Everybody is asking me how I can travel cheap an how am I finding all those killer offers.
So today, I decided to give you some tips and tricks about traveling cheap. Don’t wait to get rich before seeing the world. You don’t have to break the bank to travel the world but also let’s face it that travel is not free.
Planning a vacation on a budget doesn’t mean you will have to sleep on the streets or that you cannot experience the best of the best; it simply means you have to be resourceful. Even if you have a lot to spend, there’s no reason to blow all your money on unnecessary travel expenses.
Now that you’ve identified travel as one of your priorities, we’ll walk you through the best strategies for saving money on your next trip.
1.Decide what you need—and what you can live without
The first step in your cheap travel adventure is to prioritize. You probably already know how to do this with your day-to-day living expenses. Some people want to live in a nice house, but are willing to drive a less nice car. Others squeeze into minuscule living spaces in order to follow their dreams in exciting cities. The same choices apply to travel. If you want to do it cheaply, you need to think of the experience as the ultimate prize. Everything else is negotiable.
You can stay in a hostel or a 2-3 star hotel because you’re going to spend most of your time sightseeing anyway. You can prepare breakfast at your hotel or Airbnb, so you can eat out for lunch and enjoy a drink or two at night. You can pack lightly enough that you don’t have to check a bag.
Of course, there’s no need to feel completely deprived. Just choose your splurge wisely—and make sure it fits in your budget.
2.Stay flexible about travel
Travel is all about timing.
More specifically, you should be flexible in these three areas:
When you fly.
Where you stay.
Where you go.
When you fly
Flexibility is the most important thing in finding a cheap flight. You need to be flexible in either your date or destination. If you have to go to Paris on a specific date, then you have to pay the fare. There’s no magic bullet to make the price go down.
But by changing your date by a day or two, you might be able to drop the price. Same works for destinations. If there’s a cheaper flight to London instead of Stockholm, consider going to London instead.
It also helps to travel during times when there are drastically less people traveling.
Where you stay
This means you can skip the expensive Big 5 stars hotels that are looking to squeeze you of as much money as possible. A common misconception is that traveling cheap means you have to stay in sketchy hostels or flea-ridden hotels. That’s not really the case. Hostels have modernized themselves to meet the demands of the market. They often have nice beds, restaurants, bars, free Wi-Fi, offer tours, and all have private rooms and showers.
Where you go
While big cities like Paris, New York, and Tokyo are undeniably alluring, they’re also insanely expensive. In fact, those three cities I just mentioned consistently rank in the top ten most expensive cities in the world.
If that is enough to turn you off from traveling, have no fear! Instead, you can choose to travel to a place with a lower cost of living. Doing this can help you save a ton of money.
One of the best ways to travel cheap is to go to places that have a cheaper cost of living than the place you currently live. However, this isn’t to say that in order to travel cheap you have to avoid places like Paris and Tokyo at all costs. If you want to go to a more expensive destination and not break the bank, you’ll need to learn how to practice conscious budgeting.
This doesn’t necessarily mean being romantically involved with your travel partner, it could be your best friend or a co-worker. There are many moments of travel that are cheaper when the bill is split between two people. Think taxis, hotel rooms, car/moped hire. Just make sure your travel partner is on the same page financially otherwise it may be hard to stick to your budget if they are out partying and splurging on fancy dinners each night while you are trying to stretch your dollars as far as possible.
4.Wear your luggage
If you’re flying with a budget airline and want to take the whole wardrobe, you will have to pay for it. Plus the weight allowance for budget airlines can be lower than elsewhere, at roughly 15kg to 20kg. Yet there are nifty ways to get round this.
Most airlines will give you a free 10kg hand luggage allowance. It’s amazing what you can fit. To minimize weight, wear your heaviest clothes and shoes. If you’re near the weight limit, put heavy gear in your pockets, then stow your jacket under your seat on the plane. Learn to pack efficiently and I can assure you that can be done.
5.Travel in the Low Season
Low seasons differ depending on the destination. Regardless of where you’re going, if you want to save money, this is the best time to travel. For example: If you want to hit up the Caribbean Islands, do it in the Summer. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a European escape, plan it for Winter. It might be cold, but snow in Paris is a sight to be seen. Flights, hotels, and even food are cheaper during this time period. Mid seasons are also a great time to travel and offer less risk.
Though it might be a tiny bit more expensive than the low season, the possibility of more attractive weather is stronger. While off-seasons and mid seasons are a great time to travel, make sure to do your research. A little extra heat won’t hurt you, but a devastating monsoon will definitely ruin your vacation.
6.Travel in the midweek and in the right time
The cheapest flight days are Tuesday, Wednesday or Sunday, according to studies. Most expensive flights: Friday or Saturday. Worse than booking a ticket a long time before, you can only wait until the last hour. Flights do not apply to the principle of last minute discounts for travel agencies. The few remaining tickets on the last hundred meters, will be paid anyway by people willing to pay for either business trips or emergencies.
