It’s possible to be a jetsetter and travel on a budget multiple times a year if you save up early and plan ahead. One of our writers, who is a 20-something year old student, was able to travel to Croatia, Montenegro, Spain, Greece, Italy, Nevada and Arizona in a space of one year whilst working a 9am-5pm job (you don’t have to be rich to travel!). He was able to do all that travelling by following some of the travel hacks shown below:
Top Tips on How to Travel Cheap:
Travel during off-peak times
Avoid flying during the summer, holiday seasons and Friday evening. They tend to be the most expensive times to travel. Skyscanner is a useful website for browsing the cheapest flights.
Flexibility when booking flights
Be willing to fly out during awkward times such as Tuesday morning at 5am when demand is relatively low. Low demand for flights usually means that airlines would lower the prices in order to encourage people to buy tickets.
Take advantage of travel miles
Certain airlines reward passengers travel miles each time they fly with the airline. Check with your airline and take advantage of travel miles and you may get cheaper tickets or even an upgrade!
Use ‘budget’ airlines
The recent rise of so-called ‘budget’ airlines have made it possible to travel on a budget. Travelling with ‘budget’ airlines can save you hundreds and even thousands long-term!
Stay at hostels
Hostels are one of the cheapest forms of accommodation. Check out Hostelworld for a comprehensive list.
Go for Airbnb, ride-sharing apps or taxi apps
If hostels aren’t your thing, you can use the Airbnb app instead. Accommodation listed on Airbnb tend to be much cheaper than local hotels. Accommodation types range from a private room to an entire house and maybe even a penthouse!
Ridesharing apps such as Lyft tend to have cheaper rates compared to local taxi rates. If these apps operate in your destination, take advantage of them!
In some cases, taxi apps can be cheaper than hailing a cab on the street. For instance, if you ever find yourself in Bratislava airport in Slovakia, use the local taxi app HopIN, get a taxi using this app and you can save €15-20 when you go to Bratislava city centre.
Use public transport… or just walk!
Using taxis and ridesharing apps can get pricey. Make use of the local public transport to save your hard-earned cash on paying for things such as food and entrance fees. For instance, Berlin, Germany has an excellent public transport system. Some cities, such as Dubrovnik, Croatia and Edinburgh, Scotland are best seen on foot (wear comfortable shoes!).
Visit a place where you know someone
They could give you free accommodation and can act as your local tour guide.
Avoid tourist traps
Many travel hacks / guides advise against touristy places and rightfully so! Bars and restaurants in so-called touristy areas often charge much higher prices (though there are some exceptions). Venture beyond touristy areas and watch the prices on the menu drop! This also applies to accommodation at or near tourist traps. Be willing to book accommodation further away from touristy places.
Do some research
It does not hurt to do a bit of research on your destination. Find out where the cheapest cafés, restaurants and bars are. Go to places where there is no entrance fee.
Cook your own food… or bring your own food and drink!
If you are renting accommodation with a well-equipped kitchen, you can simply go to a local supermarket, buy ingredients and cook! It’s also a chance to experiment with local cuisine and ingredients.
If the idea of cooking while on vacation does not appeal to you, rather than eating and drinking at restaurants, you can simply prepare food at home and bring them with you.
Look for the best currency exchange rates
If you plan on bringing cash in the local currency, have a browse around and look for the best rates. Avoid using the ones at the airport as they often charge large fees.
Take advantage of discounts
Some places offer students, senior citizens and children discounts. Take full advantage if they do. In some cases, entrance is free! (E.g. the Acropolis in Athens, Greece is free for European students).
Other tips for travelling cheap:
- If your main goal is to go sightseeing rather than shopping, minimise shopping!
- Use WiFi rather than mobile data. Your network might charge you high ‘roaming fees’.
- If you are from the US and you are travelling to Europe, tipping isn’t as much of a big deal in Europe as it is in the US. Only give tips if you deem it absolutely necessary – note that there are exceptions. Some European countries have a tipping culture too.