Comprehensive Guide and Best Tips about How to Travel on a Budget

Comprehensive Guide and Best Tips about How to Travel on a Budget

The thing about traveling that nobody tells you is that traveling can be as expensive as you want and as cheap as you want. Even if you’re visiting an expensive country, you can cut corners in numerous ways and still enjoy your valuable vacation. Avid budget travelers know that you should never travel in the summer or book a flight ticket on weekends. In this article, we will unlock some secrets for you and help you plan an amazing trip without breaking the bank. We will discuss a few tips to save money and offer you a guide on how to budget for traveling


Tips on How to Travel on a Budget

Let’s begin by diving into various expenses that may be incurred during any trip. In this section, we will explore how you can travel on a budget and save money on food, transportation, and accommodation. 


Planning and Research

Thorough planning is the key to a budget-friendly yet memorable trip. Although spontaneous travel is exciting, it’s a luxury that not everyone can afford. With an actionable and well-researched plan, you will manage to plan a trip budget and save up a large portion of your journey without sacrificing your basic needs, fun memories, and notable attractions. 


Start Planning Early 

How early, depends on your personality and the length of the trip you’re about to take. For a longer vacation, it’s recommended to begin even months ahead. Monitor flights, discover affordable hotels, and look for inexpensive activities in the area to grab the opportunity right on time. For instance, you can set up a Google alert to get informed whenever the flight price goes down. 


Consider Activities 

Refrain from immediately booking overhyped tours. Although maybe convenient, they are usually expensive and don’t offer anything you can’t find on a free tour and even discover on your own. With the amount of free information available on the Internet, paying a big buck for a subpar experience is not conducive to an affordable vacation. 

Research free walking tours in the area you’re visiting and jump at the opportunity. For example, consider offers like Split for budget travelers to explore the city while meeting like-minded travelers without breaking the bank. Additionally, check out TripAdvisor, Spotted By Locals, and similar platforms to uncover numerous curated experiences. Personal blogs and articles can also come in handy when planning a trip to a new location like this guide to visiting Paris on a budget


Learn about Potential Dangers

No matter how safe the place may seem, there may be potential dangers awaiting you. From malicious taxi drivers, questionable local booking platforms, and hazardous city districts to less malignant cases like white taxing, a new location may present you with a slew of obstacles. Research the area in advance to prepare yourself for these situations and handle them in the best possible way. 


Transportation Savings

Booking a trip in advance is not the only way to save money on transportation. On the contrary, the earlier is not always better when it comes to flight tickets. Moreover, transportation does not end with traveling to the destination - you will continue to travel throughout the city or cities when there. 


Travel Off-Season

For budget travel, the number one tip is to fly during the off-season months to avoid large crowds and inflated prices for flights and attractions. For example, going from New York to Paris in the summer will cost you nearly $900, while in October you can book the same flight for $490. Considering additional costs like accommodation, museum tickets, and other trip expenses, you will be saving a significant amount. 

How to travel on a budget - Flight Ticket Prices Fall

Furthermore, pick the right day for your travel as midweek days like Tuesday and Wednesday tend to be cheaper compared to the weekend. Forget about niceties like Business Class and always choose economy to avoid paying double fees for just a few hours of luxurious traveling. Finally, pack light to only bring hand luggage and eliminate additional expenses. 

How to travel on a budget - Flight Ticket Prices Summer

Rely on Public Transportation

Once at the destination, consider opting out of expensive Uber rides and embrace local buses, trains, and subways. Even when you’re exploring the surroundings, do what a local would do and find the proper transport to reach the destination. You can ask locals, look up some budget travel tips online, or investigate on the spot.

Traveling on a budget throughout the country can also be cheaper with local offers. For instance, Europe has Flixbus which runs across multiple countries and provides rides for as low as five or ten euros. Instead of purchasing an expensive flight from Paris to Berlin, check out what Flixbus has to offer. Additionally, monitor low-cost airlines like Ryanair to score a good deal. 


Accommodation Options

While you can’t always find an affordable hotel, you can rely on other accommodation options to save a buck. For example, a vacation rental can be quite lucrative for a big group of people. Not only can you split the costs across multiple travelers, but also enjoy private property without noisy neighbors, a rigid breakfast schedule, and tight quarters. Furthermore, a rental gives you an option to cook your own meals and do your own laundry which can result in immense savings, especially over a few days. 

Another viable tip is lodging in rural areas and staying at farmhouses or ranches. More affordable options, they also allow you to get immersed in the local way of living, meet residents, and learn some phrases in the local language. Housesitting or home swap is another cheap alternative to traditional traveling. However, beware of scams and make sure you know where you’re going and who you’re meeting. 