Okay, then, how much time in advance should me book the ticket? Very hard to give an exact answer. There have been numerous studies and the optimal interval is somewhere between 21 and 171 days before. Yes, it doesn’t help much. Airlines have an army of people studying the evolution of many indicators, and so there are almost daily fluctuations in prices, just like the Wall Street Stock Exchange. So, it remains to be patient and persistent and to set a price alert for your favorite destination.
7.Use the right cheap flight-finding site
You need to use the right type – here are our top pick comparison sites:
Skyscanner for the very cheapest time to fly. Skyscanner gives you fare options spread over a month to find exactly when’s cheapest. It has particularly strong coverage of budget flights, searching over 1,200 airlines and travel sites in total.
Kayak for a comparison incl baggage and payment fees. It allows you to filter options based on credit/debit card fees and whether or not you want to check in bags so you can compare costs more accurately.
Momondo for its flight data info. Momondo tells you the cheapest and most expensive dates around your flight, as well as helpful insights such as the cheapest airport to fly from/into. It doesn’t do it for all destinations, but it has the biggies – New York, Dubai, Sydney, Cape Town.
8.Find a free place to stay
Do you have friends or family who live in interesting places? Plan a trip to their city and ask to sleep on. The best part about staying with someone you know (other than the free accommodation) is getting insider tips about what to do and see while you’re there.
Even if you don’t know anyone in your destination, you can use the Internet to find a free place to stay. Most people have heard of CouchSurfing, where you can find a free couch, bed, or space on the floor to sleep.
MindMyHouse charges $20 for an annual membership, which connects you to over 18,000 homeowners across the globe. There are currently about 200 “house sitter wanted” posts, many requiring some form of animal care.
House swapping is another option if you own your home. New and established home swapping sites such as HomeExchange, LoveHomeSwap, HomeLink, and Intervac allow you to list your house, browse other listings, and contact members about potential swaps. Most charge a monthly or annual membership fee but offer free trial periods so you can see if it’s for you.
9. Be Open to a Range of Accommodations
What if you don’t need a whole house or don’t want to couchsurf. Try a hostel or a hotel. You don’t need to stay at a five-star hotel or villa to experience extraordinary luxury. That’s not to say you shouldn’t book at least one five-star hotel during your vacation. From stunning Airbnbs and boutique hotels to glamping and B&Bs, luxury can be found anywhere. Discover different cultures by booking a variety of accommodations. Don’t let the term “boutique hotel” scare you away.
Oftentimes, these smaller digs offer as much luxury and as many amenities as five-star resorts but at a more appealing price tag. Also, don’t write off bed and breakfasts. The uptick in luxury B&Bs is remarkable. They are both upscale and charming, and they can definitely save you a bundle. Finally, save the best for last. Stay at a variety of different hotels, and spend the last few nights of your vacation at the most insane five-star villa around. Such villas frequently include a private plunge pool and personal butler. Want luxury? You got it!
This site is great to find some really cool places at a relatively low cost (you can even stay in a freaking castle!).
Is one of the largest travel e-commerce companies in the world. with world’s largest selection of incredible places to stay, including everything from apartments, vacation homes, and family-run B&Bs to 5-star luxury resorts, tree houses and even igloos.
HostelBookers.com. With over 35,000 hostels in over 170 countries, HostelBookers should be your first stop when trying to find a good hostel. You’ll have no trouble finding an awesome (yet budget friendly) option here
HostelWorld. Another great option to find hostels. The site’s 24/7 customer support is also at your call in case you have any questions or concerns about your bookings.
10.Eat like a local
Not only is tasting new cuisines part of the joy of travelling but you’re likely to eat far better as well as saving money, when you eat like a local. From $1 bowls of noodles in Vietnam to backstreet French bistros, produce is usually locally sourced and tastier, rather than imported. If they’ve had to ship a tin of baked beans 4000 miles, it’s not going to come cheap! Another top tip is stocking up from the hotel buffet breakfast and shopping in local supermarkets for lunch. Find street food to savour, no matter where you’re off to, with this guide to the world’s best cheap street eats.
11.Slowly does it
Transport is one of the most expensive parts about travel. So don’t move around as much. Staying in a location for a month or more gives you a chance to do your normal daily tasks such as working out, catching up with friends, reading a book or doing some work. It means you can really get to know a place and visit lots of hidden spots you learn about along the way. Instead of trying three restaurants and visiting a few tourist attractions what if you could get to know some locals who will show you around and take you to the best spots. Many travelers will tell you that slow travel is much more rewarding and enjoyable than spending half of your time in transit.
12.Get local travel info before you go
Information is the power. If you plan to explore beyond a trip to the pool, pick your must-sees and transport before you go. Forget to do this and you risk shelling out on pricey last-minute trips, or ending up stranded at the hotel.
For ideas, TripAdvisor has a handy ‘things to do’ section with reviews of holiday attractions, activities, nightlife and shopping. Travel guidebooks can also offer valuable local knowledge on the go.