19 Best Tips to Travel on a Budget

In today’s era of inflation, traveling on a budget seems like a foreign concept, and don’t think you are just imagining the surge in prices. Travel is undeniably getting more and more expensive these days. As compared to 2022, in 2023, a 16% increase is seen in domestic airfare increased. Whereas on the other hand international airfare is up by 18% from last year. However, lucky for us wanderlusters, there are cost-effective ways that we can adapt to embark on a bucket-list trip or just sneak away for a weekend. 

Before you scoff at the idea of budget travel, let us remind you that traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you will have to stay in a questionable motel or eat greasy meals at second-rate fast-food joints. Instead traveling on a budget is about seeking out budget-friendly places to travel, avoiding pricey, social media-influenced tourist traps, and opting for under-the-radar destinations. You don’t always have to travel to Paris or the Bahamas you know. 

It is in our nature to think that high prices equal luxury, but how wrong are we? You can get a more meaningful and of course inexpensive experience with budget-friendly beach vacations, cheap couples or solo trips, and inexpensive family vacations, that focus on quality and authenticity instead of bells and whistles. 

So, let’s push aside our social media-influenced mind and look into more budget-friendly alternatives when it comes to travel. In this article we will mention the 19 best tips to travel on a budget, so take out your pen and paper and start taking points.

Traveling on a Budget: 19 Best Tips

1. When Traveling on a Budget Set Aside a Budget 

Set Aside a Budget

The first and most important step to travel on a budget is figuring out how much dough you can spend on your trip. You can set aside a budget by taking into account the type of trip you are planning on taking and the destination where you will be traveling. An international vacation will typically cost more than a domestic vacation, the credit for this of course goes to the airfare. Moreover, planning a family vacation will obviously come out to be pricier than a solo excursion.

However, figuring out a budget for your travels can be a bothersome task. Therefore, opting for online tools like Budget Your Trip will do you a whole lot of good. Budget Your Travel will help you estimate your daily costs and will also tell you about the hotel prices of your selected destination. 

2. When Traveling on a Budget Seek Out an Affordable Destination

Pick an affordable destination

The key to traveling on a budget is seeking out an affordable destination. Try vacationing close to home so that you can drive to your destination. However, if you have your heart and gaze set on far-flung destinations, start budgeting out a cost to get there, because airfare accounts for a huge chunk of your vacation budget. Supply and demand may make flying to certain destinations affordable if they are popular and have multiple or large airports. If you are lucky, a new budget airline can come into the picture during the time you travel and ramp up competition, driving prices down. However, this scenario occurs once in a lifetime and for some people doesn’t occur at all. 

Also, be mindful of the economy of the place you are traveling to as it can make the daily cost of your trip, which includes accommodation cost, food, and cost of activities, more or less expensive. Therefore, the destination you are traveling to can make a huge difference when it comes to traveling on a budget. Researching various destinations before deciding is key to ensuring that your destination picks are budget-friendly. If you want to travel without breaking the bank, you have to of hours of researching, just picking a destination based on mere suggestions might land you in an empty-pocket situation. 

Therefore, before setting your heart on a destination, search for under-the-radar and less hyped locales. If you wish to bask in the magnificence of Greece but traveling there will put a dent in your budget, consider traveling to Albania, which is a fraction of the cost and comes equipped with glittering coastlines, beautiful medieval-era castles, and Ottoman architecture. For a budget-friendly exotic adventure, you can make your way to Thailand which is equal parts inexpensive, and magnificent. 

3. When Traveling on a Budget Plan Ahead

Plan ahead

Who doesn’t love spontaneous travel, it’s great, only if you have the luxury of time and money to spare. If you lack both of these things, it’s better to plan your travels ahead. By planning ahead, we don’t mean you come up with a tight, hour-by-hour itinerary, just figure out how long you will be spending in each country or city and map the route that your epic adventure will take. If you leave less to chance you will be subject to less unexpected spending.

