Although the times have changed greatly, many people still think that traveling is something only the rich and famous can afford. So it used to be just half of a century ago.
But it’s the XXI century already! Nowadays, traveling is not so much about being rich as it is about being smart. And about listening to experienced travelers, of course. So, here is our list of best tips for budget travelers:
1. Do the research! That is vital if your travel plans are big and your budget is small. Research the destination you are going to, read feedbacks and advice from those who have already been there, look for the best flight and accommodation deals. The more time you spend researching, the less you spend on your trip.
2. Choose your destination carefully. Many travel newbies make a mistake by choosing their destination according to air flight fares. But you should keep in mind, flight is usually the smallest part of your travel budget. You can fly within Europe for as little as 10 Euro using budget airlines, but will pay at least 20 Euro for a bed in a hostel dormitory in Paris. Add other costs to the list, and you get a minimum of $50 per day in any Western European country. On the other hand, flying to Southeast Asia can be quite costly, but you can live a whole month on $300-400 there.
3. Participate in a volunteer project. It’s a great way to travel the world, as well as bring something good back to the universe. Programs vary in duration, terms, and topics. The best thing is you can find a volunteer project in almost any part of the world.
4. Plan ahead. The best air fares are available way in advance. So are the best accommodations in popular destinations during the high season. So, if you can plan you trip ahead, you are most surely going to win.
5. Use public transport. Taking taxi each time will cost you a fortune. So, consider researching a little bit and using public transportation from time to time. Also, if you are planning to get around a lot between cities and in rural areas, renting a car wouldn’t be the worst idea.
6. Stay outside of hotels. Hotel fares can dig a deep hole in your budget. So, consider other types of accommodation, such as hostels, family guesthouses, apartments, or even camping.
7. Don’t miss on couchsurfing. Staying with a local for free is a great opportunity not only to save money, but to get to know the local way of life too. Just remember to read the feedbacks carefully. And bring a small gift for the host.
8. Use student discounts. If you are still a student under 26 years, take advantage of your benefits. Many museums, galleries, and even transportation companies, offer discounts for students. Just remember to get an international student ID.
9. Plan the stopovers. If you need to make a stopover in your flight, why not do it in another city, which you can cross off your travel bucket list? Use this opportunity to see something new and not spend money on another flight to the same destination.
10. Study or work abroad. If you are still young and childless, use the opportunity to see the world by studying or working somewhere away from home. Of course, you will have to step out of your comfort zone. But isn’t it worth it?
11. Cheap doesn’t mean bad. When looking for an accommodation, consider renting something, outside of the city center. Do a research: how close is it to the sites you want to see? And if you are just staying one night in the city, pick something close to the bus or railway station. There is a big chance it would be cheaper, as well as more convenient for you.
12. Define your priorities. If you have a limited budget, you will have to choose, what’s more important to you: tasting local specialties, visiting the best museums, having a leisure trip, having a unique experience, or visiting a specific location. You won’t be able to have it all, you’ll just have to accept the fact.
13. Set a daily budget. If you don’t have an unlimited credit card, you have to set the daily budget and stick to it, no matter what. Otherwise, the travel anxiety might just take over you, and in a couple of days, you will find your pockets empty.
14. Low season will be the time of your life. Cheap flights and accommodations, no tourist crowds or lines, numerous discounts… What can be better than travelling off season?
15. More people, cheaper trip. If you travel with a family or a group of friends, you can save a lot on accommodation and car rent. Book an apartment, instead of a double room in a hotel. And take a minivan, instead of a small car.
16. Pack light. Most budget airlines only have cabin luggage included in the ticket fare. So, think about traveling with a backpack or a small cabin suitcase, instead of paying additional charge for the luggage, considering it may be twice as high as the ticket price itself. Traveling with just carry-on has other advantages as well. You don’t risk your luggage getting lost and you don’t have to wait for it after arrival.
17. Be flexible. Don’t stick to a particular date or airport. Prices for the close dates can vary twice and more. And it can be much cheaper to fly to a neighboring airport and then take a bus or a train to your destination.
18. Use “incognito” window when searching for flights. It’s been noticed that ticket websites track your IP address. And then next time you visit the page, the prices become surprisingly higher. So stay safe during the Internet search.
19. Buy food at local supermarkets and cook. It’s hard to believe, but this will save you a fortune! Cooking in a hostel or an apartment will be much cheaper, than eating out every time. And it’s also a great way to try local food.
20. Always get a travel insurance! Remember this as a law: if you don’t have money for travel insurance, you don’t have money for traveling. You never know what may happen to you on a trip. And getting medical care in a foreign country can be really expensive.
21. Join loyalty programs. If you plan to travel a lot, it’s worth joining a loyalty program and get bonuses, discounts and free miles for your next trips.
22. Book Tuesday flights. Although most people think the day of the flight doesn’t matter, it was notified that airlines usually offer the best deals on Tuesdays. Keep that in mind when planning a trip.
23. Take advantage of the free days. Most museums, even the most popular ones, such as Louvre in Paris, have days, when the admission is free of charge. Just be prepared to get up early that day, as the lines can get crazy, especially during the peak season.
24. Many museum are actually free to enter all the time. You won’t believe it, but a free museum can be as interesting as the most expensive one. You just need to find out about it and have a great time. That’s why you do the research. See point 1.
