We all need a vacation, but sometimes the funds just won’t stretch and many of us have to do without. However, you may be surprised that simple tips on how to travel cheap can suddenly make vacations affordable.
Almost everyone wants to travel cheaply. And there are many ways to travel cheaper, which in turn may let you have that long overdue vacation or travel more and take a few extra trips. Cheap travel is about planning, making smart choices, prioritizing and perhaps sacrificing a few home comforts to save money.
Want to know how to travel cheap?
Become a budget traveler and discover how to explore the world in the cheapest way possible. Don’t let money be the reason you don’t travel.
Read our 35 tips on how to travel on a budget.
How to Travel Cheap With Destinations
The most important part of planning any trip is choosing your travel destinations. You’ll need to take into account location, budget, how many of you are traveling and the type of experiences you would like to enjoy.
These five key tips will help you save money when choosing your travel destination.
35.) Take a Road Trip
The crazy thing is you don’t have to have a car to take a road trip. Get a group of friends together and carpool. If one of you has a car, great. If not, all of you can chip in to hire a car so the only other cost you’ll need to cover is gas.
If you are happy to carpool with a bunch of strangers, check out websites like BlaBlaCar. BlaBlaCar is a long-distance carpooling service that connects people to drivers with empty seats who are want to travel in the same direction. The best thing is they verify both drives and riders for peace of mind. Also, don’t forget to take out a
just in case.
Whether you drive yourself, rent a car or carpool, taking a road trip is a cheaper way to travel. Hitting the road gives you more freedom when traveling as you can travel at your own pace.
Top Tip: Take your own food. Make a packed lunch with some delicious sandwiches and snacks to save money instead of eating out.
34.) Go During Strategic Times
When picking the best destination for cheap travel, take into account that the peak season will be more expensive. Check to see when the peak and low season is for your chosen destination. If you can be flexible with your travel dates, schedule your trip during the low season.
Summertime is almost always peak season and winter is the low season. However, there are exceptions depending on the type of activities you want to take part in and where in the world the destination is.
33.) Spend Longer in One Location
Slow travel is the way to go to save money when traveling. Although the thought of visiting as many countries as possible within a month may sound alluring, it can have its drawbacks. The cost of flights, trains, taxis and bus trips all add up to take out a massive chunk of your budget.
Staying longer in one destination will help you save on transportation costs. Most accommodation is also cheaper the longer you stay.
Top Tip: Slow it down, stay longer, explore the area, learn about the culture and same some money.
32.) Go Camping
Want to know how to travel cheap? Go camping or take a trip to a caravan park. Getting back to nature and roughing it for a while will probably be your most affordable travel option.
Top Tip: Before you folk out on a load of cash on tents, sleeping bags and stoves, ask friends and family if you can borrow any camping equipment. It will help keep your budget down and give you extra funds to spend elsewhere.
31.) Stay Local
You don’t have to venture to the other side of the world to experience the joy of travel. By keeping your trip to your local area, you can save some serious dough.
Staycations are easy and cheap. Skip all the airport fuss and any overcomplicated travel plans by exploring the region around you. Take some time out to find new cafes and restaurants or even go on a hike in your nearest National Park. Make a day of it and get on the train and visit a nearby town.
The possibilities are endless.
How to Travel Cheap With Flights
Want to know how to travel the world and book a cheap flight on a budget? These travel hacks are great for finding cheap flights and saving you hundreds of dollars in the process.
30.) Be Flexible With Travel Dates
If you want to travel cheap, you have to be flexible. Once you have picked your ideal travel destination, use flight bookings engines to search flights a few days or ever weeks either side of your preferred departure date.
If you are traveling on a long-haul flight, try breaking up your trip and adding a few connections. Adding a few connections to your trip will bring the price down because most people don’t want to do this and are happy to pay extra for a more convent direct flight.
If you are flying a long distance, read our tips on how to survive a long-haul flight.
29.) Fly Midweek
By flying midweek you can save big. If you fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday, it will considerably cheaper than flying out on a Friday and Saturday as weekends are the most expensive days.
People who are heading out on vacation tend to depart on a Friday and return on a Sunday to maximize their vacation time. Business travelers, on the other hand, depart on a Sunday night and return home on a Friday. This leaves the airline with more seats to be filled midweek as not many people want to fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday. It’s possible to save about 35% on average on domestic flights by flying midweek.
