After the year we’ve had, you probably can’t wait to start traveling more! You would love to explore the world, but don’t know how you’ll ever be able to afford it or enjoy traveling on a budget.
A large percentage of us believe we can’t afford to travel. It can seem exotic, expensive, and totally unattainable for those still in college, working entry-level jobs, paying off student loans, or living paycheck to paycheck.
If you’re like many prospective travelers, you might not know how to travel cheap and plan a trip that you can afford. Maybe you have no idea where to even begin.
Whatever your current financial situation, don’t let it discourage you. The good news is that travel isn’t as inaccessible as many people believe. In fact, traveling on a tight budget has become more and more possible.
We’ve put together some tips and hacks so that you’ll be equipped with the knowledge needed to enjoy traveling on a budget!
Start A Travel Savings Account
Even if you don’t have a huge salary, there are many things that you can do to start saving up for your trip.
Open a separate savings account and put a small amount of money into it every time you get paid. An automatic payment will mean that eventually, you’ll forget that this money is even accumulating in your savings account.
It’s a good idea to work out your income and expenses beforehand to know how much you can afford to save comfortably. It’s always better to save a smaller amount than it is to go over budget every month.
If you do happen to have “extra” money left over at the end of the month, add it to your travel fund at that time.
Choose The Best Method Of Transportation
Once you’ve settled on where you’d like to go, you need to decide on how to get there.
If you’re traveling within a reasonable distance, driving might be the cheaper option (particularly if you own your own vehicle), even when factoring in the cost of gas, snacks/meals, and lodging.
If you don’t have a reliable vehicle, consider options like taking the bus or renting a car.
However, the cost of flying to your destination might cost about the same, but take less time. Be sure to check out that option too, just to be safe.
Find Cheap Flights
If you are traveling overseas, airfare will by far be the most expensive part of your trip. Whether you’re hoping to fly to several countries or are sticking to just the one, learning the tricks to travel hacking can help you save money.
Start planning well in advance and regularly check travel sites to stay in the know about the latest deals and offers. Consider signing up for the email newsletters from booking and airline sites so that you can be the first to know about the latest discounts or price drops.
Plan To Do The Things You’ll Enjoy The Most
Choosing your method of transportation is pretty straightforward once you’ve priced out your options. What can be a little more tricky is deciding what exactly you want to do on your trip.
Local cuisine, shows, sightseeing, shopping – all of these things can add up quickly. If you narrow your activity down to the things you’ll enjoy most, you’ll reduce your total cost for the trip, and have more appreciation for the things you do partake in.
Think quality over quantity.
In addition to the conventional touristy options, look into the other options that offer more local cultural bang for your buck, such as festivals and street food.
Suggested Article: 9 Tips for Bargain Shopping While Traveling Abroad
Look Into Free Or Cheap Lodging
Speaking of culture, no one can give you a better taste of it than the locals. If your proverbial purse strings are exceptionally tight, consider the option of getting completely free lodging by staying at someone’s home.
This isn’t a new or bizarre option for travelers. There’s a whole host of websites that connect travelers with locals who will give you a place to sleep for the night at no cost. You may only get a bed, an air mattress, or the couch – but hey, it’s free! Plus, it’s a great way to make new friends and experience the area and culture up close.
If you want to meet up with like-minded travelers, look into staying at a hostel. Prices will vary depending on the size of the room and the amenities available, but they typically go for $20-$40 per person, per night.
If neither of these options are available or appealing to you, Airbnb is often a cheaper option compared to hotels.
Or, you could always stay with friends or family! When I spent a week in London, England, I was fortunate to stay at my friend’s boyfriend’s house for free while we were there.
Get the Right Travel Insurance
Last but not least, it’s important to invest in travel insurance to cover you for the duration of your trip.
Although this might seem like an additional expense if you’re hoping to travel on a budget, it’s essential if you want to ensure that you’re not at risk of having to pay out large amounts of money for medical bills if you become sick or injured.
Take the time to research various insurance policies to find one that suits your needs at the right price.
Pack Light, Pack Smart
You’ll want to be mindful of what you bring with you when it comes to clothing, shoes, outdoor wear, toiletries, and other personal belonging.
Packing light will help you save money on checked-baggage fees. It will also help prevent or reduce the need to rent a locker or storage space to keep your belongings safe if you stay in shared accommodations like a hostel.
Packing smart will also help you avoid the need to run out to shop for anything you forgot to bring with you.
Exploring a new place or rediscovering an old one is a great way to have a life-enriching experience.
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.