“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” – St. Augustine
While travelling can enrich you with memories, it can also cost a lot. Travelling on a budget doesn’t have to mean sleeping in hostel dorm rooms and eating sandwiches for lunch! Here are 7 ways to travel on a budget without missing out on the experiences that make travelling worthwhile.
1. Booking Flights
Plan ahead to avoid last minute price surges. Services such as Skyscanner provide instant comparison on flight prices for over 600,000 routes as far ahead as 1 year from the current date. It also allows you to keep a price watchlist for flights and dates that you’ve searched, or turn on notifications to receive updates on best possible prices. Here are a few more tips on how to get the best flight prices:
- Travel during low season
- Studies show that the best time to book flights is 8 weeks out from your travel date
- Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually the cheapest times to book your flight
- Flying at unpopular hours, such as red-eye or early morning flights, increases your chance of getting discounted flights
- Sign up for frequent flyer programs
2. Booking accommodation
Travellers today are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation options: Airbnb, hostels, glamping (glam-camping), homeshare, Couchsurfing etc. The Airbnb app, for instance, allows you to choose from renting the whole house/flat or a private room in a shared house according to your budget and preferred amenities. Hotels frequently carry out promotions and the best way to get updates is by getting on their newsletters or following them on social media. Signing up for loyalty programs of hotel chains could also allow you to earn points which you can redeem for free night stays.
3. See the country as a local
Seek out local neighbourhoods, markets and grocery stores for cheap eats. For example, you can stock up on fruits and vegetables at a local market for a fraction of the cost compared to a regular German grocery store in Berlin.
Exploring the city like a local also means using public transport wherever possible. You gain interesting perspectives by hanging out with the locals, it costs less and provides for an authentic travelling experience. Full-day transportation tickets are are common in many cities and are not expensive. In certain cities such as London, Madrid or New York City, you can get 1, 2, 3 or 7 day travel passes. Just be sure to find out exactly which modes of transport are covered (trains, subways and metro are 3 different modes of transport in Europe).
4. Be reasonable about how many places to go to
It is common to try to cram as many cities as possible in a short amount of time. However, the best advice by seasoned travellers is to take it slow – after all point to point travels burn your pockets while sapping your energy.
Use bikes: If you like cycling, consider using Warmshowers which is like a Couchsurfing website for tourists who cycle. The website matches these tourists with locals who are happy to provide accommodation. The emphasis is on an exchange of experiences and cultures rather than an exchange of money.
Sleeper trains: A great way to save time and money when travelling across cities. There are lots of comfortable and convenient sleeper trains between major cities in Europe. The Japan Rail Pass is valid for sleeper trains as well.
5. Indulge during lunch
If you want to try an expensive restaurant, try going there for lunch/brunch. Many restaurants around the world offer prixe fixe menus (fixed price menus) at lunch for a fraction of their dinner prices. Take advantage and enjoy a decadent meal without worrying about busting your budget.
6. Take advantage of complimentary activities and free days
There are tons of free attractions in almost every destination. Researching before your trip will save you a lot of money. Some of the most famous attractions are open for free, for example The Pantheon in Rome or The British Museum in London which is completely free for tourists. Washington boasts an endless list of free, quality attractions such as the National Air and Space Museum and the Library of Congress. Many hotels offer free guided tours and local immersion experiences.
7. Rack up miles on your credit card with CardUp and get free flights or hotel stays
With CardUp, you can pay your big monthly expenses on your credit card (even if the recipient doesn’t accept cards) and rack up serious amounts of miles. With your miles, you could be flying business class to the destination of your choice for less than half the price!
A trip worth remembering is measured not by the amount of money spent but by the variety of experiences gained. Be sure to make every trip worth remembering!