HOW TO TRAVEL THE WORLD ON THE CHEAP: 16+ BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS

Want to know how to travel the world on the cheap and still have a memorable travel experience? We asked fellow travel bloggers for their best budget travel tips so you can travel without breaking the bank. From saving money on flights to living like a local, you will have your pick of ways to travel the world on a budget.

How to Save Money on Flights

Check Nearby Airports When Buying Airplane Tickets

Every first-year economics student learns about supply and demand. If there is more of something, it costs less whether it’s widgets or tickets. If you can fly into a major hub and drive from there, you can save big. Case in point, let’s plan a hypothetical trip to Key West for a little snorkeling.

There are only six carriers who bring in ~1000 customers daily. Flights begin at $316, which seems high for a domestic ticket, but this is the only live reef in America, so you fork the money over right?

Wrong! If you expand your search to major markets like Miami (serviced direct from over 150 destinations) or Fort Lauderdale (32 million yearly visitors), your ticket could drop to $103. That’s a chunk of change, especially if you’re buying more than one ticket at a time. Driving Highway 1 is a bonus since many consider it the most scenic drive in America.

You can apply this trick all over the world to find excellent fares and see more of the countryside along the way.

Sailboat in Key West - How traveling on the cheap allowed us to get here.

Jenn and Ed Coleman blog at Coleman Concierge.

Don’t Overpack

When we travel we often tend to overpack for our vacation or when traveling somewhere new. With the rising cost of flights, we can end up spending a hefty portion of our travel budget on airfares alone. Especially if one is backpacking and is required to take many flights in one trip.

Today, most airlines will quote without checked baggage. This is why traveling light and cutting back on unnecessary items is a great tip that can save you money when traveling.

However, traveling light is a tall order for many people. To be able to pack ultralight, you’ll need to cut back on a more than few personal pleasantries. The first step though is to find a suitable bag which you can carry on the aircraft as hand luggage. That way you won’t have to pay any extra fees to the airline for checking in your heavy suitcase.

So, what things will you cut back on to save money on your next trip?

Dan blogs at Layer Culture.

Need more packing tips? Check out this post on packing light and smart for one bag travel.


Being Frugal Once You’re There

Avoid Hotel Laundry Service

You save up your dirty clothes in the hope that you will be able to have it laundered once you get to your next location.  Once there you hand in your laundry and get it back the next day all nicely folded.

When you check out, you notice a ridiculously high-priced item you don’t remember purchasing.  It’s the laundry. Just buy a couple of travel packets of laundry detergent and wash/dry at least your underclothing every couple of days. Save money and splurge on something really cool.  That’s a good example of how to travel on the cheap.

Do laundry yourself and save money while traveling.

Do it yourself and save money.

Talek blogs at Travels with Talek.

Live Like a Local

A great way to save money when traveling is to live like a local rather than a tourist when you are visiting a destination.

Start by asking locals you meet (taxi drivers and local shop owners are a wealth of information and easy to approach) where they personally love to visit in their town. Some other great questions to ask are what their favorite restaurant is, what they think is the highlight of their town, and other places they keep returning too. It is a fun way to discover some local gems that you may never have heard of when researching an area.

You can also include things like taking public transport, cooking your own meals and shopping in local supermarkets as part of living like a local.

You will often find that the places locals suggest tend to be a lot cheaper than those geared towards tourists. As an added bonus it’s a great opportunity to really get to experience a destination and avoid the tourist crowds.

Kirsty blogs at Travel with Meraki.

Don’t Buy All the Things

When you travel, do you want all the souvenirs? Cute things, unique things, must-have things? On your next trip, try to dial it back on the souvenirs, and save some of your hard-earned cash. Limit your souvenir purchases to smaller, inexpensive items that you will actually enjoy at home.

My family purchases souvenir magnets that help us remember our travels on a daily basis…every time we head to the fridge. While we’re still traveling, they take up next to no space in my bag, and they usually only cost a few dollars each. Have we ever strayed from the magnets? Yes. We have such souvenirs as Malaysian pewter and an Argentinean maté gourd. Those are, however, exceptions to our unwritten semi-budget travel rule.

