Budget travel doesn’t excite many of us. We may picture dingy hotel rooms, crowded buses, and zero-elbow-room flights when we think of traveling on a budget. The older I get, the less I want to travel like a piece of cargo. But if you want to see the world and ain’t got a lot of money, you’ve got no choice but to put some brainpower into the planning process, as well as making sacrifices as you go. So, if you are living on a tight budget, perhaps because you are in college, and want to travel, you can. You just need to be better organized and beat the system. For seasoned travelers, some of these suggestions might seem obvious, but many of us need a Dummies Guide to Traveling on a Budget.
Book in Advance
Great savings can be made simply by booking in advance. Many travel operators offer fantastic early booking deals, so keep your eyes open. Expert Vagabond has an excellent article about how to find cheap flights such as booking trips in January.
Shop Late Deals
Late deals can be equally cheap. This is especially useful if you can be flexible. If you’re studying an online course such as an online MEAD program from Rutgers Online, and you can travel at short notice, look for late deals on accommodation and flights.
Read: Top Tips for Finding Cheap Flights by The Blonde Abroad. She recommends using a fake location when booking online to get the best price!
Travel Out of Season
Peak seasons, such as school holidays, can be ridiculously expensive. If you can avoid them, your travels could be a lot cheaper. If you have children and have to travel in season, avoid the biggest tourist resorts or travel at the very beginning or end of the holidays.
Steer Clear of Tourist Hotspots
Tourist resorts are always more expensive and they quite often don’t give you an authentic view of local life. Avoid large tourist hotels and consider local B&Bs or hostels instead. Airbnb (get $25 off) is another great way to save money on accommodation. You can also save money by avoiding big branded restaurants marketed at tourists and instead eating where the locals eat.
Travel with Just Hand Luggage
If your luggage allowance is included in the price of your flights, then great, but quite often it isn’t (even United Airlines is offering a la carte services now). In these cases, buy a small suitcase that meets hand luggage requirements and only take what you absolutely need. Remember, most places have shops and launderettes, so as long as you’ve packed essentials, you’ll be fine.
Don’t Eat Out
You can save money on vacation, just like you do at home. Eating out every night is a lovely treat, but it can get expensive. If your accommodation includes some basic cooking and food storage appliances, make part of your experience shopping for food at local markets. Try local ingredients and learn to cook native cuisine. It’ll not only save you money, but give you a great new skill to show off once you get home. Another simple way to save money is to walk instead of using public transport.
Volunteering is a great way to travel the world, help people in need, and in some cases get free accommodation. Volunteering should only be done through a trusted agency, so make sure you do your research before signing up for anything.
Check out my Travel Resources page for more help for traveling on a budget.