How many times have you said to yourself, “I’d love to travel more, but if only I had the money?” Well, travelling doesn’t have to be as expensive as many people believe it is. With a little time committed to research and planning, anyone can travel independently on a budget to many great places around the world.
Affordability does not mean that you will sacrifice your desires to see amazing locations travel comfortably, eat great food, and stay safe. On the contrary, many times when travellers make a conscious effort to save money, they end up having more fun because they find new and exciting things to do as an independent traveller.
The tips and suggestions below will not only help you plan your next trip on a lower budget, but they can also help you discover something new in the process.
Choose a Less Expensive Destination
While Europe is the most visited region in the world, it’s also home to some of the most expensive destinations. On the contrary, plenty of much more affordable, but equally as exciting destinations can be found in Asia, Latin America, or Africa. Comparing prices, a day in Europe could cost the same as a week in some Asian countries. And with the extra money, you can travel longer, at a higher level of luxury, or both. So, before you decide where to go, first research your options based on the travel costs of destinations around the world.
Research Low-Cost Airlines
Airfare is often the single most expensive part of a trip, especially if you’re visiting a country far away from your own. Instead of immediately booking the first flight you find on your favourite booking website, research low-cost airlines. Many such airlines don’t sell their tickets on the large online booking sites, and instead only sell tickets on their own websites.
Furthermore, look into the many websites that provide information about sales and discounts for various airlines. Good deals are often found on a regular basis. Don’t be afraid to fly into a different city than your final destination if it saves you some cash. You can always take a train or a bus on your final leg of the journey if you’re willing to spend a little more time for a better total price.
Eat with the locals, and don’t shy away from street food
Food is the reason why many of us love to travel so much. Whether it’s authentic pizza in Italy, mole in Mexico, or dumplings in China, there’s so many culinary adventures to partake in that it makes our mouths water just thinking about it.
Just as restaurants serve many different types of foods, they also serve food at many different prices. Look around for the popular places where the locals eat and you will not only find something delicious, but also something affordable. Just because it’s a “hole in the wall” restaurant does not mean that the food is not clean or sanitary. I’ve seen plenty of fancy, expensive restaurants that don’t follow health standards, as you never know what’s going on when the kitchen is out of sight. Just because a restaurant is pricey, you should not assume that it is cleaner or safer.
Street food is not something to avoid. On the contrary, it’s a great way to eat for pennies, and it can be both delicious and safe. If you can watch them make the food, then you can decide for yourself if it is sanitary. As long as they are cooking everything thoroughly, then you’re good to go. Another great thing about street food is that vendors tend to group together so you can visit different vendors all in the same meal to taste a little of everything!
Use Public Transportation
In many parts of the world, ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft are becoming very popular. But don’t fool yourself, these apps are still just as expensive as local taxis. Any time you’re getting into a vehicle by yourself, you can expect to pay a lot more than what you would otherwise pay if you had used local transportation.
Most cities around the world have some form of public transport system. Whether it’s a bus, tram, subway, boat, or rickshaw, if the locals use it on a daily basis, then it will be the cheapest way to get around. With heavy vehicle traffic in many larger cities, it’s often faster than a taxi, too.
Find Local Tour Guides
Booking an all-inclusive tour from home might seem appealing, as all of the details are arranged for you. However, it’s quite easy to see that the conveniences and luxuries of these tours make them anything but cheap. To save money, if you can get yourself to the location, it’s often less expensive to simply hire a guide for a day, or even just a few hours. Many guides can be found online, while others will even sit outside museums and other tourist attractions to find customers passing by. If you meet a guide in person, you can find out what they offer, how much it costs, and decide there on the spot. Always shop around, whether in person or online, for the best value. Make sure you inquire as to the level of experience of the guide when investigating your options.
Lower Your Standards for Accommodation
While hostels are typically the cheapest places to stay, even the most die hard budget travelers can admit that they aren’t for everyone all the time. If you’re turned off by the idea of sharing a room with other guests, instead think about staying at a locally owned guesthouse or budget-friendly hotel. Getting away from the large international chain hotels can save you plenty of money while still maintaining your level of comfort. Family run businesses tend to give you a lower cost while also providing a unique and authentic experience. And it can also help the local economy.
But don’t rule out hostels yet! Many of these budget-friendly establishments offer private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, catering to visitors that don’t want to share a room. You can still benefit from the lower prices and social atmosphere without giving up your privacy.
And speaking of comfort, keep in mind that the reason you travelled around the world was not to sit inside your hotel room, but rather to get out during the day to see this amazing new place. And since you will not be spending all of your time in your hotel room, then consider staying in a less expensive and less luxurious place. As long as you find it comfortable to sleep in, no matter what type of place it is (hostel, hotel, guesthouse, etc.), you’ll still enjoy the destination and save plenty of money along the way.
Bryan Tighe is the co-founder of BudgetYourTrip.com, a website that helps travellers discover how much everything costs around the world. Having visited over 50 countries, he and his wife are obsessed with exotic food, interesting cultures, and getting off the beaten path.