You don’t have to go broke when you travel. You can travel on a tight budget and still enjoy the finer things in life without spending a lot of money. These tips for travelling on a budget will help you start planning your trip and make it a big part of your life.
We wish we could tell you that we’re rich on our own and don’t have to worry about money, but that’s not true. When we travel, we have to think about every dollar we spend. We’d like to tell you how we travel on a budget.
Table of Contents
1. Travel Date Flexibility
If you’re flexible about when you travel, you could save hundreds of dollars on your flight. If you fly on the weekend instead of Monday morning, you might save money on your flight.
Compare what you find. We’ve discovered days when business class flights cost the same as economy flights. (Because we flew at different times, we got a business-class flight for the same price!)
how to use Skyscanner to find cheap flights
It’s best to look at dates up to 5 or 6 days before or after the date you want to leave. We use Skyscanner and put in “flexible” for our dates. It compares the prices of flights a couple of days before and after our preferred flights.
You can see what the prices are for the next day or the day before your desired departure by clicking on the arrows.
2. Check out flights leaving from different airports.
If you live near other hubs, check their prices to see if you can get a better deal at an airport nearby or in a different city. We live in Toronto, but sometimes it’s cheaper to fly out of Hamilton, about 40 minutes away by car, than one of the Toronto airports.
Do the same thing for the airport where you’re going. For example, flying into Tokyo’s Narita Airport may cost more than Hanita. Narita is much further from the city than Hanita, so you may spend a lot more on taxis and shuttles to get to the town, which may cost you the same amount as the flight you could have saved.
For Canadians, flights from a city in the United States may be cheaper than flights from a city in Canada. If you live close to the border, checking when flights leave the nearest American airport is a good idea.
There are shuttles from Canada to many airports in the United States.
3. Look for flights online in private mode (Incognito Mode).
Also, flight prices vary daily. If you book on a Monday, you might get less of a deal than you bought on a Thursday. The same is true for flying.
Book your hotel, rental car, and flights at the same time.
We like to find our hotels when we travel, but when we book our flights, we usually book our first night or two at a hotel online. We save a lot of money when we book our flights and hotels simultaneously.
We learned this little trick when we were Expedia Viewfinders and went to the Expedia headquarters to hear their insider tips. Bundling can save you a lot of money if you book your hotel and flight simultaneously.
If you plan to drive, you should book your rental car simultaneously to save even more money. We also looked for a rental car when we used Skyscanner to book our flight to Italy. We were able to get a 10-day rental for only $75. That cost less than all the gas we used for 10 days.
4. Choosing Where You Want to Go
How much a trip costs depends a lot on where you go. Going to developing countries is cheaper than going to popular places. Everyone wants to go to Bora Bora or Tahiti, but the beaches and bungalows in Thailand or the Bahamas are just as lovely. Both locations are excellent, but one is less expensive than the other.
You can go even further than that. Vietnam is even cheaper than Thailand. The same goes for the Bahamas. The Bahamas are relatively inexpensive, but Honduras is much less expensive.
5. How to Find Places to Go That Are Cheap
Thailand is also excellent and cheap to visit.
Look for places where you can stretch your dollar, make it last longer, and have good infrastructure for independent travel. We could stay in an overcrowded all-inclusive Caribbean resort for a week, which would cost a lot of money, or we could stay in a beach bungalow in India for $10 a night.
You can save money on overpriced goods and services in popular areas by visiting less favoured places. A guesthouse in Honduras can cost between $20 and $30 per night, and meals can cost as little as $2 or $3. Beer costs as little as $1 per bottle.
Plus, the people who live in places that don’t get a lot of tourists will be glad to have your business.
6. The cheapest places to go on vacation
Check out this also: BEST 7 CHEAPEST DESTINATIONS TO TRAVEL IN 2023
Budapest, Hungary, is one of our favourite European places since it’s reasonably priced. Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Bulgaria are all good places to visit on a budget. When we went there, we couldn’t believe how cheap everything was.
South East Asia
There’s a reason why backpackers like South East Asia so much. It is a very cheap place to visit. Even though prices are starting to go up in Thailand, it’s still an excellent deal. Even more so in places like Chiang Mai, where there are a lot of ex-pats and bloggers.
South East Asia has a lot of great places to visit. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Indonesia are still some of the world’s cheapest and most beautiful places to stay.
The Baltic States
The Baltics are an up-and-coming place to go and are also very cheap. We went to Estonia, a great place to visit on a budget and full of exciting things to see. It was surprising to see how reasonable Estonia was since it is so close to Scandinavia. Lithuania and Latvia are two places that are becoming very popular.
