In this article I'll explain several tips for budget travel. Vacations and travel are great, but they don't always need to cost thousands of dollars. This article covers:
- Being Flexible
Have one! If you leave the country, you need it. If you want to be flexible it's important to have your passport already so you can leave on a moments notice. Even if you don't have specific travel plans yet, get your passport so it's one thing you don't have to worry about later.
Flights are usually one of the most expensive parts of a vacation. If you're leaving the country you're going to have to shell out money for the flight, but you can still try to save.
Book in advance - If you can book your flights a long time before you leave you can often get cheaper flights than if you book closer to your departure. Book as early as you can.
Book last-minute - This seems contradictory, but if you wait until the last minute to book, you can also save money. This can be very risky because flights might be full and you travel plans will come to a screetchig halt. From my experience the time to start checking prices is the last two weeks, especially the last week before travel.
Fly standby - This is the extreme version of last-minute booking. You can sometimes buy standby tickets or show up at the airport without a ticket and try to get a cheap flight. It's a big risk, but possibly big reward.
Look around - If you're booking online, check many different sites suck as kayak, orbitz, expedia, or air ninja. Don't forget to check directly through the airline too, sometimes it's cheaper.
Find several possible places you can stay and contact them if you can. If not, have the information with you when you arrive. Everyone knows how to find a hotel, but there are tons of other ways to stay in a foreign city. Try looking on Airbnb or HomeExchange for a different experience. Best yet, my personal favorite is Couchsufing.
It's important to be careful when meeting anyone face to face that you contacted online, especially when you're going into their home. That said, Couchsurfing has been a great tool for me in the past. It's a great way to meet locals, stay for cheap or free, and see a new side of any location.
Camping is also a great resource. Even if you buy your tent once you arrive, it's still usually much cheaper than shelling out money for hotels. Lots of places you go will even have free camping and what personal travelling on a budget wants to spend $100 for a hotel room when there's a free campsite nearby.
Even abroad, it's not necessary to eat at a restaurant every meal of the day, especially if you want to travel on a budget. With little to no kitchen you can still make some good food without spending restaurant prices. Bringing a camping stove will further open your options for what you can make. Even if it's just buying bagels and cream cheese for breakfast and having a sandwich for lunch, that will probably save you $10-20 per day. Having a group, or at least a second person makes creating your own meals even more worthwhile because you don't end up with lots of food you don't need.
Whether it's eating out or buying groceries, try to find out what the locals do. There's usually a good reason why they do it.
Simply know what to expect and pack for it. If you're going to Hawaii, you don't need to bring three pairs of pants. Pack as little as possible, bring travel size portions, and learn to live without nonessential items. It should be a goal to try to fit everything into a carry on and, unless you need special items like climbing gear, a kiteboard, or a snowboard, there's reason no reason to bring a second bag. If you want to travel on a budget it can help to only have a carry on to avoid extra charges. Most international flights allow a free bag, but you might take domestic flights during your trip that charge for additional baggage.
Be flexible. It's another straight forward and underutilized tip that could save lots of people money on their trips. Flexibility can save you lots of money. Flexible dates help you save on cost of flights because mid-week flights are cheaper. If you have a rigid schedule you simply don't have the options to save money when you get the chance. If you keep your trip flexible you can go with the flow, take advantage of deals that come up, and have wonderful unexpected experiences on a budget.