Essential Budget Travel Tips


Many dream of seeing the world, of exploring new places, or simply of getting a change of scenery. The sad reality is that conventional travel is a privilege not everyone can afford. Just getting to the destination alone often breaks the budget, leaving little to no more money for other necessary travel expenses.

A significant reason conventional travel is so expensive is that you pay for convenience. Of course, you don’t have to sacrifice convenience completely just to save money. But by putting effort into the planning process and changing the way you think about traveling, you can tailor your trip to fit almost any budget!

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The Budget Travel Planning Process

Budget Travel begins long before hopping on the train, plane, or boat to your destination. But Travel Planning usually looks like this:

I would like to go to X. How do I get there? Where will I stay? What activities do I want to do? Oops, I am way over budget.

Choose Your Destination According To Your Budget

Often the destination you have in mind isn’t a good fit for your budget. Instead, begin the planning process by comparing the cost of different destinations. Make use of tools to find out which destinations have the cheapest flight connections (the same goes for trains, busses, and ferries!), and choose a few that are within your budget and date range. Don’t discount places you might not have heard of or know too little about – they are often much cheaper and less crowded than their more well-known counterparts!

Now get an overview of accommodation prices and the cost of living in the places on your shortlist. Find out which activities they offer and lastly – choose your favorite!

More Tips:

Avoid Expensive Accommodation

The majority of your budget will go into reaching your destination and then having a place to sleep once you’ve arrived. There are various tiers of standard accommodation, ranging from high cost, high luxury hotels to low cost, low luxury hostels. Hostels are usually the best compromise between comfort and budget, especially for Solo Travelers. They are cheap, usually safe, and full of interesting people. Hostels often offer a community lounge and some even have a pool!

If comfort is a priority for you, you might need to balance the cost of a hotel or apartment by choosing a less expensive destination or sacrificing some comfort on the journey. After all, getting to your destination and back might occupy two days but you need a good place to stay for the full duration of your trip.

But there are even ways to stay at your destination for free! Everywhere around the world, people are opening their homes to travelers, inviting them to join their households for a few days. Sometimes these arrangements entail you helping out for a few hours a day and others are simply interested in getting to know a fellow traveling enthusiast! Learn more about Couchsurfing.

More Tips:

Find Paid Working Opportunities

If you would like to stay abroad for longer than a vacation, look into finding Paid Working Opportunities. These have all the perks of a Study Abroad Semester, with the added bonus of being paid!

Budget Travel at Your Destination

Once you’ve successfully completed the planning stage of your trip, you will have a more accurate picture of how much is left in your budget. By cutting the largest costs first, there may not be any need for you to further budget. If that’s the case for you, congratulations – enjoy your trip! If it isn’t – don’t worry. There are a few ways to lower costs at your destination without hurting your experience!

Set Priorities

Think about what it is you want from this trip. Delicious local cuisine? A relaxing week at the beach? Action, Culture, History? Once you’ve set your priority, think about how you could reduce surrounding costs and how to have the experience you’re looking for without spending exuberant sums of money.

Having set your priorities, you are free to be flexible in how you want to go about each day. Decide in advance on a few places and activities you don’t want to miss out on and decide the rest as it comes up. Not only will you save money on things you aren’t fully invested in seeing/doing, but you will also have more freedom on your trip!

Skip Tourist Traps

There are sights that are worth seeing and there are tourist traps. Tourist traps take your money and give you very little in return. To find out about these traps, it’s helpful to research in advance or – simply ask a local! It’s a great way to start a conversation and will help you substitute overcrowded, expensive sights for hidden gems.

While Hop-on/Hop-off buses can be fun, opt for a cheap (often even free) walking tour of cities. You will explore the city at a much slower pace, giving you time to learn thoroughly about its sights and history from your tour guide. Afterward, you can decide which places to re-visit to explore further


  • Check if you are eligible for discounts at museums or sights and choose your itinerary accordingly.
  • Find out which public transportation methods exist and don’t be afraid to use them!

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