Here’s Exactly How to Travel on a Budget

I think we could all agree that we wish we had a bit more time to travel. There’s nothing better than letting your hair down and turning off your phone while you discover the magic of new people and places.

Of course, time isn’t the only thing we need more of to travel. 

Money (or a way to travel on a budget) would be nice too.

money and travel on a budget

Money, money, money

The number one thing that holds people back from travelling is the money. It makes sense, as travelling can certainly be a financial strain by the time it’s all said and done. And the idea of traveling on a budget doesn’t sound all that romantic.

Here’s a few things you’ll have to pay for on your travels:

  • A cozy place to stay
  • Delicious things to eat
  • A comfortable way to get there
  • A sweet way to get around
  • Super fun things to do

All that fun really adds up. While you can sacrifice some of the non-essentials by eating nothing but top ramen on your travels, there’s really no way getting around hotels, flights, and a rental car.

Or is there?

A better, smarter, cheaper way to travel is possible.

We’re here to show you exactly how to travel on a budget.

hostels and travel on a budget

A place to stay

Depending on where you’re headed to in your travels, you have a few different options for places to stay. There are hotels, bed and breakfasts, AirBnBs, RVs, flimsy tents, back of your car parked on the side of the road – the list goes on and on. Here’s a breakdown of the cheapest ways to stay.

Camp sites

Feeling earthy? Go rogue on your next vacation and camp outdoors. Camp sites can be anywhere from $10-$30 a night and can often be booked last minute when nothing else can. You’ll have to carry around a bit of extra luggage if you’re planning on camping for the week, but it can be a great option if you’re adventurous and trying to stay within a budget on your travels.

Hostels

Want to feel like you’re an 8-year-old kid at sleep away camp again? Try a hostel! You’ll be sleeping in a dorm style room with several other travellers, so if you need your personal space and privacy then this may not be the best choice for you.

However, if you’d like to meet new people and have a place to sleep for less than $20 a night, then it sounds like hostels are calling your name.  

AirBnbs

Oh AirBnbs, they’re the ultimate home away from home. This is an excellent choice if you want to knock elbows with some true locals and cook your own banana pancakes in the morning.  

If you’re travelling by yourself, then look for a private room in a house or apartment. You may have to share a bathroom, but you’ll have a roof over your head for as low as $30 a night. I think sharing a bathroom is a small price to pay for that kind of budget travel.

If you’re travelling in a group of 4 or more people, then it may be worth it to explore renting an entire apartment for your stay. When split between multiple people, it can be far cheaper (and certainly more memorable) than staying in a hotel.

Make sure to look for AirBnbs far enough in advance, as a lot of the best deals get scooped up fast. So when you see something you like, be sure to book before it’s too late. Otherwise, you could be stuck paying way more than you should.

Hotels

Hotels are the typical option for travel, albeit usually the most expensive. However, hotel websites like Expedia and Booking.com can make complimentary breakfast and soft plushy towels a reality.

Want to hear a cool trick?

Last summer I learned that downloading the Hotels.com app gives you access to secret deals on hotels that aren’t listed on their website. I booked my hotel through the app, saved $50 on an already cheap hotel room, and patted myself on the back for being so tech savvy.

burger and fries and travel on a budget

Things to eat

Let’s face it, there’s nothing better than eating your way through a new city and gaining 10 pounds in the process. The best part is, you can eat out without spending a fortune on dinner every night. Here’s how:

  • Find the local eats: Go off the beaten path and discover exactly what the locals like to eat. Avoiding tourist traps on the main strip is likely to save you a few extra dollars, while allowing you the opportunity to explore new delicious, authentic eats. Not sure where to start? Yelp, google, and reddit are your new best friends. Taking a deep dive in to the internet is the best way to find out what people in the area really like to eat.
  • Cook for yourself: Got an AirBnb with a sweet kitchen? Put it to good use and consider creating your own meals while you travel. It’s almost guaranteed to be less expensive then eating out, and you still get to try the local cuisine by eating what’s regional and currently available in local grocers and markets. It’s fun to make meals with papayas and guava when you’re used to apples and oranges.
  • Do your research: At this point in my life, I can hardly imagine going to a restaurant without looking up the menu before hand. I have also googled “best happy hours in x city” about a million times and it always helps me find the best deals at the best restaurants, no matter what city I’m in.