So, next time that Venetian glass vase is calling your name, consider instead something that won’t cost so much, including associated shipping fees and/or increased baggage weight.

Nicolette Kay blogs at Semi Budget Travel.

Take Free Walking Tours

If you want to learn about a city, see the major sights and get your bearings, I suggest starting your trip with a free walking tour.

Most cities around the world now run these, and they can be found either by googling “free walking tour {insert city name here}” or by contacting the local tourist board. Note there isn’t an official fee for these tours, but the idea is that you tip your guide at the end of the tour if you’re satisfied.

The guides are typically knowledgeable, energetic and speak excellent English, (though I’ve seen tours in other languages also available in some countries).

Depending on the city, the tours will have different start and end times, they may run several a day, and they may even offer niche topics as well as general city tours. For example in Budapest I did a free Jewish walking tour and in Riga, a Soviet themed walking tour.

Roshni Patel blogs at The Wanderlust Within.

Want more ideas for self-guided walking tours? Check out these posts by Talek:


Saving Money on Food When Traveling

Avoid Eating Near Tourist Attractions

My advice is not a clever travel tip for saving money while traveling but a reminder of a typical rule in all the touristic places all over the world, not just the USA, France, the Czech Republic, or Shanghai.

If you don’t want to overpay for your dinner or drinks, definitely avoid eating in restaurants and bars which are closest to the main tourist attractions.

Those places are usually crowded and filled with tourists who didn’t research prices for the destination. Places like this often offer much higher prices because of the perfect location. They also don’t have much trouble enticing customers.

And what can you do instead to find the places offering delicious food at reasonable prices? You can investigate reviews on TripAdvisor if you love to find information on your own. Or you can ask local communities online like Couchsurfing.com for some recommendations. Local residents will provide you with the best information about where to eat some epic local food at a good price.

Dominika Byś blogs at Sunday in Wonderland.

Buy Breakfast the Night Before

One of my favorite budget travel tips is avoiding the hotel buffet.  You go to the hotel breakfast area and see a wonderful buffet full of delicious delicacies. You fill your buffet plate with everything that looks good.

You can reduce this expense and the accompanying calories by buying breakfast the night before at a local grocery or C-store. Buy yogurt, cheese, and fruit packs and store them in your minibar to have the next morning with coffee in your room.  No minibar?… get muffins, rice-balls, noodle bowls or other non-refrigerated products.

Save your money and enjoy a local cuisine lunch or dinner instead. Now THATS travel on the cheap.

Save money and cut calories. Buy fruit the night before.

Save money and cut calories. Buy fruit the night before.

Want more tips on saving money? Check out 5 ways to save money for travel.

Split Meals with Your Traveling Companion

When traveling with another person, always try to share a meal so you don’t have leftovers. My husband and I do this whenever we are in a situation where we can’t take leftovers. It’s a great piece of budget travel advice.

Another benefit to this is that if it turns out the food is not as tasty as you anticipated, all is not lost. You’re only out the cost of one meal. And if it turns out you are still hungry, you can always order more from the current restaurant–perhaps dessert–or stop somewhere else for a dessert.

This also allows you to enjoy a snack later, mid-day or before heading back to your lodging for the night. One other big benefit of using this technique is that you will most likely gain less weight. You won’t feel like you need to eat as much as you can to get your money’s worth–never a good idea when you are trying to lose weight!

Carole Terwilliger Meyers blogs at Berkley and Beyond.


Saving Money When Using Local Transportation

Use Public Transportation to and from Airports

Another great affordable travel tip is to avoid taxis in foreign airports altogether. Check online first to see what public transport options exist before you arrive at your destination.

Most first-world countries have excellent public transportation from the airport to the center of town. These include most European cities and many Asian ones like Japan and Korea where taxis are generally expensive.

If you must take a taxi, look for a taxi dispatcher location inside the airport first. Tell the dispatcher where you are going, pay beforehand and receive a receipt which you hand to the driver. No money exchange with the driver at all. This is common in places like India and Mexico.

