A man and woman sitting on steps of Great Wall of China.
With some smart planning and careful spending you'll be able to go to almost any destination in the world!

No More Excuses: Tips for Traveling the World on a Budget

Know Where You Can Cut Costs

You don’t need to spend your life savings, or sell every item you own to travel the world. Yes, sometimes finding the cheapest places to travel is your best bet at accomplishing budget travel. But oftentimes you can travel the world on a budget simply by exercising careful planning and smart spending.

There are some aspects of travel you definitely shouldn’t go the budget route on, but there are plenty of other facets where you can cut down on costs without sacrificing too much quality. Here are some of our best tips for how to travel on a budget.

Planning

In order to travel the world on a budget, you may need to do a little forward planning.

If you plan ahead you can take advantage of early-bird deals and lower prices on airfares. Use a website like Skyscanner to scout out the best fares and make sure you don’t miss out on any airfare sales by setting price alerts so you can jump on deals as soon as they come out.

If you stay flexible with your dates, you can often nab the cheapest prices.

When you book your plane ticket, make sure you read all the conditions carefully. Many budget airlines make up for the cheap cost of flights in other areas.

Some will charge you for things like not printing your boarding pass, or for checking in at the airport. Try not to fall into their traps!

Another essential budget travel tip is to travel in the off-season. This is one of the best ways to save money and earn your budget traveler credentials. You can take advantage of lower airfares, discounted accommodation and activities, and shorter lines to get into popular attractions, all by choosing to plan your trip in off-peak periods.

High season usually coincides with warm weather and spring or summer breaks, so this does usually mean traveling in winter or the wet season. However, as long as you are prepared to dress practically, you’ll get to see more for less!

Eating

When figuring out how to travel cheap, one of the first things you need to examine is your eating habits.

One of the key factors to being able to travel cheap is to avoid touristy restaurants. You’ll recognize them easily — they are the ones you will see around the main tourist areas, with multilingual menus and servers eager to tell you they speak English.

The food in these places is typically overpriced and poor quality. You can find much better food for cheaper prices if you go to local haunts, usually just a few blocks over on the quieter streets. It can be a bit more of a challenge — this is where a phrasebook comes in handy, so you can decode the menu — but you will have the added bonus of experiencing a more authentic local lifestyle.

Alternatively, avoid dining out altogether and take a picnic instead. Grab some local bread cheese and produce from the local market or store and sit on the beach or in a park for a memorable (and cheap) dining experience.

However, food is typically one the best ways to experience a given culture. If possible, it’s worthwhile to splurge now and again on some great cuisine. Following the above tips for most of your meals and then using the cash you save to indulge in some fine dining options is a great way to experience luxury travel for cheap.

Transport

Buses are often the cheapest form of transport, especially in places like Europe where the cost of train travel can be astronomical. If you’re traveling on a budget, you can save a little money by booking overnight buses where possible — this means you get to skip paying for accommodation for one night!

Look into buying rail or air passes. For some locations, booking one of these in advance can be a cheaper option than paying as you go, as long as you don’t mind being slightly more limited with dates and destinations.

Ridesharing is a fantastic way to save some money and meet locals at the same time. Websites like BlaBlaCar are popular in Europe, so you can arrange rides from A to B on the main tourist routes and just contribute money for gas.

For adventurous types, there’s always the option of hitchhiking. Be sure to read up on any laws that may prohibit it in the area you are traveling and make sure you are taking precautions to ensure your safety. Hitchhiking is certainly a controversial topic, so do you research and assess the risk for yourself.

To earn extra budget traveler points, travel with carry-on luggage only. Many airlines charge extra to check a bag, which can make the cost of your airline ticket increase dramatically. By traveling light, you can also avoid taking taxis as often and walk from transport centers to your accommodation, instead.

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Activities

There is no point in traveling around the world and skipping all the major attractions because they are expensive. At the same time, you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy the best that destinations have to offer.

Do some research before you go to find the cheapest (or free) activities. In many cities in Europe, you can go on free walking tours — you just give the guide a tip at the end. This is a great way for budget travelers to learn more about the history and culture of the place they are visiting for a very small amount of money. In some places, museums are free to enter.

Even if there is a fee, a lot of museums are free to enter on certain days (for example, the first Sunday of the month) so check their websites in advance.

Every destination has a few must-see or do activities. Choose just a few of them and spend the rest of the time strolling around and enjoying the ambiance — that won’t cost you anything and you will still get a good sense for the local culture.

Accommodation

When budget traveling, you may have to look into accommodation alternatives. Hotels are great — especially if you can find good value hotels — and free soap can come in handy, but in general they aren’t ideal for budgets, especially if you are traveling solo.

Hostels are a great choice for budget travelers. You don’t have to sleep in dorm rooms with 10 other people — more and more hostels are offering private rooms so you can get the best of budget travel and comfort.

Airbnb is often cheaper than hotels and if you choose one with a washing machine, you can save on laundry costs.

Those truly dedicated to traveling for cheap can also look into camping. It’s not glamorous, but you’ll have much more to spend on having fun!


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