Thank you Kach! I have been meaning to put up a blog post about how you guys can travel on a budget; but with the barrage of travel plans that I’ve been making this year, I’ve never really had the time to sit down and write it all… until now.
First things first: I don’t call myself an ‘expert’ but with over more than 3 years of leading a travel lifestyle, I have certainly learned travel hacks that helped me make the most of all of my trips without spending a fortune.
In fact: you should know by now that you do NOT need to be rich in order to live a life of travel!
So today, it is my wish that the tips below would help you learn how to travel on a budget — the same way that these tips have helped me!
How to Travel on a Budget
» Before you travel…
Plan your journey well and good
I think it helps if you read my guide first on how to jumpstart your own travel lifestyle…
…once you finish reading that and decide to finally start your plans, go and make use of the following tips.
- Use Rome2Rio: arguably the BEST transport search engine in the world, this website is helpful for discovering how you can get to anywhere with whatever transport method (airplane, bus, train, car, ferry, etc.) at the cheapest price! This platform has been a huge lifesaver for me and you should definitely take advantage of it.
- Travel during low season or ‘shoulder season’ (somewhere in between low and high): this is a no-brainer but it’s a golden rule especially if you want to travel on a budget. After all: timing is key when you make your travel plans since you can achieve cheaper prices across everything (from food to transportation)! Typically, the high season to avoid is summer and winter — BUT this is a case to case basis as dependent on your destination(s), so it’s best that you research this beforehand.
- Try to be in fewer places but for a longer time: if you go on a rush spree to tick countries off of your bucket list, you will find later on that taking too many of those flights or train journeys in such a short span of time will quickly eat away your travel fund. So try and do more of slow travel; not only will get a better ‘feel’ of the country that you’re in, but you’ll also get to spend lesser as you grab hold of more discounted prices (example: availing a discounted 1-month rental at AirBnB will be cheaper than the total sum of multiple short AirBnB bookings).
- Travel with someone in order to share costs: it’s always fine and dandy to travel solo, but if you really want to save, it’s best to find a friend or partner who is willing to go on the same journey as you do so that you can split costs 50:50 — it will surely be a win-win situation for the both of you!
- Travel to low-cost-of-living countries and/or visa-free countries first: this advice applies best especially if you’re someone like me who holds a third world passport. By doing this, you will avoid costly visa fees and you will also spend less (since such countries ordinarily have lower cost of living).
Grab the best deals on transportation
- Research the best mode of transportation to take on your every route: if time is not an issue for you, a ferry ride, a night bus, or a night train is usually cheaper than a flight ticket (but often times, it’s the other way around; so again, make sure to check sites like Rome2Rio since it can help you compare these all). When it comes to train travel, know your options too! A one-for-all railpass will give you big savings if you’re going around a certain area a lot (example: traveling around Japan with JR Pass or traveling around Europe with a Eurail train pass); however, when it comes to shorter trips, point-to-point tickets will commonly be cheaper. That being said, ensure that you do your research well as you compare all of your options.
Additional Tips: I generally don’t bother with first-class tickets especially when first-world countries are concerned, because the second-class sections are often of the same quality (and leg space!) like that of the first-class.
Meanwhile, for travels within large continents, consider doing ridesharing (which is different from hitchhiking which I don’t really recommend). There are various providers for every destination and the best ones that I know of are…
For Europe: Blablacar
For USA: Zimride
For Japan: Noritomosan
For India: Ridely
Another thing that you can try when you’re in Europe is Busabout which is a hop-on-hop-off bus service that can be an alternative for Eurail or Interail passes.
- Get cheap flight tickets: make use of flight search websites that scan through all available airlines worldwide on your route. Through this way, you can gain access to the best ticket prices possible! My go-to platforms are usually Momondo, Kayak, and Skyscanner. Of course, you could always go directly to an airline’s website; but in order to save you the time, effort, and money, it’s best to simply head on to country-specific websites such as Traveloka for the Philippines which let’s you compare and book flights in your locale with no hidden charges.
Additional Tips: Firstly, some travel websites can track your searches and they can raise their prices after knowing that you’re interested in a certain route at a particular date. In order to curb this ‘feature’, always use an ‘incognito window’ or clear your cache before searching.
Secondly, try to book your tickets no more than 3 months before your departure dates; this is because fares are discounted and ‘locked in’ customarily on the 8th week from your travel date. If you book too early or too late, you might not enjoy those sale deals.
Lastly, studies say that you’ll find the lowest airfares on a Tuesday around mid-afternoon up to Wednesday. The reason for this is that most carriers release sales during this day; plus, it’s customary for some airlines ass well to put their prices up on Friday and if no competitors match their price, they will start putting it back down around Monday to Tuesday.
- Get free flights: sign up for a travel credit card and start earning points and miles as early as now! There are also a lot of credit cards available today that can already give you bonus points right from the moment that you sign up. (If you’re from the U.S., you can check this article for the best travel credit cards available).
