If you’re planning to travel long term, a travel budget is essential. Having a travel budget (and sticking to it) will allow you to have the trip of your dreams, without the stress of running out of money.
Let’s face it, there would be nothing worse than getting halfway through your trip and realising your money won’t last you until the end.
Travelling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on any of the fun and to help you get started I’ve explained some of my favourite ways to easily save money while travelling.
Make a Budget
You can’t make the most of your travel budget if you don’t have one. It may sound cliché, and while it’s not glamorous, having a travel budget will help keep track of your spending and help you prioritize the important stuff. A budget can be as detailed or vague as you want it, but being aware of and accountable for what you spend can help keep your costs from skyrocketing without your notice. If you’re keeping track of where your money is going, it’ll help you decide if you really need that second (or third) gelato while wandering the streets of Rome, or if maybe you should save that money and put it towards something else.
Travel lite and use only carry-on baggage as much as possible. It happens all too often that you find a flight for $170, but by the time you include your bag, a meal, and seat selection, you will be paying $270. Planning for carry-on baggage will save you money on excess baggage fees and charges, and as an added bonus is it makes your travel easier because you can easily carry everything you have! There are many benefits to packing light.
Consider Hidden Costs
When booking anything, from flights to accommodation to activities, consider all the costs. If you book a hotel that requires you to get a taxi or Uber every time you go out you may have been able to save some money and time by paying more to be closer to the action. When booking tours, pay attention to what is and isn’t included.
Stay with Airbnb, Hostels, or Couchsurfing
I love staying with Airbnb, you generally get much better value for money and can find accommodation with a fully equipped kitchen. In addition to Airbnb, hostels and Couchsurfing are typically low-cost options for accommodation right in the city. While many hostels have an age limit (typically 35), there are a lot of great options that are open to travellers of all ages. Hostels aren’t just about 16-bed dorms either! Many hostels offer private rooms that are way below hotel prices, so you can get privacy at a price that won’t ruin your budget. Another great option is Couchsurfing, which is a global movement where locals host travellers on their couches or in spare rooms for free. Couchsurfing is a great way to get the local experience, and you can’t beat free! (Although I like to cook at least one dinner for my Couchsurfing host to show my appreciation for welcoming me into their home)
Master All Types of Transportation
Renting cars or taking taxis can be a huge cost for the solo traveller, or even for groups. Learn to take public transport, or get creative in finding rideshare opportunities. When you really need to use a taxi or Uber, have a chat the other people staying at your hotel to see if they are keen to share. Many larger cities have adopted bike share programs, and this can be an inexpensive, healthy, and a unique way to get to know a city. And don’t forget! A good pair of walking shoes and a map also make a great option. Wandering a city by foot is one of the best ways to appreciate everything it has to offer, and it’s free!
Shop Local and Cook at Home
If you have access to a kitchen, take advantage of it and cook your own meals. Eating out is expensive, so by cooking even a few meals at home (say breakfast and dinner, but lunch gets to be a treat out), you can still experience local cuisine without breaking the bank. To really save, skip the supermarket and look for farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets will typically have fresher ingredients, better prices, and way more local character!
Save on Snacks and Coffee
Instead of paying $3-$5 for a cup of coffee, carry tea bags or instant coffee and ask for a free cup of hot water. In addition, prepare and carry snacks that will keep you full (think trail mix or dried fruit) so that you can keep that hungry, tired feeling at bay.
Explore Social Media
Social media is a great way to find hidden gems, from Facebook groups dedicated to travellers who are looking to share rides or experiences, to events promoting free concerts or pop up markets. For example, on my recent trip to Sri Lanka, I found a Facebook group where hundreds of travellers were looking for people to share transport with. Social media can help the thrifty traveller live like a local and really experience a city.
Free is Fun!
Don’t forget to try all the free activities that are available. Spend a day hiking, exploring beaches or chasing waterfalls instead of zip lining, skydiving or taking expensive tours. Before you travel, research free things to do and see. You may be surprised! For example, in Australia, the national galleries in each state are always free, and in Italy, most museums are free on the first Sunday of the month. Lucky for me, my favourite things to do are the free things.
Take the Long Way
When you have the time, take the long way. Don’t buy the expensive flight because it’ll get you there in an hour. Take the cheaper bus or train and appreciate everything you’re seeing (and everything you’re saving!).
There you go! Ten easy money saving tips that will help you have an awesome trip without spending all your money. While it may seem like budgeting and saving during your trip takes away some of the fun, this isn’t true. These simple tips you can save without missing out on anything. And the best part is, if you save on your trip it means that you’ve got more money for the next one!
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