Needless to say, don’t accept offers of taxi rides from strangers at the airport. Use only clearly marked taxis at taxi stands.

Use Public Transportation in Your Destination

One of the biggest budget travel tips I have learned is mastering public transportation. A lot of travelers fear using public transportation because they are afraid of having their things stolen, of getting lost on it, or they don’t speak the language so they can’t ask anyone for help.

While all of these might be true, knowing how to take public transportation in a city will save you tons of money. For example, the public transportation system in Quito Ecuador is one of the best in South America. It is fairly clean and you can take it to many locations (including the bus terminals). The cost is only 25 cents for a ride, yet many travelers still prefer taking Uber rides or taxis that could cost $10 or $12.

So take some time, learn how the public transportation system works, ask your hotel or hostels, and they will be able to teach you how to use it!

Sean blogs at Living Out Lau.


How to Save Money on…Money

Use ATMs for Local Money

Many seasoned travelers know that one of the easiest ways to save money while traveling is to take cash out of ATMs directly, rather than to visit the airport or a bank to withdraw cash. All cash withdrawals at ATMs, no matter their size and location, are based on the real exchange rate of the day, instead of premium exchange rates that often entailed hidden fees from banks and airports.

However, most ATMs also charge additional fees. An international ATM fee is charged by the banks for using foreign ATMs, but it can be avoided if you do some research to find out which local bank ATMs partner with your current bank.

Better yet, get a banking account that has no international fees and that refunds all ATM fees – Charles Schwab’s investor checking account, for example. If your bank does not have any local partner in the region you are traveling in, you can try to reduce further fees by limiting your ATM visits. Though it’s not always ideal to carry loads of cash on travel, you can time your withdrawals to avoid high exchange rates and ATM fees.

International ATM - One affordable travel tip

Kurosh blogs at RoadGoat.

Change Your Bank to Avoid Fees

When traveling, it is possible to save lots of money by moving your bank account from a physical bank to an online bank. I could test it by myself during my one-year world tour, traveling from Paris to Asia – Oceania and South America. Because I was traveling all the time out of the eurozone, it was very important to minimize the costs of my cards.

With my traditional bank, I had a monthly fee for the use of my card plus the bank commission for every cash withdrawal out of the eurozone was 2.5%. At that time, the online banks were proposing a free card (no fees) and a commission of 1% for every cash withdrawal, with no particular engagement from my side. If for one year I get 1000€ /month from my bank account out of the eurozone, can you see how much I could save by changing banks? It was amazing!

So even if I was happy with my bank, the decision of switching banks was not hard to take and I have not looked back ever since.

Elisa blogs at World in Paris.


How to Find Cheap Travel Deals

Sign Up for Free Travel Email Newsletters

One of the biggest obstacles for us in terms of international travel is the cost of airfare. We’re based in Atlanta, home of the world’s busiest airport (Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport), so flights to the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America are no big deal.

But flying to Africa, Asia, or Europe gets expensive, and Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific islands are literally on the other side of the world. So how do we afford to travel 60+ days a year, despite the fact that we are not “nomads”? We sign up for free email newsletters that offer deals on airfare, such as Scott’s Cheap Flights and Dollar Flight Club.

If your travel schedule is fairly flexible and your places of interest are varied, it’s really easy to find incredible offers without having to pay for their “premium” options. In the last year alone, we got round-trip tickets to Kenya (where we saw an awesome array of Kenya animals) for $900, and to the remote nature island of Kauai for $450.

In fact, just before I typed this piece, we saw a deal come through for around $600 to West Africa, which is less than half the normal price! Saving $1000+ on airfare leaves us a LOT more spending money to splurge on hotels and tours once we’re there.

Elephants Seen on Safari

Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel.

Travel Off-Season or Shoulder Season

A great way to save money while traveling is to travel off-season or during shoulder season. This will take a bit of research to determine these times for your destination, but it’s worth the effort. Peak season is when most travelers arrive in a city or region.

