Traveling on a Budget

Just like most of the budget traveler, even though I’m just a part-time traveler, I too come across a number of questions from relatives, friends and colleagues as to how do I travel consistently every year for a month or so? Or how do I finance my travels? And so on…

And I definitely feel it is a misconception that traveling is for the rich. I have met a numerous travelers on the road who have quit corporate life and started off their journeys with the little they managed to save for last few years. And I’m sure that isn’t a definition of ‘RICH’ for you guys right?

I would like to list down some of the most efficient ways that most of these budget travelers including me use to travel on a budget for longer duration.

Look out for cheaper airfares

Level of saving: High

Okay so, this category of your expense totally depends on the duration of your travel period. That is, the proportion of expenditure of airfare to your total travel expense would be higher if you’re travelling for shorter duration, say for a month or two. But this proportion will drop significantly as the duration goes on increasing.

However, finding a cheap flight will definitely save you a few bucks to buy you a few more days of accommodation and food at your favorite destination.

Skyscanner.com is by far the most helpful tool to ascertain the costs of flights and finding a cheaper one for your desired route. However, it is very important to go through with the terms and conditions as most of these low budget air carriers charge you separately for food & beverages, checking at the airport (instead of online), seat reservations, priority boarding and extra luggage (apart from hand baggage). So, a little more of planning and light packing will help travelers to dodge these extra costs.

Meanwhile, most of the travelers also signup for frequent flyer programs that offer miles which can be accumulated and then redeemed for the next flight bookings. Those who use air travel more often could immensely benefit from such reward programs.

Hence a proper planning ahead of time and an efficient execution of these plans will help you save some amount of money on the airfares.

Save on accommodations

Level of saving: Moderate

Who wouldn’t like the idea of getting up in the morning in a cozy bed? Yes, that’s what you get in those high end luxury hotels that you might have stayed in with your family during your summer vacations. But have you ever considered trying out what most of the travelers these days rely upon after a crazy adventurous day when they head off to their den for a peaceful sleep? Definitely, these home stays or the cheap hostels wouldn’t give you the luxury that you would have had in a 5 star hotel. But there are certainly many pros that accompany such stays especially for a budget solo traveler. One of the biggest advantages of staying in these hostels would be the chance of meeting like-minded travelers who have also embarked on a similar journey as you to explore the horizons at a very minimal expense.

Number 1 on my list will be Couchsurfing. Not just because it’s free, but also because you get to live with a local and experience the day to day living of a person in that particular country, city or town. You get to see the city from the eyes of a resident who has been there for years or maybe since birth. So there’s hardly any chance of missing out on any important attractions, including monuments, parks, cafe’s, restaurants and more importantly lively pubs and clubs to finish off your day on a high.

Second on my list would be Booking.com. This is definitely a place for every traveler when you start planning your trip. A perfect place to start your planning as this website offers wide range of accommodation options across the globe. And free cancellation on a number of properties surely acts as an icing on the cake. However, to save on your accommodations, kindly keep your eyes on ‘Hostels’ and not ‘Hotels’.

And last one would be Airbnb. This is one of the leading bread & breakfast providers where you could stay with a local at a bare minimum cost compared to hotels.

While the above stated options are more than sufficient for me when I travel abroad, many other travelers also refer sites such as hostelworld, warmshowers, homestay and many more of similar kind.

Choose affordable internal transportation

Level of saving: Moderate

There are numerous local transport options to commute from one country to another or from one city to the other.

In Asia, the cheapest options could be local public transport; however this might compromise significantly on the comfort part of your journey. Another option could definitely be the private bus operators that charge you a little more by adding a little more comfort to your journey.

In Europe, the best way to commute is definitely hitchhiking which is considered pretty safe option in most of the countries across the continent. However, hitchhiking can be super time consuming depending upon the location you are at. While, most of the countries in the west are hitchhike friendly, but as you move on towards the central and east part of the continent the friendliness starts to fade off but still remains a possibility depending on your efforts and patience. Also, there are numerous local bus operators such as Megabus, Eurolines, etc. along with low-budget airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet. Eurail for Non-Europeans and Interrail for Europeans is also another affordable option for travelers who can afford to splurge a little more.

