Exploring exotic places doesn’t have to cost a fortune and you certainly don’t need to win the lottery to travel the world – not if you know how to watch your pennies. We’ve complied 10 tips for traveling on a budget.
Traveling is such a wonderful opportunity, and being able to travel on a budget makes it more accessible to people. Also, if you spend less on one adventure, you have money to spend on another. Budget travel doesn’t have to be any less fun either. There are cheap places to travel to all over the world, including plenty of places to travel on a budget in Europe. There are lots of ways to save money when you’re traveling, from planning your travel budget carefully before you leave, considering backpacking and car-sharing, through to the choices you make (e.g. food) when you are on your trip.
Here are the 10 tips for traveling on a budget:
1. Come up with a plan
Traveling spontaneously is great, if you have the luxury of time and money to spare. But if you’re travelling on a budget, the first thing to do is come up with a plan. You don’t have need a tight, hour-by-hour itinerary, but you should at least have an idea of how long you’ll be spending in each city or country, and know the route that your epic adventure will take. Leaving less to chance means less unexpected spends; last-minute flights and accommodation are often far more expensive.
2. Travel out of season
Avoid trips during the school holidays, this is when the travel industry hikes up prices to take advantage of families who can only travel during these weeks. Research the best time to visit your intended destination, and then travel just before or after these dates. This is called the ‘shoulder season’, where you’ll still have a great trip but maybe the sun won’t shine quite as brightly (and, on the plus side, it won’t be quite as hot.) Hotels and airlines lower their prices to attract customers during this time.
3. Pack properly
Make sure you bring everything you need so that you don’t have to shop while you’re away (apart from a few souvenirs). No matter where you’re heading, take at least one pair of long jeans, warm hoodie and waterproof jacket for unpredictable weather incidents. For some in-depth advice, check out our ‘Travel like a pro’ guide to packing for every kind of trip.
4. Book in advance
Last minute deals can be a godsend, but it’s often cheaper (and less stressful!) to book transport, accommodation and activities well in advance.
5. Or, in less touristy destinations, be spontaneous
Accommodation isn’t always advertised online and you may save money by booking directly with the owner, especially for places in small towns or in homestays. It really depends on where you’re going!
6. Embrace public transport
Buses and trains are cheaper than planes. It’s that simple! A journey on an overnight train also mean you have one less night in a hostel to pay for…
7. Fly mid-week
Flights are more expensive at weekends, because more people are free to travel. Try and fly between Tuesday-Thursday, if you can.
8. Get a local SIM
Data roaming or paying for WiFi abroad can be extortionate. One way to save money when you’re traveling is to get a local SIM card with locally priced data packages. You’ll want the data for navigating your way around and keeping in touch with home!
9. Search for free things to do in your chosen destination
A great top tip for traveling on a budget is to look for free things to do wherever you’re heading. It could be that certain museums are free on certain days or that there are local events on. Don’t forget the classic ‘free walking tour’, a great way of seeing the city you are visiting. Just remember that it’s customary to tip at the end.
10. Get recommendations from the locals
The locals definitely don’t want to pay tourist prices for food, drink and activities. Speak to someone from the area (perhaps someone at the hostel reception) and find out their favourite hotspots. I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
10 (extra) Decide on your budget, and stick to it
There are very few places that can’t be travelled on a low budget. There are free things to do in every destination, so you just need to manage your expectations of how many expensive activities you can do there or how often you can eat out at restaurants, for example. Once you’ve planned your budget, try not to overspend; it’ll only cause you more stress later on your trip or when you get home.
Get up-to-date COVID-19 travel guidance in CheckMyTrip
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Lern more about the COVID-19 travel guidance here