25 ways to travel cheap
If you need a vacation, but your budget is smaller than you’d like, the following 25 tricks will help you find easy ways to travel cheap.
1 – Book when the price is right
Flights are often a big part of any travel budget. To save on your next vacation, make a list of the destinations you’d like to visit, but only buy the flights when the price is right. You can use Google Flights to compare different options, and make sure to check that the dates you are interested in are not cheaper because of an important reason that could impact your trip—like the fact that it’s monsoon season, for example!
2 – Save on lodging
There are plenty of alternatives to hotels that will allow you to save on lodging. Hostels offer both dorms and private rooms. Bed-and-breakfasts are often much cheaper than people anticipate—and, of course, include breakfast. Camping or caravanning are also great options, and so is couch surfing, which means staying at a local’s house for free.
3 – Visit local markets
Food is an expense no one can get away from. If you love to try different things but your budget is limited, head to the local market. You’ll find local delicacies and be able to buy directly from the producer, which often means smaller prices. Plus: many offer free samples!
4 – Prepare a budget
This is not the most exciting thing to do, but it is necessary. Budgeting means knowing exactly what you are working with, and it will allow you to maximize your travel plans. Take a few minutes to add up costs and choose a daily budget and respect it. Travel without debt is always cheaper.
5 – Follow the $10 rule
Chris Guillebeau is an expert travel hacker, meaning he often travels for free, or very cheap. One of his tips to make the most of any vacation is to follow the $10 rule: don’t worry about spending $10 or less for something that improves your life when you are travelling. This means: take a taxi, buy a small souvenir, grab a cocktail, taste that chocolate bar, and enjoy your vacation.
6 – House-swap, house-sit or pet-sit
If you have flexible travel dates, you can look into house swapping—meaning you are exchanging homes with someone in another country, or house-sitting or pet-sitting, meaning you are “babysitting” someone’s house (sometimes with pets). This is a free way to find lodging, but it does come with some responsibilities. Some websites to check out: Hecktic Travels, Nomador and Luxury House Sitting.
7 – Volunteer
There are many different ways to use volunteering to lessen your travel costs. You can go on a volunteering trip, which often lasts many months, where you will live somewhere and help the local population. You can also try WWOOFing, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or find a local short-term opportunity on your travels.
8 – Go on a working holiday
Working holidays are a great way to travel for a longer period of time, without spending too much. Different agreements are in place between different countries, allowing travellers generally aged 30 and younger to stay up to a year in a new country while working.
9 – Buy travel insurance
Buying travel insurance may seem like an extra expenditure rather than a way to save, but if something happens, you’ll be glad you have it. The hundred or so dollars you spend may end up saving you thousands.
10 – Relocate a vehicle
Vehicle rental companies often need cars and RVs to be relocated to a different branch. Customers who sign up to relocate those vehicles have access to great rates, often as low as $1 a day, but this comes with strict rules in terms of allowed mileage and days to spend. Imoova is one of those companies.
11 – Go to restaurants for lunch
Many restaurants offer a cheaper lunch menu, which makes it a great opportunity to discover great local food for less. The menus are often similar—or even the same—as the menus offered at night.
12 – Visit lesser-known destinations
Visiting lesser-known destinations is another great way to save money. More famous cities and countries often cost more, so going somewhere up-and-coming is a good alternative for your wallet, and will allow you to discover still-hidden gems.
13 – Organize a group tour
Many tour companies will give a discount to the organizer of a group, so if you have a few friends all wanting to go to the same destination, now is the time to put your organizing skills to use. Get everyone together, choose the dates, and work with the company to organize the getaway, and you’ll be rewarded with a better price.
14 – Study abroad
If you are looking to spend many months in a new country, studying abroad is a great
solution. Many universities offer their students the chance to apply for scholarships to
lessen the cost of such adventures.
15 – Avoid international chains
We often spend a lot more money than we realize at international chains, $5 at a time. When travelling on a budget, try to avoid the international chains you can go to at home, to focus on local discoveries. This will make your budget, as small as it is, go further.
16 – Travel slowly
Travelling slowly is another great way to spend less. When you are trying to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, you often need to hop on a plane, or another kind of long-distance transportation, which costs a lot of money. Focusing on a smaller geographical location will allow you to discover a destination in depth and will cost less.
17 – Travel light
More and more airlines are charging travellers hefty fees for checked baggage. Learn to travel with only a carry-on to save money. Make sure to read about the accepted baggage size and weight before leaving to avoid extra fees.
18 – Plan a little, but not too much
Planning is a great way to see where you will be able to save money. For example, you could check when certain attractions offer free or discounted admission and decide if a city pass would be a good investment, if it applies to many of the places you want to go. Do leave room for last-minute improvisation, a great joy of travel!
19 – Make friends
If you are travelling solo, you will soon notice that the costs add up quickly! Make new friends, for example by visiting online classified ads or looking for ads in independent coffee shops or hostels and meet new people you’ll be able to travel—and split costs—with.
20 – Look for deals
Before leaving for your vacation, look for local deal opportunities. For example, in New York, you might visit TKTS to get cheap last-minute Broadway tickets. Also look for local Groupon offers, or check if certain events, such as a restaurant week, are happening while you are there, another great way to save money.
21 – Know when to splurge
A vacation is a great way to treat yourself, and even if your budget is limited, this may mean splurging on the experience of a lifetime. Know when to cut costs, for example by organizing a picnic with food from the local market, to be able to have the necessary budget for a nice night out at the restaurant.
22 – Sign up to loyalty cards
Loyalty cards are another great way to have access to special offers. For example, your work association, or an association such as AAA may help you secure great prices. Other private organizations, such as Hostelling International, allow people to sign up as members for a small fee to get access to great rates with all of their partners.
23 – Ask locals about their favourite places
Looking for somewhere to eat dinner? For a museum to visit for the afternoon? Ask a local! They’ll often be able to tell you about places that you did not read about in your travel guide, and that cost less, or are even free!
24 – Take advantage of everything that’s free
When working with a smaller budget, free is always good! Connect to the free Wi-Fi network, visit an attraction when admission is free, attend your hotel’s free wine night, eat the free meal offered at your hostel, and try free activities, for example.
25 – Take two credit cards with you
This is a simple trick to help you stress less about money on your trip. Bring two credit cards (ideally without foreign transaction fees) with you so that if something happens with the first one (loss, fraud, etc.), you can quickly cancel it and continue your trip without worrying. Also look to see if your bank has an agreement with a local branch that would allow you to withdraw money from an ATM without fees.
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