Travelling can be one of the most exciting and memorable things to do in your life. There’s nothing quite like stepping off a plane, train or boat in a new country full of new cultures and experiences.
However, travelling costs money. You have to pay to get from A to B, then factor in the costs of living there, and any activities to do while you are there. It can quickly become very expensive with all the hotel hopping and eating out.
There are many different ways you can save money while you travel. Having a tight budget can also bring a whole new experience to your trips.
Having to work out the cheapest ways to travel, taking longer routes can often bring about some adventures you might never have had if you did the more expensive, and usually the easier option.
Let’s look at some of the ways in which you can travel on a budget.
8 Ways to Travel on a Budget
1. Planning Ahead
Planning is one of the best ways to save money when travelling. If you pre-plan exactly what you will be doing, you can find the cheapest options beforehand.
Often if you book accommodation plenty of time in advance, it is much cheaper than booking a few days prior. When you are planning in advance, you can look at different transport options between places you are visiting to get the best deals.
Planning also allows you time to research different options. You might find through researching that staying in a neighbouring town to a big city is much cheaper and provides you with an alternative experience.
If you visit a place on the fly, you might not realise the standard price of things which could lead you to spend more than you need to.
For example, if you research the country or city you are visiting, you can find information about the average cost of accommodation and food. That means you know what to expect when you arrive and don’t end up overpaying for something.
Planning ahead is a great way to save money travelling because you can work out how much money you need before you go. You can pre-book your transport and accommodation and find out how much on average food and drinks costs.
Through research you can also find out what activities are popular in the area you will be visiting which also allows you to understand how much you will be spending there. Once you have a plan of action for your travel, you can work out exactly how much everything costs.
This means you can work out what you can and can’t do depending on your budget. Planning ahead is a useful way to save money while travelling, but you can definitely still be spontaneous. We’ll get into that more later.
You might already have a set budget for the amount of money you can spend on your travels, but it is important to stick to this. Many people have a budget that goes out of the window once they actually get out there and start spending.
To prevent this, you should break down your overall budget. This is also where planning can help. You can budget for transport and accommodation as well as set amounts for food and activities. Having a daily or weekly budget is a great way to manage this.
For example, you might have a weekly budget of $200, that’s around $28 a day. Within this, you can budget for $15 accommodation a day which might leave you with $8 for food and drinks, then $5 for additional activities. This is hypothetical, remember it all depends on exactly where and what you will be doing.
This method can still be helpful to help you spend less and stick to your budget. Some days you might be travelling between destinations, or other days you might be relaxing at the beach. This means your budget doesn’t have to be strict and can be flexible but if you overspend one day you need to underspend the next to be even.
One of the most important things about budgeting is making it realistic. You need to make sure you budget for what you will actually spend. It’s hard to estimate if you don’t know, but if hotels on average cost $50 a night in the area you are visiting, don’t budget only $20.
It’s better to over budget and has plenty of wriggle room, rather than trying to squeeze into an impossibly tight budget. Remember to track your spending to keep on top of your budget. There’s nothing worse than buying something than forgetting where your money went.
Where you sleep at night is something you will always have to factor into your travels. Accommodation is one of the things you will always have to pay for but might be very expensive.
One way to reduce costs on accommodation is to stay in hostels. Hostels tend to have shared rooms so you might be in a room with 3 or 7 other people. They can vary massively between each of them but you can usually find them in most places often travelled to.
Hostels are usually a lot cheaper because you are sharing a room. They are also a great place to meet people if you are travelling alone.
When searching for accommodation, another way to save money is again to plan in advance. If you are pre-booking your hotel, even just a few nights in advance, you can find some great deals if you shop around and research.
Some hotels might have discounts, or you might find a cheap rental on Airbnb. Don’t always go for the first place you see because the place next door might be cheaper and better for what you need.
Eating out is a fun thing to do when you are travelling. Getting to taste the food from new places and try new things can be very exciting.
Sometimes street food can be very cheap and a good option if you want to travel on a budget. However, other times it can be very pricey if the restaurants in the area are more expensive.
If you are eating out every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can quickly rack up a hefty bill. To avoid this you can cook while you are travelling.
Many accommodations like hostels or rentals have kitchens or somewhere you can cook food. The more you can cook for yourself the cheaper it usually is. You can often make more than you need for dinner and have it for lunch the next day.
Even if your accommodation only has a toaster and kettle you can still home make some toast and coffee for breakfast rather than eating out. Look for cheap food at markets to cook at your accommodation to save some money.
Haggling and bartering are great ways to pay less for something and as a result, save some money on your travels. This is when you negotiate a lower price in return for a product or service.
However, it’s really important to know that this isn’t always appropriate. If prices are labelled you can ask for a discount. But don’t start haggling the prices down if it’s not acceptable behaviour.
Sometimes it can be a great opportunity to ask the salesperson for their best price or let them know how much you would like to pay for it. This is a common technique in markets and often takes some practice to master. Once you understand how it works and when to do it, you can save yourself some extra cash.
6. Alternative Routes
When you travel, you will most likely visit more than one location. Whether you are jumping between countries or islands, or simply visiting neighbouring towns looking at alternative routes can save you money.
Sometimes a bus can be cheaper transport than a taxi, or maybe taking a long train is cheaper than a flight. It really depends on where you are going, but often the more complicated longer route is cheaper.
Think about the other ways you might be able to get from A to B, taking an overnight train, or stopping at another location or two on the way. Being flexible with your travel and transport can help you with this.
Alternative routes can also make you a more scenic way and might be more interesting. If you take a long train ride over a plane, it might not be as comfortable but you might see some beautiful scenery or meet some fellow passengers.
Where you are travelling to is an important consideration when travelling on a budget. Some places are a lot more expensive, and the general cost of living is higher.
This means you will pay more for accommodation, food and excursions no matter how much you try to reduce costs. If you research different places you can find some locations that are much cheaper and traveller friendly.
Spending more time in these cheaper locations will help you travel on a budget. You can still visit those expensive cities but perhaps visit on a day trip rather than spending a few days overnight, or maybe stay in a nearby city and travel in.
For example, if you want to visit London, staying in the city centre can be very expensive. But if you stay in Greater London you can visit the city via the tube and save on expenses.
Making money while you travel is another way to help you travel on a budget. If you can work while travelling, you can make money to spend while you are there and ultimately stay longer.
Opposite to the last point we made about choosing cheaper locations if you want to work while you travel you should choose a place which will pay you more for your work and where there are more work opportunities.
For example, Australia offers a working holiday visa which allows you to work and explore the country. You might not be able to travel around as much as you’ll be working but it means you can earn some money to relax more at a later stage.
There are also lots of ways to make money online. So you can work anywhere on your laptop while you travel between locations.
Many people love travelling but sometimes the costs can be very high and prevent people from going. Here we have given you some ways in which you can travel and explore the world if you are on a budget and need to save money.
Travelling can still be a lot of fun and an amazing experience even if you are cutting costs and choosing cheaper options. Going and doing something in a cheaper way gives you a different kind of experience and ultimately it’s better than not travelling at all.