Updated: Dec 26, 2021
In this post, see how I manage to travel the world cheaply / on a budget! I'm giving you my tips and tricks to travel for cheap for FREE!
Macchu Picchu, Peru
Do you want to travel but you don't seem to have the money? Are you always losing a lot of money on vacations and can't seem to save? Below are my personal tips and tricks that I have found out while traveling solo on how to travel for cheap! As you may know, I was only nineteen years old when I first started traveling full time; traveling with my OWN money. People ask me on the daily how I can afford traveling to all these different places and they explain to me how the only thing holding them back is MONEY! So if you want to see my secrets, then read below;)
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If you know me, you probably know that I travel very spontaneously; but even though I travel like this - I make sure to PLAN. I love making itinerary's so it's not too much of a problem for me to plan; but everyones different. If you want to travel on a budget, you would want to plan how much time you spend in each city, how many days, where you're going, and what you're going to eat. I also plan how I'm getting from city to city (which form of transportation and approximate costs). Planning is great because it leaves less of a chance of missing a flight, unexpected spends, and last minute accomodations.
Things to plan:
-Flight costs and time
-Transportation costs from city to city (buses, trains, domestic flights).
Flights will probably be the most expensive part of your trip. If you want cheaper flights I recommend becoming a mile member with an airline you use often. Rack up points and get free flights!
You can also get a Travel Credit Card! If you get this, you can use this on food, restaurants and shopping which allow you to then get free miles and flights in things you were going to pay for anyway!
Other ways of getting cheaper flights is choosing the longest flight. Longer flights are usually cheaper and make more stops, which can get a little overwhelming and also make you lose less time on your vacation. I recommend choosing the mid ranged flight, which is usually an okay time range and about 300-400$ less than the quickest flight. If you really want to budget and don't mind the flight time then definitely choose that one! Do research though on multiple airline companies websites though because sometimes you can get a great deal!
For cheap flights I usually use the website sky scanner, or the application hopper.
Hotels vs Hostels
If you want to travel for cheap... one word. HOSTELS!!! Hostels can range anywhere from 7$ a night - 35$ a night! (Sometimes more depending on the area). I've been staying at hostels for most of my travels and I love them. I've had nothing but positive experiences. You get to meet interesting people from all over the world, and be able to be in the center of attractions for a cheap price. The rooms I've had have always been clean, big, and better than I had expected. The bathrooms as well! I've had a couple shared bathrooms but they have always been clean. One thing about hostels is to make sure that they have good reviews prior to booking. I always do this to make sure I'm staying at a safe and clean place in a good location.
To find hostels:
these websites are usually the best at booking hotel/hostel rooms and they give you great prices!
Only book a hotel if you want to splurge for an area or if its the only safe accommodation in the area.
The way you travel around the city will give you an estimate on how much money you're about to spend. Research the country you're going too and see how efficient the public transportation is in the country you're visiting. There are six efficient methods of transportation.
Train, Bus, Plane, Ferry, Taxi and of course the final mode of transportation being walking! Let's talk about each more in depth.
Train- Trains are a very efficient mode of transportation, especially in Europe. Train tickets are usually reasonably priced, and if the city is close to the other they can be anywhere from 6-20 Euros. If the cities are a little farther away it really depends on the country but in Europe they're around 15 Euros - 50 Euros. If you're traveling within Europe you can buy a rail pass which allows you to hop on almost any train you want!
Bus- Buses are another very efficient mode of transportation; but this REALLY depends on the country you're visiting. Do a little research prior to travel, and if buses are a good way of getting around the city you're visiting then make sure to choose this option! Buses can cost anywhere from 0.50 Euros to 2 Euros. Longer bus rides can cost anywhere from 1-30 Euros. (Differs from each country) South America they are ever cheaper! I say to research because in some countries in Africa and South America it gets very confusing taking the bus and sometimes it's not that safe for a solo traveller.
Plane- When traveling long distance domestically, sometimes just buying a flight can be cheaper than riding a train or a bus! Search up domestic flights (with a good airline to make sure you don't lose money on extra baggage or seat fees) and see if it's the cheaper way around that country.
Ferry- When traveling by a coastline, taking the ferry is very cheap and efficient. Ferry can cost anywhere from 2-10 Euros (more or less depending on the country) but they get you across the sea VERY quickly! You can even bring your rental car on one!
Taxi- DON'T TAKE TAXIS! I can't stress this enough. Only take taxis if you're in countries in which this is the most efficient and safe method of travel. Usually, in most countries, taxis jack up their prices and start the meter at an already high price before driving. Taxis will waste your money in almost two days. Before I found out these tips on traveling, my friends and I accidentally spent almost 500$ on taxis ALONE maybe more. So if you have another option of transportation, use the other options. Use taxis as your last option. (Again depending on country, make sure to do research).
Walking- Finally, the method of transportation you will use the most... YOUR LEGS! As a traveller, I've been walking around 10 miles or more a day! Hiking as well. Yes it gets tiring, but you don't really focus on it when you're surrounded by beauty that you're not used too. I consider anything up to 45 minutes walkable for me. When out in the heat though, I usually op for a walk to the bus/train station and take it from there. Walking is an amazing form of exercise too and so its a good way of keeping yourself fit while on vacation.
Food and Restaurant
If you're trying to travel on a budget, make sure not to eat at restaurants or well known food places. Eat at hole in the wall places! A hole in the wall place is a small, local, indistinct place which you wouldn't really think was a restaurant. Hole in the wall places can be anywhere from 1USD-10USD! Make sure the vendor's area looks clean though or has a review of some kind to avoid any food problems!
Another way of eating while traveling on a budget, it buying from street vendors! In Asia, street vendors can give you a whole meal for only 1USD! CRAZY, right?! In Bali, a beautiful acai bowl as well as a smoothie can add up to only 3USD!
So ditch the fancy restaurants or influencer spots, and eat at a tasty hole in the wall place or with street vendors to really get a taste of the culture.
Another way of saving money on food is COOKING YOUR OWN MEALS! Get groceries and cook your own meals at a kitchen nearby. This was you can save almost 100USD or more rather than eating out.
Excurisons can be the second most expensive part of your trip if you're looking for a good adrenaline rush. Although, you can find a good adrenaline rush without having to pay for anything! Explore the country you're in! Walk around, find secret spots, if you're traveling on a budget then you shouldn't be spending anything on excursions. I advise if there's something you really dreamed about doing, then you can splurge on that ONE activity. I'm a huge adrenaline junky and so I do save up a lot just so that I can do a lot of excursions when traveling. I save up for things like sky diving, cage diving, paragliding, etc. but things like Cliff jumping, Trekking, Exploring; you can just do for free!
Getting a job
If you want to travel, you can also work while you travel! This way you can make money while still in a new country. You can work as a Hostel working (who rarely stick around for long), a Cruise worker, A bartender, a waitress/waiter, etc. Choose a country you really want to travel too and apply to jobs! This way you can make money while also getting to travel. Usually if you work on a cruise, or as a tour guide, you get paid to go to different places! The pay isn't very good but you can go places for free!
Teaching English overseas is a great way to earn some extra cash while traveling! People are always in need of an English teacher, and you can find a job rather easily in countries in Asia or South America, etc. Many companies in Asia will pay for your trip over!
You can also teach English online which leaves even more room to actually be in different countries!