Do you want to travel but don't have a fortune to spend?
Luckily, there are plenty of budget travel tips to help you save money on your next adventure.
From free walking tours to flight deals, there are many ways to keep money in your wallet as you explore the world! Let's get started.
Top Budget Travel Tips
Below are some of the best tips to travel on a budget! While they might not work on each trip you plan, there's certainly a few that will work no matter what your accommodations are.
Pick More Affordable Destinations
There is a price that comes with every destination – some costing much more than others.
To save money, you should aim for destinations that don't cost a fortune.
Here are a few of the most affordable places to travel:
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Las Vegas
- Panama City, Panama
Just because a destination is less expensive than others, doesn't mean you won't have a great time.
Avoiding major cities can be a great way to travel cheap while having a blast.
If you're traveling via plane, the closer your are to home will lower the overall cost of your trip.
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Stay Close When Possible
When possible, try to take a vacation that is close to your primary residence.
Maybe there's a city in your state you've never seen or a destination nearby you've always wanted to check out.
The closer you stay, the easier it will be to keep money in your wallet.
As the cost of travel rises due to inflation, skyrocketing fuel prices, and other factors, it becomes more and more difficult to justify spending money on a destination that's far away.
If you like to travel, consider taking vacations close to home until you have enough money to afford something more luxurious.
Go During the Off-Season
There are off-seasons in any location.
For warmer destinations, the most popular times will be the more mild months including the winter and spring.
For example, in Florida, the off season tends to be in August and September. This is because many people, known as “snow birds“, will travel to Florida in the winter months where it is warmer than their hometown.
In locales where hobbies like skiing are popular, the cooler times of the year will be more populated.
Traveling throughout off peak times can be a tremendous way to save a little money without much effort.
It will be more affordable, less crowded, and you'll often enjoy your time more without the hustle and bustle of tourist season.
Cook Your Own Meals
If you have access to a stove or a microwave, try to cook your meals when possible.
This will save money and makes it possible for budget travelers to have more expensive adventures.
Here are a few meals that are easy to make in a hotel room:
- Macaroni and cheese
- Microwave meals
The more you cook, the more you can save. You'd be surprised how much eating out costs, especially in a vacation spot.
Try Public Transportation
It can seem tempting to get a rental car or take an Uber everywhere in a vacation spot.
However, public transportation is the ideal way to avoid spending money you don't have as a budget traveler.
Buses are the best, but you can also take trains or subways.
Some locations provide passes that may come in handy, dependent on the number of days you're staying.
While this might not be possible in every destination, this is a great way to save when visiting a major city.
Bring a Water Bottle
This one might seem tiny, but it can make a big difference.
Bring a reusable water bottle!
Many locations charge an arm and a leg for water, but tap water is drinkable.
If you don't feel comfortable drinking water in a location, you can always buy water. Or you might try a Brita water bottle that filters the water before it touches your lips.
Try Work During Travel
If money is a big concern, you can always work while you travel.
There are many ways to earn money without taking too much time from your travel.
Here are a few of the best remote side hustles you can consider to start making money:
- Freelance writing
- Take online surveys
- Sell stock photos
The amount of money you can make will vary depending on the method, but this can be a simple way to make $10 a day or more – which can go a long way in some countries.
It will require a little effort on your part, but all the income earned from these side hustles can go towards your travel expenses.
Consider All Inclusive
If you're going on a vacation, sometimes an all-inclusive trip can less expensive.
While it might not seem like it at first, everything being included in one price can actually save you money.
Optimize Travel Dates
When traveling on a budget, finding the right dates to take your trip is essential.
Just like certain seasons can be more expensive than others, so can certain dates.
For example, if there's a big event in town – you're going to be competing with hundreds of other travelers to get and stay at the location.
To find the best deals, try to check a variety of dates within your range.
You might find that a date just before or after the big event will be cheaper and have more availability.
This one might seem obvious, but it's worth mentioning.
First class or business class plane tickets can be as much as 5 times the cost of a basic economy ticket.
When traveling on a budget, be sure to book an economy ticket with an affordable airline.
Take a Road Trip
Flying is inherently more expensive than driving.
Instead of flying directly to your destination, try cheaper alternatives like driving.
