Ike has travelled to all six continents and continues to visit new places, countries and cities each year. He doesn’t want me to call him a travel expert, but he kind of is ;). Here are his 7 essential tips for travelling on a budget.
Travelling on a budget doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of your trip. With careful planning and savvy strategies, you can explore new destinations and have unforgettable experiences without breaking the bank. In this article, I’m sharing with you seven tips on how to travel on a budget in 2023.
From finding affordable accommodation to saving money on transportation and dining, these practical tips will help you make the most of your travel adventures while keeping your expenses in check. As long as you can follow my tips and stick to your budget (or better yet, “budget” an amount you can go over budget each week on your holiday), you will be able to travel longer for less.
Tip 1: Choose Off-Peak Travel Times
One of the easiest ways to save money while travelling is by choosing off-peak travel times. Avoiding peak seasons, such as holidays or popular events, can significantly lower your travel expenses. Plane tickets, accommodation, and attractions tend to be more expensive during peak times, so planning your trip during shoulder or off-peak seasons can result in substantial savings.
Research the destination you want to visit and identify when demand is lower, making prices more budget-friendly. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also enjoy fewer crowds and a more authentic experience. You’ll usually find that in most places, there’s a sweet spot in between seasons where you can avoid peak times without compromising too much on ideal weather!
Tip 2: Be Flexible with Your Destination
If you’re open to exploring new destinations, being flexible with your travel plans can lead to significant savings. Instead of fixating on a particular location, be open to different options. Research destinations that are less popular but still offer unique experiences and attractions. These less touristy destinations often have lower costs for accommodation, food, and activities. You might be surprised by the hidden gems you discover by being flexible with your travel destination.
💡 Top tip: Put your home airport into Google Flights and click “search” without choosing a destination. This will show you a map of places you can travel to with the cheapest prices available. You can do this with set dates in mind or choose from flexible options to find the best deal.
Some destinations are naturally more budget-friendly than others. Research and choose destinations where the cost of living and travel expenses are relatively low. Countries in Southeast Asia, Central America, and Eastern Europe are often known for being budget-friendly destinations with affordable accommodation, transportation, and food options. Do your research and opt for less touristy destinations to save money while experiencing unique cultures and landscapes.
Check out some destinations we’ve featured lately:
- What to Pack for Backpacking in Mexico
- An Honest Review of Madeira
- How to Plan a Road Trip Around Montenegro
- Everything You Need to Know about Living in South Korea
Tip 3: Plan and Book in Advance to Save
I know it might not be the spontaneous adventure you’ve always dreamed of, but these things always come around more quickly than you think! Book a holiday a couple of months in advance and it will roll around in no time.
Planning ahead and booking your flights, accommodation, and activities in advance can help you save money. Prices tend to increase as your travel date approaches, so booking early can lock in lower rates. Look for deals on flights and accommodations through online booking websites, and consider booking bundled packages to save even more.
You can also keep an eye out for flash sales or last-minute deals, but be prepared to book quickly as they may not last long. It might be helpful to make a plan and set a budget before you go looking, so you don’t make any panicked decisions that you’ll regret later! Planning and booking in advance can help you stick to your budget and avoid last-minute price hikes.
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Tip 4: Use Budget Accommodation
Accommodation can be a significant expense while travelling, but there are ways to save money. Consider staying in budget accommodation options such as hostels, guesthouses, or budget hotels. These options are often more affordable than luxury hotels and can provide you with a unique and authentic experience. Especially hostels can be a great way to meet people travelling on a similar budget to you, and will likely have some ideas for budget activities in the area!
Look for accommodation options that offer free breakfast or kitchen facilities, as this will save you a lot of money on restaurants and eating out! Research reviews and ratings to ensure that the budget accommodation you choose meets your basic comfort and safety requirements.
Tip 5: Research and Use Public Transport
Transportation costs can add up quickly, but there are ways to save money on getting around your destination. Make the most of public transportation options, such as buses or trains, instead of expensive taxis or rental cars. Many cities have affordable public transportation networks that can take you to popular tourist spots at a fraction of the cost of a taxi or rental car.
Research local transportation options before you go, and find out if you can get a day or week pass for even more savings. Walking or biking can also be a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to explore your destination while staying within your budget. Many major cities now have bike-share schemes.
Tip 6: Eat Like a Local
Food can be a major expense while travelling. Instead of dining in touristy areas or upscale restaurants, eat like a local to save money. Locals often know the best spots for delicious and affordable food, and this way you get to experience more of their culture at the same time. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations or venture off the beaten path to discover hidden gems.
Local markets are a treasure trove of fresh produce, local specialties, and affordable snacks. Stroll through the market to pick up some food for a budget-friendly meal to make back at your accommodation. Many markets also have food stalls or small eateries where you can try local dishes at a fraction of the cost of a restaurant.
This brings us onto street food. Street food stalls are another excellent option for budget travellers. Not only is it delicious, it also offers an authentic and immersive dining experience. You can find street food in bustling markets, busy street corners, or even food markets specifically known for street food. Be sure to try the local specialties and interact with the vendors for a truly memorable experience.
Tip 7: Look for Free or Low-Cost Activities
Many destinations offer free or low-cost activities that allow you to experience the local culture and attractions without breaking the bank. Research and explore your options ahead of time, or ask someone when you arrive. Most people will be happy to give you a recommendation or two, especially if they work in the travel industry (e.g. in the airport, at your accommodation, etc.). Another great tip is to ask other travellers that you meet what their plans are, what they’ve already done, and what they especially recommend!
💡 Top tip: join a free walking tour. Many cities around the world offer free walking tours led by local guides who can show you around and share interesting stories and insights about the destination. These tours usually operate on a tip-based system, allowing you to pay what you can afford or feel the tour is worth. More than that, your guide will be able to tell you the cost of everything around the city and is likely to recommend a few tips, tricks and local restaurants.
Parks and beaches are often free or low-cost options for enjoying the outdoors and experiencing local nature. You can relax, have a picnic, or simply take a leisurely stroll in a nearby park or along the beach. Some parks and beaches also offer recreational activities such as cycling, paddle boating, or even free exercise classes.
Museums and cultural attractions may also have discounted or free admission options. Research ahead of time to find out if there are any free or discounted days or times to visit popular museums or attractions. Some destinations may also have smaller, lesser-known museums or cultural sites that are more budget-friendly or even free to visit.
So, what do you think? Are you prepared for your next trip on a budget? Or have I missed something? Let us know your favourite budget travel hacks in the comments!