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Travel can be super expensive if you don’t know what you are doing. The cost of travel can scare a lot of people off doing it.
We think that money should never be a deterrent in delaying your travel plans, no matter where you’re travelling to. Over the years we have developed some very simple budget travel tips for when we are on the road, to help save money while on the road.
Read on for our best budget travel tips
Budget Travel Tips: Before You Go:
Booking Cheap Flights
We’ve written a guide on how to go about finding cheap flights, which you can read here.
If you don’t have time for that, here are a few of the take home messages.
- Book early (6-8 weeks before you go is generally a good time)
- Do a lot of research (use search engines like skyscanner)
- Don’t be afraid of longer layovers
- Always book through the actual airline website
Another thing that we do is collect frequent flyer points, so that we can use them to pay for some or all of our flight. We’ve got more on that coming soon, so stay tuned.
Book everything yourself
With everything so readily available on the internet, there are no excuses these days for not doing a little research and booking your trip yourself.
A lot of people still use travel agents to book everything for them before they go. This can include anything from accommodation, to meals, to transport, and often sight-seeing tours.
In our experience, using a travel agent is a lot more expensive than booking yourself. Travel agents sometimes book things for you that you don’t even know about or need. They will often have prices marked up for their own commission. They sometimes have deals with certain airlines or hotels, so you miss out on budget flight options that are available.
We always book things ourselves, and only book the bare minimum when we go. A lot of things can be organised for less money once you’re on the road.
Do everything yourself.
Group tours can be great if you’re travelling for the first time. They are also good if you’re travelling alone. But as a budget option, they’re definitely not the way to go. It’s rare that we’ve come across a group tour that we couldn’t organise ourselves for half the price.
If you do want to do a group tour, we’d say do shorter tours, and do them in regions where you might feel a little less comfortable otherwise.
Budget Travel Tips: On the Road
Stay at hostels and guesthouses
Hostels have a come a long way over the years. The days of hostels being dirty, unsafe and full of bed bugs are just about past. Sure there are some bad ones out there, but the majority of hostels that we have stayed in are clean and safe, and the environment is normally great.
The cost of staying in a hostel is generally less than half what a hotel would charge. The same goes for guest houses in Asia.
- If you’re a bit worried about how to find a decent hostel, read our detailed guide on tips for finding a good hostel
As far as budget tips go for hostels, here are a few ways that you can save a bit more
- Stay in a shared room or dorm room (don’t worry these usually have lockers keep your valuables)
- Stay outside the city centre as prices here are inflated for tourists
- Check for cooking facilities or even if they offer free meals
- See if they offer free clothes washing facilities
- Look for free walking tours run by your hostel
Another way you can save even more money is by couch surfing. This is a community of people who offer their couches as accommodation to travellers, free of charge. It’s a little harder to organise, but if you’re on a super tight budget, it’s something to consider.
- Read more about couch surfing and other accommodation options in our detailed guide on accommodation when you travel.
Limit eating out
This one is a little difficult, as some of the best things to do when traveling is to try the local food and drink. So we don’t want to say “avoid eating out!”.
We would just say maybe eat out a little bit less. Instead of going to a restaurant every night, why not go every third night? We normally try and eat out at least once in every place we go, so that might mean eating out once every 3-4 nights.
So what are the options?
1. Supermarkets are your best friend. If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen, buy some ingredients and cook up at home. If you’re heading out for the day, but some rolls and snacks so you don’t have to buy lunch out. If you want a nice setting to eat in, head to the local park for a picnic lunch or dinner.
2. Find a local market stall and get a cheap meal there. Better still, you’re getting to try some of the local produce.
3. Find a hostel that offers free breakfasts or dinners. A lot of hostels will offer a free breakfast, and often a very cheap dinner. These hostels are usually really sociable too, so it’s a great way to meet a few fellow travellers.
4. If you do eat out, ask local guides for recommendations. Avoid going anywhere near main squares or tourist areas as you’ll get overcharged. Walking tour guides or hostel staff usually know good, cheap, local places that you can get a great meal.
Walk! It’s good for you
So long as you book a well located hostel, then you should rarely need to rely on public transport or taxis to get yourself around a city. Walking is a great way to save money. Walk to the tourist attractions. Walk from the train station to your hostel or hotel. Walk around the parks in the city. Do a free walking tour. Basically, walk wherever you can. It’s free.
This does of course depend on the city. In some of the bigger cities, you’ll have no option but to use public transport. If you have to use it, just make sure that you do your research.
In Europe, a lot of cities offer daily and weekly travel cards. Do a bit of research, work out what’s going to be cheapest, and go from there.
Other places like Asia or the Americas, you’re more likely to use taxis. If that’s the case, try to use official taxis, find out how much the trip should cost, and agree on a fare before you go.
Find free things to do
You’ll burn through your money pretty quickly if you consistently choose to do the most expensive tourist activities that are on offer.
Most places you visit will have a heap of free activities that you can do, that are often just as good as the stuff you pay for. Here are a few ideas of things you can do
- Do a free walking tour (although you are still expected to pay a small tip at the end of the tour)
- Spend the afternoon in the local park
- Find the best free view of the city
- Find a day hike or walk to do
- Explore the local markets
- Find any free tourist attractions like churches or libraries that you can see
There are plenty of other ideas as well, so get creative!
Travel on Buses
Being from Australia, we’re used to flying when travelling from city to city, simply because the country is so vast and widespread.
A lot of countries are really well connected via bus networks. And it’s a great way to travel if you want to save money.
The only downfall to taking a bus is that your travel time may be significantly longer when compared to a plane or train. But hey, you’re there to travel and see the country, so why not get a bus and admire at the countryside.
In some European countries, taking the bus from city to city can actually cost you less than €10! Comparing that to a train ride for the same route, you can end up paying well less than half. In particular, buses seem to be a much cheaper option when crossing country borders. If you’re crossing a border, always look at the bus as an option.
Some people also like to take night buses, which can save you a night of accommodation. This can be great, but be sure to check reviews and see how comfortable they are before you decide to book!
The final word
To sum everything up…
- Make sure you’re booking the cheapest flights
- Book everything yourself
- Do everything yourself
- Stay in budget accommodation like hostels or guest houses.
- Limit how much you eat out
- Walk around a city rather than use public transport
- Find free activities to do wherever you are
- When you’re going from city to city, take the bus.
Have any other tips for saving money on the road? Let us know!
You might also like
- Tips for finding a good hostel
- The best Australian travel cards and credit cards to use overseas
- How to find cheap flights
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