Do you spend your time daydreaming of traveling the world and seeing glaciers, jungles, mountains, and beaches, while you’re confined to sitting at home? Or maybe you search photos on Pinterest and Instagram of all the fun cultures and food that you could experience around the world, and all you have is leftover mac-and-cheese in the fridge. Many people are left to wonder and long for fun traveling adventures, and the main thing stopping them is…money! But don’t put that suitcase away just yet, because there are tons of money-saving tips and ideas for traveling on a budget!
One of the biggest roadblocks to pulling the trigger is the airfare. But there are quite a few tricks to saving money on flights:
- Sign up for a credit card that earns points towards flights! This is a super easy way to earn cash towards that dream vacation, and you don’t even have to change your spending habits. Some credit cards good for this are the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture Rewards card. You could also do an airline-specific credit card, like Southwest. Start racking up points as soon as you want!
- Travel in the off-season. This is typically November-March, although it may depend on the country you want to visit. Peak season is June-August, so avoid these times if possible.
- Pack light to avoid checked luggage fees. Some airlines, like Southwest, let you check a bag for free. This is not often the case, so research before you go!
- Tuesday is the cheapest day to travel, so try to book flights on this day.
- Check prices often! Look at websites like Travelocity or Kayak that compare flight prices.
- If it is not somewhere you have to fly to, consider road-tripping with family or friends! This is more cost effective than flying and you can split the cost of gas with others.
Now that you know how you’re going to get there, you need a place to stay! This can also be a big cost, so here are some ways to stay in budget:
- Travel with friends or family so you can split the cost of wherever you stay (this will also save in other areas, too)!
- If you’re okay with sharing a space with other people, try a hostel! Hostels are world-wide and provide accommodations for big groups of people, such as students, workers, or travelers. You rent a bed for a low price, and often share a bathroom, kitchen, and living area with others. They are great for low budgets and meeting new people! You can easily find a local hostel in the country you’re visiting by searching online or going to websites like Hostel World.
- Opt out of a hotel and instead choose a local Airbnb or VRBO. These are both popular forums that let you find lodging for a wide range of needs, and are very well-priced!
- A FREE option is Couchsurfing! This website gives you access to free lodging in homes in almost any area.You can meet and stay with locals from all over the world who have an extra couch, bed, or air mattress for you to stay on for free. It is common courtesy to do something in return for the host, such as take them out to dinner or bring them a gift, but the entire experience is free!
This is one of the best parts about traveling – all the food! While you want to enjoy the country’s cuisine and experience all the fun dining, it can take a toll on the wallet. Here are some ideas:
- Stay in hotels or hostels that offer a free breakfast. Then, one third of your meals are taken care of! You can usually find this information online wherever you are booking.
- Buy cheap snacks and easy-to-prepare meals from a grocery store instead of eating out for every meal. That way, you can splurge on dinner without feeling guilty. Take these snacks with you when you go out to avoid the urge to buy more expensive things throughout the day.
- Eat local! Local food is a big pull to most places, and if often some of the cheapest options. Street vendors offer a great addition to any cultural experience, and are well-priced!
Last but not least, you have to plan all of the fun adventures you’ll go on! Here are some tips for keeping activities budget-friendly:
- Ask local residents what their favorite activities and deals are. Often, they will know the best places to go that may not always be on the beaten path.
- Rent a bicycle for transportation instead of renting a car. Other good transportation methods are the local public transportation system, Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing sites. If possible, don’t use a local taxi – these are overpriced and add unneeded expenses to your trip!
- There are lots of free entertainment options available, such as art galleries and museums! Some places offer free walking or biking tours, which allow you to visit all the must-see landmarks in the area. You can usually find music or art festivals at local parks, or vendors performing on popular streets. These are all great experiences with the culture and easy on the wallet!
- If you are a student and have a student I.D, many places in the United States and abroad offer student discounts! Research what discounts you can get with your student I.D, and look into getting an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) because this is valid across almost all countries.
These are only a few of the many tips and tricks you can find on traveling. There is nothing stopping you from having the experience of a lifetime anywhere in the world – now start packing!