Are you itching to travel the world but worried your wallet won’t let you?
While it might seem like the top travel experiences are just out of reach, there’s always a cheaper way to get where you want to go.
Keep reading to learn how to budget for travel and for a list of the top tips for traveling cheap.
Don’t let anything stop you from traveling
New languages, new foods, new cultures — nothing beats traveling to a foreign country to expand your horizons. Traveling internationally isn’t cheap, though.
Whether you want to go to Europe, Africa, or South America, don’t let a limited budget prevent you from experiencing all the world has to offer. Follow these steps to help keep your travel costs down and start your next adventure.
How to travel on a budget
Do your research
Don’t rush. Taking time to research your options always pays off. Talk to friends and family, visit the travel section of your local bookstore, or use the internet. The internet is teeming with budget travel blogs and reviews to help point you in the right direction.
You’ll need to decide where you want to go and when. Consider the season, the weather, holidays, and costs.
Choose a destination that fits your budget
Currency exchange rates and cost of living mean that some destinations are more expensive than others. Don’t let that discourage you from your number one travel pick, though. There are always ways to spend less, no matter where you go.
You’ll need to find ways to cut your expenses if you’re traveling to an expensive country. On the other hand, a country with a more favorable exchange rate will allow you to do more for less.
And don’t be fooled by cheap flights — sometimes it’s better to pay more for a secure plane ticket if it means visiting a country with a lower cost of living.
You don’t have to set your entire trip in stone, but you should have a general idea of your schedule and route.
Budget your expenses by category, pick your priorities, and prepare to compromise. Knowing what you can live without will let you do more of what you want.
… but be flexible
Travel during the off-season to take advantage of cheaper flights and accommodations. You might not get the absolute best weather, but you’ll cut costs and avoid crowds.
Being flexible in terms of location can save you a lot of money. Sometimes the most memorable trips weren’t even on our radar to begin with, so keep an open mind.
Stay in an alternative accommodation
The best hostels and guesthouses not only cost less but are often vibrant community hubs for backpackers from all around the world. For the most savings, dorm rooms are the way to go. But you can usually also get a private room for less than you would pay for a hotel room.
You can also check out websites like Airbnb and Couchsurfing, which allow you to stay in a local house or apartment. Staying further from the city center and taking advantage of a city’s transit system will also help you save on your rental costs.
Book in advance
Booking your main accommodations and transportation in advance will save you money and allow you to relax during your trip instead of worrying about logistics.
Although last-minute deals can sometimes save you cash, they usually cost much more than you would have paid in advance. You can often book flights up to a year before your travel dates, so the further ahead you plan, the more you save on airfare and lodging.
Traveling for cheap means things don’t always go according to plan. Some of the most exciting (and affordable) opportunities arise when you least expect them, so leave yourself some wiggle room for last-minute changes of plans.
Try self-guiding instead of paying for a tour. Many parks, museums, and natural attractions aren’t costly, so trusting yourself to lead the way will save you money in the long run.
7 tips for staying on budget
Alongside the guidelines above, these tips for traveling cheaply will help you get the most from your travel budget.
- Pack everything you need
Make a comprehensive list of everything you’ll need during your trip so you can avoid unnecessary purchases abroad. Plan for all types of weather, and pack extra toiletries.
- Find a free place to stay
If you have friends or family abroad, consider planning a trip to visit them. It’ll give you a reason to see them, while also saving you money on accommodation and giving you an insider’s point of view of your destination.
If you don’t have a local contact, try Couchsurfing.com, where locals offer free accommodation for travelers. Be ready to sleep on a spare bed, a couch, or even the floor.
Other low-cost options include house swapping, house sitting, and camping.
- Buy travel insurance
When traveling, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Although it’s an initial expense, buying travel insurance is essential to avoid unexpected costs from any accidents or cancellations.
Shop around for the best deals, or check with your credit card provider to see if they offer travel insurance.
- Avoid tourist traps
Big cities and tourist hotspots are usually more expensive than lesser-known destinations, so straying from the beaten path will save money. You can find free things to do almost anywhere.
- Book your flight using a private browsing window
Airline websites use your location and browsing history to track what prices you’ve been quoted in the past. Browsing in a private or incognito window, clearing your browser cookies, or using a VPN can all ensure that you’re getting the fairest prices.
- Cook instead of buying every meal
Cooking your own food is a great way to save money. Pick accommodations with a kitchen and visit the local market or grocery store for cheap supplies. When you decide to splurge on restaurants or cafes, take the time to compare prices and choose less fancy locations. Also, consider bringing snacks along on day trips and pack a reusable water bottle.
- Walk as much as you can, use public transport, or rent a bicycle
Free walking tours are one of the best (and most affordable) ways to discover a new city. Pack a good pair of walking shoes and get lost. If you want to cover more ground, try renting a bicycle.
For intercity travel, look for public transport options. Buses and trains let you see the countryside and cost less than rental cars or budget airlines. Many large cities have great bus lines or metro systems too.
The bottom line
If you want an alternative to credit cards with great travel insurance, try PointCard™.
Point offers up to $2,000 in trip cancellation insurance and $1,000,000 in travel accident insurance. You also receive global travel assistance, including emergency roadside assistance, help with lost or stolen documents, and access to a global network of lawyers, physicians, embassies, and consulates when you travel.
A transparent, easy-to-use alternative payment card, PointCard allows you to spend your own money while also receiving exclusive benefits, including unlimited cash-back on all purchases and bonus cash-back on subscriptions, food delivery, rideshare services, and coffee shop purchases.
Made to spend.