I’ve been travelling and living abroad on and off for the last 3 years. As I was a student for most of this time, my trips were usually on a strict budget. I want to help you be able to travel on whatever budget you have. Therefore, I want to share my top 10 tips for travelling on a budget
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Tip 1: Plan your own itinerary
When I travelled to South America for 2 months, it would have cost £2000 (GBP) more for me to do it through a small group tour rather than independently! I don’t mean avoid all excursions while you’re away. I do mean don’t book your whole time away with one company.
Small group tours with, for example: gadventures or intrepidtravel, normally do not include day excursions and food! The cheapest way is to use local tour companies and book day excursions, travelling independently for the rest. This is one of the best tips for travelling on a budget I can give you.
NOTE: if you are travelling for the first time, or going it solo and are nervous, you can always consider these tours, just be prepared to pay more. I recommend Intrepid travel if you do.
Tip 2: Skyscanner
Skyscanner is literally a lifesaver when it comes to planning trips. It searches through flights to find the cheapest options… you can even check flights to everywhere and for any date. It definitely makes you consider destinations you’d never thought about!
Tip 3: Do not use one booking site!
The best way to get a cheap deal on accommodation is to use several different websites. My go-to’s are booking.com , hostelworld.com and airbnb.com. Sometimes, I check out trip.com or agoda.com (especially in Asia)! This is another great tip for travelling on a budget.
You’ll find these sites are nearly always cheaper than booking hotels through a travel agent like TUI or lastminute.com. I generally look for an 8+ review and a good location.
Tip 4: Book excursions on arrival
Once you’ve travelled a bit yourself, you’ll understand you can book excursions/tours once arriving at a location via your hostel/local travel agent. This normally saves you money compared with booking online, and is a great tip for travelling on a budget for first-time travellers.
However, there are some MAJOR exceptions to this rule. For example, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu needs to be booked at least 6 months in advance! Normally a quick google about your trip will tell you if anything needs to be booked in advance (if in doubt!).
Tip 5: Set a daily budget
When I travel, I set a daily budget excluding hotels and excursions. Usually, online you can get a rough estimate for these separately. I find it much easier to plan my money if you take accommodation and must-do excursions out of the equation.
For example, in South America I set myself a maximum budget of £10 per night for my hotel, I added up must-do excursions (like a Machu picchu trek, snorkelling trips etc), then I set myself a separate daily budget of £10. This would mainly be used for food any unplanned excursions and, of course, a few drinks!
Tip 6: Cook in!
In countries like USA and UK, you can save a lot of money by cooking in each day. Many hostels and some hotels have kitchens nowadays.
My favourite easy recipes are pasta and rice dishes. Some exceptions can be found: in much of Southeast Asia the cost of eating out is lower than cooking in.
Tip 7: Learn to haggle
Learning to haggle is an essential tip for travelling on a budget. This is especially true in markets or shops where there are no prices on any of the products. If they list prices on the shelves these tend not to be as negotiable – although its always worth a try!
Be polite when asking but stick with what you believe is a fair price. I’d suggest reducing the price by at least 50%, although this can depend on the country itself.
Tip 8: Sleep in Dorm rooms
When travelling on a budget, the cheapest places you’ll find to stay are in hostel dorm rooms. They’re often less than a quarter of the price of a private room and give you the ability to meet lots of lovely people.
Just remember to pack earplugs and an eye mask!
Tip 9: Use local companies for excursions
Not only does this reduce costs for you but I like to know the money I pay is going to local tour guides and drivers. If you book through a big company, a lot of the money goes straight into the company’s pocket. Often a simple search on Tripadvisor will yield a number of local companies you could book with.
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Tip 10: Avoid bank Charges
One tip for travelling on a budget is to keep bank charges down when paying abroad. Whilst travel cards used to be a good idea, there are now many banks popping up around the world that will offer you fee-free money abroad.
For example, Monzo bank will not charge you for taking money out abroad (first £200) or at all for paying by card. This allows you to keep costs down especially on a long trip.
There are always some costs associated with travelling however, its definitely possible to backpack on a budget with a bit of thought put in! I hope you enjoyed my tips for travelling on a budget.