How to Travel on a Budget

a map, camera, pjone, hat, film all laid out
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Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.” It’s an old quote but it’s a good one, the benefits of travelling and experiencing new places are almost endless. Whether you’re relaxing on a beach or exploring new cities, a break from the routine helps us refresh and reset. No matter how fulfilling our lives are, doing something different every so often is vital to prevent fatigue setting in. Experiencing new cultures and new ways of living helps us learn not just about the world, but about ourselves. Stepping through historic streets or immersing ourselves in modern wonders helps bring life to the stories we’re told about them.

Tasting new flavours, testing our boundaries, and having new adventures, these are the things which enrich our lives. Sometimes, of course, it’s just nice to get away and be pampered, and that’s a great reason to travel too. As much as anything, travel is about satisfying dreams, and ticking off those bucket list items. Travel lets us live out our Vegas poker fantasies, hot air balloon over the Serengeti, or see the Northern Lights. As the original quote tells us, these amazing benefits don’t come for free. Travel can be expensive, especially to popular destinations, so here are some tips for enjoying travel on a budget.

Las Vegas Strip written on a sign

Plan ahead

You might love to be spontaneous, but unpredictability comes at a price and planning is an essential part of budgeting. That’s not saying assign every minute, but pre-booking hotels, tickets, and major attractions lets you take control of your spending.

Good timing

Travel costs fluctuate dramatically depending on the time of year and can be significantly higher during peak season periods. Avoid school holidays and instead, check when your destination might still be enjoyed in the shoulder or low season.

Be hotel smart

A luxury hotel in a prime location might sound appealing, but how much time will you really be in it. Work out what is important to you and don’t pay for what you don’t need.

If you want a nice pool resort to relax, how important is the location? If you’re going to dive into a city, do you need much more than a clean bed and a shower?

Pack like a pro

Many people either buy new clothes and essentials for their holidays or try to save space by shopping after arriving. Think about everything you need while you’re away and pack from things you already own to save unnecessary spending.

plane in the air

Book flights early

While clothes and household goods might go on sale at certain times of year, that is much rarer with flights. The unspoken rule is that flight prices start at their lowest and increase as each seat is sold.

While there are exceptions, it’s usually much better to book a flight when they are released, usually 11 months before travel. Always read the small print too, flexibility and refund policies vary dramatically between airlines and ticket prices. Also check out flight offsetting services to help to reduce your carbon footprint.

Fly midweek

The other thing to know about flights is that some days are cheaper than others. Prices are constantly adjusted to reflect demand and, understandably, Friday and weekend travel are most popular.

Tuesdays are traditionally the best day to find the lowest priced flights for most destinations. This can change, however, so always check your full range of dates to get the best deal.

Consider taking a rental car

Driving a rental can be a great way to get around while having the freedom to explore. Rentals can be a great option if you are planning to visit multiple destinations or if you want to be able to get around quickly.

Before renting a car, ensure you are familiar with the area you are visiting to avoid getting lost or having an accident. You’ll also want to consider the rental cost; some companies offer discounts if you book in advance, so it is worth checking. Finally, you will want to have the appropriate insurance for the rental car and a valid international driving license to avoid legal driving issues in another country. 

Use public transport

The convenience of a taxi in an unfamiliar place after a long flight is always tempting, but not cost-efficient. Many locations offer free or low-priced public transport solutions that are easily navigable with just a little research.

If you’re covering long distances, always consider overnight flights, trains, or buses. If you can sleep as you move, that’s a night’s hotel you don’t need to pay for.

Don’t treat eat too much

This can feel hard to cut as, for many of us, eating is a big part of the reason we travel. If you’re on a budget though, supermarkets can offer a quick way to save a lot of money on restaurants.

Self-catering accommodation with a view, or picnics in the park, can turn budget eating into an experience. Or when you do eat out, think about how hungry you actually are – do you need three courses every time?

Paris

Avoid tourist traps

Paris, Rome, New York, are some of the most popular destinations in the world, and for good reason. They’re also some of the most expensive, especially if you stay in the prime locations.

Getting off the beaten track can mean enjoying a much more budget-friendly trip, and perhaps a more novel experience. If you do go to popular destinations, try staying and eating closer to where the locals live. Ecotourism allows you to enjoy travel but with a smaller impact on the environment.

Get rewards

Even if you don’t travel often, airline and hotel membership schemes can provide some great savings. Always sign up to reward schemes and investigate credit cards with travel insurance or cashback schemes.

Even if you don’t save on your current trip, there’s a good chance you will on your next one.

Travel smart

These are just some tips for budget travel that can help you explore without breaking the bank. By travelling smart, you can open up – excuse the pun – a world of experiences you might not have believed possible.

With a little thought, and some planning, ticking off those bucket list items could be more achievable than you believed. So get planning your next budget trip today, and maybe you’ll save enough for another one tomorrow.

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