Food and Dining

Food is among the biggest and most deceitful expenses during a trip. A candy bar at the convenience store, an ice cream at the park, a glass of wine in the evening may not seem as much but will eventually add up to a significant sum. Luckily, there are a few tricks and hacks that can help you unlock some saving potential. 


Street Food

From croquettes in the Netherlands and bahn mi in Vietnam to currywurst in Germany and empanadas in Argentina, every country has its own kind of amazing street food specialty. Discovering various street vendors is an immense cost-saving strategy that will also help you learn a few words in the local lingua. 

 Street Food Vietnam

Eat Like a Local

Local cuisine is almost always a more budget-friendly travel option compared to the international food scene. For reference, you can purchase a taco from a vendor on the streets of Mexico for less than a dollar, while an American burger will cost at least $10. Although it doesn’t mean that you can’t occasionally treat yourself to a fancy meal, try to look for cheaper options for an everyday breakfast and lunch. 

Furthermore, numerous restaurants and eateries offer affordable lunch menus with local specialties that will help you save a buck. The same meal will cost you 30% to 40% less in the afternoon compared to the evening. The choice may not be as diverse but try out different venues to find a place that offers meals you will enjoy. 


Consider Fast Food

Albeit not everywhere, fast food usually provides cheap, convenient, and filling choices. Keep in mind that fast food is not healthy and will not sustain you for longer trips. However, short journeys, especially in the case of national tourism and to the US or Western Europe, can be fuelled with a few hamburgers from McDonald's. All-you-can-eat buffets are another viable option for people who travel with a budget. 


Make Your Own Meal

If you found a gem and managed to book a place with a kitchen, take advantage of this opportunity. Head to a local market or grocery store to purchase produce and prepare your own meals. With the exception of Southeast Asia, cooking your breakfast, lunch, and dinner is always more cost-effective compared to eating out. 


Enjoying Attractions on a Budget

Even though it’s important to stay somewhat spontaneous to fully enjoy your trip, discovering some events and attractions in advance can be beneficial for your budget. Let’s see where and how you can find opportunities to experience the new location without spending too much of your valuable funds. 


Check Online Platforms 

Numerous digital tools like Airbnb, Viator, and GetYourGuide provide a glimpse into local life, events, deals, experiences, and attractions. Browse through the selection, read reviews, evaluate the price, and choose a few options to enrich your trip. Aside from traditional travel platforms, you can uncover valuable suggestions on blogs, social media communities, YouTube videos, Reddit threads, and much more. 

How to travel on a budget - Airbnb Experiences

Hop on Free Walking Tours 

Especially if you’re arriving during warm months, don’t miss a chance to view the city from the lens of a local by joining free walks. If walking is an activity you enjoy and can physically handle, free tours are a perfect way to learn about the city, its history and culture, and discover hidden gems. 


Search for Local Festivities 

Every city and town, no matter how big or small, offers something unique and exciting at least a few times a year. From local festivals to cultural happenings and celebrations, research the destination so as not to miss your chance to immerse yourself in the new way of living. You can ask on forums and online communities, read blogs and articles, or even stop by a local library to inquire about what goes on in the area and get some budget travel ideas. Additionally, ask your well-traveled friends and family for their insider tips. Perhaps, they have already visited the country or even the city of your interest and can share their personal advice. 


How to Budget for a Trip

In this portion of the article, we have prepared a few expert tips on how to budget for a trip. From sightseeing expenses to medical emergencies, we will discuss every aspect of the journey to help you budget more appropriately. Explore our budget travel guide to learn from experienced travelers and avoid common expensive mistakes. 


Prepare the Itinerary

From entertainment costs and sightseeing items to souvenirs and mobile data, it’s imperative to carefully curate a list of activities and their associated expenditures. In this section, we will investigate which items need to be in the itinerary and how to assess their costs. 



The costs of attractions and sightseeing vary significantly depending on the location, duration of your stay, and your preferences. While some tours and excursions can be as good as free, others may cost hundreds of dollars. Determine the main attraction in the area and allocate your funds towards that. Other activities can be an afterthought that you can consider in case you have the remaining budget. 

Going out for a cocktail, going to an art or theater show, visiting an amusement park are other costs that can quickly accumulate. Schedule your entertainment in advance to factor in the trip expenses and decide which activities to eliminate. 


Souvenir Shopping

If you want to get some memorabilia for your friends and family, it’s crucial to consider these costs beforehand. Aside from the monetary investment, it’s important to keep in mind that these items may require additional luggage space. Write down everything you would like to buy, their approximate costs, and potential expenses associated with extra luggage fees. 


Mobile Data

International roaming is a hefty addition to your expense list that you may want to avoid. As an alternative, you can purchase a local SIM card with the prepaid plan or buy an eSIM beforehand. However, investigate the matter in advance because some cities have free Wi-Fi spots available all over the city or in most central locations. 



