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17 TIPS│How to travel budget-friendly

Traveling doesn’t always have to be expensive. If you are a fan of luxurious places and 5-star hotels, then maybe this article won’t be for you, or perhaps it will change your mindset.

Okay, back to the topic - traveling on a low budget.

It is not as hard as you might think. Of course, some restrictions and maybe thinking twice are needed, but this doesn’t mean we don’t have the time of our lives

1. Tourist traps & locals

First things first - avoid tourist traps. Those places are made to suck all the money out of your pocket. For sure, some places are a must but choose wisely where you want to spend your money, especially if you have to choose between visiting one instead of three spots.

I can guarantee you will have a better experience if you explore the city/area like a local. Try the places where the locals go, that is the best way to get to know a different culture. Ask a local where to have dinner, drink a coffee, or go at night. The natives will know which places have good food and lower prices. Maybe you will even meet a new friend and get a local to show you around.

2. Accommodation

Hotels are great, but when on a budget, you can choose from many other options. Before, I was a big fan of Airbnb, but recently, their prices have gradually increased. Getting an Airbnb room will be way cheaper than a hotel, but you won’t have the same vibe as in a hostel.

Hostels will forever be my favorite type of accommodation. For a low price, you will get not only a bed but you have the opportunity to meet many new and exciting people traveling from all over the world. If you are planning a more extended vacation, you can even find a hostel, where for a bit of your time and help, the accommodation (sometimes the food too) is free.

Feeling a bit more adventurous? Try Couchsurfing. Sleeping in a stranger's flat can be very exciting. The platform is checked and relatively safe. I am saying “relatively” as I am a girl, and as a girl, I tend to doubt everything when it comes to strangers. Many of my friends travel with Couchsurfing, and some of them offer rooms/couches to travelers. I haven’t heard a bad ending story, all of them are super satisfied and happy with the experience and the people they met. Some of the people on the platform offer tours around their area, getting to know a place is always better with a local.

3. Souvenirs

I swear I am pretty sure that before when I was traveling, most of my money was going for souvenirs. I am thrilled that my mind has changed, and now I look at souvenirs differently. It doesn’t always have to buy a magnet or a small statue that you bring back home. Although, of course, those things are nice, they somehow always end up somewhere, filled with dust and forgotten after the first few minutes. Everything can be a souvenir, it is way nicer if you bring local food or beverage. Maybe a nice pebble or a shell? Nowadays, I have started buying postal cards and writing a short story on the back. I can assure you my family and friends appreciate the story postcards way more than a magnet.

4. Plan in advance

Planning takes a big part in every adventure. Of course, traveling spontaneously is way more fun but if you take your time and make some calculations before your trip, you will for sure end up spending way less. Do your research on accommodation and tickets. No matter if you are traveling by plane, bus or ferry, tickets tend to get more pricey if you wait until the last minute.

5. Luggage

This paragraph is relative only to traveling by plane. Nowadays, one can find so many good deals for flights everywhere around the globe. The expensive part comes when you add the luggage fee.

Let’s be honest, how many times did you overpack (like the picture) and end up going back home with only half a suitcase of used clothes? It is easier to travel light, with no need to carry around heavy luggage. Moreover, even at home, we tend to use only ⅓ of all the clothes we have, you don’t need all of your clothes to make your adventure unforgettable, right? Therefore, traveling with only hand luggage will save at least 30 euros in each direction.

6. Get a local SIM

Depending on where you will go, calling home or using data can be very expensive in case you travel to another continent or countries out of the European Union. Many phone companies offer prepaid SIM cards with internet and calls. Using the data through roaming will for sure make your trip more expensive. Not having data on the road can be pretty challenging as in a new area, everybody needs some help from our friend Google. As we travel and work in different countries we need to have a local number and we find Lycamobile as the easiest option. They offer prepaid sim cards. Just add a new Bono (pack of data or/and minutes) every month when you need it.

7. Find free things to do and places to see

Guided tours and top tourist destinations are fun and nice to visit, but if you want to visit more than one place and your budget is low (like ours), there are many other options. Browse online and find things to do for free. Maybe an event, a nice park, a walk around, or even a good deal. Use the advantage of the 21st century - the internet, and I can assure you, there are many fun things to do without paying even a cent. Many museums and exhibitions have days free of charge, plan well, and you can save some of the entrance fees.

