Wondering how to travel on a budget? Here are 50 budget travel tips to help you explore the world for less.
Surprise! Another article about budget travel!
If you can’t tell, this is the topic I am most passionate about.
So many people are hesitant to travel because they think it’s too expensive. With this article and this blog, I hope to refute that notion.
It’s very possible to travel the world with little money.
You just have to be willing to trade a luxury vacation for a more open-minded, humble, and sometimes challenging experience abroad.
But challenges help you learn and grow, so budget travel may actually be more valuable than an expensive holiday.
Here are 50 budget friendly tips to help you see the world for less. I hope you find them helpful!
50 Budget Travel Tips: How To Travel The World Cheaply
This article provides a brief summary of all my most useful tips. I’ll link to other articles I’ve written if you want to explore a topic more in-depth.
After reading this you should be a savvy budget traveler!
I’ve organized this article into categories: flights, transportation, accommodation, food/drink, packing, banking/money, and exploring/attractions.
Budget Travel Tips: Flights
1) Visit Affordable Countries
This is probably the biggest and most important of all these budget travel tips, and it’s quite obvious.
Visit cheap destinations! Everything is affordable in a cheap country as opposed to an expensive country.
If you’re open-minded about your destination, and money-saving is truly your goal, visit an affordable country. Generally, the cheapest countries can be found in Central America, South America, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and South east Asia.
But if you follow these 49 other budget travel tips, you can easily afford a trip to an expensive country as well.
2) Fly Off Season
Flights are always cheaper during the off season as opposed to peak tourist season.
Peak tourist season usually has the best weather, but everything is more crowded and expensive.
Though off season may have worse weather, flights can cost a mere fraction of what they normally do.
A good compromise is finding flight deals during the shoulder season, when tourism starts to drop and the seasons are changing.
3) Check Multiple Airports
Many major cities around the world have multiple airports. Check flight prices for all the airports and pick the most affordable.
Also, consider airports outside the city. You may get a better deal if you fly to a nearby location and then catch a bus or a train to your destination.
4) Be Flexible With Dates
When booking flights abroad, don’t have your heart set on specific dates of travel.
Flying during the week is generally cheaper than flying on the weekend. But regardless of what day you want to fly, I recommend looking at an entire month’s worth of flights and picking the cheapest days.
Websites like Skyscanner make it really easy to do this. You can view flights for the whole month in a calendar and see which days are the cheapest.
5) Sign Up For Airline Memberships
It’s always worth signing up for travel rewards as a member when you book a flight with any airline. It’s free and you can earn points on your purchases to use for future flights.
Usually those travel points are worth very little, but it can’t hurt to try and get some savings in case you ever fly that airline again.
If there are certain airlines that you fly often, definitely sign up!
Budget Travel Tips: Other Transportation
6) Take Public Transport
If you want to travel the world on a budget, always choose public transport over taxis.
Even if you’re in a really cheap country where a taxi ride only costs a couple of dollars, chances are public transport will only cost a couple of cents.
7) Compare Transport Prices
One of my favorite budget travel tips is comparing all types of public transport using the following websites:
These sites compare transport methods between two points, including plane, train, bus, car, bicycle, ferry, etc.
So you can see all the prices and choose the best way to travel cheap. Sometimes getting a rental car may even be cheaper than public transport, depending on your travel plans!
8) Walk Whenever Possible
Walking is free, it’s good exercise, and it’s the best way to absorb your surroundings while traveling.
Just be smart and evaluate the safety of the area before you set out on foot by yourself.
9) Get A Local Transport Card
If you’re staying in one country for a longer period of time, invest in a local transport card.
Public transport passes or train cards offer discounted prices and better deals for traveling often.
Sometimes you can’t get the card without a local address, so this is only worth doing if you’re staying somewhere for a few months or more.
10) Make Friends To Share Transport With
Sometimes public transport doesn’t go to the spot you want to visit, especially if you’re out in remote areas or exploring nature.
If you have to catch a taxi or minibus, sharing with others will decrease the price for everyone.
Chat to others around you and see where they’re going. Hostels are a great place to find other travelers to share transport with.
11) Try Hitchhiking
If you want to spend no money at all on transport, try some good old fashioned hitchhiking.
Honestly, I normally don’t hitchhike. I NEVER hitchhike if I’m traveling alone. However, I have hitchhiked a few times when I’m hanging out with a local who knows their way around.
If you’re with someone you trust who knows the area, hitchhiking is great for saving money. Always use your judgment and only do it if you feel safe.
12) Consider Overnight Travel
Overnight travel is handy for saving money on the road. It’s definitely not the most comfortable option for spending the night, but it’s convenient and cheap.
