Welcome fellow travelers! Whether you are a beginner or an experienced traveler, below are some basic tips on how to travel on a budget!
Choose a Location That Matches Your Budget
The first step when planning a trip is determining the maximum amount you want to spend on flights, hotel and how much you would want to spend while you are there. Creating a budget when traveling cheap is important! Without one you might end up not being able to fully enjoy the trip planned and not have enough money for your length of the trip. This is important because most people assume that traveling out of the country is more expensive than picking somewhere in the United States. But that is not the case! From my own personal experience, I spent more money traveling to Seattle compared to when I traveled to Dubai. Determining how much you can spend on flights and hotel/hostel/Air BnB is the first step because then you can do research into places you would like to visit and determine what location best fits your budget. If that location is in a different country, another factor in budgeting is considering the currency exchange. Our dollar could be worth less in the location you chose and that you will have to adjust your budget accordingly.
Research Best Times to Travel
Once you determine your location, and create a budget for yourself the next step is to do some research on when the best time to travel to this location is. For example, if you are traveling to another country it is more expensive to travel there when there is a religious or cultural event going on. Although, that would be an experience to witness, when traveling on a budget, it wouldn’t be wise to go during those times. Also, during those times most stores and restaurants are closed, therefore it is important to look into these event before booking anything. If you are traveling in the United States the same scenario applies. For example, traveling to New Orleans during Mardi Gras is going to be 10 times more expensive than going there a different month even a week after makes all of the difference. When researching flights, there is an option for flexible dates. This will show you the price range of flights and sometimes even leaving a day earlier can save you hundreds of dollars. Along with researching the location, also research the price difference in flights leaving from different airports. I left from the Toronto Airport when traveling to Germany recently which is a 3 hour car ride and that saved me $500 compared to leaving from the Buffalo Airport. I also went to Germany when it was cold therefore the flights were cheaper.
Staying in a Hostel or Air Bnb
Staying in a hostel or an Air BnB is usually a lot cheaper compared to staying in a hotel! For those that do not know what either of those options are, a hostel is an inexpensive lodging option where one can rent a bed, this option is usually used by frequent travelers or students. The only negative of using a hostel is there are usually shared accommodations such as the bathroom, lounge area and kitchen. This option is used for travelers that are backpack traveling that do not have a lot of luggage or personal items. Using hostelworld which is a website and app which allows users to browse through to see if this is an option you would be interested in. There are filters so you can choose a place with more privacy and includes a meal or WiFi. Another option is using Air Bnb which is similar except there is more privacy. Using AirBnb website and app will allow you to look through a variety of places and set filters to determine whether you want to rent a room, a whole house or a condo. Air Bnb also allows you to connect with locals for experiences, this will help you save money by getting advice from locals on where to go to eat and what to do cheap. You can get an Air Bnb with a kitchen and cook some of your meals to travel on a budget. I used an Air Bnb when I stayed in Seattle, it was walking distance from Alki beach. I saved money by cooking breakfast in the kitchen every morning. There was also an amazing view of the Seattle skyline from the beach. The cost of a hotel in this area was triple the cost of the Air Bnb. Another way to save money on where to stay would be using bundle sites like Expedia. These sites will bundle your flight, hotel and even a rental car. I used Expedia when I traveled to Dubai and the total cost of my trip including flight and hotel was half the price compared to if I booked the flight and hotel separately. Sites like Expedia also have the option to show places that offer free meals even an all-inclusive depending on where the trip is.
Utilize Public Transportation
While doing research on where to stay it is important to make sure your hostel/hotel/Air Bnb is close to public transportation. Especially when traveling to other countries this will save you a lot of money and is easier to travel compared to take a taxi or Uber and having a language barrier. Most public transportation has the option of buying a day pass where you can hop on and off all day that is usually the cheapest option. While in Dubai the day pass for the subway was $8 compared to a $20 one-way taxi ride to get around. While in Germany, my train ticket could be used as a bus pass and subway pass as well. Doing the research on the cities public transportation is key to travel on a budget! Therefore, choosing a place to stay that is walking distance to a public transportation stop will not only save you money but also time! When I was in Germany, their public transportation had an app that was very user friendly and converted to English! I was able to purchase tickets through there quick and easy and see locations of the train stations in different cities that I wanted to visit. Renting a bike is also another cheap option when traveling around compared to taking a taxi especially in a big city. This is a popular form of transportation while in Seattle for example.
Ask the Concierge for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask the concierge for help, that’s what they are there for! Sometimes the main tourist spots are cheaper to book through the hotel than purchasing tickets directly there. For example, when I was in Dubai I bought tickets through the concierge to go on a ride through the desert. I was picked up directly from the hotel, the concierge took care of everything and it was $20 cheaper than if I were to book it online through the website. The concierge was very useful for my friends and I in Dubai because he gave us a lot of recommendations of places to see and information on how to get there. He also gave us recommendations on things to see such as the Jumeriah Mosque which was free.
Plan Free Experiences
There is a lot to see in the world not just paid experiences. Depending on the weather based on when you go on your trip, site seeing and hiking can be more of an experience than paying to do something. Seeing major monuments, statues, National Parks, etc. are different things to do that are free! While I was in Germany, I found a wildpark that was located outside the city of Dusseldorf. I was able to take public transportation to get there and the park was free to get in. There were also trails along the outside for hiking. I was able to feed the wildlife that was there which was one of my favorite memories from my trip. Doing research on free events going on while you are there is also an option like free museums or free live music. If there is a small fee on admissions bring your student ID! Most places will give a discount for students so always carried your student card when traveling if that applies to you.