8. Don’t always eat outside

Of course, a meal or two outside won’t hurt, but you need a reasonable budget if you plan to eat in restaurants every day. Going to the store, buying food and cooking at home or enjoying a ready meal in the park is the best advice I can give everybody planning a low-budget trip. In some countries, you even have public barbecues or fireplaces. One thing is for sure, do not miss out on local delicacies and try all the local goodies. At the end, we travel to explore new cultures, places and food.

9. Travel off-season

Naturally, many places have a season, and everybody knows that. Visiting the area in the high season can cost you even double than in the low season. Some facilities might be closed in the off-season, but tickets, accommodation, and even food will be cheaper when the streets aren’t full of tourists. The weather might not be as good but how nice it is when the roads are all for you and your pictures are free of photobombs.

10. Fly mid-week

Another point only for plane lovers. As more people are free on the weekends, more people travel, and the tickets are more expensive. Therefore, you will find the cheapest flights from Tuesday to Thursday. A trick I learned from my mom and I use very often: buy plane tickets (no matter for which day) on Tuesday or before Friday, as if you wait for the weekend, the prices tend to increase.

Google Flight gives you the lowest prices and best options.

Another useful platform is Skyscanner.

My advice is to always check those two websites for the best options but always, and I can't stress it enough, always buy your tickets directly from the company you are going to fly with. In this case, you always have 24h for a refund or in case something goes wrong it is way easier to contact them, rather than a third-party company.

11. Decide on your budget

I wouldn’t recommend taking only the money you had planned as it is always good to have some more money, just in case. However, deciding on your budget before traveling and writing down everything you spend makes traveling with a low-budget way easier. Try to stick to your planned amount as overspending might result in stress at home or even during the holiday.

When you are with a group, your love, friends, or family and you want to write down who paid what, and maybe want to split it: check SplitWise

12. Walk or cycle

Public transport can be costly, especially in big cities. The easiest way to avoid paying for tickets and even traffic jams is to walk everywhere you need to go. On the other hand, walking can be exhausting and takes time. My personal advice is to rent a bike. You can access everywhere in a fast and easier way. Exploring a city on a bike has many advantages: avoiding traffic, moving quickly, and you can go to zones where cars aren’t allowed.

13. ATM charges

Before traveling, take some cash out or speak to your bank and find out what the fees are in other countries. Some countries will even charge you for paying in a store with your debit card. Personally, I am not a fan of traveling with cash, but some places do not accept cards, and withdrawing money in a foreign country can be very pricey.

We have a Revolut account. That is the easiest way to travel in countries with different currencies. Revolut doesn't charge you withdrawal fees, and you can pay in different currencies.

14. Carpooling & Flixbus

Bla bla car and other similar services are made for low-budget travelers. You can find people going to different cities with available space in the car on the website. Joining somebody else (for a fee) is super fun as you get to meet new people, and it guarantees a cheaper ride. If you are traveling by car and you have available space, you can sign up and share the petrol cost with somebody.

If you aren’t sure about traveling alone with strangers, try Flixbus. At the cheapest rates, you can travel from city to city for 5 Euro. The best part? Flixbus is not based in one country only, take the bus and cross multiple borders for almost no money.

15. Travel overnight

Traveling overnight has a huge advantage for everybody on a budget or just short on time. So instead of losing one day of your vacation for traveling, search for a night plane/bus/train. Plus, like this, you will save one night of accommodation fee.

16. Early flights (a night at the airport)

In case you have an early flight, think about skipping the last night in the hotel and the taxi in the morning. When we have early flights, we spend the evening in the nearby city, and then with the last public transport, we get to the airport and spend the night there. Only a few airports won’t let you spend a few hours inside. You can easily find information about each airport here and here. Read all the reviews from other airport sleepers and get to know where the best spot is.

Btw: Meet our travel buddies Mr. Monkey and Mr. Octo....

17. Choose your destination wisely

It goes without saying that some countries are more expensive than others, so if you are preparing a budget-friendly trip, Dubai for example, may not be the best option. Not that it is impossible, but if you choose other parts of the Middle East, with the same amount of money, you will be able to do many more things, visit more places, and even stay longer.

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