Also, as last-minute flights and accommodations are often more expensive, it will do you well to book your tickets and accommodations in advance. However, when booking a room, make sure to opt for a refundable one in case your plans change. 

4. When Traveling on a Budget, Opt for Cheap Flights

Opt for cheap flights

When planning a budget-friendly trip, finding cheap flights is always half the battle. Especially for those traveling abroad, as they have no option but to travel to reach their destination. Going directly to the airline’s website is not going to help as you will end up spending more money than you are intended to, because every airline’s ultimate goal is to make money and the sales that airlines mostly advertise are not usually the best deals.

So, keep in mind that airlines are not your allies, and you must look elsewhere to get a good deal on your air travel tickets. Opting for third-party websites like Expedia or Priceline is the best route of action for budget travelers. These websites do all the legwork for you, scouring the internet to find the cheapest options available, all you have to do is visit them and do some research. 

Moreover, as all U.S. airlines are now charging passengers $89 for checked bags, up your packing game and try to fit all the essentials in a carry-on to save money. However, as travelers try their best to avoid extra costs, airlines introduce new ways to draw money out of customers’ pockets. These days, more and more airlines have started charging for carry-ons as well, so before booking a ticket, make sure to check the extra costs and devise ways you can avoid them. 

5. When Traveling on a Budget, Be Flexible with Your Timing

Be flexible in your timing

To travel on a budget, you need to be flexible. If you are thinking of traveling with family, or even solo, avoid taking trips during school holidays, as this is the time when the travel industry hikes prices in order to take advantage of families who can travel only during the holidays.

Before embarking on your travels research the best time to visit your intended detention, and then plan your vacation just before or after these dates. We travelers like to call these dates the shoulder season, during which you will still have a great trip, even if the weather will be a bit on the side. Moreover, during the shoulder season airlines and accommodations also lower prices to attract customers.

6. To Travel on a Budget, Hit the Road

Hit the road

Traveling in your own car can save you a lot of money. However, before deciding to take a road trip be sure to compare the price of driving and flying to see which is cheaper. Take into consideration the gas money and tolls all the while considering how you will get around your destination in case you opt for flying instead of driving. Like for example, if you are going to a destination that harbors ample public transport and has expensive parking, in this case, flying might be worth it because a car would be just a hassle and a bank breaker.

But if you are traveling with a group, especially to a destination where public transport is more or less nada, then driving is the best option to save money. Moreover, driving your own car can also save you the expense of renting one at a destination that is vast or spread out like the Grand Canyon, where a car is a must-have. 

7. When Traveling on a Budget, Be Smart About How You Fly

Be smart about how you fly

If traveling on a budget is your priority, then opt to travel on a Tuesday. Midweek airfare is a lot cheaper as compared to weekend airfare. Moreover, if you opt to fly midweek you will breeze through shorter queues at airport check-in desks and security. Also, forget upgrading, no matter no how Business Class looks.

To save money, the economy should be your go-to class, as the money that you will save on cheap seats can be spent on accommodation, food, and activities when you arrive at your vacation destination. Also, opt for low-cost budget airlines for short flights. Moreover, if you are going away on a weekend trip, try to pack light and opt for only hand luggage to save yourself a bit of money on hold luggage. 

8. When Traveling on a Budget, Be Accommodation Savvy 

be accommodation savvy

If you wish to travel on a budget, you must trade expensive hotel suits for dorm rooms in hostels. When you share a room, not only is the cost divided but communal bunk rooms also offer the opportunity to meet and socialize with more people who might be keen to explore with you. If hostels aren’t really your thing, consider websites like Airbnb and Couchsurfing to book accommodation. Via these websites, you can easily book a spare room in a local person’s apartment or house. By opting for these alternatives, not only will you be able to halve the price but will also get to experience an authentic snapshot of local life. 