For a journey that takes 7+ hours, an overnight plane, bus, or train allows you to sleep while traveling and save money on a night of accommodation.
Budget Travel Tips: Accommodation
13) Stay In Hostels
Hostels are a budget traveler’s best friend. Every hostel is different, but most are cozy, clean, social, and cheap.
Renting a bed in a hostel dorm room can cost as little as 5 USD per night.
Average prices are more like 10-20 USD per night.
In expensive cities, the cost is around 20-30 USD per night. Still, that is much cheaper than a hotel room!
And some hostels out there are actually incredible, equipped with nice amenities, a free breakfast, and a super cool vibe. Some of the most fun experiences I’ve had abroad have happened in hostels with my fellow dorm mates.
14) Try Work Exchanges
Working in exchange for your accommodation is one of the budget travel tips that will save you the most money.
It is such an enriching and affordable way to travel. You can live with locals, immerse yourself in their culture, and either learn new skills or further your own work experience. And, you get free accommodation!
Popular types of work that international hosts look for include housekeeping, waitressing, bartending, reception work, gardening, painting, graphic design, website design, blogging, photography, videography, animal care, childcare, and more.
15) Try WWOOFing
WWOOFing refers to “World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms”.
It’s basically the same as a work exchange, but it focuses on farms only.
You generally don’t need any prior experience in farming as your host family will teach you everything.
16) Consider Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing is a website that connects travelers with locals who are willing to let people stay in their homes for free, either on a couch or in a spare room.
I’ve personally never done this. As a female, I feel more secure booking a hostel or work exchange.
But I’ve spoken to other travelers who have couch surfed and had a good experience. So if you want a free place to sleep in a foreign country, consider Couchsurfing.
17) Teach A Language
Aside from work exchanges and couch surfing, you can save money traveling by working a paid job abroad. You can even start making money abroad as well!
Teaching a language is a popular way to work abroad, especially if you’re a native English speaker.
To become an English teacher abroad, you would have to commit to living and working in one place for a few months. But you can explore on your days off and save money for travels when your job is finished.
You may or may not get free accommodation, as every program is different.
Some of the best companies for teaching abroad include:
18) Try Housesitting or Petsitting
Another way to save money on accommodation abroad is house sitting or pet sitting.
Using the following websites, you can find verified people who need someone to watch their home or pets while they’re away.
This is an easy way to relax in one spot and start saving money.
19) Stay In Touch With Friends Around The World
If you have friends from different countries, stay in touch with them!
You never know when you’ll end up visiting their country, and it’s always nice to have a local show you around.
We are lucky to live in the age of social media. It’s never been easier to stay in touch with friends from around the world.
Budget Travel Tips: Food and Drink
20) Cook Most Of Your Own Meals
Eating out is always more expensive than cooking your own food, whether you’re living at home or traveling the world.
If you can cook most of your meals, you’ll save lots of money. Many hostels and work exchanges have a shared kitchen you can use.
Definitely splurge at some good restaurants while traveling, but don’t do it every night or you’ll spend your travel budget too quickly.
21) Shop At Local Markets
When shopping for food, local markets are the best places to go.
You can find all the best, in-season produce and stock up on lots of food for cheap prices.
The local market is also the perfect place to meet and chat with locals, or practice your language skills.
22) Eat Street Food
Street food markets are my favorite places to eat while traveling. You can find quick snacks and cheap, small meals.
Sampling lots of different small dishes at a market is one of the best ways to dabble in the local cuisine as well. It’s also a great way to eat out without spending money in a restaurant.
23) Have Picnics For Lunch
If you’re out exploring all day and don’t have time to cook lunch, picnics are a fun alternative to eating out in a restaurant.
Buy some cheap snacks like bread, fruit, cheese, and deli meats from the market or the grocery store and enjoy a casual meal outside in nature.
24) Forego Fancy Restaurants
If home-cooked meals, cheap picnics, and street food make up most of your meals, you can definitely afford to eat out a few times.
Dining at foreign restaurants is absolutely worth it, and you should treat yourself while traveling.
However, I find humble, authentic local restaurants to be just as good if not better than fancy restaurants.
Unless you’re a huge foodie or a big fan of fine dining, skip the pricey white-tablecloth spots and seek out the hidden family-run restaurants that the locals rave about. You’ll save money and probably have an amazing homecooked meal.
25) Pack Snacks for Long Journeys
If you’re prepping for a long flight, train, bus journey, or even a day trip, pack snacks!
Having some cheap snacks is a good alternative to buying overpriced food at rest stops or on planes/trains.
26) Drink Local Alcohol
When drinking in any country, the local stuff is always cheaper than the imported stuff.
