My travel budget has always been tight. Despite the perks of having a ‘reasonably’ paid job, I still found it expensive to travel as much as I wanted. Therefore, I had to be extra smart about when, where and how I travel.
Fortunately, after over a decade of travelling, I have learned that every destination can be fascinating. Be it as big as Europe tour and travel, or small towns, big cities, hiking trails far away from home, wine tours, it can all be fun.
You need not be rich to travel
I can assure you that I wasn’t. The day I left for my first cosmos holiday, I only carried a small amount of money left from my annual savings (I had less than 20k dollars to survive for the year after the student loans and taxes had been paid off). Yet, I managed to save enough to pursue my travelling dream. How do you think it happened?
You will always, somehow or the other, find alternative aspects to spend money on, if travelling is not your no.1 priority. For example, I could never spare enough money to invest in expensive gadgets or treat myself to sushi because everything I did was focused on earning more greens for travel and shopping!
Think about what your savings priority is. If it indeed is travelling, what is keeping you from saving money?
When there’s a will, there’s a way
When you’re finally on board the travelling ship, what do you do when prioritizing the budget? The focus on today’s ‘you need not have money for travelling’ reminder is to discuss all possible ways for a ‘virtually’ free journey to places around the world. You don’t necessarily require a hefty amount to begin a journey. You could be in debt, earn less than the average individual, and still manage to go overseas.
If you still feel like no matter what you do, you will never get ahead by saving some cash, follow through the 3 quick ‘budget travelling’ ideas mentioned ahead and see the world the ultra-cheap way.
1. Do your research
This is, perhaps, the most important aspect of budgeted travelling. Whether it is domestic or international, before clicking ‘book’ on any trip, it is important to do thorough research on the destination you plan to travel to. For the accommodation component, check at least four websites to get highly competitive rates.
In case you’re still not satisfied, refer to a travel agent for advice or call up the hotel directly to see if they can offer you a lower rate. Do the same with air, bus or train fare. Additionally, you can look up for coupons and avail credit card travel rewards to save even more.
Another most important thing to look for is a list of events or annual activity calendar. Many big cities like San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, have music, food and drink festivals that are either very cheap or free to get into.
Moreover, to add to the fortune of the traveler, most cities have ‘restaurant weeks’, where many high-class, fancy diners offer prix fixe menu and deals that are most often cheaper than original prices.
When researching, also make sure to check websites like Groupon and LivingSocial, as these offer heavily discounted rates on hotel, activity, and bar deals that are sometimes on 50 per cent off!
- Planning ahead
Be it hotel reservations or airplane tickets, everything gets more expensive the longer you wait for it. So plan out your dream destinations at the beginning of the year and avail the travel deals later on.
2. Eat with the locals
Undoubtedly, one of travelling’s biggest expenditures is food, especially if you’re going to places that attract a lot of tourists. Feel like saving your greens and eating better food? Eat with the locals and avoid tourist traps!
Ask any resident of the block where he or she eats when they are on a budget and chances are they will provide you with the best places that offer affordable meals. Moreover, don’t forget to check online pages like Yelp, a website that offers weighty recommendations and reviews for almost every eatery. This will help you quickly find restaurants that are not too expensive.
In case you’re a foodie, you might not want to miss out on the city’s local food trucks. The concept might be new in some regions but they are taking over the world by storm. They offer people-favorite, quick, delicious snacks at the most affordable prices. Big cities like Los Angeles and Washington in the U.S have online ‘food truck’ directories that let you know when and where your favorites will be stopping next.
- Bring your own booze and food
When you travel, it is a good idea to bring your own booze and food (BYOB and F) – another way to save cash on your food expenses. If you’re travelling by train, car or bus, stack a few bottles of good wine, beer, sodas or your favorite beverage in your bag. You can even add chips, cereal or any other snack food in there as well. This trick will definitely save you on bar costs, which in some countries can be as exorbitant as a $20 salad, as well as on food and drink costs (which can cost the same in many areas).
Moreover, to avoid buying unhealthy, pricey food items from random stations, make sure to bring along a cooler with pasta salads, sandwiches, vegetables, fresh fruit and even packed lunches and dinners. This will not only keep you full, up-and-going, throughout the journey but will also save you a tremendous amount of money.
3. Consider shopping locally
I say this from a tourist’s experienced POV, if you think the packed shopping malls or tchotchke (an object that is just pretty looking rather than functional) stores on the tourist strips are meant for you to collect souvenirs from, you have never been so wrong.
Avoid the touristy districts and head to the unique market boutiques and locally owned businesses instead. Many of these places offer better products since they have competitive prices.
The highly popular travel destination like Charleston, South Carolina, for instance, has a historic marketplace in downtown, with hundreds of local vendors selling everything from baskets, to food products and clothing at reasonable prices. You can even prepare your own meals, if you’re staying at a place with a small kitchenette, by stocking up foods at these markets and keeping your expenses in check.
- Skip the souvenirs
T-shirts, Timberlands, shot classes can be classy and fun, but they add tons of unnecessary weight to your suitcase (and not to mention extra cost to the wallet). If you want to create a travel memorabilia, snap a good picture from your phone. And if you want to bring home something for your family and friends, go the simple way by getting a coaster from the bar, a shawl from the stall or a pink shell off a beach – only from places that allow you to do such things, of course.
In a nutshell…
So, you see the key to get rid of the mindset that you must travel using the same old hotel-flight-eating combination is to think out of the box, and incorporate out-of-the-ordinary ways to travel to boost big savings.
Rest assured that following these tips will definitely turn your tour from a dream to reality; exactly like it did for me.