Many people think that you need a lot of money to travel, but it’s simply not true! Depending on what kind of trip you want to take, believe it or not, you can do almost anything on a shoestring. There are lots of tips and ‘hacks’ I’ve learned along the road and here’s a roundup of my favorite tips for budget travelers.
Did you know that sometimes airlines make mistakes with their prices? These are called error fares, and they can result in some super cheap tickets. Check out sites like fly4free to keep up to date on the latest deals, and set up a flight alert with a country or city you know you’ll be flying to or from soon.
If there’s one tip you take away from this post, make it this one. When you’re booking travel, always always *always* use the incognito function on your web browser. This prevents websites from using trackers and cookies on your computer, which they use to monitor what you’re searching for, then adjust the price or make it seem like tickets are running out.
Traveling somewhere out of season can result in significantly reduced airfare and accommodation prices. Whether it’s summer in a skiing town, or monsoon season in Asia, being flexible on when you travel can save you big. The day and time you travel can also make a difference, with weekends being most expensive, and unsociable hours or multiple connections being cheaper.
Say yes to being bumped
Airlines quite often overlook flights, believe it or not. When you’re at the gate, you may hear a call out for volunteers to be bumped from the flight in exchange for perks. If you’re a flexible traveler like me, it just makes sense to say yes. Unless you have strict commitments, why not? These perks can involve a night’s stay at a nearby hotel, an upgraded seat on a different flight, and flight vouchers for future travel. Seems like a win win to me.
Get a travel debit card
Credit and debit cards from your home country usually work overseas, but the cost of constant conversions and withdrawal fees can add up. Do your research and find a good travel card that means you top it up with money then spend it at the best rate possible. For most travel cards, top-up a certain amount the first time, say $500, and you’ll receive the free credit.
Local currency always
Taking money out from the ATM? If you’re using a foreign card, you’ll get asked by the machine if you want it to charge you in the local currency or your home currency. Always select local currency, as the ATM will do its own conversion rate if you select to convert it, which could be almost anything, and is never the cheaper option.
Free walking tours
Some of the best information I’ve learned about a city has been on free walking tours. These tours are given by locals of the area who are not only trained in their job but have lived in the area for a long time. These tours are, as the name suggests, free, but it’s customary to tip your guide at the end, and it’s usually well worth the money. If you don’t feel like walking, you could try a Hilton Head bike rental or something similar. Riding a bike, especially if the location is near the beach, might be a lot of fun!
Not one I would do with my kids but if you’re short on money, accommodation is likely one of the most expensive parts of your trip. But luckily, there’s an easy and fun way to cut the costs. Couchsurfing is a website and community of like-minded travelers, and here you can find a place to stay for a night or two, for free. Find a host who has common interests or who you think you’d get along with, and send them a message. If they accept, take them out for a drink or a meal to say thank you. I’ve met some amazing people during my couch-surfing experiences, and seen parts of cities and countries I never would have otherwise.
There are dozens of other tips and hacks out there, and these budget travel tips and hacks have never steered me wrong. What are some of your go-to budget tips? Let me know by dropping a comment down below!