Moreover, you can also save costs on a tour guide, as many hosts offer to show the guests around the place and will also provide you with insider tips for best eateries, and tourist spots. Another way to save cost on accommodation is by staying with friends or family. Reach out to people you know in the area where you are traveling and ask them to spare you a bed or couch.

9. When Traveling on a Budget, Explore Different Lodging Options

Explore different lodging options

The type of lodging you opt for also has a great impact on your travel budget. When choosing between a hotel and a hotel, consider the amenities that you will need during your stay and where exactly you want to lay your head during your vacation. You can opt for a ty at a fin retro-style motel (if the area has any) that lets you stay in cleanliness and comfort with a touch of kitsch.

If you are a solo traveler, it would be best to opt for a micro-hotel that offers a clean, albeit tiny place to sleep and is void of all the bells and whites that come with a big hotel.  Also, take into consideration the location of the hotel or motel you are staying in as that also impacts their price.  

10. When Traveling on a Budget, Don’t Forget the Freebies

Don't forget the freebies

When you are traveling on a budget, every single penny counts. Therefore, before opting for accommodation take into consideration what freebies, it offers like free breakfast, snacks, or wine. Moreover, don’t forget to find out if the parking there is free, in case you are thinking of driving up to the place.

Some hotels even go as far as to include fun amenities like surf lessons or the use of bikes or kayaks in your room rate. On the other hand, if the location of your hotel is good, it more than makes up for the missing amenities. There are plenty of cheap beach hotels that offer a perfect setting, with the beach just a few steps from your door, at an affordable price.

Also, when you are spending time looking for all eh freebies hotels offer, make sure to take into consideration the extra costs that you must avoid. That includes staying away from the mini bar where a bag of macadamia nuts will cost you your next month’s rent. Moreover, don’t forget to read the fine print to see if the hotel charges any mysterious resort fees. 

11. When Traveling on a Budget, Opt for an All-inclusive Resorts or Cruises

Opt for all-inclusive resorts and cruises

All-inclusive resorts and cruises are marketed as money savers and most of the time that is the deal. All-inclusive resorts charge a flat fee that includes lodging, food, drinks, activities, and use of onsite facilities. Cruises have taken that concept of all-inclusivity offering voyagers everything from board to meal at a flat rate. Therefore, if you are in search of a convenient vacation where you stay near the resort at all times or can visit multiple ports for a short period of time without having to worry about paying for drinks, meals, activities, and entertainment then an all-inclusive resort and cruise is a fantastic vacation option.

Both of these options can save you money as compared to paying a la carte for the same experience. Moreover, opting for a cruise during the wave season aka from January to March, you can save some more money. During these months cruise lines run their most competitive sales of the year, which makes winter a great time to set sail in a budget-friendly manner. 

12. When Traveling on a Budget, Don’t Eat Away Your Cash

Don't eat away your cash

Cheap lunches that are filling and tasty can be bought in a supermarket or even a local fresh food market. So instead of going to an overpriced restaurant or café, where you have to pay hundreds for a kid’s meal-sized portion, consider eating from supermarkets or food stalls that offer food that is equal part filling and scrumptious.

Upon reaching your destination, wander around before choosing a place to eat, and don’t pick out the first restaurant your eyes land on as without researching you won’t know if you will be overspending there or not. Also, try to avoid beer with every meal, as not only your wallet but also your waistline will thank you for this sacrifice, instead opt for the ever-refreshing water. Moreover, some accommodations also allow acres to a kitchen, so if you want to save more money, you can opt for cooking for yourself, as nothing tastes better than a homecooked meal anyway.  

13. When Traveling on a Budget, Earn While you Traverse

Work while you traverse

If you wish to spend several months of the year living the travel dream, then it will do you good to take into consideration working holidays. If snow and ice are your rhythm, then consider taking up teaching skiing in a winter ski resort. However, if sand and waves are more up your alley then you can take up caring for holidaymakers traveling to the Mediterranean in the summer, or you can earn money by teaching a language all the while enjoying the exoticness of Thailand. You can also freelance during your travels if you are able to work on the go.  