Drink what the locals drink and you’ll save money. Also, why order drinks that you can just get at home? Broaden your horizons and try something new!
27) Buy Alcohol From A Liquor Store or Supermarket
Again, this budget travel tip applies even when you’re at home. Buying drinks in a bar or restaurant is way more expensive than buying liquor in bulk from a liquor store.
Buy a bottle of wine or liquor to pregame with before going out. It’s much cheaper that way.
28) Cut Down On Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol is one of those things that is fun and enjoyable, but it’s not essential. If you can cut down on drinking abroad, you’ll have more money to spend on adventures.
However, the cost of alcohol varies in different countries.
But in Australia, alcohol is expensive so drinking often makes it hard to travel on a budget.
29) Invest In A Good Quality Water Bottle
Having your own water bottle is another tip that budget travelers should use all the time, not just when traveling.
Buying bottled water is a waste of money and plastic!
Be mindful of the environment, and spending money, and get a good-quality reusable water bottle. Always have it with you and refill it from a water fountain or filling station whenever possible.
However, if you’re visiting a country that doesn’t have clean tap water, you often have no choice but to buy water.
You can buy a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter if you wish. But always check the water safety before drinking from the tap abroad.
Budget Travel Tips: Packing
30) Travel Light
This is one of the most important budget travel tips, but it’s also one of the hardest to do.
If you pack light and only have carry-on luggage, you’ll save money on checked baggage fees.
Having less luggage also makes traveling much easier, especially if you’re backpacking and moving around a lot.
31) Only Pack Carry-On Liquids
If you’re flying with carry-on bags only, you’ll have to keep your liquids under the limit (100mL or 3 oz).
Invest in some refillable travel-sized bottles so you can bring whatever liquids you need.
If you’re traveling for a while and you’ll need more stuff, just buy it when you arrive at your destination.
32) Value Comfort Over Fashion
It is so easy to overpack clothes. In my experience, all the nice outfits I plan sit neglected as I pick the same comfy t-shirts and shorts every single day while traveling.
When you’re in a foreign land and exploring all the time, versatile comfy clothes will always be more appealing than fancy clothes.
Pack a couple of nice things for special occasions, but I promise you that people you meet abroad are more interested in your personality than your fashion.
33) Hand-Wash Clothes
If you’re traveling for longer periods of time, you’ll have to do some laundry.
Some countries have really cheap laundromats, and many hostels have a laundry service as well.
But to save the most money, just hand-wash your own clothes in a sink, bath, or shower. Using hand soap, shampoo, or body wash does the job, but you can buy laundry detergent if you want.
34) Buy A Universal Travel Adaptor
Electrical outlets vary around the world, so you’ll have to get an adaptor for charging your devices.
To save money and make your life easier, just buy a universal travel adaptor. This one small box has adjustable prongs so it can fit any country in the world.
That way you don’t have to buy a new adaptor every time you travel somewhere new.
35) Always Bring Luggage Locks
After 5 years of traveling and backpacking, I’ve never been robbed (knock on wood).
But I know that theft does happen to travelers sometimes. I can only imagine how much that would suck.
To prevent theft and having to pay to replace your belongings, buy luggage locks. They are small and cheap, and allow you to lock up your backpacks and suitcases just in case.
Budget Travel Tips: Banking and Money
36) Avoid Paying Foreign Transaction Fees
Every budget traveler should definitely get a debit or credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
Otherwise, you’ll get charged a fee every single time you withdraw money or buy something with a card.
The fees may be small, but they add up over time.
I use Capital One, which is a really good bank for using internationally. I’ve also heard Charles Schwab is good.
37) Get A Travel Credit Card
If you’re a credit card user who loves to travel, it’s worth signing up for a travel credit card.
You can charge your everyday purchases to the card and rack up miles to use on flights or hotels.
I don’t have a travel credit card for my own reasons, but I know lots of people who love having one.
I recommend doing your own research on this topic, as I’m not an expert.
38) Don’t Exchange Money At The Airport
Airport currency exchanges almost always rip you off. The rates aren’t as good and they tend to charge commission.
Instead, withdraw foreign cash from an ATM. Or visit a local bank to exchange cash once you’re settled in.
Again, having a card with no foreign transaction fees means you can withdraw the local currency with no extra charge.
39) Research Visa Costs
Most tourist visas aren’t that expensive and won’t cut into your travel budget too much. But you should always research the visas you may need before traveling.
Many countries don’t require tourist visas for a stay up to 90 days.
But some do, especially if you want to volunteer or work. A Working Holiday Visa is common, and it’s better to apply and pay for your visa in advance.
But in Cambodia, I was able to just apply for my visitor visa at the airport on arrival.
