Traveling can be fun, but it can also be expensive. If you don’t want to spend your money on hotels and flights, there are plenty of ways to get the same experience without emptying your bank account. From checking out less-traveled roads to home-staying with locals to volunteering, there are plenty of ways to travel the world without breaking the bank, if you know where to look! Read this travel guide and learn how to travel well on a budget!
Book in advance
If you’re traveling on a budget, it’s important to book accommodations and flights well in advance. Many airlines have discounted fares that go up if your flight is closer than 21 days away. The same applies for lodging; if you’re going during peak season, make sure you book now rather than wait until a few weeks before your trip. Plus, most hotels offer great deals at off-peak times, too. If you can plan well in advance, aim for staying during less busy seasons—you might end up with even better accommodations! And don’t forget: keep an eye out for hotel points!
Stay away from airports
Many people assume that booking flights through big-name websites such as Travelocity or Expedia will save them money. But what they fail to realize is that buying directly from airlines, particularly when it comes time to book a seat, will always be cheaper than using these sites. The reason is simple: Airport middlemen are looking for profits while airline employees are interested in getting customers where they need to go—and don’t care about a few extra bucks if it means more bookings. So if you’re looking for better deals on airfare, look at airline websites first and start your search there.
The less stuff you have, the cheaper it is to get from one place to another. When you’re packing for a trip, go with a carry-on and just one or two checked bags. There are many great options for wheeled backpacks and luggage that still allow you to quickly move through security. While they aren’t cheap, they save money over time by allowing you to pack light—and therefore avoid paying baggage fees when flying (or train tickets if you’re traveling by land). If your trip involves air travel and multiple destinations, consider renting an apartment at each stop. Staying in apartments rather than hotels will save money while allowing you access more fully-furnished accommodations—including full kitchens.
Do your research before leaving
Get acquainted with a translator app. Apps like Word Lens and Microsoft’s Translator allow you to point your smartphone camera at a word or phrase in another language, and then have it translated for you instantly. This can come in handy if you’re trying to ask locals about their favorite places. It is also a great way to get around language barriers on your trip—if someone doesn’t speak English, simply take out your phone and scan what they are saying!
Research more while you are there
Learn a little bit more about where you are visiting by doing some research on your destination before you leave. You will be better able to enjoy your trip if you know a little bit of history or what interests to look for during your visit. Find out about local customs and how much things generally cost when you are traveling there, so that your money goes further than it would if it were being spent on unexpected things. Before leaving for your trip, consider if any vaccinations or immunizations are needed for your destination. Even though certain immunizations may not be required at home, they could still prove useful while you are away from home in areas where health services may not be readily available.
Become an expert coupon user
Coupons are more than just a good way to save money—they’re also a great excuse for buying things you’d otherwise never splurge on. To make sure your savings aren’t offset by spending that you didn’t plan on, make sure you have a coupon (or two or ten) handy before hitting up that grocery store or drugstore. In some cases, you can use apps like Checkout51 and Valpak to find coupons at your favorite stores as well. Just don’t go overboard—you don’t want to be paying for items with money that should be going toward covering necessities.
Stay at hostels and hotels near the city center
Whether you choose a hostel or hotel, stay in central locations, especially if you’re traveling alone. If a place is further out of town and public transportation doesn’t run frequently, you’re more likely to rent a car or pay for taxis to get around. This will cost much more than if you were close to all amenities, such as restaurants and attractions. The best thing about staying in central locations is that they tend to have cheaper lodging too! A four-star hotel near Hyde Park might cost $180 per night while a hostel one block away might only be $40 per night.
Rent a car only if necessary
Transportation is easily one of your biggest expenses on a trip. It’s tempting to rent a car because it frees you up from public transportation, but consider renting only if you’re traveling beyond city limits or are otherwise unable to get around by foot or rail. Otherwise, stick with public transportation: trains, trams, buses and ferries can take you everywhere you need to go at an affordable price—and are often much faster than cars anyway. If your plans involve hiking or camping, make sure you check out our tips for renting equipment.