Traveling is one of the most rewarding experiences. You see sights that you could never imagine, engage with cultures completely foreign to you, and gain a new perspective as a world citizen. But, traveling is also very expensive.
Many people want to travel but find the process to be too financially cumbersome. It doesn’t need to be! There are many easy things you can do to make traveling affordable, regardless of what your budget may be.
Here are some tips and tricks that could end up turning your dream of seeing the world into a reality:
Travel During the Offseason
Every destination has its own ideal season for traveling. And during that time of year, your trip will cost more as airlines, hotels, Airbnbs and other services raise their prices in response to increased demand.
For most destinations, you’ll want to avoid:
- Visiting during either the summer or winter as people are typically on vacation.
- Visiting during or close to any holidays. Tourists will be on vacation while others travel to see family and friends.
Some locations also have certain periods where there is a higher risk for severe weather conditions. For example, India has a dangerous monsoon season. Do your research on your destination and choose a time that is both affordable and safe.
You should aim to time your trip is during a period of low tourist traffic. These are the times of the year when people are not typically travelling, which usually results in the lowest prices possible for both flights and hotels.
Flights are often one of the biggest expenses for any trip. Particularly when traveling overseas, even economy seats can reach more than $1,000. As such, it’s important to save as much money as you can on your airplane tickets when traveling on a budget.
If you don’t mind spending a little bit of time in a third location, you should consider booking a connecting flight. These flights are often significantly cheaper than direct flights.
However, some connecting flights potentially have overnight layovers. If that is the case, the direct flight may actually end up saving you more money, because you won’t have to pay for overnight accommodations. If the connecting flight is not overnight, then it could be a great idea that could save you hundreds of dollars.
Cheap Living Accommodations
In addition to flights, hotel accommodations are often one of the largest travel expenses. Even low-quality hotels can easily cost more than $100 per night, which can quickly add up. Instead, consider one of the following living options when traveling on a budget.
Airbnb offers great, cost-effective alternatives to hotels for as little as $50 or less per night. If you are willing to share your Airbnb with other guests, prices can get even lower.
Not only are Airbnbs cheaper, but they are often nicer than hotels—at least regarding hotels in similar price ranges.
For travelers on a very strict budget, hostels might be your best bet. Some of the cheapest start below $20 per night—even in major cities like Los Angeles or London.
Typically, you’ll have to share your room with up to eight other people with common bathroom and dining areas. However, you’ll often still receive amenities like free breakfast and Wi-Fi.
If you’re really trying to spend as little as possible on living accommodations, Couchsurfing might be a viable option.
This service connects travelers with local hosts who provide a free place to stay for a few days. Many hosts have lived in the area for years and can offer advice about where to go, what to see and where to eat.
Of course, you should exercise caution when using this service or others like it, as you’ll be staying with a stranger.
Tourist passes offer a cost-effective solution for travelers looking to see the major tourist attractions in any given city.
CityPASS, for example, is a popular service that offers its passes in several cities throughout the United States and Canada.
Using New York as an example, CityPASS offers access to six major attractions for only $126, which is a 42% discount on regular admission prices.
Tourist passes are a great solution for budget travelers who don’t want to limit their experience.
Dining is a major part of traveling, as part of experiencing culture is trying local cuisine. However, food costs can quickly add up.
First, you should avoid restaurants that are advertised directly to tourists. These places are often overpriced and meant to attract travelers who don’t know better. Ask locals for advice on good, cheap restaurants that offer happy hours and other specials.
You should also consider cooking your own meals as much as possible. You don’t have to avoid dining out altogether, but even just cooking your own breakfast can save hundreds of dollars on longer trips.
Avoid Tourist Traps
Lastly, be sure to avoid tourist traps as much as possible.
“Tourist traps” are attractions and activities that are extremely overpriced and heavily advertised. Locals know to avoid these attractions, but tourists are often deceived into thinking they’re must-see sights. However, you will often leave feeling underwhelmed and ripped off.
It can be difficult to know which tourist traps to look out for, so be sure to research your destination in advance. Plan out the activities you want to do beforehand and avoid being tempted by expensive attractions.
Budget traveling is difficult, but not impossible if you use these tips to make your next vacation more affordable.