Travel is good for you. It’s not just a case of recharging your batteries, it has been shown in many studies that travel is good for your health and well being. But it can be so expensive. It needn’t be. Check out the budget travel tips below.
HOW TO SAVE
For some of us, those with empty bank accounts, it seems that we’ll never be able to afford to go on even a short trip. Here are some ideas:
- HAVE A PLAN – If you plan well in advance then you’ll find it much easier to save specifically for your trip. Let’s imagine it’s January and you’d like to travel in October. That gives you ten months to save. For the ease of mathematics, if you estimate that you’ll need $1000, can you save $100 per month?
- BREAK DOWN YOUR SAVING – It might be easier to break down your travel savings plan into smaller increments. Rather than saving $100 per month, is $25 per week easier? Or $3.50 per day? Decide what you can afford to save
- BE RUTHLESS – Keep your travel savings in a separate account and don’t be tempted to dip in if you see a wonderful pair of shoes you’d like to buy. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re sipping a glass of wine in a sidewalk café in Paris
One of the most expensive aspects of travel used to be getting a roof over your head every night. This no longer applies.
- AIRBNB OR SIMILAR SITES – Some Airbnb properties cost a mere fraction of a hotel room plus they offer you more flexibility and fun. Often you’ll have a local host who can guide you in the direction of budget places to see or inexpensive places to eat and shop
- STAY FOR FREE – Some places offer free accommodation in exchange for your skills. You can see an example here. If you’re a pet lover, you can also get free accommodation by looking after pets when the homeowner is away. Details here.
- TRY HOSTELS – THese used to be quite horrible places but these days, hostels are sometimes more stylish – and certainly much cheaper – than hotels. They have a good social aspect too. This is an example.
- GO FOR THE UNUSUAL – Camping (or glamping), staying on a houseboat or in a university student room – all these add fun and variety to your trip and at budget prices
- GO FOR FREE WIFI – Even if you’re determined to spend as much time as possible offline during your vacation, look for accommodation that offers free wifi so that you can research the area and find free (or budget) things to see and do
Food can be a huge expense when you’re away from home. But it doesn’t have to be.
- SELF CATERING ACCOMMODATION – If your place has basic cooking facilities you can shop at local markets or budget grocery stores and save yourself a lot of money by preparing your own meals
- PICNICS – Some of my happiest travel memories are of eating al fresco on local bread, cheese and fruit. Food doesn’t have to be fancy to be great. And you can choose great locations for your meal. Sitting by the river watching the boats go by is truly a better view than a restaurant wall
- EAT LIKE A LOCAL – Eat where the local people go. They are unlikely to eat at fancy places with tourist prices. Ask them and they’ll be happy to let you know about their favourites. Adapt to local tastes – don’t drink Coca Cola if the locally made lemonade is half the price
- EAT A HEARTY BREAKFAST – If you’re staying at a place that includes breakfast, or where it’s cheap, then make the most of it and fuel up your body for the day. If you’re like me, you can always sneak a piece of breakfast fruit into your bag for a snack later
- BE SURE NOT TO TIP TOO MUCH – If you’re from a country like the USA then your restaurant meals probably cost you at least more than 15% of the menu price when you’ve added the tip. The USA is generous when it comes to gratuities. Check the norm in the country you’re visiting – the customary tip may be far less than you’re used to
DAY TO DAY SPENDING
It’s somehow much easier to spend money on a day to day basis when you’re on vacation. And even if the items don’t seem to be expensive, they can soon mount up;
- AVOID TOURIST SOUVENIRS – They are often overpriced and when you get home you see how tacky they actually are. Take photographs with your phone instead
- WAIT UNTIL THE LAST DAY – If you don’t buy any souvenirs until your last day, then you’ll avoid spending all your money before your vacation ends
- SNACKS AND BEVERAGES – You can avoid buying overpriced snacks by making sure that you fill yourself up during meals. Bread, cheese and fruit (see PICNICS above) are cheap and make a hearty, filling meal. Carry a water bottle with you so that you can refill it from drinking fountains and other reliable sources. In tourist areas or at events, a simple bottle of water can cost ten times the supermarket price
- DOWNLOAD GUIDE BOOKS – Don’t buy paper guidebooks. Download them to your phone. They are much cheaper and are often free
Just ‘getting there’ isn’t the only travel expense you have. Once you’ve arrived at your destination you still have to get around and there are budget options.
- FREE TRANSPORT – Many areas, particularly tourist destinations, have free buses or shuttles. Research these before you leave home. You’ll have to adapt to their schedule but free is free!
- PUBLIC TRANSPORT – Getting a bus is usually much cheaper than travelling by train. Plus, this is often how the locals travel so you’ll be getting a new cultural experience too
- CHECK OUT PASSES – Some areas offer bargain priced passes and budget travel. It’s a good idea to research these before you leave for your destination. Here’s an example. Check out museum passes too
- DON’T FORGET YOUR WALKING SHOES! – Walking is the no-cost way to get around. You’ll often see far more of a place when you’re on foot and as an added bonus you’ll be getting exercise too
SEEING THE SIGHTS
This is another aspect of your trip that you might prefer to research before you leave home.
- ADMISSION PRICES VARY A LOT – Some places have high charges and you may wish to avoid them. Go for the attractions that have either free or cheap admission
- THEY CAN DIFFER AT DIFFERENT TIMES OF THE DAY OR YEAR – Again, this is another area that you can research ahead of time.
- LOOK FOR THE FREE THINGS TO DO – I don’t think I have ever been anywhere in the world that hasn’t offered excellent things to do that are absolutely free.
- OFTEN PASSES ARE AVAILABLE – Here’s an example. You can also make the most of any passes that are available to students, over 55s or whatever is suitable for you. A little advance research can make big savings
There are many ways of saving money when you’re travelling. SEE MORE IDEAS HERE.
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.