25. Tell the world about your love. Are you on your honeymoon? Tell everybody about it. You might actually get a lot of free compliments, upgrades, and discounts. By the way, the same refers to your birthday if you decided to celebrate it away from home.
26. Get information about drinkable water. In some countries, especially those with hot climate, the water costs like gold. On the other hand, in many places around the world, you can actually drink the tap water and it’s safe. Just ask locals. And keep in mind, water can be drinkable and non-drinkable in different areas throughout the country.
27. Learn about your credit card charges. If you want to stay inside your budget limit, find out if there are any credit card charges applied. Otherwise, you are about to overpay highly.
28. Avoid cafes in tourist areas. Cafes and restaurants in tourist areas with English menus are sure to be overpriced. Instead, you can stroll down one of the little side streets and find one of the places, where locals eat. By the way, they can also have English menus sometimes, but the prices will be lower and the quality of the food will be much higher. Use Couchsurfing or apps like MeetUp, to find yourself a company among locals. It would be a great experience and a budget savor too.
29. Take advantage of budget airlines. Just remember, there are certain rules you should follow, not to be ripped off: online check-in, carry-on only, overpriced food and drinks on board. Also, check the departure and arrival airports. Sometimes, getting from a budget airline hub can cost twice as much as your ticket. For example, to get to the center of Paris from Paris Beauvais airport costs 20 Euro.
30. Know the hotel’s cancellation policy. If you are not sure about your plans yet, be wise and book a hotel with free cancellation. Otherwise, they will charge your credit card so fast, you won’t even notice it.
31. Avoid travel agencies. Yes, they make your life easier. But they charge a lot for it. So, it’s up to you: if you want to travel on a budget, plan and prepare everything yourself.
32. Get to know the restaurant policy. In Europe, there is often a price difference on whether you drink coffee at the bar stand or at the table, take a meal to-go or eat at the restaurant, have a table inside or outside. So, ask the waiter before you choose you seat or go with local friends.
33. Make new friends. By the way, making new friends will save you a fortune. They know, where and how to save money in their hometown. So, being open-minded and easy-going will help you a lot.
34. Get city cards. These are the cards, issued in big tourist centers, which give you free or reduced-fee entrance to many popular tourist sites, plus a public transport pass, and numerous discounts for eating and entertainment facilities. It is usually valid for one, two, or three days. Many highly popular tourist attractions offer separate entrance for the city card holders, so here is your chance to avoid huge lines. Just remember to find out, what exactly is included in the card, before you purchase it. Maybe, you have a totally different plan, and it will just be useless.
35. Buy transport passes. If you decided you don’t need a city card, but still plan to move around the city a lot, consider buying a pass for public transportation. They vary and the most popular are passes for 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, weekly, monthly, or for a weekend, as in Warsaw (valid from Friday evening until Monday morning).
36. Subscribe for airlines’ newsletters. This way, you will be the first one to know about all deals and discounts. Also, if you register on the website, you can sometimes get a gift coupon.
37. Make a list of souvenirs to bring home. Make a list of people, to whom you are bringing souvenirs and think of a suitable gift for everyone. Don’t forget about yourself. Pick something that is specific for the country or a city you are in, not to get too excited about cute shiny items, which will rip off your budget and add additional weight to your luggage. Food souvenirs are great to bring home, by the way.
38. Look for the free things to do. You don’t need to have a lot of money to enjoy the city’s atmosphere. Every place has a number of places, which you can visit for free and things to do for free. Again, do the research. See point 1.
39. Buy the necessary items in cheap countries. If you are traveling through several countries at once, pick the cheapest one to buy all the staff you need.
40. Opt for rail passes. If you are planning to travel around by train a lot, particularly in Europe, buy a rail pass. It will save you a lot, especially during weekends and if you are traveling with a family.
41. Ask the hotel receptionist for a charger. If you have forgotten your phone charger, ask the hotel receptionist, before you buy a new one. Hotel guests also forget those, when they leave. Maybe, you’ll be lucky to get one for free.
42. Plan your day. If you plan your activities for the next day, it’s easier to control the amount you spend on them. Plus, this way, you can manage to see more in less days and save budget on accommodation.
43. Take night trains. Another great way to save on accommodation is to take a night train or a bus between cities. Yes, it might be uncomfortable sometimes, but you will save a lot!
44. Read travel bloggers. They mostly know how to travel a lot and not spend a fortune on it. From travel bloggers, you will get many useful practical advice on how to, where to, and how much is to. There are a lot of them, so you can choose your own favorites.
45. Get hired on a cruise ship. It’s a hard work, but it’s also a great way to see the world. Why not take advantage of the opportunity?
46. Check out local rules about tax refund. You can save a lot on it.
47. Visit Tourist information office. There, you can get a free map and valuable advice on where to go and what to see. Also, they usually have some of the cheapest souvenirs.
48. Do as locals do. Watch. Ask. Then do the same.
49. Consider car sharing. It’s another great option to get from one point of your trip to another. Splitting the gas fare can be much cheaper than paying for a bus or a train.
50. Exchange currency wisely. Don’t do it at the airport, railway station, or near popular tourist sites. The exchange rate will be much worse there. If you have to, exchange only a small amount, for example, to get from the airport to the city. And the rest you can exchange somewhere else, with a much better rate.