I get a lot of questions about how I travel so often, how I can afford it, and general budgeting tips, so here are 15 tips for traveling on a budget. This is applicable to you whether you’re a broke college student or someone working a 9-5 with no free time.
1. Be flexible in timing and destination
When planning for a trip, I encourage you to be open minded to where you want to go or even when you want to go. This will give you more opportunities to find an affordable place to go. For example, utilize google flights. A great perk of google flights is the ability to look at both flexible destinations (by filters such as your budget) AND flexible timing (see images below). If you are looking for a specific date then be open to the destination. If you have a specific destination, then be open to the timing.
2. Take advantage of travel credit cards
I talk all about the major benefits in my post where I explain how travel credit cards can be your BFF. I constantly use my Chase Sapphire Preferred and my Delta Gold Amex reward points to purchase flights, upgrades, hotels stays, car rentals and more! They are a great way to save money during your travels.
3. Utilize travel budget resource sites
As mentioned before Google Flights is a great site to find affordable flights, but that’s not all! There are many sites/apps that help monitor or show discounted flight and hotel prices. Here are some of my faves: skyscanner, hopper, google flights, airfare watchdog and skipplagged – these are also all free 😉
4. Use your student ID for Discounts
Okay, this may be a tad controversial, but I’m here to give you ALLLL the tips and tricks! If you’re still in possession of your student ID (and still look like a student lol) make sure you bring it with you when traveling. A lot of activities have discounted prices for students as long as you have proof – i.e student ID. Thank me later!
5. Travel in the Off season
An easy thing to do when planning your travels is to go in the off season. You can easily find that time frame by googling what the off season time is, but also be sure to check what the weather is like. Typically flights and accommodation prices are way cheaper in the off season.
6. Plan ahead of time
The #1 thing I can advise is to plan ahead of time. If you wait until the last minute you will find yourself paying high prices for flights and accommodations. So as soon as you know you want to take a trip? Take out your calendar and plan at least 2+ months in advance.
7. Study Abroad
For my students out there, studying abroad is a fantastic way to travel the world on a budget. Living over in the US it’s hard to travel internationally for cheap; we are so far away from other parts of the world that it costs an arm and a leg to get there. But If you study abroad in a different continent/area of the world, it’s always cheaper to travel in that area. For example, I studied abroad in Barcelona, ES and was able to travel to 5 countries for under $500. If you are wondering about the Pros and Cons to studying abroad, check out my youtube video here.
8. Have a travel Savings budget
Planning a trip is one thing, but financing it is another. One tip I have is habitually setting aside money for travel. Even if you don’t have a plan to go on a trip anytime soon, by having a budget specifically for travel, you will always have something to start with when you want to travel. This can help to alleviate any financial burdens you may feel when financing a trip.
9. Use Public transportation when traveling
When traveling domestically or internationally, ubers/lyfts and taxes are SO expensive. Some cities are cheap, but people can also take advantage if you’re clearly a tourist or you don’t speak the local native language. Instead, utilize public transportation such as the metro/subway or bus. It will always be cheaper, reliable and you get an authentic experience of the culture! Make sure you do your research though to determine if public transportation is viable in the destination.
10. Don’t be afraid of Hostels
As a fellow bougie traveler, I do understand the stigma behind hostels – HOWEVER there are some great ones out there and I always say don’t knock it till you try it. Note that spaces are shared, but in some hostels you can pay a bit extra for a private room if shared rooms are not your cup of tea. Overall, hostel accomodations can be super affordable and a good budget option for travel.
11. Have a budget for each trip
You may think that this is a no brainer, but I often don’t see people setting specific budgets for each trip. Once you’ve set your travel destination and timing, the next thing to do is plan out a budget for your activities, meals, and miscellaneous purchases. This way, you won’t waste money on frivolous spending and can track exactly what you’re spending.
12. Travel in a group
Expanding your travel plans to more than just you can definitely lower your costs for accommodations and sometimes activities. Start making connections with other travel lovers, your friends and family, so you have people to reach out to when planning a trip.
13. Travel to a destination where your currency is valued
This is the ultimate cheat code. By travleign where your currency is valued, you can get a whole lotta bang for your buck. Here are some notable destinations where the US dollar is highly valued: Morocco, Bali, Cuba, Malta. If you’re wondering about how to check your currency’s value across other countries, you can easily search it through a conversion checker. I use XE: https://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/. I also recommend searching how much daily spending is within that country to cross reference how much you would need to spend.
14. Look for FREE activities in your travel destinations
The best kind of activities are FREE99. A lot of museums, parks, and outdoor activities are free or have a free day for visitors. Always research what you want to do ahead of time to see what will have free admission.
15. Cook your meals when you can
If you end up staying in a place with a kitchen, you can always cut costs by cooking the majority of your meals. I love to focus my time and money on activities rather than dining out, but it’s all up to you! You can always compromise and do half dining out and half meals made at “home”.
If you have any additional travel tips or tricks please share in the comments!