How to Plan a Trip on a Budget
Traveling the world and experiencing different cultures can be an expensive endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. Sure, you can spend a pretty penny traveling abroad easily, but there are also plenty of ways to experience the world without breaking the bank. All you need are the best budget travel hacks.
Before you start your travel planning, you’ll want to come up with a sound budget. You definitely want to make sure you stick within your financial means while traveling, because it will be much easier to spend far more than you intend without realizing it. Along with setting the budget, there are plenty of other budget travel tips you can use when planning your trip and adventuring around the world to help you save money without sacrificing what’s most important. Here are our best tips to be your budget travel guide while planning your trip:
Travel During the Off Season
Peak travel seasons often mean sky-high prices. Travel prices tend to be at their highest when kids are out of school, during spring break or over summer vacation.
If you want to travel on a budget, try taking your trip during the off season. During the off season travel sites, like Travelocity, typically offer lower prices to attract more travelers. This means the best times to book your trip are usually between mid-September and early November or between mid-January and the end of March. Not only can you save quite a bit of money during these times, but you can avoid the crowds as well.
Be sure to do your research on what the exact low seasons are for your departure city and your travel destination(s) for a surefire way to find the lowest prices and successfully travel on a budget.
Avoid Baggage Fees
Paying for your checked luggage will feel like a waste of money. This may seem like a no-brainer budget travel tip, but many seasoned travelers fall victim to unexpected baggage fees, so it’s worth pointing out!
With more and more airlines implementing baggage fees, you’ll need to plan ahead to avoid them. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an airline that doesn’t charge baggage fees today, but it is possible if you look at the right fine print and pack well.
For starters, try to limit the number of checked bags you have, in both quantity of bags and overall weight. If you really want to ace the budget travel text, then you’ll need to avoid checked baggage completely and only take carry-ons with you. You can reduce the number of items you pack by considering doing laundry once or twice while you’re traveling, that way you can reuse the clothing you’ve packed rather than taking one outfit per day of travel.
Another great budget travel tip when it comes to packing is to lay out everything that you plan to bring with you, then cut it in half. You’d be surprised at how little you need when you’re in full on travel mode. Before you pat yourself on the back for downsizing beyond what you imagined possible, make sure you weigh your luggage so there are no surprises when you get the airport. If avoiding baggage fees is important, then avoiding weight limits is essential (it will literally cost you an arm and a leg).
Choose a Hotel with Free Breakfast
You can save anywhere from $10 to $20 on food if the hotel you stay at includes breakfast in their nightly accommodation fees. Travel booking websites, like Onetravel and Priceline, usually have filters for free breakfast that allow you to browse hotel options that offer complimentary breakfasts.
If you’re really serious about utilizing the best budget travel hacks, then you should install money-saving extensions to your browser before you start booking your trip. The Piggy extension can help you automatically find lower rates on hotels, and they’ll pay you cash back on the exact same hotel rooms you can find on other accommodation websites. Having extra cash to spend on something during your trip will make you feel like a true budget traveler too!
Use Photos as Souvenirs
When visiting somewhere new, it’s tradition to pick up a trinket that will remind you of your travels. But the bad news is, souvenirs can be pricey! If you plan to pick up a few for your friends and family back home too, then the price of souvenirs can really add up.
Instead of spending your hard-earned money on souvenirs, consider taking photos of memorable spots that you visit. Not only is this a much more affordable option, but it also has more meaning, because each picture represents a personal memory of a special place from your trip (rather than a postcard moment snapped by someone else). Pick a handful of photos and create a scrapbook or digital album through Vistaprint that you can reminisce about your travels with for years to come. It will also be a great way to share your travels with your family and friends; they’ll love looking through your photos so much, they won’t even realize not buying them a souvenir was one of your budget travel hacks.
Eat Street Food
One of the great things about traveling is experiencing the country’s culinary delights. Sure, you might have several ethnic eateries around where you live, but there’s no comparison to eating authentic dishes right from the source!
To help you save when traveling abroad, you can eat like a local. Coincidentally, street food happens to be not only local, but also a great budget-friendly option. Eating street food instead of eating at fast food restaurants or sit-down eateries will help reduce your spending on meals during your travels. Choosing to eat street food so you can travel on a budget will also allow you to experience the local cuisine and vibrant culture of the place you’re visiting.
Use Public Transportation
No matter what country or city you happen to be in, renting a car or taking a taxi will be expensive. But, you have to get around somehow, right? Instead of relying solely on transport that is privately hired, consider taking public transportation as much as possible. In order to take public transit, you’ll have to do your homework on the public transportation offered, routes, etiquette, and time schedules before you head off.
Walking is also a great way to get around, and it’s free! In fact, walking might be an even better way to see the place you’re visiting. When you walk to each sight you’ll have time to take it all in, including the small details that you might overlook when riding on a moving vehicle. But again, researching the fastest and safest walking route before you leave is always a good idea.
This will no longer be a great budget travel tip if it leads to you having to hire a taxi when you’re lost and have no idea how to get home.
Visit Free Attractions
Many attractions charge an entrance fee to get in, but there are plenty that are completely free of charge. A simple Google search will provide you with a list of free attractions and cultural sites wherever you plan on traveling. There are plenty of gardens, parks, and museums that don’t charge anything for entrance, and that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth visiting. Spend a day hiking, have a picnic in a park by a river, or explore nature in any other free way. Before you finalize your trip plans, be sure to find out which local attractions are free to help you travel on a budget.
Shop Off the Beaten Path
If you can keep your shopping sprees to a minimum, that’s a great way to save a lot of money. But if you must shop, consider shopping outside of tourist-laden areas, where prices tend to be hiked up. Instead, visit places where the locals go to get a bargain on great local products. The items you buy away from tourist hot spots will likely be cheaper and more authentic.
Planning Your Trip Just Got Easier
It’s nice to take a break from the daily grind by taking a trip abroad, but it’s even nicer to be able to experience a new scenery, weather, food, and culture in another part of the world without draining your savings. Put these budget travel tips to good use and you’ll figure out how to travel on a budget without compromising your experience.