How to Travel on a Budget – Travel Tips
While the idea of cloudless skies and life on the road has tempted us all at some point or the other, the practical side of traveling isn’t always as pretty and aesthetically pleasing as the aesthetic side is. There are plans to be made, money to be managed and plant sitters to be found before most of us can pack our bags and book tickets to our next budget travel destination.
While we can’t help you find the best plant sitters around, we might be able to do something about the rest of it. Here are our top ten budget travel tips that teach you how to wrangle your money and how to travel on a budget while still making the most out of your dream destination:
- Is it destiny or is it a seventeen-step plan to get your money? No, seriously, choose your destination carefully if you on budget travel. If you are particularly attached to traveling to a particular place, we can work with the other steps, but if you chose your travel destination on a whim, researching other places might be wise. Chances are, you will find alternatives that can offer you experiences that are as fun to indulge in at a fraction of the price because they are not as widely advertised. This is especially true if the place you have chosen is a mainstream tourist destination. Delve deeper, find more places, and make an informed decision. If nothing else, you will, at the very least, find facts about obscure places that will make interesting dinner table conversation.
- The early bird gets the cheapest bookings: So you have decided on a budget travel destination. Congratulations! Now comes the not-so-fun part: start looking up bookings. Bookings are a necessary evil, and the sooner you start looking up your bookings, the better deals you can get. Compare flight and hotel prices, avail all those travel points you have collected and find the best discounts. You would be surprised to find how many places with ‘static’ prices would be willing to offer seasonal discounts during certain months of the year. Another thing we would suggest here is molding your timeline in accordance with the best deals available, but even if you have a fixed schedule, there’s a lot you can do if you get planning early enough! And on that note, we come to one of the most important items on this list.
- Do your research: Every place has tourist traps, and the more popular the place is, the higher the chances of ending up spending more than you intended or your budget allows. Instead, come up with an itinerary that helps you explore your travel destination with minimal expenditure. One of the best ways to do that is by adding free things to it! Yes, it might sound way too simple when put that way, but you would be surprised at how many things you can do for free if you delve just a bit below the surface in researching your travel destination. A day in Japan can cost anywhere from 3,500 Yen to 18,500 Yen, depending on what you choose to spend it doing. There are zoos, parks and museums everywhere that not only don’t charge for tickets, but also offer a fascinating piece of your travel destination’s culture. So choose your activities wisely, and remember, tourist traps are well packaged to sound appealing, so make sure that you are careful before spending that precious money you have spent hours budgeting!
- Pack properly: While packing can be really fun as a reminder to the upcoming trip, it can also be extremely annoying when it comes to budget travel. Striking the correct balance between not packing too much and not packing too little to the point that you hit the sweet spot and take just the right amount of stuff can be exhausting. Not to mention that tipping on either side can cause you to lose money, either as possibly having to pay for the extra weight for your luggage or having to buy necessary replacements for items you accidentally left behind. Of course, only you can decide where that balance lies for you and how much luggage you will require on your trip, something everyone can do is be smart about it. The key to packing is to ask the right questions. What mode of transport are you using to get to your travel destination, and how much leeway does it give with luggage? What kind of weather does the place have? And most importantly, how likely is that obscure situation that you are packing for, “just in case”? Now, these are just examples, but remember that practice makes perfect, and don’t let anyone else dictate what the best way is to pack for yourself, because you know yourself best.
- Choose your chariot well: Isn’t it annoying when the cab ends up costing double the tickets to that amusement park you are going to? Often called the hidden expense, transportation always ends up adding up to cost more than you thought, and getting cabs everywhere is, by far, the best way to get ripped off. But as someone in history probably said, fear not, for there are always alternatives. Instead of spending mountains on cabs, use the local means of transportation! Almost every place has a local means of transportation, and the subway, autos or buses will not just cost a lot less than renting a vehicle or getting taxis and cabs, walking around and interacting with the streets will also help you get a feel for the place and add to the travel experience. Some advice we’d add to this is carrying a water bottle and an umbrella with you in the warmer climates, and a jacket in the colder. Lastly, if there are no local means of transportation, or if subways just get on your nerves, consider renting a vehicle. Now, the cost of renting would depend very much on how much you plan on traveling, and it can end up amounting to more than if you had taken cabs everywhere, so be careful about comparing prices beforehand!
