How to Travel on a Budget
It’s easier than you think!
Many people are fascinated by the idea of traveling. You scroll through your social media feeds, and you see pictures and videos of these incredible destinations. Naturally, the first words out of your mouth are, “man; I would love to visit there!” At least I know that that’s what I say.
So, the question stands to be answered if you could travel more or at all, would you?
I know an issue that many people face when wanting to travel is the thought: “oh, its too expensive to travel!”
Well, for the past 4 years, I have had the ability to travel around the United States and the world. I have visited 15 states, and so far, 15 countries ranging from the Dominican Republic to Greece, all the way to Bali, Indonesia, and my boyfriend and I have managed to do this all on budget. Here is how…
The first thing we consider is how long we would like to travel for and what our budget for this trip will be, and then we get to work!
We start by…
Choosing a Travel Destination Based on Our Budget
When Miguel and I plan our trips, one of the first things we look for is what countries will give us the biggest bang for our buck! We will then make a list of 10 of these places. Remember, depending on the destination you decide to go to can ultimately affect your budget.
So, look for places that:
Are “Cheap” to Travel
We tend to visit countries where the U.S. dollar holds a higher value or countries that are just cheap to travel to in general. For example, one of the main reasons we decided to travel to Indonesia was the dollar's exchange rate to the rupiah. Our money went a LONG way. It made it easier for us to do more and not feel so constricted with our plans.
Another example was our trip to Prague, Czech Republic. Although the country is in Europe's heart and uses the euro as its currency, it has relatively lower costs compared to other European countries. For this reason, when we spent 4 days within the city, we could enjoy ourselves and not break the bank.
So, search for places that 1) have a higher exchange rate than your currency or 2) have lower costs.
Traveling Out of Season
Traveling out of season can make an already cheap place even cheaper to travel to. However, even if the country you would like to visit isn’t necessarily affordable, traveling out of season can make all the difference.
Take, for example, our trip to Greece. When Miguel and I traveled there, we went in late Septemeber/ beginning of October. This typically isn’t the time frame when one would consider heading to Greece. But, it worked out in our favor. The cost of everything (from the rental cars to the ferries, and the hotels) was, in fact, a fraction of the price it would have been if we had chosen to go during high times.
Remember, traveling out of season varies depending on the destination. Do your research. See what place fits best for the time of year you are deciding to travel during.
Lastly, don't be picky! Consider places you usually would not. By doing this, you might find a hidden gem! This happened to us in South Korea. It happened to be our layover destination between the U.S. and Indonesia. We decided to dedicate a few days to explore the country, and now we can’t wait to go back! You never know what you will find if you only give it a try!
Once we have our list of 10 destinations, we move onto the next step, looking for flights.
Look and Book Flights in Advance
Book In Advance
When we are not flying standby, how and when we search is a little different from when we are flying standby (how we fly standby is something I will go in-depth on in another blog post, eventually.) Typically, when we are not flying standby, we tend to book our flights quite far in advance. Like, I’m talking months in advance. For international travels, I’m talking 2-4 months in advance and for domestic 1-2 months in advance. It all depends on the time of year and the locations we chose. Oh, and yes, we do this for all the places we choose so we can make the right decision and the cheapest decision.
Know Where to Search
Not only will booking in advance help you find cheaper tickets, but so will knowing where to search. Here is a list of different places you can search for flights.
Scotts Cheap Flights
Also, consider flying in the middle of the week. Traveling on Tuesday and Wednesdays tends to be the cheapest days of the week to fly. An added bonus! Flights can sometimes be on the emptier side when choosing to fly during the week. That’s typically when we travel; the middle of the week.
Something else to take into consideration are connecting flights. Yes, it’s true; we all want to get to our destination right away. But sometimes having a connecting flight can help lower the costs and invite you to a new experience. What I mean by this is depending on the length of your layover means you might be given a chance to explore a new destination. Why not!?! Take advantage of this time. You never know what might be in store for you!
Come Up with a Plan
We have finally narrowed down our search by this point, and we know where our next destination will be. Now it’s time for the nitty-gritty! Coming up with a plan! Just know, this plan is meant as an idea of what and how you will be doing things.
Even when you are flying standby, it is crucial to come up with a plan!
Having your trip planned out can help curve your expenditures when traveling.
Questions we consider when making our plan are:
Do we need a Visa or International driver's license?
What cities would we like to visit?
How long would we like to stay in each city?
What activities do we want to do?
Can we book these activities in advance?
How much will that cost us?
What are the “must do” activities at this destination?
How will we be traveling throughout the country or state?
Will we be using a rental car, train, bus, personal driver, plane, ferry?
Can we book in advance?
How much will that cost us?
How long will we be using these services?
How much are we planning to spend on food and souvenirs?
Answering these questions keeps us prepared, on track, and, more importantly, it keeps money in our pockets.
Something that we do to help curve the cost of our travels is living like the locals. When we travel, we enjoy experiencing a country for what it has to offer. What not a better way than by immersing yourself into the local scene and understanding their culture and their way of life. Plus, most of the tourist attractions usually are more expensive. So try immersing yourself into the local life. It can be an enriching experience!
Get Away from the Idea of Staying at a Big Fancy Hotel
Instead, consider staying at hostels or a vacation rental. We tend to use *AirBnB, Booking.com, and Hotels.com to book our stays when we travel. Due to this, we usually do not spend more than $50 a night on our stay. Especially if we are planning to stay more than 2 nights in one city. The further you book in
advance typically, the larger the selections you will have in finding a place to stay and believe me when I tell you, you can find some pretty incredible places with some incredible views for cheap. Just like we did in Athens. From our bedroom window we could see the Acropolis of Athens! What a sight to see!
Couchsurfing.com is another website to consider when looking for a cheap way to travel. The idea of this website is that you can crash on someone's couch or spare bedroom for free. However, we have never used this site before, so please do your research and find out more info before using it.
*Click the link below for an AirBnB code for up to $50 off a stay and $15 toward an Airbnb Experience of $50 or more.
Whether you travel for work or leisure, looking into different hotels or online website reward systems can help out a lot. You can use these points towards free stays helping to lower the cost of your travel.
Use Your Following
If you have a following on social media, use it! Sometimes, places will offer you a night or two for free in return for you to share your stay on your social media pages. So reach out! Whether to the hotel through their social channels or their website. Request to speak to someone concerning your stay and make sure to have your media kit ready. Never send your media kit; always ask to send it first! Show the hotel that you are interested in them, and you have an understanding of the hotel and what they stand for. As I always say, do your research and, more importantly, understand and know what you have to offer.
Carry On Luggage
When Miguel and I travel, even though we can bring a bigger bag, you will more than likely never see us travel with anything more than a carry on suitcase. If you are wondering, YES, it is possible to plan a 2 week vacation using nothing other than a carry on luggage. Don’t believe me, ask a flight attendant. I am sure they have other nifty tricks up their sleeve on traveling with only a carry-on.
Check out my Amazon storefront for items I use to help make traveling with only carry-on luggage easier.
Traveling with only a carry-on can also help cut those expensive luggage fees, and it definitely makes it easier to carry from destination to destination!
So there you have it! Now, ask yourself the same question as before. This time with the understanding of how to travel on a budget. If you could travel more or at all, would you?
Be flexible, and do your research!
Maybe next time it will be your photos, people look at and say to themselves, “man, I wish I could travel there.”