28.) Fly Off-Peak Hours
When it comes to scoring a cheap flight ticket, timing is everything. If you can fly early on in the morning or late at night, you’ll have a better chance at a cheaper travel deal.
The best time of day to fly is between 5 am, and 7 am and after 8 pm.
27.) Book Direct With Airlines
After you have done your research, used flight booking search engines and found the best price for your flight, check the airline’s website as they can have cheaper fares available.
Airlines sometimes have lower flight ticket prices if you book directly with them online or buy an e-ticket.
26.) Join a Frequent Flyer Program
If you are already a frequent flyer and have racked up some points, why not use them and save money on your trip? Points can be used toward cheaper fares, upgrades and even some airlines offer free companion tickets.
Frequent flyer points can take some time to build up, but once you’ve got enough, they can pay off big time and save you money in the process.
How to Travel Cheap With Accommodation
Accommodation will more than likely be your biggest expense when it comes to travel. These following travel tips will help you save money when booking accommodation for your vacation.
25.) Call the Hotel Directly
The secret to getting the best rates for your hotel room is to speak to the right person. Call the hotel reception and ask to speak to a manager or supervisor as they will have more authority when it comes to negotiating hotel room prices. Don’t be too pushy when asking for a discount. Be polite and tell them about your travel plans so they can get to know you better. Do your research and see what the lowest rate is you can get online for the room, then use this for your benchmark of where to start your negotiations.
Top Tip: Sign up to for the hotel newsletter to receive their current discounts and offers.
24.) Join a Hotel Reward Program
Just like a frequent flyers earn points, many hotels offer reward programs for people who use the hotel chain often. Hotel points can be used to book a free night in the hotel or even a week’s stay if you are lucky enough to have accumulated enough points.
Other benefits are also available for things such as member’s only breakfast and room upgrades.
23.) Rent an Apartment
A vacation rental can be a lot cheaper and relaxing than staying in a hotel. The best rental apartments are booked up pretty quick, so it’s always best to start looking as early as possible so that you’ll have more options available. Renting is fun and a cost-effective way to live like a local while on vacation. Use an app like Airbnb to find the best rentals available in the area in your price range.
If you want to save more money, divide the cost of the vacation home rental with friends and enjoy a trip together.
22.) House Sit or Couchsurf
If you want accommodation that is free, consider sleeping on someone’s couch. Couchsurfing is a worldwide service that connects travelers with local people that have a place available stay. And no, it isn’t all couches. Beds are also on offer. If you want to meet and stay in a local area, Couchsurfing is a great way to do this.
Housesitting is also another way to get your travel accommodation without the cost. You can apply to housesit a home while the owner is away. The idea being the homeowner will have someone to look after their property and pets if any in exchange for a place to stay.
21.) Stay More Than One Night
Staying only one night at your accommodation is often more expensive than if you stay for multiple nights. Most hotels and vacation home rentals offer a discounted rate the longer your stay.
For longer-term visits, contact the accommodation directly and ask for a discount rate.
How to Travel Cheap With Food
You’ve booked the best destination with the cheapest flights deals and most affordable accommodation, but what about saving money on food.? These travel hacks will help you eat like a local without paying tourist prices.
20.) Cook Your Own Meals
If your vacation accommodation has kitchen facilities, use them. Buying your groceries and cooking for yourself will save you money and allow you to travel cheaper.
However, in specific locations, it’s so cheap enough to eat out that you might as well indulge in the local cuisine.
19.) Eat Street Food
Street food, especially in Asia, will often cost less than a dollar. Not only is street food the best way to save money and travel cheaply, it a great way to taste and immerse yourself in local cuisine and tradition.
Street food is arguably some of the best authentic food in the world. It is also a brilliant sensory experience. Watch the vendors cook food openly on the street, and take in the sights and smells. Grab yourself a plate and enjoy the delicious freshly cooked meal while sitting comfortably on a plastic chair.
18.) Enjoy Brunch
Want to know how to eat cheap when traveling?
Instead of going out every night and racking up a hefty bill on dinner and drinks, fill up on breakfast, brunch or lunch. By enjoying a lovely brunch instead of three meals a day, you’ll be paying a fraction of the cost of a dinner menu in the evening. Many restaurants offer a special lunch menu so keep a look out for cheaper food deals.
Top Tip: Avoid heavy tourist spots because you don’t want to be paying raised prices.
17.) Have a Picnic
If you want to travel cheap and save money on food, picnic like a pro. Picnics are a fantastic way to live like a local and try the local specialty cuisine and all on a budget.