- Eat local: Yes, maybe that five-star restaurant is really famous for their tofu bowl, but it would also make a huge dent in your wallet. Food is not a one-time expense, you need to eat an average of three meals a day, every day, and, that is not something you can skimp on. Our advice? Eat local. Street food, local restaurants, food stalls, you name it. Not only will you not have to fall back to the college days of instant noodles to save money, you will also get a taste of the local cuisine. The added benefit is the surety that the servings would be bigger than you would get in a five-star restaurant. Additionally, take full advantage of the free breakfast that most hotels offer! If you fill yourself up well in the morning, it can carry you really long into the day! That said, do not skip meals for the sake of saving up. Meals are not the area where you should be skimping, and the last thing you need is to end up sick that far from home. Lastly, check if the place you are going to has drinkable tap water, and take full advantage if it does!
- Hotels aren’t the only resort (ha, get it?): Puns aside, one of the largest expenses that add up while traveling are hotels. But did you know that there are loads of much more reasonably priced alternatives to hotels and resorts especially designed for budget travel? First of all, check if the place you are traveling to has any scope for camping or farmstays. Camping and farmstays are not just much cheaper, but also offer an enhanced element of adventure to your traveling. However, if neither of those are an option, another very great alternative would be homestays! Homestays are probably the cheapest way to get accommodation. A lot of times, it ends up being free! In addition to that, homestays are also a wonderful way to get to know locals and mingle with them. Now, if those options don’t appeal to you, you can also get lodging at a hostel! Hostels are, by far, the most easily accessible means of getting accommodation, and most of them cost a lot less than hotels and resorts. Lastly, you can also look into short-term rentals, which are another great way of securing accommodation!
- Get your souvenirs at the local market: Most of us manage to buy the weight of at least half our total luggage in souvenirs. Shopping at new places is fun, and no one is going to fault you for that. However, here’s some of the best budget travel advice we can give you: visit local flea markets. No matter who you are, flea markets have something for everyone. They are vibrant with variety, and you can get amazing deals down there if you bargain well enough. We do ask that you be respectful while striking a deal and accept that a seller cannot dip below a certain price range, but everything else is fair game. Another piece of advice we will give, however, is to make a budget for shopping beforehand. It is, after all, very easy to forget that you are trying to save when you are overwhelmed by the variety. However, as long as you stick to a reasonable budget, it is totally human to want to get your hands on all the amazing goods flea markets have to offer. So wherever you travel to next, look for a local flea market and go wild.
- Be a nerd about budgeting: That one sounds kind of obvious, but it’s still important. If you are annoyingly specific about your money, you know you’re doing this right. Here’s our advice for budget travelers. Don’t just keep an overall budget, keep a daily one. Track all your expenditures, yes, even the tiny ones. Finally, make separate budgets for traveling, accommodation, food, shopping and anything else you might deem necessary. The process might be annoying, and you might even notice that you’re going over your budget here and there, but trust us when we say that you will stick to it a lot more than if you don’t have a budget in the first place. Yes, it might sound more fun initially to let loose completely, but budgeting is just a habit that takes some getting used to, and once you do, it can end up being more fun than not budgeting. After all, most of us know the joy of having leftover money at the end of the month or the year.
- And finally, safety first: We realize that this is not a tip for saving money. In fact, this is the one section of this article where we will be telling you to do the opposite. While saving money is important, taking care of your safety is more important. Don’t eat leftover or stale food if you think it might have gone bad. Don’t choose homestays or camping if you think your safety might be at risk. If you think you might be in danger, get a cab. Don’t book questionable motels just because they’re available at a cheaper cost. The list is endless, but the point is, don’t jeopardize your safety to save money. Being responsible doesn’t just mean being responsible with money, but with yourself.
So there you have it, ten of our best budget travel tips for traveling efficiently. Remember, budgeting is not about curtailing the fun, it’s about increasing the fun you can have within set limits. Cutting corners is not a bad thing. It can end up leaving space for more, better experiences. Happy traveling, and remember to have the time of your lives!