If there’s one person present who doesn’t like travelling, raise your hand right now, or forever hold your peace. No one? That’s what I thought. The saying is cheesy, but the world really is a book, and if you don’t travel, you only read one page. This planet earth has so much to offer – landscapes, cultures, adventures, challenges – and travelling opens your eyes (and your soul) to the true beauty of it. If you do it correctly, you can pursue travelling the world on a budget.
It might seem as though travelling is extremely expensive, which is why some people don’t dare to do it very often. The truth is: Yes, it can be expensive. However, there are many ways and tips to help you achieve your goal of travelling on a budget. Let’s be honest, not all of them are possible for everyone. Hence, I curated this list of the best ways to travel, nationally and internationally, on a budget. Hope you like it and get inspired.
1. Don’t expect to live in a 5-Star Hilton
Travelling on a budget requires being smart and not greedy. An easy way to save (or even make) money is to sublet your own place or sublet your vacation stay. The first option can be explained as somebody else living in your apartment or house while you’re travelling. This way you don’t lose money (as in rent for your own place) while not even being present. You can meet up with the potential subtenant beforehand, in person or digitally, to make sure they are trustworthy.
Option number two is the exact same thing, just different role allocation. This time, you are the subtenant renting someone else’s place for the time being. This isn’t only way cheaper than a hotel, you get to see and experience the actual way that people live in the area. There’s plenty of websites you can look up, but I guess the most well known one might just be Airbnb. Tiny tip for Airbnb: Sometimes paying the price for a whole week can be less than paying for only three days. Keep that in mind.
If you’re not feeling comfortable with sleeping in someone else’s apartment (or letting someone sleep in yours), you can always find other options. One of the best ones is living in hostels, which is very popular among backpackers. For a good reason: They are extremely affordable. My friend once lived in a hostel in Bali for $3 a night. Depending on your liking, you can decide whether you want to sleep in a room of your own or with more people. This is also a great way to make new friends! Remember: a hostel does not equal ugly, just like a hotel doesn’t equal luxury.
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2. Safe transportation
Taking an Uber or getting a taxi might seem convenient and easy, but good gracious, it adds up! Depending on the city or place you’re visiting, Ubers and Taxis can be cheaper, but let me tell you: They sure as heck are not needed every time. Ways to save money on transportation are, for example, taking public transportation, riding a bike, or simply putting on your walking boots.
There are times when you’re simply tired and can’t walk another step. Go for it: Call an Uber. But otherwise, take it as an opportunity. To effectively get to know your surroundings and even feel a little more local. The world has amazing walking or biking cities to offer. Besides, you also get a good workout in – Win-Win.
He who saves on transport, has more money to travel to the next location. Or to get that delicious $9 Açai Bowl. You decide.
Recently I read some amazing biking adventure stories Biking Adventures with Michal and Polly.
- Source: Cale Weaver / Unsplash
3. Nothing ventured – Nothing gained
Without a doubt: travelling on a budget includes learning how to haggle. This is not only necessary for visiting the local jeweler’s bazaar, but also for everyday necessities like food, or even your accommodation.
Many people are afraid they are being impolite or stingy if they haggle. But here’s the thing: It is not. Some countries and cultures even take it as impolite not to negotiate. Just keep in mind, that for some people it is the only source of income, and you don’t want to lower the price so much that they feel disrespected.
A lot of times, you can reduce the cost of your stay by at least 20 – 40 % if you book your place by the last minute or negotiate with the owner personally. Mostly, they are happy to have at least somebody for a lower price than nobody at all and will offer you great deals.
No risk – no fun. Sometimes, it even pays off to let fate run free and not book anything in advance and only start looking once you’ve arrived. Most of the time, it is way more personal to rent from a person directly, rather than via the internet. It gives you a greater opportunity to get into contact with other residents and even participate in the everyday life of the local families. On top of that: you pay way less than the average all-inclusive traveler.
- Source: Rafael Guimares / Pexels
4. Pack right – Pack light
Packing light is one of the best things I ever started doing, not only for traveling on a budget, but also in general. In America, more than 60 % of people overpack their suitcases. It is not only unnecessary, but can also be really expensive if you have to pay for the overweight luggage. Here are a few tips to start packing lighter. Packing anxiety is a real thing and these help you conquer it.
- Make a list and check it thrice. This way, you can make sure that you only packed what you really need. Moreover, you must pack earlier in advance, as opposed to the night before. Name one column “Essentials” and write down all items you need to bring at all costs, such as passport or medication. If you don’t even know where to start planning your trips, this might help you.
- Marie Kondō is your new bestie. Her way of organizing, the KonMari method, is popular all over the world. It can (in this context) be defined as a gathering of all your clothes and only packing the ones that spark joy, since these are the ones you’re most likely going to gravitate towards. Moreover, to save space, don’t fold your clothes, roll them.
- Packing cubes. Need I say more? Okay, for those of you who don’t know what this is: They are small bags that help you organize belongings by category and compress clothing to ensure you use the space inside your luggage optimally.
- Source: Amy Shablen / Unsplash
5. Become your own Gordon Ramsay
While you’re travelling, there are so many precious things you can spend money on: day trips, flights, museums, the list goes on. Food should not be one of them. At least when you’re travelling on a budget. It’s so easy to get caught up in the cycle of always eating out. It’s simply convenient to grab a bite while you’re heading to your next destination.