Another cheap place to visit in Europe is the Balkans. The Balkans comprise Romania, Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, and Turkey, all of which are great places to visit on a budget.
Everyone talks about how cheap Portugal is all the time. Many people from other countries are moving to Portugal because it is so cheap. It’s a great place to visit in Europe on a budget because it has excellent beaches, culture, and food.
Because our dollar is so weak, Canada is one of the best cheap places to visit if you are American, British, or European. It’s a great place to visit, with beautiful mountains, high-end travel, and cities that are among the best in the world.
But you save almost half a dollar if you come from Europe or England. Americans save anywhere from 25% to 30% of each dollar at any given time.
Mexico is one of our favourite places to travel and one of the most affordable places to go. All-inclusive trips to Cancun or Puerto Vallarta can cost a lot, but you can travel alone for very little if you want to save money. In Mexico, vacation rentals are cheap, hostels and guesthouses are affordable, and taking the bus is easy and inexpensive.
From the top of the pass, the views were beautiful.
You can travel on a very tight budget if you go off the beaten path to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, or Mongolia. Tours and hotels are cheap, and tourism is just growing. Getting off the beaten path can be more challenging, but going to places where only a few people have been worth it.
Nepal is a cheap place to go on an adventure trip and our favourite. Sri Lanka has affordable beaches, culture, adventure, and food.
India is likely one of the least expensive places we’ve ever been. We started our blog in India with a tiny travel budget. We made our money last for months in India. We stayed in charming places, like bungalows on the beach in Goa, a beautiful private guesthouse in Kerala, and a beautiful hotel with a view of Lake Pichola in Udaipur.
Central America is another excellent place to go for a cheap vacation. Even though Costa Rica’s prices have increased significantly over the years, Belize, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua are still good places to visit on a budget.
Peru is still one of our favourite places to visit, and it’s cheap. Brazil was reasonable when we were there, and Ecuador was downright mean. There are so many places to call that cost little money that the list could go on and on.
Grenada is always at the top of the list of cheap places to go in the Caribbean.
So, when you plan your trips, think hard about where you want to go. You might see many pictures of the Maldives or Tahiti on Instagram that make you want to go there. But if you shop smart, you can get the same luxury and beauty for much less.
7. Ways to Travel on a Low Budget
Various affordable travel options exist, from independent travel to finding alternate lodging. We’ve compiled a list of different ways to travel on a budget to help you think of new ideas.
The best way to travel on a budget is to do it alone. All-inclusive resorts may be more accessible, but you pay for the convenience, and don’t you want to experience the culture of the place you’re visiting?
Travel when it’s more relaxed.
It’s no secret that travel costs more during peak times. But what could be better known is that travelling in the off-season or shoulder season can be just as fun as travelling during peak times. We’ve been to Santorini when the season was almost over, and the weather was nice. We also got a great deal on a high-end hotel with an infinity pool.
But keep in mind that different places have different “off-peak” times. During the summer months of June through August, it may be the low season to travel to the Caribbean, but it is the high season in South America. Do your research and find the best time to visit a place. Then, look for deals during the shoulder season.
We went to the Amalfi Coast in Italy during the shoulder season. We got great deals on hotels and car rentals, and the weather and crowds were still great.
Hire Local Guides
We climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for less than $900, and a 14-day trek that included food and lodging to Everest Base Camp cost us less than $1,000. When we got to the country, we booked outings to each mountain. By hiring a local guide, we know all our money goes to them instead of the tour company.
Eat at local restaurants.
Eat where the locals eat for a truly authentic experience. If a place is full of locals, you know the food is fresh, tasty, and affordable. Ask your taxi driver or the owner of your guest house for suggestions. Or, do what we do and walk to see what’s busy.
Go to local markets to shop.
Instead of shopping at Duty-Free stores or boutiques, you should look for handcrafted designs and clothing at local markets. We’ve bought notable works of art at dirt-cheap prices that have been discussed for years when they’re on display in our home. (well, when we had a place to live)
You save money by shopping at local markets, and you also help the local economy. Be ready to bargain because that’s part of the fun. Read our 10 tips on negotiating like a pro when you travel.
Use public transportation or walk.
It costs a lot to book tours through your hotel. We went outside, flagged down a taxi or tuk-tuk, and asked how much it would cost to rent for the day. You’ll have much more fun seeing the sights up close than on a tour bus.
