How to Travel on a Budget

Travel doesn't have to break the bank. In fact, you can travel on a budget and enjoy the finer things in life while staying in clean and comfortable accommodations. 

These budget travel tips will give you the tools to start planning your trip and making travel a large part of your life. 

Travel on a Budget

dave food

We would love to be able to tell you all that we're independently wealthy and don't have to worry about a cent, but that is not the case.

We have to think about every penny we spend on travel and we want to share our tips and tricks to making your future travels more affordable.

That doesn't mean you still can't enjoy some of the finer things in life, just follow these budget saving tips and you'll be able to travel more for less!

Travel Independently

Things to do in Peru Huaccachina

If you want to travel on a budget the best way is to do it independently. 

All-inclusive resorts may be easier but you are paying for the convenience and really, don't you want to sample the local culture?

Choose The Right Destination

travel on a budget fiji vs thailand

Fiji is an expensive destination

Where you travel has a great impact on the cost of a trip. Travel to developing nations is a cheaper option. 

Both destinations are beautiful, but one is cheaper than the other. 

Travel to Thailand or Vietnam is much cheaper than traveling to Bora Bora or Tahiti.

Expensive Destinations vs Cheap Destinations

budget travel thailand

Look for places that have a good infrastructure for independent travel where you can stretch your dollar and make it last longer.

We can stay on a beach bungalow in Malaysia or Thailand for $10 a night as opposed to booking an expensive week at an overcrowded all-inclusive Caribbean resort.  

A Guesthouse in Honduras can go for $20 to $30 per night and meals at these destinations can be as low as $2-$3.  

Beer is as low as a buck a bottle.

Traveling to off the beaten path destinations will keep overpriced businesses in popular locations from digging too deep into your wallet.

Plus the local people of the not so well traveled places will be happy to have your business.

Read: How to Travel Tokyo on a Budget

Hire local guides 

organized tours independent travel everest

Local guides on Everest

We have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for less than $900 and we have been to Everest Base Camp for less than $1000 for a 14-day trek including meals and accommodation.

We booked our treks to each mountain once we arrived in the country.

By hiring a local guide, we know that all the money we spend goes to them instead of the tour company.

Eat at local restaurants 

If you want a truly authentic experience, eat where the locals eat.

If a place is filled with local people, you can be sure that the food is fresh, delicious and affordable.

Shop at Local Markets 

budget travel local markets

Forget shopping at Duty-Free stores or boutiques, shop at local markets for handcraft designs and handmade clothing.

We have walked away with amazing works of art for bargain basement prices that have been conversations pieces for years when on display in our home. (well, when we had a home)

Shopping at the local markets not only save you money, but you contribute to the local economy.

Make sure to be ready to barter, it's all part of the fun.

Take Local Transport or Walk 

travel cheap take local transport

Booking tours from your hotel is expensive.

We've gone outside, hailed a taxi or tuk-tuk and asked them how much to be hired for the day. 

Or you can go downtown and find a local travel agent and ask them how much to hire a guide and driver for the day. They can take you on a tour and you'll see a different side of the city.

Or grab a map and a guide book and walk yourself, hire a bicycle or hop into a rickshaw.  

You'll have way more fun sightseeing locally than from behind the glass of a tour bus.

Take Advantage of Free Attractions 

free paris gardens jardin de luxombourg

Jardins de Luxembourg

After taking advantage of all the free attractions, museums, and discounts, we barely spent anything on our European vacation.

Many cities in Europe offer discounts at museums after a certain hour or even have many free attractions.

Check with the tourist board when you arrive or look online to see what things are free in each city.

City passes help to save a lot of money as well. Just do a simple google search like “Free Things to do in Paris.” 

Picnic 

picnic park

Travel to Europe can be very expensive but you can eat gourmet meals by shopping at the supermarket, buying a nice bottle of wine for €2-€4 and indulging in fresh meats and cheeses for next to nothing.

Bring a blanket and a basket to one of the stunning parks on the continent and enjoy a real European experience.

Travel For Cheap with Alternative – Accommodation 

Camp

We stayed in France, Spain and Italy for a month last summer in our tent.

The campgrounds of Europe are luxurious complete with swimming pools, spas, restaurants and sometimes free shuttles to major attractions. All this for less than €20 a night.

