We all know that traveling is a luxury that many of us cannot afford. Everything from paying for flights and lodging to buying souvenirs adds up very quickly, and can even seem impossible on a modest travel budget. Even when you’re staying at hostels or couch surfing with locals, there are some unexpected expenses to watch out for.
Traveling isn’t meant to be an excuse for spending lots of money, but when you’re away from home there are a few things you can’t always predict. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over my years as a traveler on how to keep the costs down and still enjoy your trip:
1. Choosing destinations wisely
This may seem like a no-brainer, but choosing where to go is really the number one priority in cutting travel expenses.
Start by looking for places that are fun and friendly (like Barcelona or Amsterdam), so you can relax without feeling pressured to spend. At the same time, stick with less popular destinations that are within easy reach of major cities.
Carpooling is a great way to reduce costs on the road – not just gas expenses but also tolls, parking and city fees. You can share the driving duties with friends in your home country before you leave, or hook up with locals once you arrive at your destination for a shared ride to any interesting sights in the area.
3. Staying on a budget
There’s no way to know exactly how much you’ll end up spending during your travels, but some preparation can help keep costs low. Before you leave home, set a daily budget for yourself and try not to exceed it! This means planning out your sightseeing and activities ahead of time and sticking to it.
4. Staying in hostels or with friends
Staying with friends or in hostels is more affordable than you think – the shared cost can be split between several people, making a room even cheaper than staying at an inexpensive hotel. You can also book your stay through Hostel Bookers for up to 20% off.
5. Cooking your own food
Eating out is one of the biggest expenses when traveling, so try to cook for yourself as often as you can! Not only does it save money, but you’re also more likely to eat healthy home cooked food than fast-food or restaurant meals every day. There are some great food blogs and websites with international recipes to try, or just do a search for “vegetarian” or “vegan” and your destination in the search bar.
6. Travelling slowly
The faster you travel, the more expensive it gets! If you want to keep your expenses low and still see as much of the world as possible, pick a destination and stay there for as long as you can. You’ll have time to really get to know the city and people at your own pace, instead of just rushing from one place to the next.
7. Cheap flights
Booking your flights ahead of time is key if you want to keep travel costs low – it’s no fun to be stranded somewhere without a way back home! It can take some planning ahead, but booking early and using the Search Flights page on Skyscanner usually yields the best results.
8. Finding free activities
No one wants to spend their entire trip inside museums or galleries, so if you don’t have much time or money try to find some free activities. Libraries and community centres sometimes offer interesting exhibitions or workshops, and many cities have walking tours that are completely free of charge.
9. Using local transportation
While getting around by plane is always the most expensive option, you can cut costs for long-distance travel by taking a bus or train instead of flying (just be sure to book in advance). It’s also much more fun and a great way to meet people on the road.
10. Getting free tours
It may seem strange at first, but many museums and galleries offer free or discounted admission for students or young people (which means anyone under 30). If you’re not a student yourself, consider travelling with a friend who is, or befriending some locals in your new city and asking if they have student rates at any attractions!
11. Booking hostels online
Sites like HostelBookers not only offer great deals on accommodation, but also information about the surrounding area with maps and guides to nearby restaurants and shops, as well as information on the hostel facilities. This sort of information is invaluable when you’re trying to find your way around a new city for the first time, and booking online saves you money in person as well!
12. Buying art by local artists
Traveling can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for souvenirs! Supporting local artists is a great way to say thank you for your new travel memories, and the best part is that their work tends to be much cheaper than souvenirs from museums or shops.
13. Getting free drinks
Whether it’s a happy hour event or a complimentary welcome drink at your hostel, getting free drinks while traveling is easy! Just be sure to keep an eye out for special promotions or events that even locals might not know about in your new city.
14. Staying at a hostel with free breakfast
Eating out every morning can get quite expensive, so whenever you stay at a hostel look into whether they serve a free breakfast and take advantage of it! Most hostels have kitchens that you can use as well, so if there’s a grocery store nearby stock up on some ingredients to cook your own meals.
15. Getting map discounts and advice
Free maps are often available from local bike shops or tourist offices, and many of them give money off coupons for attractions in the area! This is an easy way to save a bit of money on your sightseeing.
16. Buying from markets and fairs
Markets (both indoor and outdoor) are great places to get food, souvenirs, clothes and pretty much anything else you could need for your trip. They can be particularly cheap if you’re looking for electronics or second-hand goods, so try your local market for the best deals.
17. Getting free transport passes
Some cities offer free or discounted travel passes to all students, young people under 25 and sometimes children as well! This is an easy way to save money on buses & trains, which can usually add up quickly if you’re traveling long-distance.
18. Avoiding tourist traps
While most attractions have a recommended price, they also usually have alternatives which cost either nothing or very little. For example, you can get informative audio guides for many museums and galleries at the front desk without paying the usual fee, and some exhibits will let you in free on certain days of the week (usually Wednesday or Friday). This is a great way to save money while still getting the information you’re after.
19. Using photo streams and apps
If you take photos on your travels, try using them as references for future paintings or sketches instead of paying for stock photography! Similarly, there are several free smartphone apps that let you remix famous artwork with your own photos, or create collages using images from your photo stream.
20. Getting free drinks and discounts
It’s not always about getting something for nothing; sometimes it’s good enough just to receive a discount! Most cities have pubs that offer student discounts or happy hour deals where you can get discounted booze or food to go with it, so look around for your local hangouts and see what special offers are available.
21. Using sites like couchsurfing
If you’re looking for an affordable way to go on a road trip or visit some interesting sights, try catching up with locals who might let you sleep on their sofa (or spare bedroom, if they have one) for a night or two. This is a great way to save money on accommodation, while still enjoying the local experience!
22. Supporting student events
If you’re traveling in your home country and are under 18, check with your university or student union for monthly freebies they might be offering students. Similarly, if you’re traveling abroad this can be a great way to find out what free “student bars” or parties are happening in the area
23. Using public transport
In some cities buses and trains cost less than half as much as taxis, so it’s worth checking if there’s a public transport option that can get you between places for cheap! If you’re going on a long journey consider taking a night bus, which can be massively cheaper than flying or renting a car.
24. Sharing snacks with roommates
If you’re traveling in your home country and staying at hostels, make the effort to meet some of your roommates and see if anyone’s keen on splitting food costs! When I was studying abroad in the UK I made a few friends by buying two baguettes at lunchtime and sharing them as afternoon snacks, which was much cheaper than buying my own individual meals.
25. Buying food from markets
Markets are amazing places to get great deals on everything from fruit and vegetables to clothing and souvenirs, but it’s also worth checking to see what they sell in the way of fresh food. Depending on your host country, markets might have local delicacies that are literally worth their weight in gold!
26. Going for long walks
As a student I’ve always found it hard to find time and money to go on hikes, but sometimes you don’t need much more than some sturdy shoes and a sense of adventure! If you’re in a new city or town, try taking on one of the many trails that criss-cross the area; if there are any worthwhile historical sites to see along the way, they’ll usually be free.
We will provide a few tips for you to make it easier on your wallet and the environment. -We hope this article has given you some insight into how traveling can be done in an eco-friendly way with less spending. Make sure to save these ideas if you are looking for ways to travel more without breaking the bank!