I can’t even begin to tell you the number of people I’ve encountered who shy away from traveling because they think it’s too expensive. I’m here to tell you that traveling doesn’t have to be expensive.
Yep you heard me, you can live out your wanderlust dreams by learning the tricks and tips we routinely use to travel on a budget.
14 Budget Travel Tips
1. Make Saving Money For Travel Your Number One Goal
Ok ok I know I mentioned above that you don’t have to have a ton of money to travel, which is true you don’t. However, by making it a goal to save money it will allow you to take off on a vacation whenever those wanderlust feelings begin to set in.
Both my husband and I prefer to spend our money on travel than some fancy designer (you fill in the blank). We value the opportunities that travel gives us and realize the experiences we encounter are irreplaceable.
I’ve been known to pass up many fancy dinner opportunities with friends when I’m gungho and budgeting for a future trip. I’d much rather spend my money on a rich travel experience than a quick outing that adds little value to my life.
A good trick we’ve used to guarantee we are the path to save money for future travel is to create a travel sinking fund. A travel sinking fund is a way to guarantee yourself that you’ll reach your financial goals.
2. Live Simple To Afford Travel
Back in 2015 we bought a Ford Transit van that we converted into a camper van. The van has taught us that there are very few things in life that we actually need.
Our happiest and most peaceful times have been some of the simplest. I love the feeling of freedom that the van provides. The van provides an escape from the objects in our lives that are constantly weighing us down.
3. Prioritize The Important Things
Before you think that traveling is too expensive and you can’t afford it. You must realize that the people who travel frequently do so because they make it a priority. Take a moment and think of 2-3 things you could live without that would free up extra money each month.
If you knew that downgrading some of your current expenses such as your cell phone plan or cable package could save you approximately $2,000 a year would you do it?
4. Track Your Budget
There’s been many times that I’ve been called the CFO of the family. Yep, I’m kinda proud of it! I like making sure our finances are heading in the right direction. The way I do this is by tracking our finances via a monthly budget.
Take a moment if you haven’t already and create a budget for yourself. Budgets are really pretty easy to start. If you’re unfamiliar with a creating one here’s an easy breezy 8 step process.
If you’re going to invest the time in creating a budget do yourself a favor and stick with it! Yes track that budget! By tracking your money you’ll see where your money is being spent and be able to identify where you can cut unneeded costs to afford your dream vacation.
5. Join A Travel Rewards Program
The way we are able to travel so frequently is because we are always on the lookout for great travel rewards cards. Not sure what a travel reward card is? It’s simply a credit card that allows you to rack up airline miles for every dollar you spend. Yes, many of these cards come with minimal annual fees however we have found that the benefits far outweigh the fee for us.
A couple of our favorite cards right now are Venture Capital, Chase Sapphire, and Citi Bank. You may be wondering how we are able to rack up so many points to travel so often. Well, we literally put every single purchase we make on our credit card.
However, here’s the caveat, if you decide you want to get a rewards card you MUST be super diligent about paying your card off in full on a regular basis.
Check out: Beginner’s Guide To Travel Hacking & The Best Travel Credit Card
Lucky for us, we have excellent credit so we qualify for some of the best rewards programs. We routinely choose credit cards that offer signup bonuses.
Sign-up bonuses give you a certain number of points or air miles if you spend a certain amount on the card in a specified amount of time. If you have trouble with paying your credit cards I don’t recommend doing this. But if you are responsible and looking for one of the best ways to travel cheap this is where it’s at.
6. Do Your Research To Find Budget Travel Deals
My number one pointer for finding cheap flights is to be flexible with your travel dates and time. When looking for flights look a couple days before and after your target date to see if you can find a better deal.
I’ve become an avid user of Airwander , Skyscanner and Momondo . The latter two are flight comparison websites that help you to find the best priced ticket available by searching hundreds of other travel sites..
Airwander is a fantastic site that allows you to do layovers in various cities for multiple days or even weeks. How amazing is that? You get to see two places for the price of one.
We just purchased a trip to Ireland through Airwander and it saved us $100 for a 10 day layover in Bangkok.
Note: Always be cautious when booking your ticket online. Some websites tack on hidden-fees you may not be aware of. Make sure to read the fine print!
7. Traveling The World On A Budget
When traveling on a budget it’s best to consider cheaper areas to visit. Many people put a great deal of energy into finding cheap flights, but don’t consider the money they’ll spend when they arrive.