This can help to keep your travel budget intact and can be a fun adventure by visiting local restaurants and markets.
Find Cheaper Places to Stay
Everyone wants to stay at a luxury hotel with all-inclusive amenities.
Unfortunately, this isn't always possible if you travel on a budget.
You will need to find cheaper places to stay, whether you're traveling to Central America, Eastern Europe, or anywhere else in the world.
Here are a few examples of cheap places to stay:
- Short-term rentals, like VRBO
- Vacation rentals
It's critical to do your research ahead of time.
Some of these cheaper housing locations can be sketchy, so it's critical to read reviews before you put money down on a location.
Take Advantage of Discounts
Any discount you have under your belt can come in handy.
If you know that you qualify for a discount, use it any chance you can.
Here are a few of the most common discounts you will see in travel locations:
- Child: Children under a certain age receive a cheaper price.
- Student: If you go to school, you can get a discount.
- Military: Those serving or who have served in the military can get the price cut down.
- Senior: If you are over a certain age you may receive a discounted price.
If you're looking to travel on a budget, browse around to find locations that offer discounts.
Most often, you will find these deals at local attractions like museums and other places where tourists frequent.
Those traveling with family have the potential to save hundreds.
Travel By Yourself
The more people, the more expensive the trip will be.
Traveling solo is an excellent way to save some cash. Of course, you will need to prep and plan a little more if you head to a different location by yourself.
If you do decide to go solo, ensure you keep your safety in mind. There are many safety precautions you should take if you're traveling alone – especially as a female.
Hire Guides Locally
Some guides work for tourist companies, and then some guides operate locally.
Not only does the latter know more about the area, but they are also much cheaper than if you were to hire from a company built for tourists.
Additionally, you'll help the local economy by using a guide who lives there.
The best place to find these guides is through extensive research online.
Locate a guide in the area that has a history of service so you know you are safe. Budget travelers can work at saving money and keeping travel cheap while seeing a whole new side of travel.
Eat Where the Locals Eat
It might seem tempting to spend money on the pizza you saw someone post at that tourist trap restaurant.
Although it's fine to eat in popular locations, the prices are often much higher due to the frequency of visitors and popularity.
If you want to avoid spending money on your travel budget, you should eat where the locals eat.
The best way to find these food spots is to travel a few blocks down from the popular restaurants.
Of course, ensure you are in a safe area before doing this and look up reviews ahead of time.
You will find local food to be more affordable and authentic to the culture – helpful if you're on a tight budget and want to experience the true culture of the area.
Walk Everywhere You Can
If you can walk somewhere, do it.
It's one of the easiest ways to save money. Rental cars and other forms of transportation can be very expensive.
Your feet are free, and they are capable of taking you from one place to another without much trouble.
In addition to saving money, walking it also better for your health – which can be helpful when indulging on a vacation.
It's critical to ensure the route is safe before you walk. Don't walk at night, and don't drift away from the road.
Look for Free Attractions
There are many free attractions available if you look hard enough.
Attractions like museums, beaches, and parks can provide enough adventure for the whole family and are budget friendly.
Make a Budget and Stick to It
If you want to save, make a budget and stick to it.
While this is easier said than done, it will help you stay on track as you drift through a new location.
You can make a budget online, or write it down on a notebook. It's up to you to determine what will work best for your family.
Find Flights Ahead of Time
The earlier you book the flight, the better deal you will find.
Flights are cheaper if you book them months in advance, as opposed to finding them a few days before you want to take off.
Try to schedule your trip far in advance for the ideal price points.
If you can't do this, there's no need to worry! Try to find a more affordable airline and travel with as little luggage as possible.
Take Advantage of Credit Card Points
Many credit cards work well for budget travelers.
If you use them, you can rack up points that will work well for your next adventure.
If you love to travel and don't have one of these cards yet, get one. You never know what you will earn from their rewards points.
With some cards you can even be rewarded with free flights just by signing up and using the card for regular purchases.
Find Credit Card Promotions
Similar to using a card that offers credit card rewards when you travel, you can also find some cards that offer a lucrative sign up bonus when you reach certain spending thresholds within the first few months.
This can help you cover some of the costs associated with your trip if used correctly. Do your research on these offers before you commit to anything.