No matter how well you plan your vacation, unfortunately, emergencies still may occur. Even aside from serious situations like medical emergencies, your hotel may screw up or a flight gets canceled which will incur unexpected expenses. Either way, it’s absolutely essential to put away a few hundred dollars in case something goes wrong. 


Travel Documents and Safety

Travel documents like visas, passports, insurance, and vaccinations are often put aside when planning a budget. However, these expenses may get quite high, depending on your country of origin and destination. Let’s take a look at some of the expenses associated with travel documents and general safety. 


Passport and Visas

First of all, make sure your passport is valid not only for the duration of your stay but also for six months post-arrival as it’s mandatory in numerous destinations. Otherwise don’t forget to renew your documents before making the trip. 

Additionally, consider a visa for the destination. Even if the country nominally doesn’t require a visa for entrance, they may sometimes ask for an electronic travel document that you can fill out and print out on your own. Furthermore, pay attention to your layoffs and investigate whether you need a transit visa. 


Travel Insurance

Although many travelers decide to cut costs when it comes to insurance, it’s highly recommended to invest in one. Medical costs at some destinations can be exorbitant and having insurance will give you much-needed peace of mind. Similarly, travel insurance can cover flight cancelations and shield you from numerous unexpected expenses that spoil the trip. 

How to travel on a budget - Travel Insurance


Aside from COVID-19 vaccinations, some countries require additional vaccinations against malaria, hepatitis B, yellow fever, and more. Research the country of your destination to learn which steps you need to take to protect yourself from dangerous and sometimes even lethal diseases. 


Learning from Experience

If you’re an avid traveler yourself, think back on all your unfortunate and uncomfortable traveling experiences and figure out the way to eliminate those. You can also ask your friends and family for their advice for budget traveling. Another infinite source of information is the Internet. Learn from other people’s mistakes and peruse forums and social media to get actionable tips for traveling on a budget

When it comes to budgeting, consider using specialized tools to save your work and effort. For example, platforms like BudgetYourTrip and IndependentTraveler allow you to swiftly estimate how much money you will need for each item and activity. 


Creating a Travel Budget

Every budget-friendly trip starts with thorough and informed budget planning. Finally, let’s dive into generating a travel budget without sacrificing comfort and experiences. 

How to travel on a budget - Budget Travel Itinerary

Estimate the Most Expensive Items

First, take care of the big-ticket items on the itinerary before moving on to more affordable and flexible ones. These include flight tickets, accommodation, and travel documents like insurance and visas. Tinker with dates and locations to find the golden spot and book the most budget-friendly yet enjoyable trip. 


Move on to Other Categories

Next on the list of expenses are food, transportation, entry fees, shopping, and other activities you want to include in your journey. For instance, if you’re taking a day trip from the city of your destination, calculate the cost of gas or bus ticket and other associated expenses. Even in notoriously expensive Western Europe, you can always find a way to save costs. For example, check how to reduce the budget in Cadiz, Spain. 

Consider creating a list of every possible expense you will make, from coffee at the airport to your taxi home. This overview will give you a good idea of how expensive the trip will be and allow you to make changes in case you go over budget. 



Take a long look at your list and prioritize the items from essential to optional. This will help you determine which activities can be dropped in case of a budgetary constraint. Also, this can help you rethink some expenses and reallocate your funds. For example, if each day is full of activities, you can consider staying at a cheaper hotel or hostel. Alternatively, if you will be vacationing at a house by a lake and aren’t planning to leave the spot very often, invest in home cooking. 


Begin Saving towards the Trip

Once the travel budget is determined, start saving your money, moving funds around, and setting a realistic timeline to meet your goal. 


Useful Tips from Reddit

Reddit is a treasure trove for anyone looking for hands-on experience in literally anything, and budget traveling is no exception. There are numerous threads dedicated to traveling without breaking the bank, visiting various affordable countries, finding budget accommodation, and cutting costs elsewhere. Here, we have accumulated a few expert tips from Redditers on how to travel on a low budget:

  • Avoid traveling in the summer and early fall as well as holidays to dodge inflated prices and increased tourist traffic.

  • Sign up for newsletters and updates from multiple airline companies to keep close track of fluctuating prices.

  • Always book flights mid-week like Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday instead of weekends to get a better fare.

  • Refrain from using third-party aggregators to book flights; if something goes south, getting your money back will be extremely difficult. 

  • Look for an affordable hotel or hostel with breakfast to get one free meal per day. 

  • Consider veering off the city center and staying outside of tourist areas, especially in places with good public transportation.

  • Investigate local tourist passes to take advantage of discounted museum fees and subway fares. 

  • Look up the information about the attractions you want to visit to see if they offer free entrance on any particular day. 

  • Take advantage of free walking tours

  • If possible, rely on public transportation as opposed to Ubering everywhere as it will save you a fortune.

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