How to Travel on a Budget
So you’re going travelling but you only have limited funds – you want to make these last as long as possible, right? With a little planning and some thrifty thinking you can stretch your finances further allowing you to adventure for longer and experience more. Here are some tips on how to travel on a budget!
Budget Travel Tip #1: Choose Your Destination Wisely
If you’re concerned about cheap ways to travel, where you choose to travel to can dramatically affect the amount of money you will require. Your living costs for four weeks in Europe for example, would be much higher than if you spent the same amount of time in South East Asia.
You also need to factor in how you are going to get to your destination. The cost of living in Europe may be higher but it could me much cheaper to get to if you are already based on the continent.
Another tip for budget travel: Don’t pick a destination out of the hat and hope it will be a low cost place to visit. There are plenty of free online tools like Numero that allow you to compare the cost of living in different countries, helping you work out your daily budget.
Always take advantage of technology to figure out how to travel on a budget. There are many online accommodation booking tools to get an indication of daily accommodation costs.
Budget Travel Tip #2: Getting the Best Value Bank Card
This isn’t the most exciting of topics but in order to travel on a budget, getting the right kind of credit or debit card to use when travelling can save you a lot of money in transaction and conversion fees.
Using a standard bank card abroad can often mean you pay out a fee not only to the ATM but also to your bank along with another fee for not using your home currency.
There are a range of alternatives you can look at depending on the providers in your home country. For low cost travel, you want to look for a credit or debit card that won’t charge you for withdrawing cash abroad or for withdrawing in a different currency.
There are also a number of prepaid cards available which you top up before you leave and incur no charges when you come to withdraw your cash.
Budget Travel Tip #3: Alternative Accommodation Options
Paying for accommodation can be one of the biggest hit to your travel budget.
If you’re looking for low cost travel options, don’t assume hostels are always be the cheapest option; solo backpackers benefit most from dorm beds but depending on the location, groups of two or more can share a hotel room or an entire villa and the price per person could work out similar to a bed in an 8-man dorm. A single dorm bed can be upwards of $20 / night in some big cities or in places with few options available.
The great news is there are now lots of ways to find cheaper, alternative accommodation options.
Airbnb has grown massively over the last few years and is a great place to find low cost inner city accommodation. The best places tend to get booked up really fast so we recommend booking well in advance with Airbnb to find the best value for money when you travel on a budget.
As well as saving money, these alternative types of accommodation can enhance your travel experience as whole with hosts sharing stories and insights into their culture, whether you’re traveling on a budget or not.
Budget Travel Tip#4: Sharing Transport Costs & Going the Long Way Around
One way to travel on a budget is by travelling with more people.
If you’re travelling in a small group you’re going to save money on transport costs by splitting the costs of taxis / tuk tuk / boat trips or group tours. If you’re travelling solo or in a couple ask others to join you on tours to reduce the cost per person. On bus journeys and border crossings get chatting to your fellow passengers and find out where they are staying – your final destinations maybe near one another and once you reach the terminus of your bus / boat / train journey you could share a tuk tuk or taxi to your accommodation, reducing the cost per person.
Slow travel and taking the long way round is also a low cost travel option. A bus journey from A to B may take 10 hours compared to a 2 hour flight but it you’re time rich and cash poor this could be the better option.
Travelling by land also means you see more of a country and its people and often stop in places you would never see if you had taken a flight. That said, flights can be found with very low fares so if you are restricted time wise it might be worth having a browse on skyscanner.
Budget Travel Tip #5: Eating Locally & Self-Catering
When wanting to travel on a budget, one important tip is to eat the local food!
In South America and Asia you will nearly always save money by eating local dishes as Western style cuisine usually costs a premium. Local food, like Phở in Vietnam, can be purchased for as little as $1 whereas a western style dish would cost you $5 or more. It’s also a great way to get acquainted with the culture of the place you’re visiting.
In destinations where the cost of food is quite high regardless of the types of cuisine, in Australia and many parts of Europe for instance, self-catering can be a great way to cut costs. Lots of camp-sites (and even some parks in Australia) now have free BBQ facilities and a growing number of hostels have shared kitchen areas. Cooking for yourself is a great budget travel trick.
Budget Travel Tip #6: Exchanging Your Time & Skills
It’s possible to travel on a budget for an extended period of time! If you have fallen in love with a tropical island,and desperately want to stay longer but don’t have the funds — one thing you can always consider is exchanging your time for free accommodation and food. This is particularly true in Southeast Asia where you’ll find many backpackers who have prolonged their stay in one area this way.
Some hostels will offer free accommodation to talented artists and musicians in exchange for artwork on their walls or music performances.
We hope you’ve found these low cost travel tips useful. If you have any more tips for how to travel on a budget we’d love to hear them! Just add them to the comments at the bottom of this post.