You want to travel but you need to travel on a budget. You will be surprised that it is very possible to do travel on a budget.
I get it. After all the bills sometimes the idea of traveling sounds like something that will never happen. But there are ways to save money and start a travel fund even when money is tight.
And once you have a little bit of money, even if it is not as much as you would like, it is quite possible to still have an amazing vacation if you follow a few steps.
So let's get started.
How to Travel on Budget
Traveling on a Budget means thinking outside of the box. This is the time when you want to get creative. If you're like me you're not willing to rough it but you also don't have a million dollars in the bank to pop bottles on the beach.
BTW you can totally still pop bottles on the beach. But I am talking about the type you buy in CVS. HAHA. See… this is what I mean by being creative.
Today I am sharing some of the tips that I keep in mind when traveling. Are you ready?
Create a Wishlist But Be Flexible
Before you go anywhere, do anything or even start planning a budget-friendly vacation, you need to get real with yourself. What are some things you can live with and what are some things you cannot live without.
For example are you a foodie, or do you prefer to stay at nicer hotels? Maybe you rather splurge on an adventure tour. Whatever your travel style is think about things that you must have and things that you don't really need.
For example, when I travel depending on the location I might opt for cheaper accommodation and splurge on food. Or if I know there are cheap eats I can splurge elsewhere on my trip.
Join a Travel Rewards Program and Earn Reward Points
Loyalty pays. Even if you don't think you will ever fly that airline ever again signing up for reward programs are free and you will earn reward points which can mean anything from free flights to free hotel rooms.
Some reward programs will even offer freebies like free upgrades, internet, beverage credits and much more just for signing up.
For example, is I am looking for hotels in Orlando the first thing I do is see what points I have and what options I have based on those points.
So if you want to save a few bucks make sure to check to see if there are any reward programs and sign up. Even sites like Orbitz and Hotels.com offer rewards when booking through them. You have nothing to lose.
Find Cheap Flights
If you're new around here then you may not know about my teeny tiny obsession with finding cheap flights. Finding cheap flights is probably the easiest way to make your travel budget go further. Sites like Google flights, Kayak and Skyscanner have amazing tools to help you find the cheapest flights.
Whether you are looking to fly to a specific destination or are looking for ideas of where to go for a weekend getaway, these tools make it super easy to find cheap flights.
The key is to be flexible. For example, on google flights, you can select your dates, home airport and leave the destination blank. This search will yield results for cheap destinations on your dates of choice.
Or if you have your heart set on a specific location use the calendar view to see what dates are the cheapest to fly to that location. You can save hundreds.
Score Free Flights
Have I ever told you about the time I flew for free for a year? I did this by getting bumped from several overbooked flights and scored free airline vouchers.
When flights are overbooked airlines may have to bump passengers in order to accommodate everyone. This sounds like the worse thing in the world however if you're schedule is flexible this could be amazing. You can score anywhere from a few hundred bucks to over $1000 just for giving up your seat. The airlines are usually pretty good about getting you on the next flight out.
Usually, when a flight is overbooked the airline will ask for volunteers. They will make an announcement at the gate at which time anyone that is open to giving up their seat will inform the gate agent that they would like to be considered. A few tips to keep in mind when volunteering to give up your seat.
Pay attention. You want to make sure that you actually hear the announcement and don't miss it because you're busy bingeing on Netflix.
Or you can be proactive. As soon as you make it to the gate let the gate agent know that you are interested in volunteering your seat if needed. This will put you on the list before the announcement is being made.
Some other things to keep in mind.
Be quick. You want to make sure you are at the top of the list. This will give you a better chance of getting picked.
But not too quick. Usually, airlines will make multiple offers and if there are no takers they will raise the reward. For example, I once was on a flight where the starting voucher was $300 and went all the way up to $1200.
Getting bumped can be a great way to fly for free.
For example, a few years ago I got bumped from a flight. I received a $500 voucher, a lunch voucher and a seat on the next flight out which was in an hour. $500 for an hour of my time in which I spent eating my free lunch. Not bad if you ask me. And if you're wondering what I did with that $500. Because I am always on the hunt for cheap flights I was able to put that voucher towards 3 trips.
Seek Out Cheap Destinations
If you have a tight budget there are plenty of places around the world where your money can go further. So do you research and be on the hunt for places where everything is cheaper.
For example here in the US places like Washington DC are very budget-friendly since a large majority of the museums and attractions are free.
There are also several places in Asia and even Europe where the dollar goes far.
A big-money suck when traveling is accommodations. They can really put a dent on your budget. However, there are a few easy ways to find cheap accommodations that won't break the bank.