We rented a car for €600 for a month and paid less than €500 for the month of accommodations to camp through Europe!

We camped all the way from England to Mongolia, many times for free! 

Hire a Campervan

Allways-Campervan_New_Zealand

Our Campervan in New Zealand

New Zealand we hired a campervan to drive around and take our time experiencing the country. 

A lot of people hire campervans in Europe. In Scotland, you can pull over on the side of the road and camp for free! 

With a campervan, you have everything you need with you. You can cook, sleep and get around saving a lot of money on travel. 

Independent Hotels vs Chains

old in room gairloch scotland

Our room at the Old Inn

Chain hotels are expensive, instead, look for independent guest houses or B&B's.

You can stay in a beach bungalow for less than $10 if you have the patience to look around for a bargain.

Use a guide book like Lonely Planet to find budget areas and accommodations. It can be done!

Chain Hotels

Clean rooms for a good price!

Then again, there are tried and true chain hotels to choose from. 

Ibis and Etap Hotels are located all across Europe and are budget-friendly, yet have all the amenities you need like cable tv, wifi, private baths, and even breakfast at some.

Some of the Etaps in Europe don't even have a check-in counter and you simply use your code once you pay your fee.  

Stay in Hostels 

#4c Budget Rooms

Save on your room to enjoy your time in your destination.

Hostels have come a long way in recent years and you can find many of the amenities that you will find in hotels including private rooms with bath and TV.

Plus, most hostels offer free wifi and a kitchen to cook your meals saving on eating out.

Hostels are a great way to travel cheap and meet like minded people along the way!

Stay for Free 

Housesitting, Couchsurfing and work exchange are some of the best options. 

We personally haven't done this, but we have met many people who have and they swear by it. 

We have even had two people write guest posts on our blog about housesitting and staying around the world for free. 

Check out their articles and advice to see how you can do it too! stay for free around the world

Apartment Rentals or Air BnB 

travel cheap with an apartment stay

We love using apartment rentals to save money.

More people can stay together in one place to split the cost.

You can cook at home which will save you a ton of money. Plus, going to the market shopping is an adventure unto itself and is an excellent way to immerse in the local culture. 

Plus, apartment rentals are normally in the heart of all the action for a fraction of the price of a hotel.

Use a Travel Rewards Credit Card

cheap travel with rewards

Use a travel rewards credit card to accumulate mileage and receive bonus rewards for signing up.

You have to spend money anyway, so it only makes sense to accumulate rewards as you shop.  

Recommended travel rewards cards are American Express Platinum or Chase Sapphire. 

We use American Express Platinum (disclosure, we used to be American Express Ambassadors, but we do not work with them anymore. We still love and use the card for its travel benefits.)

With our Amex Platinum, we can book our own travel, pay for it with our credit card and then call American Express to have them pay for the purchase with our points. 

With our Amex Platinum, we are also automatically upgraded to SPG and Marriott Gold, Hilton Gold which allows a lot of perks like early check in, late check out and free Internet. 

Be Flexible 

tripit pro plane

If you are willing to travel on a different day, you can possibly save hundreds of dollars on your flight.

Flight costs vary from day to day.

Booking on a Monday may not have the best deals as buying on a Thursday and the same can be said for flying.

Flights may be cheaper if you fly on the weekend as opposed to Monday morning. Shop around and compare.

We use Skyscanner and punch in our dates as flexible. It does a comparison of flight prices a couple of days before our preferred flights and a couple of days after. 

Check with Different Airports for departure 

tripit pro lounge

Flights out of a city in the States may be cheaper than flying out of a Canadian departure city. If you live near the border, it is worth checking departures from the closest American airport. Many American airports offer shuttle services from Canada as well.

6. Time and Patience 

It is easier to travel on a budget if you have the time.

When you land at the airport after doing your research you will know where the taxi driver needs to take you to search for your budget accommodation.

Normally an area is filled with accommodation so you can walk from place to place looking for the best deal when you are let off.

Take the time to do the research before you go.

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How to Travel on a Budget

Read More: 

27 Best Travel Tips from traveling the World

How to Get Paid to Travel the World

11 Easy Air Travel Tips to Make Life Easier

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