Going to the local grocery shop and scouring authentic local ingredients will enhance your travel experience. Fill your stomach with tasty local food and fill your hearts with beautiful memories of your travel adventures.
16.) Get Breakfast Included
When booking a hotel, try to get a venue that includes breakfast as part of the deal. A hotel or homestay that provides free breakfast will save you money and time in the long run.
Some hotels offer free breakfast, so check before booking.
How to Travel Cheap With Transportation
The cost of transport when you travel can all add up. These cheap transport ideas will help keep your costs down when traveling.
15.) Ride the Bus
Transport is an important consideration when planning your travel budget as it can take up a considerable amount of your finances. Using local transport is an essential part of how to travel cheaply. Public transport will get you where you want to be and cost you less than spending all your bucks on expensive taxis.
Working out the best way to get about and about while you are on vacation is part of the fun. Once you’ve figured out the best way to travel cheaply, there will be no stopping you.
14.) Walk as Much as You Can
Walking is free, so you might as well make the most of it. By walking as much as you can, you can save cash and keep those step count figures up.
Take your time, walk around and take in the sights. Waking is a way to explore your surroundings at a slower pace. Go and get lost, find a cute cafe, a local market and take photos along the way. Walking is the perfect way to truly see and learn about your surroundings, and this is one of the secret ways of how to travel cheap.
Top Tip: Join a walking tour. Many cities offer walking tours of the area run by volunteers. Search online to see what is available in your chosen area.
13.) Book a Rental Car Online
Booking your rental car online in advance will give you a better chance of getting a cheaper deal. If you just turn up at the counter at the airport, they know that you need a car there and then and will charge inflated prices.
Purchasing a home car online before you arrive is quicker and easier. Plus, the last thing you want to do after a long haul flight is to negotiate. To make sure that you are getting the best deal, use comparison sites such as VroomVroomVroom.
12.) Rent a Bike
Want to shed some of those calories you’ve gained from overindulging on vacation and still wondering how to travel cheap? Take a bike ride! Renting a bike is cheap, faster than walking and fun. Cycling is a perfect way to explore a new place and let go of the stresses of everyday life. Take extra precaution when cycling in a new city as traffic conditions could be different from where you came from.
Pack a picnic and hit the outdoors, bike rides are an activity that the whole family can get involved in. Renting a bike and planning a bike ride is a fun way to make memories on your vacation while staying within your cheap travel budget. Not only that you’ll save money on parking.
11.) Make Sure Your Car Is Travel Efficient
You can save money when traveling by car by ensuring that your car is up to date, operating at it’s best and most efficient. Want to know how to travel cheap in a car? Follow these key tips:
- Drive slower: Aggressive driving burns more fuel than driving slower. Therefore, driving slower uses less fuel and saves cash.
- Don’t overload: The heavier the car, the higher the gas consumption.
- Use the right oil: This goes without saying. Use the wrong oil, and you could damage your car which can be very costly.
- Check tire pressure: Having the right tire pressure ensures that you have better control of your car, giving you higher fuel efficiency.
How to Travel Cheap With Tips for Finances
One of the most important tips for how to travel cheap is to keep an eye on your finances to make sure you don’t overspend. Also, include any possible bank fees that you may incur for using your card overseas in your budget. These tips will help your travel finances.
10.) Pay With Points
As with frequent flyer miles and hotel reward programs, some credit cards come with their own reward programs. If you know that you’ve got a trip coming up and you have some regular purchases you need to make, consider making these purchases on a travel card.
When you make your purchase on a travel card, you will gain points and miles that you can use toward your trip. These rewards can be redeemed on such things as airfare and hotels.
9.) Shop Around for Travel Insurance
Travel insurance should never be the last thing that you sort out when planning traveling on a budget. By doing a bit of forward thinking and shopping around for the best deals, it is possible to save a lot of cash on your vacation cover.
There is a travel insurance policy to suit every need from couples to families and backpacker insurance. Make sure you shop around to find the best travel insurance deal for you.
8.) Bypass Cellphone Roaming Charges
We all know about the extortionate cellphone roaming charges that are added to your bill when using our cell overseas. So how do you travel cheap and still use your cell phone? The answer: buy a SIM card for the local service provider when you arrive.
Top Tip: If you are happy not to use your cell while on vacation and want to use this trip as a way to reduce your screen time, turn off your data roaming on your phone. If you are unsure how to do this, contact your service provider or pop into one of their stores and they will show you how to do this.
