.
Other tips that I can give you to find cheap flights and, therefore, save some money on your trip:
- Search for flights in advance.
- Sign up for alerts that notify you when the price of the flight drops.
- Search for flights from the incognito browser.
- If you have VPN, look at the price of the connected flight from other countries.
- Study the option of layovers to reach your destination.
3. Pack light
This advice is quite related to the previous one, since the airline is responsible for determining luggage regulations. My advice is to pack as lightly as possible, this way you can fit everything in a carry-on bag and you won’t have to pay to check your bag. If you are going to board several flights, you will end up saving a lot of money on your trip. I speak from experience!
Currently, some airlines also do not include carry-on bag in the standard tickets. In those cases, I advise you to use a backpack with several large compartments, in which you can put a lot of clothes. Make sure that it is small enough not to be considered as hand luggage.
4. Hostel with kitchen, the best trick to travel on a budget
One of the things that I take into account when I want to reduce the budget of my trip is to opt for an accommodation that has a kitchen. This way, you can go to the supermarket and prepare some of the meals yourself during your trip. You can’t imagine the amount of money that can be saved if you opt for this option.
On Booking.com, the hotel search engine that I always use, there is an option to filter only accommodations that have a kitchen, either private or shared. These are usually hostels or apartments.
5. Book free tours and buy tourist passes
If you like to visit all the museums and tourist attractions in the city you are in, be sure to check if there are any tourist passes. Normally you pay a fixed rate according to the days you want to use it and you can visit as many places as you want.
Another option to get to know a city better without spending a lot of money is through a free tour. Thanks to these guided tours, you will be able to discover your destination with a guide. At the end of the tour, you can pay a donation.
When organizing a trip, I always search the name of the town or towns I’m going to in activity in, in a search engines, such as Civitatis or GuruWalk, to see if there are free tours available. It is a fun and cheap option to get to know a place.
6. Avoid flying during peak season
Not going to places when it is high season seems very logical but it is very important that you take it into account if you want to travel cheap. Some destinations inflate their prices during the high season months, as the demand increases and, therefore, the prices too.
My advice is that when you have to choose the destination of your next trip, make sure to choose one that is not in the middle of high season. Visiting places in low season will save you a lot of money on your trips almost without realizing it.
7. Purchase travel insurance for your trip
This tip may increase your travel spending, however, if you are unfortunate enough to have something happen to you during your trip, it will save you a lot of money. Medical care in many countries is exorbitantly priced. My advice is not to risk it and purchase the best travel medical insurance.
I use and recommend Heymondo, where I can provide a 5% discount.
8. Walk and use public transportation
There is no better way to get to know a city than to walk through its streets. When I travel, I try to avoid taking any means of transport as much as possible. My legs are the best method to move from one place to another. Plus, walking is free!
There are times when you are tired, it is late or you want to visit a remote place. On those occasions, always opt for public transport. If you think you are going to use public transport a lot, be sure to take a multi-journey ticket to save some money.
On the other hand, some countries have unlimited travel passes on public transportation. This is great when you are going to make a route through the country using trains and buses. For example, Switzerland has the Swiss Travel Pass and Japan, the Japan Rail Pass.
9. Carry a water bottle
This advice on how to travel on a budget may seem very basic to you, but for me it is one of the best tricks to save on my trip, as well as taking care of the planet. If you bring your own bottle, you can refill at any fountain for free and, thus, you will not spend any money buying bottles of water or having a drink outside.
An example of a destination where it is highly recommended to do this is Switzerland. The country is full of water-refill corners. It is also not a budget-friendly destination, therefore, you will save a lot of money.
10. Search for travel discounts
Many tourist attractions provide discounts on tickets if you are a student, if you are of a certain age or even if you travel with a in a large family. Sometimes these special rates are visible in the price lists but other times you will have to ask for them. Sometimes you can save up to the full cost of the ticket.
