Travel used to be a luxury, reserved only for the very wealthy. However, over the years, travel has become more and more accessible to the general public. Today, traveling can be shockingly cheap, if you budget your money well.
There are so many ways to save money – both prior to your trip, and on the road. But how? Well, to help you out, here are my 12 tips on how to travel without breaking the bank. Enjoy!
Choose Your Destinations Wisely
This point may be obvious, but it’s essential nonetheless: the best way to budget your travels is to visit cheaper destinations. The classic budget destination is Southeast Asia. Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia – they’re all great budget destinations.
However, there are several budget options around the world. For instance, many countries in South America are very affordable.
Furthermore, if you’re determined to visit Europe, why not explore Eastern Europe instead of the classic Western Europe? It’s significantly cheaper, filled with breathtaking scenery, a rich history… and there are fewer tourists!
Of course, if you’re set on visiting a more expensive destination, it won’t make or break your trip. There are other ways to budget your travels, including:
Book Your Flights in Advance
While it may be difficult to confirm your trip months in advance, it can save you money. Of course, the best time to book your flights depends on your destinations and the season.
However, according to CheapAir, the cost of international flights stay fairly consistent for many months, up until 90 days before departure. At this point, the cost of flights increases dramatically.
But, these findings do differ. Some say the best time to book is between 5.5 months and 1.5 months before departure.
I would recommend, at around four months before your trip, to check the airfare tickets daily. You can note down the prices, and observe its typical range. That way, when you do buy your tickets, you can ensure that they’re a good deal.
Travel in the Off-Season
In the busy season (roughly mid-June to August), flocks of tourists swarm to the top destinations, causing many prices to rise. This includes the cost of flights, accommodations, tours, etc.
By traveling in the off-season, you get to avoid the crowds, and take advantage of cheaper prices. So, while there are some benefits to traveling in the busy season, I would recommend avoiding it, if you can (for the sake of your poor, poor wallet).
Sleep in Large Dorm Rooms
Typically, in hostels, the larger the dorm room, the cheaper the price. So, I would recommend choosing the cheapest (and usually largest) dorm rooms when booking your accommodations. Additionally, it is cheaper to stay in co-ed dorm rooms, rather than the women-only rooms.
This is a great way to save money on the road, especially for longer trips; these price differences can really add up. And, ideally, you won’t be spending much time in those rooms anyways. However, you should only do this if you’re comfortable with sleeping in co-ed rooms.
Cook Your Own Food
Constantly eating out is another way small splurges can really add up. By buying your own groceries and cooking your own food, you can save a lot of money on the road.
Most hostels have a kitchen, but I would double check before booking your stay.
Furthermore, if you’re traveling alone, cooking your own food can still save you money; I typically gorge on cup noodles, because they’re cheap and easy to make (albeit unhealthy). You can also try to find other backpackers in your hostel who are willing to split the cost of groceries and to cook food together.
Find Free Activities
Sometimes the greatest expenses of a trip can be the activities. Segway tours, zip-lining, shopping: they can cost a lot. To save money while traveling, I would recommend finding free activities to enjoy.
Go hiking, relax by the beach, visit a park, wander around on foot. Incidentally, this is why I love to explore new cities by foot: it’s free. And hey, shameless plug – why not check out my walking guides? 🙂
And if you’re a beginner hiker, looking for the best tips on how to start hiking safely, check out my other article on the 15 essential hiking tips!
I would also recommend visiting museums and art galleries when they’re free, if possible. For instance, the Louvre is free on the first Saturday of the month, after 6 pm. But, if you can’t visit when it’s free, that’s okay; it’s important to spend money when it’s worth it (hint: the Louvre is worth it).
Avoid the Tourist Traps
Some tourist attractions have a lot of allure to them, due to their historical significance, beauty, or high acclaim. However, many of them have morphed into tourist traps, where crowds of travelers overpay to huddle around the attractions.
Some examples of tourist traps include the gondola rides in Venice, the London Eye, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Blarney Stone in Ireland, and Niagara Falls in Canada.
There are many reasons to avoid tourist traps: they’re teeming with people, they’re typically an artificial experience, and they’re super expensive – it’s really not worth it. For instance, a 25-30 minute private gondola ride in Venice costs 80 euros during the day, and 120 euros at night.
Yeah… no thanks.
Get City Tourist Cards
If you’re planning on visiting a lot of tourist attractions within one city, getting a city tourist card can save you a lot of money.
For instance, there’s the London Pass, where you can pay for a 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, 6-day, or 10-day pass. With it, you can visit many attractions, such as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Place, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
And, since London’s an expensive city to visit, you can save a significant amount of money by buying the pass, instead of paying for each individual attraction.
These passes exist in a lot of cities, such as Dublin, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Vienna, Barcelona, Stockholm, etc.
But, it’s only worth it if you are planning on visiting many of these attractions. I would recommend doing your research, and deciding how many of these attractions you really want to visit. Then, you can calculate how much money you will or will not save by buying the pass.
Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards and Miles
If you plan on traveling frequently, taking advantage of various credit card reward programs and air miles can help fund your travels.
The best travel credit card for you will depend on where you’re from, your income, etc. But, some examples of good travel credit cards include the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Credit Card for Canadians, or the United Explorer Card for Americans.
By investing in a good travel credit card, you can accumulate points and rewards while at home, and then use them for your travels!
Get a Rail Pass
If you’re planning on using a rail system often, investing in a rail pass (when possible) can save you a lot of money. Some examples of good rail passes include the Eurail Pass, and the Japan Rail Pass.
However, the amount of money you will or will not save will be dependent on your itinerary (i.e. how often you use your rail pass within its time limit). So, prior to your trip, I would recommend calculating the costs, to determine if the rail pass will be worth the investment, and brainstorming how to optimize it.
Use Student Discount Cards
Having a student card often yields an abundance of discounts on entry fees and attractions. Even if you’re not a student, you can still attempt to use your old student card; as long as there’s no evident expiry date and it doesn’t look too old, it may work.
I would recommend always checking if there are discounts available for students, as it can save you a lot of money on the road!
And hey, if you’re a student looking for tips and tricks on how to travel in college, check out my article on how to travel as a broke student!
Evidently, this tip isn’t required (as it’s coming from someone who loves to travel alone). But, traveling solo costs more money per person than traveling in a group. The cost of accommodations, food, car rentals: they cost a lot when you’re alone. By splitting the costs with others, you can save a lot of money on the road.
Furthermore, you can still take advantage of this tip, even when you embark on your trip solo. By making friends with other budget backpackers on the road, you can travel together and save money!
To put it bluntly, traveling is awesome. Being able to explore new places, learn new things, and meet new people (if you’re not totally anti-social like I am). And it’s becoming more accessible and affordable, allowing us all to travel more… if we have the cash.
If you follow these 12 tips (or as many tips as you can), you’ll be able to save a lot of money on the road, and travel without breaking the bank!
Thanks for reading the article! If you have any questions, feel free to comment down below, and if you want to see more travel and hike-related content, make sure to check out my other articles.
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