14. When Traveling on a Budget, Hunt for Free Things to do

Hunt for free things

When traveling on a budget, looking for free and affordable acridities should be in the top ten on your priority list. You can do that by visiting the local tourism board’s website. Many destinations attract tourists by offering a wide range of affordable things to do like offering museum and cultural site visits free of cost or at a discounted price. In cities like Washington D.C., there are countless museums that you can visit for free. 

Therefore, when you are vacationing on a budget, skip the pricing tourist traps and embrace the outdoors. Incorporate national and state parks into your trip which is a budget-friendly way to immerse yourself in local history, culture, and natural environment. When traveling on a budget, don’t forget to check out Groupon as it offers discounts for museum and aquarium admission and even offers discounts on activities like ice skating and boating excursions. 

15. When Traveling on a Budget, Get Around for Cheap

Get around for cheap

If you wish to travel on a budget, then staying away from taxis and Uber should be your top priority. Instead of wasting money on expensive taxis or Uber rides, opt for public transportation, or rent a bike to get around the city. Your two feet will also do a heck of a job getting you from one point to another (walking is the best way to see the sights). If you are considering driving, make sure to check the parking fee of the destinations you will be traveling to so as not to spend a lot on just parking. Take adnate of travel apps such as SpotHero or Parkwhiz in order to find cheaper public parking. 

For further discounts on travel via public transport look into discounted fares for students, members of the military, seniors, or children. In case you don’t fall into any of those categories do the math to see if an unlimited travel day pass will be worth the investment or not. 

16. To Travel on a Budget, Travel for Free with Points

travel for free with points

Savvy travelers tend to save money by opting for points from the best travel credit cards, hotel rewards programs, and airline miles. There are countless airlines and hotels that offer loyal programs, allowing you to accumulate miles and points that can be used later to book an almost free journey. These programs cost no money and are absolutely free to join allowing the opters to get a lot of value out of them. If you use them in tandem with online shopping portals and travel credit cards, you will also get more out of these programs. Moreover, if you use credit card rewards or points at hotels, you may be able to score some freebies like complimentary breakfast. 

17. When Traveling on a Budget, Get Travel Insurance 

travel insurance

Travel insurance carries tons of benefits, even though many of us fail to recognize them. Getting travel insurance might be the most important tip for traveling on a budget even though initially it’s an extra expense. However, once you get travel insurance you will thank yourself for sorting it out if your trip gets canceled or you get ill abroad. 

18. When Traveling on a Budget, Pay in Local Currency 

Pay in local currency

Several credit card companies cage foreign transaction fees whenever you make a purchase in a foreign currency via their card. The charged fee is about 3% of the purchase in most cases. However, some cards like Capital One’s U.S.-issued credit cards charge those fees. Still, to be on the safe side, it is best to bring some cash and a debit card with you. 

19. When Traveling on a Budget, Jump on Last-Minute Bargains

jump on lats minute bargains

Even though last-minute getaway deals aren’t unheard of, they aren’t as common nowadays as they used to be. In order to get a bargain on plane tickets, it’s best to check out the airline’s website directly. American Airlines for example harbors a page that is dedicated to low fares, most of which are for flights leaving in the next three to six weeks. In order to fill rooms last minute, many hotels also offer a discounted rate, especially through sites like Priceline or Hotwire. But to take advantage of these last-minute bargains, you need to have flexibility.

When Traveling on a Budget, Don’t Forget Your Buddy Financefirefly

When it comes to finance and budgeting, out go to website is Financefirefly, where they tell you all about finances from the best credit cards to how you can mange your finances. So, to travel on a budget don’t forget to heck out their article on 5 best airline credit cards to win awards in 2024

Also Read

Top 10 Best Budget-Friendly Vacation Destinations

10 Budget-Friendly Honeymoon Destinations

Top 10 Airlines with the Best Economy Class

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