Stay Away from Tourist Traps
Tourist traps are expensive.
Stay away from them at all costs if you want to save money, no matter how interesting they might seem.
A few exceptions are landmarks, such as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. If it's manmade, chances are high that the spot is overpriced.
Local shops will cost less than tourist traps.
They also have homemade gifts and work to support locals who need the funds. You can find some of the neatest gifts in these shops, often handmade with local products.
You can research local shops ahead of time or scope them out for yourself once you're in the area.
It should be pretty easy to determine which shops are locally owned and which ones are owned by tourism companies.
Picnic When Possible
Picnic whenever it seems possible.
You get to eat a homemade meal outside in the fresh air and explore incredible views, right in the comfort of a picnic with the ones you love.
A picnic is also an excellent way to get outside if you feel you've spent too much time inside a hotel.
Pack with Precision
The lighter you pack, the cheaper the flight.
It will also be more affordable to travel from place to place if you aren't lugging around a giant bag.
No matter how long you're staying, try to minimize what you bring. A capsule wardrobe is your best bet for budget travel.
Question everything before you pack. Do you need a few pairs of shoes? How many pants will work? Packing is a strategic undertaking to save money.
Check out the video below to pack in the most efficient way possible!
Save Ahead of Time
If you want to travel, you can save months in advance.
Create a separate bank account for your travel fund, or grab a piggy bank and fill it with money for the future.
This strategy will provide peace of mind and give you something to look forward to in the future.
A savings plan never hurt anyone, and it makes sense if you want to travel on a budget.
The more layovers, the cheaper the flight.
Saving money on a trip is easy when you stop in seven different places before you arrive at your final destination.
Layovers don't have to mean sitting in an airport.
You can extend your layover and go on mini-vacations as you wait for the next leg of your flight.
Take a Red-Eye Flight
Another way to save money on flights is to take a red-eye flight.
These leave late at night and fly early through the morning – hence, red-eye.
If you can sleep on a plane, a red-eye flight is an excellent choice. It will help you keep more money in your pocket.
If you can't sleep on planes, a red-eye flight might not be the best choice. Consider what will make your travel on a budget comfortable without spending too much.
Create or Take Free Walking Tours
There are plenty of places that offer walking tours.
All you need to do is borrow a free headset, and there is a tour guide that sits in your ear and guides you through various locations.
If you hate the idea of a tour guide, you can also take a walking tour all by yourself.
Find a book and explore the safest areas on foot. You'll get a good workout and you will be able to explore the locale at a pace you enjoy.
Consider Where Your Currency is Valuable
The dollar is more valuable in some places than others.
If you want to stretch your dollar, travel to a spot where the dollar means the most.
Here are a few locations where the dollar is valuable:
If your favorite spot does not make the dollar valuable, you need to be smarter with your money.
In places where it won't stretch, every dollar needs to have a quality use as you travel on a budget.
Look at Scams Ahead of Time
Every location has its scams, from travel insurance to a free accommodation.
Ensure you research local scams to avoid getting tricked out of your money when you arrive at the destination.
Small adjustments might include investing in a thief-proof backpack or ensuring you can understand how the culture operates. It will save you a lot of pain as you explore.
Eat Out for Lunch Instead of Dinner
Dinner is always the pricier meal.
If you want to eat out, do it in the afternoon instead of late at night. You will find a more affordable menu here.
Of course, the best choice of action for saving money is to avoid eating out at all.
Take Advantage of Free Hotel Amenities
Hotels offer plenty of amenities.
You can save money by refraining from purchasing items like razors, shampoo, and conditioner. The hotel counter has complimentary bottles available for you, free of charge.
If you're brave, you don't have to worry about bringing any toiletries. The hotel can provide you with anything you need.
Use Complimentary Breakfast to Your Advantage
A complimentary breakfast is an incredible thing.
Eat as much as possible in the morning to get your worth out of the additional meal.
You can also take items from the breakfast and turn them into a second meal later in the day. From muffins to eggs, there's a lot you can do with these leftovers.
Final Thoughts on How to Travel on a Budget
There are plenty budget friendly travel hacks you can use to save money on your next vacation.
From finding cheaper prices on hotel rooms to avoiding car rentals, traveling on a budget is much simpler than you think.
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