For many parts of the world, this is during the summer. Off-season is the least visited time of year for that same spot. And shoulder season is between these two. Airlines, hotels and tour companies want to attract customers during these less-traveled times and do so by lowering their prices.

Choosing your travel time will depend on your availability, budget, and willingness to adapt to weather conditions. Peak season is often the best weather of the year in a destination. But for travelers willing to arrive in a colder, rainier, or less desirable time of year, the result can be significant discounts.

Shoulder season can be a nice compromise–prices will be slightly lower and weather may be a bit better. As an added benefit, when prices are lower, crowds are typically smaller as well.

To understand the benefits of this money-saving travel strategy, plug-in a variety of dates into an online hotel or airline booking site. Pretty soon a pattern should appear. Then evaluate your availability and start making your reservations!

Affordable Travel Tip - Save money by traveling in the off-season.

Wendy Lee blogs at Empty Nesters Hit the Road.

Be Flexible with Travel Dates

One of the easiest ways to save money while traveling is to be flexible with your dates and destinations. With the right search engine and flexibility, you can save money on any vacation.
My favorite search engines are Momondo, Skyscanner, Kayak, and Google Flights.

Momondo has a “go-anywhere” function. You can input your town, select dates, and it will give you hundreds of destination options. You can also check to see if flights are cheaper in the weeks surrounding your dates of travel.

Skyscanner also has a ‘select everywhere,’ by date function; however, I think the best thing about Skyscanner is that you can select city and a month, and it will give you 100’s of destinations and prices from which to choose.

Google.com/flights: Google Flights will let you search by origin and destination and will give you the cheapest dates in green. Google Flights will also provide you with price trends for the surrounding dates.

Kayak: Kayak doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of the first three, but when my dates and destination are not flexible, I like to use Kayak to find the cheapest flights.

Lastly, after you get the best price/destination deal, go to the airline’s website and try and book directly through them.

Budget Travel Tips - Airfare

Catherine Brady blogs at Traveling with the Littles.

Use Discount Websites

When you are traveling overseas, it’s always worth doing the big-ticket items. Even if you are trying to travel on a budget, you came all this way, right? So do make sure you splurge on the big stuff every now and then. Shark diving in Cape Town, up the funicular to the highest place in Switzerland or the Milford Sound cruise in New Zealand. But you can save a ton of money and do even more if you use local discount websites.

I am sure many of you use these types of websites in your own country, but have you searched for them abroad? In fact, here in New Zealand, I never pay full price for an activity. The trick is knowing when your dates pop up and when to book. For example, we saved 40% on our Doubtful Sound Cruise in Fiordland and 50% on a dolphin safari in Akaroa, just by using the Bookme website. (about a month in advance) Google search for: last-minute + country, one day, discount attractions, etc., and get more bang for your buck.

Jennifer blogs at Backyard Travel Family.

We hope that this helped you learn how to travel the world on the cheap and still have a great time. What are your favorite budget travel tips? Share them with us in the comments!

Saving Money When Traveling

PIN ME TO PINTEREST!

BTW, if you are getting ready for your trip, make sure to take advantage of these useful, money-saving links to book your trip:

  • Research and book your flight with Skyscanner. I have found them to be the best because they list all airlines including the budget ones. You are always sure of having researched all options.
  • For car rental in Europe that has flexible pickup and drop-off options, I recommend Auto Europe.
  • You can also book your car rental through Skycanner.
  • Book your accommodation with Booking.com. I find they have the widest selection and a nice, user-friendly, transparent website.
  • If an Airbnb experience is more your style, book Airbnb here and get a $40 credit towards your first stay.
  • Protect your trip and, more importantly, protect yourself with travel insurance. I use World Nomads and have been very happy with them.
  • Looking for a small group tour to unforgettable destinations with top professionals? Intrepid Travel is your choice.
  • For more general tours to any destination or attraction, book with Viator. Check them out.
  • Need a visa? Get your visa for all countries with iVisa.

I personally use, and can recommend, all the companies listed here and elsewhere on my blog. By booking through these sites, the small commission we earn – at no cost to you – helps us maintain this site so we can continue to offer our readers valuable travel tips and advice.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.