40) Consider Travel Insurance
I wrote a very detailed article that weighs the pros and cons of travel insurance if you’re traveling on a budget.
Many people would tell you to always buy travel insurance just in case of an emergency.
Personally, I think it depends on your trip.
If your trip will be pretty tame and the local health fees are relatively low, you can save money by skipping insurance.
But if you’re a more adventurous budget traveler and there’s a high risk of getting sick or injured, travel insurance is worth it and can save you lots of money.
So it’s really up to you, and I highly recommend reading my article if you’re unsure.
If you are getting travel insurance, Squaremouth Insurance is my favorite website for finding an affordable plan.
Budget Travel Tips: Exploring and Attractions
41) Do Your Research
The internet is incredible because it allows people to share all their thoughts and experiences with others.
You can learn a lot about a place through travel blogs, youtube videos, news articles, and social media.
I always read other budget travel blogs before visiting somewhere. I find more valuable, inside information from these writers than I do from a generic travel guide.
Take advantage of all the content out there and do some research to prepare for a trip.
42) Find Free Attractions
An amazing way to travel on a budget is sticking with free activities most of the time, and saving your money for really cool experiences.
Most beaches, national parks, historic neighborhoods, and monuments are free around the world.
When doing your pre-trip research, you may also find other free activities that you didn’t expect.
For example, London is an expensive city but all the museums are completely free.
And in many Italian cities, famous museums, palaces, and art galleries are free on the first Sunday of every month.
43) Look Up Free Walking Tours
Lots of cities (especially in Europe) offer free walking tours. This is an amazing way to explore the city, learn the history, and hear about all the famous monuments and sights from a local.
Just do a quick Google Search to see if the city you’re in offers free walking tours.
44) Bring A Student ID Card
From museums to national parks to sacred sights, many attractions have a discounted entry fee for students.
If you have a Student ID Card, always have it in your wallet while you travel on a budget.
45) Try To Limit Data Usage
There is no doubt that a smartphone makes traveling easier. However, it is possible to travel on a budget without spending a ton of money on data.
It’s even possible to travel without buying data. I almost never buy data when I travel!
Most hostels, airports, museums, and cafes have free Wifi, making it easy to use your phone in these spots.
But when you’re out walking around or in nature, just enjoy being off the grid and absorb your surroundings without needing your phone to guide you.
46) Go Old-School And Use Paper Maps
I think the most logical reason to buy a local sim card with data while traveling is to have a GPS. And yes, having a phone makes it super easy to navigate your way through a foreign country.
But why not challenge yourself a little? Try to limit your dependence on technology and just use a paper map. They still exist, you know!
Most hostels will have free city maps that you can have.
If you’re still skeptical about using a real map, you can download a free offline navigation app like Maps.Me. This allows you to download a map of an area when you have Wifi, and then use the map offline.
47) Limit Souvenirs
Be mindful when buying souvenirs. It’s all too easy to buy something for the novelty, but then let it collect dust in your closet for years.
If you see something unique that you truly love, by all means go for it.
But when you travel on a budget, experiences are more valuable than material things.
48) Try Bargaining (Respectfully)
In many countries, bargaining is an accepted part of the tourist scene.
Most vendors charge a “tourist price” for their goods, and sometimes it’s worth just paying it. Chances are, they need the money more than you do. And it’s honorable to give back to the local economy and community you’re visiting.
However, at many street markets, bargaining for a discounted price is common so don’t be afraid to try!
Just always be respectful of the locals. Bargain politely and with a smile.
I recommend keeping your asking prices relatively close to the original. Don’t insult the vendors by offering a minuscule price for something they may have spent hours making.
But if you ask politely and they are happy to knock off a bit of money, everyone wins.
49) Talk To Other Travelers
One of the best budget travel tips out there is just talking to other travelers.
Everyone has a different experience when they travel, so you can learn a lot from the stories and recommendations of others.
A huge perk of staying in a hostel is the social atmosphere it creates. So it’s an easy place to meet people and chat about your travels.
50) Get To Know Locals
Fellow travelers often have great tips, but locals have the best tips. At any chance you get, make friends with locals!
They can help point you in the direction of the best authentic restaurants and the lovely local spots that most tourists don’t see. This will help you see the local culture and avoid the tourist traps that are almost always overpriced.
There is something so special about learning from a local. It is truly a privilege to travel and see other lifestyles with your own eyes.
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Thanks for reading about how to travel on a budget!
I hope these tips are helpful, and I hope they inspire you to travel on a budget more.
Feel free to drop me a message in the comments if you have any further questions or comments.
In case you missed any of my other articles throughout this post, here are my top articles for traveling on a budget.
Don’t let money hold you back from seeing the world!
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