Many of us crave adventure, but are held back by the cost of travel. Whether you’re a student, adult, or somewhere in between, traveling on a budget is not only better for your wallet, but also a guaranteed once-in-a-lifetime trip. I’ve found that the places I’ve been when really watching my money have been my favourite experiences thus far.
Traveling on a budget starts with planning.
You have a lot to think about in the planning stages, and each of your decisions could save money or cost you.
F L I G H T S
To find good flight deals, google flights is an excellent option. This allows for you to pick your dates and find the cheapest flights anywhere (select “everywhere” under places).
I also find that using Skyscanner is helpful. Again, you can select “everywhere” for destination, but if you have a destination in mind and are flexible with dates, you can select “whole month,” then “cheapest month” for the best travel times for your budget.
You can also tick “nearby airports” to find flights near your origin or destination. A bus ride or train ticket in addition to your flight may end up being cheaper than flying directly into your destination.
When traveling short distances or within a region (Southeast Asia, Europe, etc.), look into train, bus, and boat travel instead of flights.
A C C O M M O D A T I O N
When looking for hostels, I swear by hostel world.
Sometimes, when going to an especially expensive destination, airbnb is a good alternative, although I find it hit or miss.
And of course, if you are on a SUPER STRICT budget, or simply interested in making friends with a local, couchsurfing is always an option. Although as a solo female traveler, pick your hosts with caution!
In places with limited internet access, sometimes showing up at the destination and looking for a hotel or hostel will find you a hotel cheaper than one you have to book beforehand.
When you’re there…
F O O D & D R I N K
Food and drink can play a huge role in budget! Personally, I’m a huge fan of street food. It’s often some of the most delicious food you’ll get and it’s great for staying on budget. When eating street food, go to stalls with long lines (as they’re often the best!) and avoid the ones with food that’s been sitting out.
I stay away from places geared towards tourists, as they’re always more expensive, instead opting for local hole in the wall restaurants. Food is a huge part of culture, so do as the locals do!
Drinking can be very expensive or very cheap depending on your destination. Where it’s expensive, try to cut back to once or week or cut alcohol out of your diet entirely. Where it’s cheap, enjoy (responsibly). In Vietnam, it’s possible to get beer for 20 cents! Wherever you are, try the local beer or spirits, as it’s usually cheaper than imported alcohol (and it’s cool to try local drinks!)
However, with local spirits, exercise caution (see my mistake with some Nepali moonshine)!
E X P E R I E N C E S
If there’s one thing I would splurge on over the others, it’s experiences. That being said, you don’t HAVE to pay a lot for experiences to have a wonderful time!
When booking tours, go to the destination and book instead of booking online.
There are often free walking tours of cities, and if there isn’t an organized group one, it’s easy to find walking tours online to follow.
Ride a bike to destinations instead of taking a taxi! Or rent your own motorbike if the places you’d like to see are far away.
You can go to a tourist site and hire a guide (instead of going on a tour and having a guide for the whole day), which will help you understand the site better and it’ll also help the local economy!