Inexpensive travel is possible! If you’re on a budget and looking for a cheap vacation, follow these tips to save money on your next trip.
Bitten by the travel bug but short on cash? Not to worry! Believe it or not, it’s possible to have an unforgettable travel adventure without spending an arm and a leg. Here are some suggestions for sticking to your budget while seeing the world.
Budget travel truly is possible – and you won’t need to cut back on the fun while cutting back on the spending.
Be flexible with your route.
Remain open-minded about your travel destinations and dates, and you’ll find some unbelievable deals. Use airfare search sites like Google Flights to compare flight prices over time and to different destinations – you may be amazed by the deals you’ll find when you’re flexible. If you can, travel mid-week rather than over the weekend to avoid skyrocketing prices.
Choose inexpensive destinations.
It may seem obvious, but travel costs can vary widely from country to country and even city to city. Before booking your next trip, do a bit of research on the average prices for lodging, transportation, and food in the destinations that interest you most. Some of the least expensive places – such as Thailand, Colombia, and Portugal – are the most beautiful and fascinating of all!
Take advantage of the low season.
Accommodation and transportation costs peak during certain periods of the year, so, if you’re on a budget, avoid these times. While the summer season and major holidays are popular stretches for most places, research your particular destination: does it host popular festivals, or are there periods with significantly better weather during which most travelers visit? Visiting a place that’s inundated with tourists can be unpleasant regardless of your budget, so stick to the low season whenever you can.
Autumn can be a fantastic time to travel – fewer tourists and cheaper rates without harsh weather.
Use points and miles.
Tons of hotel chains, airlines, and credit cards have loyalty programs that offer travel rewards. Whenever you fly or stay at a hotel, make sure you are signed up for their program and are receiving points. Also keep an eye on any special offers they may have for members. Research credit cards that will give you airline miles as sign-up bonuses and for every dollar you spend. Travel hacking is becoming increasingly popular, and sites like FlyerTalk and NerdWallet provide tips that will help get you started.
Make use of last-minute bookings.
To save money on your accommodation without sacrificing quality, consider booking your hotels last minute. Although you can book rooms through HotelQuickly up to a year in advance, you’ll find amazing deals by booking cheap last minute hotels on the day of – and reservations are accepted until 4am, so you won’t be left without a place to stay. HotelQuickly’s loyalty program will also result in even greater discounts the more you book.
Only pack the necessities.
Checked baggage fees can get pricey, so save money by packing light. Ditch heavy shoes, bring outfits you can re-wear, and leave any excess toiletries or accessories at home. This will also save you money on taxi fares, as, in many cities, minimal luggage will enable you to walk or use public transportation to reach your accommodation.
Pack only what you need to reduce your travel costs.
Research free activities.
Most travel destinations offer an array of free activities and attractions, from museums to shows to hikes and more. Stop by the city’s tourism office – or, even easier – do a bit of online research to find the best things you can experience without spending a dime. Many cities offer free (tip-based) walking tours, which provide an insightful but low-cost introduction to a destination. Your guide should also be able to provide great recommendations for budget travelers.
Avoid bank fees.
Before hitting the road, check your bank’s overseas transactions policies. Some may charge a large percentage or fixed fee for ATM withdrawals or credit card purchases, which will add up quickly while you’re traveling. Be aware of what you’ll be paying before you go, ask your bank if they offer any cards with no international fees, or research other fee-free debit or credit cards. Make sure the exchange rates are fair, as sometimes banks earn money by setting exaggerated rates. You may also consider bringing cash and using currency exchange stalls in places with fixed ATM fees.
Dine away from the tourist attractions.
One of the best reasons to travel is to experience local cuisines, but restaurant bills aren’t always cheap. No need to forego enjoying a destination’s culinary delights, though; just be smart about where you eat. Restaurants in the city center or close to tourist attractions tend to be significantly more expensive than those off the beaten path. Wandering even just a block or two off the main drag may result in big savings. As an added bonus, these restaurants are often more authentic and give you a better taste of local culture. If there’s an expensive restaurant you’re absolutely dying to try, visit it for lunch, as restaurants may offer lunch specials.
Some of the best meals you’ll experience while traveling will be at hidden gems.
Keep an eye on your finances.
To save money when you travel, set clear daily and trip budgets for yourself and track your spending to ensure you don’t exceed your limit. Make notes on your phone or in a notebook about each transaction, or utilize an app like TrailWallet, which will allow you to organize your costs by category and view useful charts and graphs of what you’ve spent.
Work while traveling.
Soften the blow to your bank account by working while you travel. Many hostels will provide free accommodation to guests who work for them, or you can even seek out unique experiences like helping out on a vineyard or horse ranch. Search sites for Upwork for projects you can do while on the go – if you have valuable professional skills, you can put them to good use, but there are plenty of tasks beginners can get paid for as well. If you’re really serious about traveling long-term, you may even be able to find a part-time work-from-home (or the road) position or turn your existing job into a remote role.
Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive! Even those on the strictest of budgets can experience incredible adventures without having to make significant sacrifices. Keep these tips in mind, and your next trip will be absolutely priceless without being pricey.
Kirstie Jeffries is a travel blogger and digital marketer from Pasadena, California who has seen 72 countries and counting. She lived and worked in Madrid and Sevilla, Spain and Sydney, Australia before embarking on a round-the-world adventure, which she blogs about at Venga, Vale, Vamos. Kirstie currently works as an independent digital marketing specialist.