Just because you found yourself a $200 roundtrip ticket to Maui doesn’t mean you can actually afford to travel there. By learning how to travel cheaply you’ll discover less expensive areas where your money will go further allowing you to do more on your vacation
Personally, I love traveling to countries that don’t cost your life savings to visit. When traveling to less expensive destinations you wont be bothered with a strict budget and you won’t stress if you splurge for a night on the town.
8. How Frugal Can You Be If Travel Is Your Goal?
Have I mentioned how frugal we can be? Yep, when it comes to travel we can be down right cheap! We have been known to stay the night at the airport for a long layover because it saved us money by not getting a hotel.
I know! Some people definitely aren’t into this and I totally understand. But that’s how much travel means to us. If we can save money now that will allow us to take another trip in the future you better believe we will crash at the airport during a layover.
9. Cheap Travel Destinations
Did you know that it’s actually really easy to travel on a budget if you know where to travel cheaply? For some people, this is hard to believe but once you are on a plane headed to a cheaper part of the globe you will find everything you need at a fraction of the cost.
Some people think that traveling to cheaper areas isn’t as “dreamy” of a vacation as the popular destinations. Let me tell you a little secret, some of the cheapest places I’ve ever traveled to have been the most enjoyable ones.
By traveling on a small budget I’ve been able to see beautiful beaches in SE Asia and Central America, jaw dropping mountain tops in Nepal and South America and beautiful lush forests in Peru.
10. Cheap Travel Accommodations
Finding affordable accommodations can be tricky at times but if you put in a bit of effort you will be able to find something that is just right for your budget.
My first suggestion for finding a decent priced place to stay is to travel during the shoulder seasons. By traveling during less popular times you’ll find that many hotels have cheaper rates than during the peak seasons.
Think about the location. Are you able to stay a bit further out of the city center to save a couple dollars? The benefit of staying out a little further is that you are able to see more of the area and experience more of the culture.
Verify with a map that you are within walking distance to the popular attractions.
Our favorite places to use for booking accommodations are TripAdvisor, Expedia, Hotels.com, and Booking.com. Compare prices, reviews, and proximity. Also, we have found that if you are able to avoid the weekends you can save money by traveling during midweek.
11. Save Money On Travel By Traveling Slow
Experience life like the locals do. By traveling slow and riding buses and other modes of transportation you can save yourself tons of money. I like to think of traveling slowly as quality over quantity. Some of the best experiences and definitely most memorable have been while traveling slow.
I completely understand if you are short on time and are struggling to see what you want because you only have 2 weeks. In this case, by all means, do what you need to do to see the country. However, if you’re trying to save money then taking it slow is where it’s at.
From personal experience, if we had taken a plane on some of our travels, I wouldn’t have experienced the authenticity of the country. I wouldn’t have connected with the locals as I did.
I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to share a taxi ride with someone who took the time to explain what the holiday weekend meant to them. Also, the sounds and cultural music while riding buses is something unforgettable. For me, the crazy music and horns on the buses of Nepal is forever ingrained into my memory.
12. Travel Light
Traveling light not only saves you some money but it can also save you a lot of stress. I always get a kick out of watching people travel around with huge wheeled suitcases that topple over on every curb.
By traveling light you can dodge the fees for luggage and it also allows you to keep your stuff with you. You also don’t have to worry about a missed flight or layover where you aren’t able to access your belongings because you have everything you need with you.
Do you want to know the absolute best part? You don’t have to wait at baggage claim, you can hit the ground running.
Check out how to pack light for tips on months of travel without checking a single bag.
13. 3 Things to avoid to save money during travel
- Avoid restaurants with signs that say “We speak English” or that advertise multilingual menus. These are tourist traps that are more expensive and often don’t serve as good of food.
- Ditch the traveler’s checks and use ATMs. You will get much better rates and you can get your cash cheaper and faster. ATM’s do come with transaction fees you can minimize these fees by making fewer and larger withdrawals. Of course, stash that money somewhere safe!
- While we love to sample the restaurants don’t forget that hitting up the grocery store or market is a great way to cover lunch or mid-day snack.
14. Make Sure You’re Covered -Travel Insurance
I know it may seem like a ridiculous added expense, but you really don’t know what can happen while traveling. You could break an arm while motorbiking, need stitches from a surfing mishap, or even lose something like your camera.
Travel insurance protects you from all of the accidents that can happen. It can protect you while traveling in your own country or even while traveling overseas. Travel insurance is a smart thing to get so your cheap trip doesn’t end up costing you thousands in medical bills.
We always travel with insurance and enjoy the piece of mind it gives us. World Nomads(our favorite) and Roam Right are two of the most popular options.
Check out a fantastic travel insurance review here.