Traveling can be very enjoyable, but it can also be very expensive!
If you want to travel on a budget, you'll have to get creative with your options. Luckily for us all, there are plenty of ways to travel cheaply, and even for free, so long as you're willing to make small sacrifices along the way.
Here are some tips we have learned, whilst traveling on a budget:
Travel isn't expensive
Travel is a great way to save money. Traveling can be expensive, but it isn't necessarily. If you want to travel and save money at the same time, there are several things that you can do to keep costs down while still having an amazing trip.
Here is a perfect example of how we traveled whilst on a budget:
We spent five days in NYC in January 2022 and we budgeted for $50 a day - that's $25 per person! Yes, we did it - check out our NYC Travel Series to find out how we managed to travel with so little money.
Get creative with your options
You'll have to get creative if you're on a budget.
Look for deals on flights and hotels
Travel agents might have discounts that you don't know about.
Online travel websites can be a great resource for discounted flights and hotels.
Download a travel app on your phone or tablet, like Google Flights or Kayak, to find deals on flights and hotels. You can also use it to track your itinerary and keep up with flight times as you go through the day.
Check out hotel websites directly - make sure to join any loyalty programs to earn reward points for money off, discounts, or upgrades.
Find a cheap hostel. Hostels can be interesting places to stay, especially if there's some kind of theme (like music or art). You might find that there are perks like free breakfast included in the price of your stay, which would make staying at one worthwhile even if you weren't sharing a room (which many travelers do). We recommend websites like Hotels.com.
Rent a room in a shared house. This is another option that's great for meeting people while also saving money on accommodations - and there are plenty of websites like Airbnb.
Find a cheap hotel room when necessary; just don't forget about all the extras! While some hotels may be more expensive than others depending on their amenities, they're still much less expensive than staying at an Airbnb or renting an apartment for yourself alone every night during your trip overseas - therefore making it worth considering as an alternative option when needed/desired by travelers who want convenience above all else. We would highly recommend Expedia for the 'Book Now Pay Later option.
Join frequent flyer programs
Frequent flyer programs are a great way to earn free flights. Most major airlines have frequent flyer programs, which allow you to earn points for every pound you spend with them (and sometimes with other companies as well). Points can be redeemed for free flights or even upgrades.
Some credit cards also offer frequent flyer miles when you use your card to pay for purchases, so it's worth looking into if this is something that interests you.
Use public transport
Public transport is a great way to get around on a budget. It can be used for both getting to and from your destination, and it’s often cheaper than renting a car or taking a taxi.
Public transport can be slower than driving or being dropped off at your destination, but it has its advantages: it helps you save money and time, as well as gives you plenty of opportunities to talk with locals.
Public transport is also often more comfortable than traveling by car or taxi (if we ignore the fact that some public buses have seats that are too small). Sometimes this advantage goes so far that people prefer traveling via public transport even if they don't need it for economic reasons (for example because they don't want to spend their own money).
If you must eat out, find the best deals. You don't have to spend a fortune to have a good meal when you travel. It's often cheaper to eat out at local restaurants than at touristy ones. The key is to look for places that offer good value meals and are frequented by locals - not just tourists.
Look for restaurants that offer an inexpensive lunch menu or buffet (which can be found in most big cities), or head over to bakeries for an affordable snack of fresh bread and pastries (often found in smaller towns).
Dining where there are locals means you can get the best deals.
Look for places with a lot of locals.
Look for places that are popular with locals.
Look for places that are busy with locals.
Look for places with a good reputation.
Look for places with good food and service.
When visiting the UK, there are really useful sign-up memberships you can join for a small fee.
Our favorite is tastecard, which is a monthly membership where you can enjoy 50% off or 2-for-1 on food at the UK’s favorite chain restaurants such as Café Rouge, Prezzo, Pizza Hut, and ASK Italian, along with 1000s of independents nationwide. With tastecard, you can also get up to 50% off days out, popular attractions, and theatre shows, 40% off cinema tickets at the UK’s biggest cinema chains, and 50% off pizza delivery at the biggest pizza partners 7 days a week.
As a tastecard member, you’ll also get exclusive discounts from online retailers, so there’s always a saving to be made – the perfect option for days out or nights in, plus still helping you to save BIG with the cost of living rising.
One of the best ways to travel on a budget is to avoid crowds. The main attraction of traveling during peak season is that you can see everything in one day, but that means a lot of people are doing the same thing and it takes half your day just to get there. This leaves you with less time for exploring and hanging out at the hotel pool.
Off-season also tends to be cheaper because fewer people are going there, which means less demand for flights and hotels. To find out what’s considered off-season where you’re planning on going, check out websites like TripAdvisor or Google Trends before booking anything.
We went to Sunny Beach in Bulgaria in May 2022, and we traveled off-season. We booked a 7-night stay at the All-Inclusive Kuban Resort and Aqua Park costing £200 per person on Love Holidays.
Pack light and only take what you need.
This is the most important rule of traveling on a budget, and it's an easy one to follow. Packing light will save you money because you'll be able to buy luggage that meets your needs instead of buying a heavy suitcase that you'll end up carrying around with you anyway. It's also good for the environment: there are enough plastic bags in the ocean already!
You should only bring what is necessary for your trip - no more than one or two pairs of shoes (depending on where you're going), three days' worth of clothes, everything else should be left behind at home.
Plan to avoid spending money unnecessarily.
Planning can save you money and help avoid overspending. This can include:
researching the best options for your trip, including where to stay and what transportation to take
deciding how much money you want to spend. If there's an item or activity that is important to you but costs more than you'd like, consider postponing it until later in the trip (or just skip it altogether). It's okay if this means a shorter time abroad - you still have plenty of time to go back!
You can travel without breaking the bank by planning and looking for deals exclusively
Being prepared is the first step to a successful trip. And it doesn't mean you have to spend hours upon hours researching, either. Planning can be easy!
Here are some tips:
Look for deals. Do not wait until the last minute to book your hotel room or find a flight; this will cost you more money and probably leave little time for any sort of sightseeing before bedtime. Researching and booking deals well in advance can save hundreds of pounds on everything from rental cars (we recommend Alamo) to accommodations, so take advantage of them whenever possible.
Sign up for newsletters that send out coupons for discounts on travel services like hotels and flights (this is also good practice when booking online). You might even find extra savings by receiving coupon codes via email or text message just before making a purchase and those are always worth taking advantage of!
It's possible to travel on a budget if you're willing to make small sacrifices.
The good news is that traveling on a budget is possible. The bad news is that you have to make some sacrifices. Being willing to make small sacrifices, however, will allow you to travel for longer periods and stay at more luxurious places than if you had stayed home and saved up all your money before taking off.
When it comes to traveling on a budget there are two main things people have trouble with: flexibility and creativity. If you're not flexible in your plans, then it won't matter how much money you spend because whatever happens while abroad will force you back home early without seeing everything on your list of must-sees. Also, if someone isn't creative, they'll never find ways around paying extra fees or draining their bank accounts quickly by staying at nicer places than necessary or splurging on expensive activities when cheaper ones exist nearby (or even right outside).
We hope this article has helped you realise that traveling on a budget is possible. It doesn't mean you have to eat rice and beans every day or stay in hostels without Wi-Fi! If you're willing to do some research and be flexible, there are plenty of ways to travel while still having fun in new places.
What do you think? Do you think any of these tips will help you travel on a budget and save money? Let us know your thoughts!
We would appreciate it if you could share this blog post! Thank you.