And similarly these above mentioned ways of commuting can be used in other parts of the world depending on the location.

Avoid restaurants

Level of saving: Low

For every budget traveler the most affordable and cheapest option to eat would be cooking his meals in the hostels. The second cheapest option would be to have street food or purchasing food at the super markets. However, cooking can be tiring and time consuming, especially if you are traveling for a short period of time, say a month or two and hence not a very feasible choice for every traveler. And therefore the second option would suit better for most of the travelers.

Skip souvenirs

Level of saving: Low

I know, buying a souvenir and holding on to it for years to remember those adventurous crazy days in a particular city could mean a lot to a traveler who had worked hard and made that dream trip possible. But, with the introduction of mobile phones and cameras, the necessity of buying a souvenir has faded. Skipping on the over-priced souvenirs from the city centers and instead capturing memorable pictures to use as souvenirs could help save a penny to buy a refreshing pint of beer towards the end of the day. Recommended travel equipment’s: GoPro Hero 4 Adventure Edition (Silver) Action Camera and Canon EOS 1200D 18MP Digital SLR Camera (Black) with 18-55mm and 55-250mm IS II Lens,8GB card and Carry Bag

Explore cheaply

Level of saving: Low

While exploring a city, the most efficient and effective mode of exploration is to walk through the unknown streets to discover every minute detail of the place. While walking could be more effective in small cities, use of public transport in bigger cities would be a great choice. Most of the cities, particularly in Europe come with a single pass for all of its public transport modes and at a pretty decent & affordable tariffs. Strictly no cabs (if you miss the last bus or tram, just walk to your hostel, unless you are few hundred miles away from your hostel. Then you can just stay wherever you are for the rest of the night, but strictly no cabs please!).

Every place offers a ton of free things to do for every traveler of all age groups. There are numerous free activities ranging from a walking tour of the city to visiting historical monuments to crazy karaoke nights in the city’s famous pubs to dancing off your toes to the nonchalant music tracks in clubs.

Lots of cities also have fixed days when paid attractions such as entry to a museum or to a historical monument is offered for free. Such opportunities should be grabbed by running a well planned research ahead of your trip.

While there might be many other ways to save while traveling. The above stated ways have been the most effective ones for me while on my travel adventures.

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Keep traveling!

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27 Comments on “Traveling on a Budget

  1. Great write-up, I am normal visitor of one’s site, maintain up the nice operate, and It is going to be a regular visitor for a long time.

  2. Cool tips! I also use a lot of them, I love to stay in local guesthouses, I prefer cheap airlines and rarely eat in restaurants – local places are way better, off course in places off the beaten path because in over crowded spots like Venice this doesn’t work well – food for tourists is usually horrible and still expensive. Good thing is to rent a local apartment and cook for yourself. Also, I noticed that many times when you fly with connections (that you find yourself) instead of direct flights, it also works way cheaper.

  3. I am baffled when my friends are “jealous” that I can “afford” a life of travel. It’s all about a matter of priorities, entirely achievable!

  4. Great tips but I think avoiding souvenirs might actually save more than is given credit for. To me souvenirs are museums, churches and so on. I know when I traveled to europe I did not pay to enter any church or museum and I was able to save alot. It will be better if they have free days and tourists can visit them. Most places sadly do not

  5. Always great to know how to travel cheaper… my biggest flaw on holiday is that I love to treat me to some real good restaurants from time to time, though!

  6. For me, unless I’m flying to Europe/India/somewhere in the Middle East, the flight fares are just ridiculous. Sometimes I feel, being too frugal takes away from the traveling experience..you just need to find that point.

  7. Thanks for these tips! Am using couchsurfing for networking and near events. Its a good way to get new friends during travel!

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