Or, you can go downtown and ask a local travel agent how much it would cost to hire a guide and driver for the day. They can give you a tour of the city and show you a different side of it. Or, you can get a map and a guidebook and walk, rent a bike, or take a rickshaw.
Take advantage of free things.
We hardly spent any money on our trip to Europe because we enjoyed all the free things to do, museums, and discounts. In many European cities, museums are cheaper after a particular time, or there are many free things to do. In European cities, there are a lot of free museums.
Most cities have free walking tours led by people who work for tips. When you get there, check the website of the local tourist board or look online to find out what’s accessible in each city.
A city pass can also save you a lot of money. Just type in “Free things to do in Paris” on Google.
Europe can be very expensive to visit, but you can buy gourmet food at the supermarket. After going to a market and buying a nice bottle of wine for €2–€4 and some fresh meats and cheeses for almost nothing, we ate like kings and queens. Bring a blanket and a basket to one of Europe’s beautiful parks and enjoy a real taste of the continent.
Cheap travel is possible with more affordable places to stay.
Camping is another an inexpensive way to survive.
We stayed in our tent for six weeks in France, Spain, and Italy. Europe’s campgrounds are very friendly, with pools, spas, restaurants, and sometimes free shuttles to major attractions. All of this for less than €20 a night.
As we camped through Europe, we rented a car for €600 a month and paid less than €500 for a month’s worth of lodging. We had a lot of fun camping, made new friends, and were able to make our travel budget last longer.
We went on a road trip from England to Mongolia and camped the whole way. We stayed at cheap campgrounds that had everything we needed. Plus, we stopped by the side of the road and camped for free many times.
Hire a Campervan
We rented a camper van in New Zealand to drive around and spend time seeing the country. In Europe, a lot of people rent campervans. You can stop on the side of the road and camp for free in Scotland. You can take everything you need with you in a campervan. You can save much money on travel because you can cook, sleep, and get around.
Instead, look for guest houses or B&Bs not part of a chain. If you are patient and look around for deals, you can stay in a beach bungalow for less than $10. Use a travel book like Lonely Planet to find cheap places and things to do. It’s possible!
There are also tried-and-true chain hotels that are great for travellers on a budget. There are Ibis and Etap Hotels all over Europe. They are cheap but have everything you need, like cable TV, WiFi, private bathrooms, and breakfast. Some Etap Hotels in Europe don’t even have a check-in desk to save money, so you use your code once you pay your fee.
Use Hostels to stay.
Save money on your room so you can enjoy your trip. In the past few years, hostels have changed a lot. They now have many of the same amenities as hotels, like private rooms with baths and TVs. Most hostels also have free WiFi and kitchens, so you don’t have to eat out.
Hostels are a great way to travel on a budget and meet people with similar interests. HostelWorld is an excellent place to start if you want to find out about prices and reviews of hostels in the area you want to go to.
Apartment Rentals or Air BnB
We love to save money by living in an apartment. More people can split the cost when they stay in the same place. You can cook at home and save a lot of money. Also, shopping at the market is an adventure and a great way to learn about the area’s culture.
Plus, apartment rentals are often right in the middle of everything and cost much less than hotels. Check AirBnB for prices in the place you want to go.
Free to Stay
Some of the best ways to travel cheaply and save money are to housesit, Couchsurf, and work exchange.
Credit cards with travel rewards
Use a credit card with travel rewards to earn miles and get extra tips for signing up. Since you have to spend the money anyway, getting rewards while you shop makes sense.
We have an American Express Platinum card. We used to be American Express Ambassadors but no longer work for them. We can book our travel with our Amex Platinum, pay for it with our credit card, and then call American Express to use our points to pay for the purchase.
With our Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire cards, we are automatically upgraded to SPG Gold, Marriott Gold, and Hilton Gold. This gives us a lot of benefits, such as early check-in, late check-out, and free Internet.
Our card also comes with free insurance for car rentals, which saves a lot of money. We don’t have to worry about the extra $15–$20 daily for car insurance. AMEX takes care of everything if something goes wrong.
Take it easy.
If you have time, it’s easier to travel on a budget. If you travel for a long time, you can make your dollar go a long way by paying a low daily travel fee.
When you have time, you can take public transportation, look for deals on guides and lodging, shop at grocery stores, and cook food. On our trip to Everest Base Camp, we saved hundreds of dollars because we had time to look for a guide that fit our budget.
If you take the time to learn about your destination before you go, you can stick to your budget and travel the world with less stress. So, are you all set to travel?