On the other hand, I recommend looking for discounts in the different companies that you have to use when planning your trip. Don’t miss the Heymondo discount I’ve offered you above.
11. Use commission-free bank cards
Do not make the mistake of exchanging money at the airport or withdrawing money at an ATM with your traditional bank card. The commissions in both cases are very high and it’s usually the more expensive way to get cash.
Instead, get a debit card that has no fees, or as low as possible, such as the N26 card. Use it to pay and to withdraw money from ATMs. I’ve been using it for a long time and I don’t even want to imagine the money I would’ve paid in commission had I not had this card with me.
12. Food shop at supermarkets
If your hostel does not have a kitchen where you can prepare your own food, you will have to eat out. Eating in restaurants every day, both for lunch and dinner, can be very expensive, especially if your trip lasts many days.
In this case, my recommendation is that you go to supermarkets and buy easy-to-cook food. Salads or sandwiches are always a great option. Then find a green space with benches to sit down and enjoy your meal.
If you are going to eat out, opt for local restaurants and venues that offer daily menu. You can google “where to eat (name of the city) cheap” and thus find places that are good and affordable.
13. Use Wifi or purchase a SIM card
If your cellphone plan does not include internet roaming in your destination country, when you have to use the internet, you can use the wifi at your hostel or other establishments. In addition, by not purchasing a data plan or SIM card, you will save money during your trip.
If this is not an option as you like to have access to the internet at all times, then I recommend buying a local SIM card. Forget buying it in advance or at the airport. It will be more expensive! My recommendation is that you go to an official store once you arrive at your destination.
14. Stay somewhere completely free
Some platforms allow you to stay in places for free. Yes, totally free! I’m talking about websites like Couchsurfing, HomeExchange or TrustedHousesitters. Below, I’ll explain very briefly how each one works.
- Couchsurfing. This company tries to unite travelers with local people from any city, so that you can stay at someone’s house.
- HomeExchange. It allows you to exchange your house with someone else’s for a period of time and, therefore, stay totally free at your destination.
- TrustedHousesitters. This platform connects travelers with people who need someone to stay at home to take care of their pet for a while.
15. Don’t be afraid to bargain a little
You may think that haggling is wrong but in some countries it is the most normal thing in the world. In fact, in certain places, if you don’t bargain, you will pay a much higher price than the actual cost. You can do this especially in markets or even when booking tours at the destination. If you are going to haggle, always do it politely and don’t haggle too much either.
16. Stay in hostels, a great way to travel on a budget
Hostels are another great option if you want to travel with little money. You will not be able to completely reduce the costs of boarding, but you will be able to reduce it significantly.
I find hostels to be a perfect option when you are traveling alone and when you are traveling with friends. If you are traveling alone, it is an ideal opportunity to meet other travelers from many corners of the world. If you are traveling with friends, you may be lucky enough to fill up a room and have it all to yourselves. Although if you travel with your family or with your partner, and you want to save money, they are also a great alternative.
Do not see something negative in the fact of having to share a bathroom, kitchen and other common rooms with other people. In fact, that’s the fun of hostels. Take advantage of this and try to make as many friends as possible.
17. Go camping or travel in a van or motorhome
If you are going to do a complete route through a country or your destination is more of a nature destination, a great option is to stay in campsites or travel by van/motorhome. If you already have a tent, you won’t have to make any extra large purchases and, honestly, staying in campsites is much cheaper, and even fun!
On the other hand, if you are going to travel by van or motorhome, the vehicle will be your means of transport and your accommodation. In addition, you will also save on food since you can prepare it yourself. In some countries where accommodation and food are expensive, traveling this way will save you money. If you want to rent a van, I recommend Roadsurfer.
Do not miss all my travel tips to plan your next adventure.
I hope that travel tips on a budget have been very useful to you. Now that you’ve read this, money is no longer a reason to stop exploring the world because you know how to travel on a budget! If you have any other question or contribution, do not hesitate to leave your comment or email me. Until next time!