In this post we will look at our top tips for traveling on a budget, for those of us that try and travel for the longest period of time possible on a limited budget keeping track of the smaller items can be important. Not everything in this post will appeal to everybody as some people may prefer to spend their money on nights out rather than visiting museums, but hopefully some of these points may come in useful.
Washing Your Clothes
Anyone travelling on a budget for an extended period of times is going to need to wash their clothes at some point, although many hostels do offer washing services these can soon mount up. The most expensive I have come across is €10 ($12), its something to keep in mind when looking for a hostel as I have stayed places that offer this for free! Alternatively you could look for local launderettes or wash and dry them yourself although some hostels may have issues with this.
Enjoy the Free Breakfast
When looking for a hostel don’t underestimate the price of a free breakfast, when nothing is provided you can easily end up spending $5 just for a coffee and croissant. If your hostel does provide a breakfast then make the most of it and set yourself up for the day.
Avoid Bottled Water
The cost of buying bottled water can soon start to stack up, especially when visiting countries with warmer climates. I would always suggest packing a re-usable water bottle when traveling on a budget, as this also helps reduce the amount of waste we all produce. It is always a good idea to check with the hostel to ensure the water is drinkable though.
Cook Your Own Meals
This one should be kind of obvious, if you are going to eat out for every meal of the day you are going to spend more money. Every hostel worth its salt should have a kitchen so there is no excuse for not making the most of it and saving yourself some cash. Obviously there are going to be occasions when you want to dine out, such as with a group from the hostel or to try the local cuisine but doing this every day can be expensive.
When travelling longer distances such as anything over 6 hours I usually try and find out if there is an option to travel overnight. Although traveling overnight on a bus can be somewhat uncomfortable, there are options in some countries to take a sleeper bus or train that have pull out beds. This saves you the cost of a hostel for the night and has the added benefit of giving you more time to spend in your destinations.
Eat Like a Local
Although cooking your own meals is always going to be cheaper, there are going to be times when its not practical or when you just feel like a change. I would always suggest looking away from the many tourist areas as these often have inflated prices to match, and finding areas popular with locals. Often local, less glamorous restaurants and cafes have some of the best food for a fraction of the cost.
Take a Walk
Now there is a time and a place for public transport don’t get me wrong, but in some cities if you hop on and off public transport all day you can end up spending a fortune. For journeys that could be easily walked, why not take the time and wander through parts of the city you may otherwise miss.
Hunt Out the Discounts
Many of the attractions in a city be it museums, galleries or other sites charge an entry fee, some of which can be very expensive. Although most of these places will offer discounts to students, some on certain days and some cities even cell passes that can get you entry to many of these at a reduced cost. Its important to look up the pricing before you visit, so you can take advantage of any offers that exist.
Avoid Expensive Travel
Flying may often be the most convenient but is rarely the cheapest, its important to shop around when you are looking for onward travel. A good starting point would be taking a look at Rome2Rio and comparing bus, train and flight options and see which of these best suits your needs. Alternatively you could look for car shares through Bla Bla Car or even try your hand at hitchhiking.
Cut Back on Alcohol
I can be partial to more than a drink or two when traveling, but getting drunk can end up costing you more than just a hangover. Even in parts of the world where alcohol is sold cheaply a night out can still end up costing you the equivalent of an extra couple of nights in a hostel. Personally I would set yourself a limit on how often you plan to drink and try and stick to it.
Taxi drivers can often get a bad reputation but even when they are not over charging or even ripping you off completely, they can be somewhat overpriced. Using public transport is always going to be the cheaper option and will let you save your money for more enjoyable pursuits.
Take Your Own Towel
A pretty simple one but many hostels will charge a rental fee for towels, this may only be a small amount but this can soon add up when travelling long term,
Get the Best Exchange Rate
As well as saving money, its also important to make sure you receive the best exchange rate in the first place. Changing your cash in the airport is probably the worst option and exchange rates you find on the street can vary drastically. The best option would be to get a credit card specifically for use abroad before your trip, another option would be a pre-paid travel card. There are a lot of options for both of these out there, so its important to do your research.
Don’t Pay For WiFi
There are lots of travel sites that advocate my local sim cards to use when away, but personally I don’t feel this can be a waste of money when there will definitely be WiFi in your hostel and on almost every corner. A top tip is that every McDonalds in the world provides free WiFi, so just lurk outside until you have done what you need to.
Book in Advance
Almost everything when booked in advance will be cheaper, although this isn’t always practical for those of us that like to be little more spontaneous. Flights, trains, buses, hostels and excursions will all be cheaper when booked ahead of time, so it is worth taking the time to try and plan things out.
Find a Friend
You will often find things are cheaper when purchased together, ingredients to cook a meal, group tickets for attractions or even a taxi (If you must). I am not suggested you befriend people just to make things cheaper, but that if you do splitting the cost of certain things can often be more economical.
Our Tips for Traveling on a Budget
Hopefully our tips for traveling on a budget have been of some use, although some of them might not be for everyone (Saving $10 by sleeping on a bus next to a snoring old man might not be everyone’s idea of fun). If you have any ideas of your own then please leave a message in the comments.
Also why not check out our Best Travel Resources, Tools and Tips.