However, do you know what’s even more convenient? Having more money to take those extra few days to explore even more. I bet sometimes you don’t even realize how much money you truly spend on food on vacation. And if we’re being completely honest, most of the food you buy out you could easily make yourself. Sandwiches, Avocado Toast, Pasta, Salads, Pizza. I’m not saying to never eat out, local food can be amazing, but to just keep it to a minimum.
Tiny Tip: A simple way to keep track of your spending is to keep a “money journal”. You write down everything you buy and at the end of the day you can go through it and see what was actually necessary and what wasn’t.
- Source: Ola Mishchenko / Unsplash
6. Take free classes
This travelling on a budget tip changed my life! You would be absolutely amazed at the number of instructors, hostels, and gyms who offer free classes. At first it might be uncomfortable to ask whether you can join for free, but what can happen besides them answering with a “No.”? Nothing.
Yes, it’s known that most hotels have a private gym, but what’s not, is that a lot of hostels around the world also offer free classes or equipment for guests. All you have to do is look it up in advance or go ask the workers. This is also true for many gym classes and instructors. Especially new ones. Before they teach half-full classes, they are happy to invite more people, for a fraction of the price, or even for free. Yoga, boxing, surfing – you name it.
Furthermore, a lot of locals are more than willing to teach you their local cuisine, or local sport, if you ask them. Sometimes it’s like reading between the lines when someone says something ironic, you have to develop this feeling of who would be willing and who won’t. Practice makes perfect. Take a chance.
- Source: Tim Marshall / Unsplash
7. Off-season is your best friend
Once you travel during half-season or off-season, everything is more affordable. Rooms, flights, tours – you name it. Looking past the extreme money benefit, a lot fewer foreign tourists will be around, and you can explore the true, untouched (or at least less touched), beauty of your destination.
Keep in mind, the off-season is different for every destination. Obvious example: Whistler in Canada is extremely expensive during the winter months because you can do winter sports. During summer months it is still not cheap, but it becomes less pricey. Winter is the peak season and summer is the off-season. In Italy, however, summer is the peak season, since the view of the beautiful cities and landscapes benefits from the warm weather.
- Source: Simon Rae / Unsplash
8. Sharing is caring
Travelling alone is mostly more expensive. Travelling on a budget gets easier if you travel in a group. You don’t only share your experiences, but also your expenses. For example, rent and petrol. Your friends are not able to travel with you? That’s a bummer, but not a deal-breaker. It is surprisingly easy to get to know people once you’re on the go.
You can compare it to the first day of college, where you don’t know anyone. Everybody is looking forward to making friends and getting in contact. Most people who travel alone are the exact same: they want to (or at least don’t mind) meet new friends and share memories with them. Don’t be shy or insecure. Try to find people who you click with, and I bet you, you’re not going to regret it. It’s not only way more fun, but also way less expensive.
- Source: Matheus Ferrero / Unsplash
9. Camping is the answer
The experience of camping in itself has something eternally childlike. Building a home with a tarpaulin or set up at home in your car. You decide when you want to arrive, leave and where you want to go. This might just be one of the most flexible ways of travelling on a budget and in general. It provides you with the opportunity to become one with nature.
Most camping grounds are located in scenic locations like national parks. Don’t worry: They do provide sanitary and electrical utilities. Since it is becoming more and more popular, you can choose which level of “luxury” you want. It ranges from simple meadows with a washhouse to highly comfortable facilities with supermarkets, restaurants and W-Fi. However, the original focus is closeness to nature and simplicity.
Nothing better than a night underneath the stars with endless fresh air and the incredible feeling of freedom.
Reminder: Some countries, cities, regions don’t allow campers. Look it up beforehand just to be safe.
- Source: Dominik Jirovsky / Unsplash
10. Work hard – Play hard
Yes, I get it, you probably don’t want to hear the word “work” while you’re on vacation. Most likely you went on it to take a break from work and everyday life. But this work is different from the regular 9 to 5 you might think of.
Most hostels are willing to trade free accommodation for your work. They always need cleaners, reception workers or kitchen help. Usually, they offer exchange programs. You work a few hours a day, get the rest off and are able to live there for free.
Besides working in your hostel, you can always find jobs like waiting tables at a café or restaurant, even for short periods of time. If you plan on travelling long-term, you can think about doing a work-and-travel trip. This means you work a few weeks or months to save up money to then travel with.
Moreover, you can teach languages digitally or in person. A friend of mine teaches French on the Internet and makes money off it, which he then uses to finance his next adventure. Work online is nearly endless and you can always find something you can do to make at least a little money to further support yourself.
If you’re a fan of international festivals, sometimes it is possible to work there and attend the performances for free.
- Source: Louis Hansel / Unsplash
The Charm of Travelling on a Budget
You know the saying: “Treasure experiences over material things.” While material things surely have their charm and are nice, nothing will ever top creating memories you will treasure your whole life. Living in an all-inclusive hotel is extremely relaxing, but do you ever really leave your resort? You have your room, food, a pool and possibly the beach. There are not too many reasons either. Not too bad, but…
… If you’re travelling on a budget, you get an amazingly close experience of life in whichever part of the world you visit. You get more in touch with the locals, nature, and the culture. And on top of that, you will most likely make a lot of new friends and possibly create opportunities that can change your complete life-path.
Anybody can travel on a budget. All you need to do is start. It makes your trip happier, bags lighter, and your wallet so much fatter.
Feature image source: Christine Roy / Unsplash