- Watch out for ‘error fares’, flight deals, and vacation package deals: you could sign-up to e-mail alerts on flight search websites so you’ll be notified when the price fluctuates for your particular route. Try to also research for the local budget airlines that are well-known in the destination you’re in and watch out for their promos. Otherwise, you could also subscribe to websites like Secret Flying, Holiday Pirates, or The Flight Deal which regularly post error fares and crazy flight deals for any given time period.
- Join travel contests: the chances are slim BUT there’s no harm in trying your luck! So far, I’ve personally won 2 travel contests and I bet that you’ll have the chance too. In order to be properly updated of these travel contests and giveaway, I regularly post them over at a Facebook community that I created called as the ‘Ultimate Travel Group‘ (how’s that for a travel group name? Haha!)
Get cheap or FREE accommodation worldwide
- Get in touch with friends, family members or relatives abroad: ask them kindly if they are able to accommodate you during your stay. Depending on your relationship with them, you can stay in for free or not (as a sign of courtesy you might still have to pay, but that would often be not as expensive as booking your own hotel etc. Add the fact that now you’re connected with them, you have people who can already tour you around.)
- Travel on a budget by taking advantage of other accommodation options: a lot of people think that booking one’s self into a hotel is the only answer for getting accommodation abroad. Surely that’s not true and it’s time for you to know of the other ways that you can get cheap and even FREE accommodation around the world…
» Couchsurfing — this kind of arrangement allows you to stay in someone elses couch or room for FREE. It sounds too good to be true but it works for a lot of people! The hosts are often open to such a deal especially if they simply want to meet people overseas, or are in need of conversing or practicing another language.
» Housesitting — this is where a homeowner also allows you to stay in their house for free; but in return you are expected to watch the house (as well as their pets if available).
» Home Exchanges — also called as home swapping, as the name suggests: you’ll swap houses with someone from another country. Rest assured there are other platforms that don’t necessarily require mutual exchanges.
» Volunteering — as you provide menial work at a hostel, restaurant, cafe, farm, etc., these establishments will give you free accommodation and/or food in return.
» Hostels — cheaper than hotels, hostels are also great places for meeting fellow backpackers and travelers around the world.
» Short-Term Rentals — if you’re going to stay in a place for weeks or months but are not committed to a long-term arrangement (1 year and more), there are houses or apartments that you can rent which would surely be a cheaper alternative compared to a summation of multiple short stays.
» Home Stay — this is where local families permit you to live in their household for a cheap fee. There are times when some families will even ask you to share or practice your language with them in exchange for your stay.
» Farm Stay — also called as agritourism, farm owners would permit you to live with them WITHOUT the labor for a small price. You can still be involved in farm activities but it’s not required. (This is different from volunteering in farms where you are required to work in exchange for your free stay).
» Boat Stay — depending on the boat, ship, or yacht owner, you can be compensated, given free food + accommodation, or be granted both in return for your work. This is also a great way to save up on transportation costs if you want to get from point A to point B.
» Camping — you can camp for free (for as long as it’s allowed by your destination) or you can also camp in established camping grounds as you pay a measly fee per night.
» READ: For a more detailed discussion on this, go to = How to Get Cheap & Free Accommodation Around the World
Additional Tips: If you’re going to book a hotel, I advise that you forgo paying for breakfast because even if they’re convenient, they’re almost always NOT worth the price. It’s best that you just go to a cafe and mingle with the local crowd. Also, avoid booking into an accommodation that’s near the city center to access cheaper prices.
Cut your existing and potential costs even more!
- Start exercising the habit of living frugal: so that it becomes second nature to you as you aim to travel on a budget. While you’re at it, start cutting any unnecessary costs that you are still paying for like magazine subscriptions, cable connection, etc. If you own an apartment or house, once you start traveling too, you should either sell or rent it in order to get more money for your trips.
- Stay updated of advices from ‘seasoned travelers’: these can be from travel bloggers like me, or from well-known travel celebrities and websites. Besides, there are always new helpful technologies and tips that constantly redefine the world of travel and it’s from these people and mediums where you can learn of such things for as soon as possible.
- Ascertain your luggage and carry-on weight + specifications before your trip: so that you can avoid any additional charges once you check in at the airport. It helps to note that there are various limits for every airline out there so you should check those out before leaving home. Meanwhile, if in case you’re going on shorter trips, try to keep all your stuff within the carry-on limits in order to avoid paying for check in luggage (unless the airline provides the space for free).
- Consider working while you travel: there are TONS of remote and overseas jobs that would allow you to explore the globe WHILE earning at the same time. Examples would be working as a digital nomad, English teacher, au pair, and more. To see a detailed discussion…
- Be a travel blogger/writer: like what most of you have already known by now, one of the things that enables me to travel more (apart from my work as an online entrepreneur) is this travel blog because a lot of tourism boards, companies, and brands typically give me all-expenses-paid trips in exchange for doing promotional work. That being said, starting up a travel blog of your own can give you those same opportunities — BUT do know as early as now that that building an influential blog that organizations would be interested in partnering with WILL take time and effort. Nevertheless, much like anything in life, it’s always worth a shot especially if it’s something you’re interested in; therefore, why don’t you give it a try?