First things first. Do your research. If you are looking to stay in a hotel consider being flexible with the location. Hotels in the city center tend to be a lot more expensive than those that may be further out.
Consider booking an AirBnb. AirBnb is a great option whether you're a solo traveler or traveling with a family. If you're a solo traveler opt to rent a room versus a whole place. If you're traveling with the family you can rent a whole apartment or house with amenities like a kitchen that will help you save a ton of money.
And my favorite tip of all times. Set alerts on sites like HotelTonight and Expedia. This allows you to monitor rates on your desired location. When you see prices go down jump on the opportunity.
Poor In A Private Plane Tip: If available book a refundable room and set an alert. If prices fall you can rebook for the cheaper price.
Disclaimer. I have never done any of these things however I know several people that have therefore I feel confident in sharing with you.
While I have personally never tried this a lot of my friends have. It is really easy. You sign up on the Couchsurfing website and you are automatically given access to listings around the world. The listings can be anything from a couch to a spare bedroom in a hosts house. And the best part. It is free.
If you decide to try Couchsurfing make sure to do your homework. Some people will opt not to take this route for safety reasons. I mean you're pretty much crashing in a stranger's house. However read the review, talk to friends and get recommendations. There are plenty of people that are traveling the world and doing a little bit of Couchsurfing to save some dollars.
If you don't mind watering the plants, keeping an eye on things or even walking the dogs this can be a great option. You get a place to stay on your own for free and all you have to do is make sure you don't kill the cactus. You can sign up for sites like TrustedHouseSitters allow you to search for listings in the location of your choice.
We talked about this a bit earlier but loyalty pays and hotel chains, as well as sites like Hotel.com, will reward you with free hotel nights after you book a certain number of nights in a particular time period. This is a great way to score free hotel rooms around the world. I've had the opportunity to stay in free hotels in places like San Francisco and even Tokyo by doing this.
Research before you go. Finding the right neighborhood can really help with your budget. For example we have a list of the best places to stay in London which include budget friendly neighborhoods that are close to all the attractions.
Find Free Tours
Once you have booked the flight and found the hotel now you need to figure out what to do while your there. Be on the lookout for free tours. You can either opt to do a free self-guided tour (these are easy to find on google) or some places offer free guided tours by locals. Usually, all you need to do is tip them. But this is way cheaper than paying for an organized tour. I also find these tours to be a lot more entertaining and more personalized which is nice.
I must admit. I do not travel slow. I am a '48-72 hours let's see all the things' kinda traveler. However, when you travel slow you ended up really immersing yourself in the culture and it can really save money. When you have a little time on your hands you have the luxury or really experiencing the local culture which usually means cheaper. A meal at a local restaurant in Travestere Rome, for example, is way cheaper than that cute cafe across the street from the Vatican.
When you have a bit of time on your hands there is no need to splurge on pricey tours to fit it all in when you can do a self-guided tour and go at your own place.
Also when you have a little bit a time you can have a home base and opt to travel to more places that are nearby without splurging on several pricey overseas tickets.
The most obvious reason to travel light is that you don't want to spend money on baggage fees. Those things add up. If you're trying to travel on a budget this is the best way to save some cash. To be honest when you start calculating the fees. Thirty bucks here, fifty bucks there… that's a lot of wine.
But another reason to travel light is that is makes taking mass transit a lot more feasible. If you are trying to get across town with 5 giant suitcases doing it on the subway or bus is not going to happen. But if you travel light you can easily hop on and off any mode of transportation.
Let's use New York City as an example. If you have a small carry on the Subway will take you from LaGuardia Airport to Midtown Manhattan for $2.75. The cab or Uber can be anywhere from $30-60. Are your 8 pairs of black shoes really worth that much?
Things to Avoid to Save Money While Traveling
Now that you know what to do to travel on a budget, here are some things that you should not do. Let's start with the first big one which is eating out. When traveling make sure to avoid restaurants that are near tourist areas or tourist attractions. If you are traveling abroad be on the lookout for menus in English or multiple languages. These establishments cater to tourists and are therefore going to be significantly more expensive than a place a few blocks away.
Next, don't rent a car. It might seem like a good idea but before traveling (especially a major city) do your research. In places like New York City, Rome, Tokyo and Paris just to name a few, renting a car is not only super expensive but gas, parking and the time you will be sitting in traffic are also big money drains. Do you're homework and opt for mass transit.
But, know when to rent a car. Ok. I know I may sound like I am contradicting myself however hear me out. There are certain places where the most economical way to get around will be by renting a car. So for example, if you are visiting places in Florida like Orlando or California like San Diego having a car can save you a lot of money.
Are you ready to travel on a budget? These are only a handful of tips to keep in mind but these are usually the biggest money pits for travelers.
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