7.) Avoid ATM Fees
When you are on vacation in a foreign country, you need cash. This means that you’ll probably use an ATM for your vacation spending money. ATMs charge for using your card overseas, and before you know it, you can rack up a lot of fees just for withdrawing money. Check with your bank about what fees you’ll have to pay. There are four principal fees that will be added to your account when using an ATM abroad:
- Currency exchange fee: The ATM interbank network provider will also charge a 1% fee for the use of the service.
- International transaction fee: You will be charged between 1 – 3 % for all withdrawals made overseas.
- Fee from your bank: Your bank will charge for using outside of their network.
- Fee from the offshore bank: The overseas bank will charge you a fixed fee for using their ATMs.
The best way to avoid ATM fees when traveling is to open a Schwab Bank Investor Checking Account. Schwab doesn’t charge any ATM fees when aboard, and they will reimburse you for all third-party fees.
Top Tip: Contact your bank before you leave to let them know that you will be overseas. This will stop any blokes being placed on your card for suspicious overseas activity.
6.) Work or Volunteer Overseas
Volunteering overseas will a great way to travel on a budget while experiencing a foreign land in a way like no other. See the country through the eyes of the locals. Learn new skills, make new friends and grow as a person.
Many volunteer opportunities come with free accommodation, and some even provide daily meals. Travel cheap, volunteer and make a difference. The life experience and friendships gained while volunteering is priceless.
If you have the travel bug and don’t want to stop, you may want to consider a working visa. Many counties offer working visas that allow you to travel and gain employment to help fund your adventure. Working abroad will aid in developing your career and life experience. It is a fantastic way to support your travels while you explore other countries and learn about their traditions and cultures. Earning money while living overseas is a unique way to see the world and gain knowledge that you would never have by staying at home.
How to Travel Cheap With Entertainment
When you visit a new place, you want to explore and visit local attractions. Some activities can end up being expensive, especially if you are traveling in a group. These simple and easy cheap travel ideas will allow you to experience as much as you can on a budget.
5.) Do Free Things
There are many activities and venues you can visit that are completely free. A few suggestions:
- Check out a museum or art gallery
- Climb a mountain
- Play in the park
- Take a trip to the beach
- Visit a local market
- Visit a local street festival
- Walk around and explore the area
- Watch a sunrise or sunset
Before you leave for your destination, do your research to see what free activities are available. Also, check to see what events and festivals are being held and try and coordinate your travels so that you can visit these. However, be aware that some accommodation may inflate their prices when festivals are being held.
4.) Talk to the Locals
The local people are a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the best places to eat, drink and visit. Part of the travel experience is meeting new people. Meeting the local people and engaging them in conversation is a way for you to get out of your comfort zone. If you want to know where the best place to eat is but don’t want to pay tourist prices, ask the locals. If you want to know the most beautiful and free places to visit, ask.
If you want to learn and get to know the facts and stories of a country, the people who are from that place are the best people to talk to. Local people will have the best tips and advice to help you travel cheap when overseas.
3.) Use Coupons
If you want to save some money when traveling, use travel coupons to get discounts in your chosen destination. Research online to check for any offers available for hotels and local attractions. Coupons and discount codes can also be found in travel booklets and brochures and on the back of magazines, and newspapers and the back of supermarket recipes.
Top Tip: Check the local tourist information office for ideas of what to do, leaflets and free maps of the area.
2.) Buy Souvenirs From a Local Market
If you want to buy souvenirs from your travels to take back home as gifts or keep for yourself, buy from a local market. Buying souvenirs from the airport is expensive. Airport shops are overpriced and filled with products that are massed produced.
The best kind of souvenirs is those that are unique and spark memories. Would you rather have a mass produced overpriced wooden statue from the airport that everyone buys on their way home or a handmade bracelet made by a local woman that will help support the local economy? Local markets are cheaper, more authentic and part of broadening your travel experience.
1.) Check for Family Deals
Many hotels, venues, and restaurants offer a discounted rate for families. Check websites, leaflets, and menus for special family deals. This is one of the best tips for how to travel cheap.
Top Tip: If you can’t see any family rates advertised, ask. They can only say no, so it’s worth a try!
The main thing that stops people traveling is a lack of funds. However, if you follow these tips, you’ll be able to explore the world, have many adventures and all while on a budget.