» During your travels…
Be on the constant lookout on ways to minimize your accommodation and transportation costs
Apart from the travel on a budget tips that I’ve already mentioned above, do remember the following tips as well while you go on your journey around the globe…
- Walk as much as you can: it will help keep you AND your wallet in shape. The price for public transportation might not seem much at first but if you add it all up, it can be a pretty hefty sum. Anyhow, walking around can also help build up your travel experience since it can lead you to scenic places that you wouldn’t normally find on a map.
- Or make the most of public transportation: there are times that walking just won’t cut it. Therefore if your destination is simply just too far, go for public transportation and avoid taxis like a plague. When you decide to this, calculate the number of rides that you might have to take and see if a ‘day pass‘ for public transit will be cheaper than buying individual tickets. Sometimes, city passes that already gives you access to attractions and museums have added perks of free public transportation too; hence, you better check those out!
- Be flexible with your accommodation bookings: it helps to not be so stringent with your schedule because as you travel, you could meet local folks or families who would be more than glad to accept you in their home for free. There could even be hostels that are willing to take you in with no pay per night as long as you help them with some chores.
Mind your money and the currencies abroad
- Avoid getting your currency at the airport: because they usually don’t offer the best rate. It’s better to withdraw from local ATMs with your debit card — as long as you keep in the mind the charges of your bank. (TIP: Make your withdrawal less frequent and worth the charge by taking out larger sums.)
Save up on food!
- Do as the locals do: to travel on a budget = try out street food, dine in local restaurants (that are not within 6 blocks from a major tourist site), shop for your own food at a local market, then cook your own food, go to a local pub during happy hour, etc. etc. etc.
- Dine with a local: websites like WithLocals connects you to local hosts who would happily share with you their home-cooked local cuisine at a price cheaper than what you’d normally pay at a restaurant. To add, this would be a great way for meeting new people!
Get travel insurance
- Save yourself from possible hassles and costly troubles: buying a travel insurance might seem like an unnecessary expense that will bite a chunk off of your travel fund, however it’s absolutely imperative to buy one so you can avoid spending more on events that can almost always happen during your trips: lost luggage, delayed flights, missed flights, cancelled flights, unwanted injuries, hospitalization, and SO much more! If you’re asking for the best-for-value travel insurance out there? World Nomads is the answer. One of the things that I love about them too is the ability to re-extend your insurance while you’re on the road — which is unlike most travel insurances that want you to be in your home country for extensions. That’s certainly a feature that will help us nomads and non-stop travelers alike!
Other tips to remember on how to travel on a budget
- Always check for FREE stuff that you can do: aside from using city passes that can give you free and discounted access to various activities, make sure that you research the FREE things that you can do in your destination without the need for purchasing a pass. You can do this by doing research online, by reading my top ‘free things to do‘ guides, or by simply talking to locals (some of the many things you can experience: free walking tours, free festivals, free concerts, free museum days, etc.)
- Ask locals for advice: to avoid scams and exorbitant prices, you should ask people for advice on what certain things should typically cost (e.g. a taxi ride from the airport, the cost of a normal dinner meal, etc.) You can do this by posting questions online on travel groups, by asking the people you meet in hostels, the working staff in your accommodation, the locals that you meet and more.
- Use FREE apps to stay connected: instead of using your phone carrier’s costly service, make full use of free applications such as Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber that lets you message, call, and video call your friends and family for free — wherever you may be in the world as long as you have an internet connection. Speaking of which, do compare your roaming charges too in order to see if buying a portable pocket WiFi is cheaper. Otherwise, if you’re going to spend most of your time in an accommodation that comes with free WiFi, then there’s really no need for you to make additional purchases or payments in order to get an internet connection.
- Work while you travel: much like what I’ve already discussed previously, consider working during your trips in order to travel on a budget as you save up on food and accommodation, or in order to add more moolah into your bank account and be able to travel more. There’s working online, volunteering, teaching English, being an au pair, and so much more!
There are several other tips out there on how you could travel on a budget, and if you’re a seasoned traveler like I do: please feel free to leave a comment below if I’ve missed out on something! Let’s help each other out ;)
All in all: I hope that what I’ve listed above will prove to be of help to you.
… And I bet that as you go on trips all over the world, you will see it for yourself that travel really doesn’t need to be expensive at all. You will realize it as well that even if you travel on a budget (which is evidently a pretty easy thing to do), you can already absolutely achieve the best experiences possible! So go out there and quench your wanderlust!
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I am Aileen Adalid. At 21, I quit my corporate job in the Philippines to travel the world. Today, I am a digital nomad (entrepreneur & travel writer) living a sustainable travel lifestyle.
My mission? To show you how it is absolutely possible to create a life of travel, and I will help you achieve that through my detailed travel guides, resources, and tips!
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CURRENTLY BASED IN: The Philippines
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