How to Travel Cheap: Budget Travel Tips

How to travel cheap is a question that many budget travellers have. Here are my top money hacks that I employ to help me save money while traveling.

1. Stay outside of city centres/popular destinations

I saved a lot of money on hotels in London when I chose to stay in the suburbs instead of downtown London. I paid only about 1/3 of the price for the same hotel chain. Even after factoring in the additional transportation cost (because I did have to take a train into London), I still managed to save at least 50%.

Of course, you want to do your research and make sure that where you are staying at is safe. Saving money is an objective, but your personal safety is of paramount importance.

2. Stay in a hostel/less fancy hotel

An alternative to staying outside of the city centre when you are traveling on a budget is to stay in a hostel. You can still be close to all the main tourist destinations without having to pay a hefty price.

Again, you need to do your research to make sure that the hostel you are staying is safe. A lot of hostels are also known for party scenes and loud noises late into the night. For an early riser like me, this can be a deal breaker.

3. Buy food from local grocery stores instead of eating out every meal

Eating out can add up quickly even if you are only buying fast food. Instead of eating out for every meal, you can choose to buy food from local grocery stores. Salad kits, sandwiches, and single-meal packs are all convenient items perfect for travellers. It will also be easier for you to pick up vegetables and fruits and eat healthier meals.

Of course, you do not want to just stick to local grocery stores when you are traveling. You can still mix things up and try at least a few local meals, or a few nicer restaurants.

4. Take public transportation

This is especially true when you are traveling in major cities, where the public transportation system is highly developed. You can save quite a bit of money by taking public transportation instead of taking a taxi or Uber.

5. Walk around

If you want to be even more economical, then ditch all forms of transportation together and just use your feet! It is completely free, you get your exercise in, and you can discover a lot of little things that you will likely miss if you are on a bus.

6. Bring a reusable water bottle

Water can get expensive in touristy places. Bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up before you leave for the day, and throughout the day whenever you can find a water fountain. You can also fill it up with tap water if the local water is drinkable.

7. Have a good packing list

Have you ever forgotten to pack certain items and have to buy them when you are at your destination? Buying travel-sized stuff can be expensive, especially on a per ml or per g basis, not to mention that you will have duplicates of the same thing that will end up cluttering your home when you get back.

Therefore, it helps if you have a comprehensive packing list. You can use my vacation packing list as the basis and add or delete items to suit your needs. Pack using your packing list every time you travel.

8. Check with your mobile service provider

You do not want to be hit with hefty roaming fees while you are traveling abroad. Contact your mobile service provider beforehand: You may be able to purchase a fixed package that can save you money while traveling.

9. Use local wifi instead of data whenever possible

Data roaming can be excruciatingly expensive if you are not careful. To avoid accidentally using your data roaming services, make sure you set your data to the “off” position. You should only turn on data when it is absolutely necessary.

If possible, ask your service provider to set a cap on your roaming fees.

10. Use your credit card points

If you can use credit card points to redeem for flights, hotels, etc., you can significantly reduce the out-of-pocket amounts that you need to spend on traveling.

You can collect credit card points through regular use of certain credit cards, or you can take advantage of welcome points offered.

Keep in mind that you must not spend money to get points. You need to still make sure that you are buying items that you need and that you can afford.

11. Join loyalty programs

Joining loyalty programs is another great way to help you travel cheap. I recommend that you do this in addition to using travel credit cards if you are serious about looking for ways to save money while traveling. Many loyalty programs even offer additional discounts for points redemption (e.g., it may cost you 10,000 points to redeem for a certain flight you want, but when there’s a sale going on, it will only cost you 8,000 points).

I recommend that you sign up for the loyalty programs’ newsletters to maximize your opportunity to catch these sales.

12. Be flexible if you can

Being flexible is a great way to save money and travel cheap. Whether you are flexible with destination or flexible with time, you can take advantage of last-minute deals.

13. Check if there are discounts available based on your status

Are you a student? Do you belong to any professional societies such as the CPA? Are you a veteran? If so, there may be discounts available specifically for you.

I am a CPA, so I know that I can receive some discounts for renting a car, booking hotels with specific hotel chains, etc. I will definitely leverage these discounts when I can to travel cheap.

14. Go to free or low-cost tourist attractions

You don’t have to spend money to see or experience wonderful things when you are traveling. Museums in London, for example, were marvellous, and a lot of them were completely free.

If you are on a budget, I highly recommend that you do your research and look for free or low-cost options at your destination.

15. Use tourist attraction passes

Many cities offer tourist attraction passes that can help you save money while traveling. For example, you can save up to 55% with The London Pass®.

One caveat is that you want to make sure that you are willing and able to go to the tourist attractions that are offered as part of the package. Otherwise, you may be spending money without getting a good discount.

16. Prioritize how you spend your money

Traveling cheap doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good time. It oftentimes simply means that you need to prioritize how you spend your limited funds.

If there is a site that you want to see and it is only available in that area (e.g., Stonehenge in England), then do it. If there is a musical already available where you live, well, then maybe you can skip it.

17. Buy souvenirs outside of tourist attractions

Souvenirs at tourist attractions can be quite a bit more expensive. If you want to buy souvenirs, you may want to purchase them outside of the most touristy places. It will likely save you some money.

18. Use business trips wisely

If you are traveling for business and have unused vacation days, you can certainly take advantage of these trips by building vacation time onto your business trips.

Of course, since your main goal is for business, you want to ensure that anything you do during your personal time does not interfere with your actual work duties.

Conclusion

Here are my top tips on how to travel cheap. I use these tips extensively in my own travel plan, and I hope you can try some out!

How to travel cheap is a question that many budget travellers have. Here are my top money hacks that I employ to help me save money while traveling.

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