Getting to know exotic places doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and you certainly don’t have to win the lottery to travel the world, not if you know how to manage your money. We’ve put together some practical tips to help you plan a trip on a budget.
Think of a plan
Spontaneous travel is great, if you’re lucky enough to have time and money to spare. But if you have to travel on a tight budget, the first thing to do is think of a plan.
You don’t need a strict, detailed itinerary by the hour, but you do need to have at least an idea of how much time you’re going to spend in each city or country and know what route you’re going to take.
If you leave less to chance, you will have fewer unexpected expenses; flights and accommodation booked at the last minute are usually much more expensive.
Travel in low season
Avoid travel during the holidays, that’s when the tourism industry raises prices to take advantage of families who can only travel during those weeks. Research the best time to visit the place you want to go and travel right after those dates.
This is called the shoulder season: it can be a great trip, although it might not be as sunny (and the upside is that it won’t be as hot either). Hotels and airlines lower their prices during these dates to attract customers.
Choose your accommodation wisely
Change expensive hotel suites to hostel rooms. You can divide expenses by sharing a room, and in the shared bunk rooms you can meet people who want to continue travelling with you.
A very good option is to book a guest room in someone’s house or apartment through websites such as AirBnB and Couchsurfing. It will cost you half and you will get an authentic perspective of city life.
Consider your host as your own personal tour guide, someone who knows first-hand the best places to eat and the best sights in the neighborhood.
You can also stay with friends or family. Get in touch with people you know, or take a trip to a place where a cousin or friend lives who you haven’t seen in a while, you could see places you never thought of.
Make sure you take everything you need so you don’t have to shop when you’re away (apart from some souvenirs).
No matter where you go, take at least a pair of long jeans, a warm sweatshirt and a waterproof jacket in case of unexpected weather conditions.
For more suggestions, take a look at our Expert Packing Guide for any kind of trip.
Book flights in advance…
Especially return flights; running out of money abroad without a return ticket is not the ideal situation. Airlines release their seats up to a year in advance and the closer you get to your departure date, the higher the prices, especially during the last month.
And choose your flying days wisely
He travels on a Tuesday. Weekday trips are cheaper, as weekend flights have an additional cost. And you’ll have fewer lines at check-in counters and at security. Fly in economy class, you don’t need a higher class, no matter how good business class looks.
The money you save by buying cheaper tickets can be spent on food or accommodation at your destination. Low-cost airlines are good for short flights and usually have good offers. If you’re planning a weekend trip, try to pack light and carry only hand luggage, you’ll spend less if you don’t have to check in.
Use public transportation
Buses and trains are cheaper than planes. It’s that simple! If you travel by train at night, you’ll have one night less to pay in a hostel…
Don’t waste your money
You can eat cheaply by shopping in supermarkets or even in local food markets, it will be better than eating in overpriced bars or restaurants. Take a walk around before choosing a place to eat; if you go to the first restaurant you meet you won’t know if you are overspending.
If you drink beer with every meal, you will add up. Your wallet and your waist will thank you for drinking water from time to time. On the other hand, if you stay in a hostel or a private room, you may be able to use the kitchen, so you will save some money if you make your own food.
Save while you travel
Vacation jobs are perfect for spending several months a year (or more) doing the trip of your dreams: you can teach skiing during the winter season, attend to vacationers who travel to the Mediterranean, or earn money teaching languages in Thailand.
You can also be self-employed in something that can be done “on the go”. The options are literally endless.