Show off your chef skills or scour the internet before you travel to find the very best cheap, local eats. It’ll make travel on a budget that much easier.

airplane and travel on a budget

A way to get there

It doesn’t matter if you sleep in your car and eat cans of soup for a week, if the flight is expensive then the whole trip is expensive. There are a few ways to find cheaper flights however, all of which require just a bit of extra effort on your part.

  • Fly budget airlines: Forgo the big airlines and choose a budget company instead. They can help you get from point A to point B safe and sound with a couple hundred dollars to spare. Just don’t expect complimentary pretzels, comfy seats, or really any kind of amenity on your travels.  
  • Keep your travel days flexible: If at all possible, consider having a window of travel time as opposed to hard dates. Searching a few days before and after your desired departure date could save you hundreds of dollars each way.
  • Consider travelling to travel: Is there another airport an hour away from you? Check to see how much it would cost to fly out of there instead. Even with the added cost of driving, it could be worth it in the end.
  • Browse in private mode: Websites store cookies and collect data on our searches, which could inflate the cost of hotels and flights over time. I know, kind of sketchy. To avoid this, turn your private or incognito browsing window on or use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to browse securely.

With a bit of creativity and a lot of dedication, it’s entirely possible to lower the crazy cost of your flight. Always remember the number one rule however: book your trip in advance. No amount of tips and tricks can save you if you buy your ticket last minute. Sorry Procrastinators, travel on a budget may not be for you.

bus and travel on a budget

A way to get around

Now I know what you’re thinking, a rental car is really the only way to explore a city. And it certainly may be, depending on where you’re going and whether or not you’re carrying around a crying 2 year old. Here are some other options if you want to travel on a budget without a car:

  • Buss pass: It may not be the most glamorous way of getting around, but it’s a great way to travel on a budget. Just make sure you’re familiar with the bus routes before you travel to avoid getting lost in a foreign place. It’s not as magical as it sounds.
  • Rail: Trains are another great affordable transit choice and they’re often faster than the bus. You could even use it to travel to another country if you find yourself in Europe. Bring on the cushy seats and dreamy views.  
  • Uber: Oh Uber, you are the answer to all of our problems. Uber is available in cities around the world and is easily available via your phone. And if you’re not in a rush, then opt for Uber party. This lets your driver pick up other people along the way who are going to the same destination as you. You’ll get a lower rate as well as the chance to meet a potential travel partner.

Consider options outside the typical rental car to really travel on a budget.

free activities and museums and travel on a budget

Things to do

You made it to your travel destination on a budget. Congratulations!

Now what?

Part of the fun of travelling is doing things you can’t do in your hometown. Whether that’s parasailing, ziplining, or visiting an art museum, it’s always a good time when you get to do something different.

Here’s how you can get all the fun of spontaneity you want to do without spending a fortune:

  • Look for day-of-deals: Looking for something to do last minute? Search online for last minute deals for excursions or amusement parks. If places are undersold that day, you may be able to find it for cheaper online.
  • Visit a timeshare: Have a couple hours to spare? Sit through a timeshare presentation. You could be gifted some serious travel deals in return. Just do your research before you go to fully understand the risks and benefits. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
  • Buy in bulk: Purchase a vacation package complete with flights, hotel, food, and excursions. You may be able to save a few hundred dollars when you buy them all together, especially if it’s a last-minute deal purchased a couple weeks in advance.
  • Choose free activities: Of course, you can always have fun without spending money. Go for a hike, visit a free museum or visitor centre, do a walking tour, or simply walk around the city you’re visiting. You can experience the culture and have a good time, no cheque required.

Sometimes the most memorable travel experiences are the ones spent laying on the beach, soaking up the sunshine…for free. That’s travel on a budget at its finest. 

travel on a budget and photography and cameras

Travel on a Budget is Possible

It’s totally possible to travel on a budget without breaking the bank. With a bit of smart planning and a lot of research, you can find some fantastic travel deals out there on the internet.

If you want to save even more money in your life and travels, download the Moola app on to your device. You’ll have access to exclusive deals on gift cards that could help you budget better for your next vacation.

Help us help you have the best vacation yet. Travel on a budget and save money while exploring the world.

Click here to download Moola now