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Tips to Help You Travel on a Budget

Updated on April 19, 2015

Travel on a Budget

Before we even begin giving out hints and tips to help you travel on a budget, some disclaimers need to be presented: this is not going to be travel in luxury. This is not going to be five-star service. This is not going to be the all-singing, all-dancing, fully involved tour.

But what it IS going to be is a trip which is thoroughly unique, off the beaten track, something more brilliant than any of the corporate organised holidays could be.

So with that all said, let's get planning this trip!

Set out your budget before you start

It may sound simple, but the easiest way to work out whether or not you can afford that trip of a lifetime is by taking a frank and honest look at your finances. You need to work out how much you can feasibly spend (i.e. your maximum limit), how much you'd like to spend (i.e. what you'd be happy with), and account for the difference between the two.

Money doesn't grow on trees, so if you've taken a look at your finances and there's something lacking, perhaps spend the time looking for extra work instead of dreaming about that holiday! Odd jobs and internet searching are both great ways of making money; a quick Google search should set you up.

Once you've worked out how much you're going to spend overall, decide how much money you'd like to spend on each portion of the holiday. You'll need to cover all the main expenses:

  • Flights
  • Hotel/lodgings
  • Food
  • Attractions
  • Emergency money
  • Travel vaccinations, visa costs, and other 'at home' costs

Personally, I like to use a spreadsheet to total up my costs. In one column I put the name of the expense, then in the next the lowest feasible cost, then the highest possible cost. Your totals will give you some idea of how much you're going to be spending, and you'll find that your average spend will be somewhere between the two prices.


Using Skyscanner and Budget Airlines

Much like comparison websites have revolutionised the way people shop for car insurance, they're doing the same for people's travel.

Skyscanner is a comparison websites for flights, letting you not only compare price of your flights but alternate routes, flying times, and much more. In my opinion, Skyscanner is the best way to book flights as you can often get some really good deals, but it's always best to check budget airlines as well if you're flight is fairly local (e.g. not long-distance).

However you decide to book your flight, here are some key tips to remember when booking:

  • Don't be afraid to take an indirect route - companies sometimes lower the price for the inconvenience
  • Be prepared to fly at unsociable hours - you'll get a better deal for flying late at night or early in the morning
  • Compromise on class - you'll spend less money flying economy!


TriVaGo and Hostels

Another comparison website, TriVaGo is an excellent way to book hotels - it compares prices from across the web from reputable dealers, so you get the best price on any given room.

Another option, if you're not afraid of it, is to book a hostel - hostels have changed a lot since their routes and many now offer a clean, professional service to young travellers at a substantially reduced cost. Try Hostel World for, as the name suggests, hostels all over the world.

Here are some things to bear in mind when booking accommodation:

  • Be wary of distance - you may save on price, but you don't want to eat into that saving with travel fares to and from main attractions
  • Be wary of area - hotels in bad neighbourhoods will often come up cheaper
  • That said, suburban hotels can be charming and in beautiful areas; use your gut instinct to make a decision over whether something looks too good to be true
  • Book a hotel that includes breakfast - it'll set you up for the day and, if it's a continental breakfast, you can even smuggle a few rolls into your backpack for lunch!

Working abroad can boost your finances, and be fun!
Working abroad can boost your finances, and be fun! | Source

Consider Working Abroad

If you really cannot afford to make that trip of a life-time, or would like to spend longer in a country than your finances allow, consider working abroad. Make sure you have all the correct visas and paperwork before doing so. An agency may be able to help you with this, such as BUNAC (a quick Google search for 'internships abroad' or 'working abroad' will turn up no end of people trying to help you).

There are several things you could do abroad:

  • Seasonal work, such as manning hotel reception desks or fruit picking
  • Teaching or tutoring English as a second or other language
  • Bar, club, and hostel work

Remember, being able to speak English will be a definite bonus for most companies, but you may need to be near-fluent in the language of the country you are working in as well.

General Tips

These tips are designed to not only help you travel on a budget, but are also designed to help you get the most out of your holiday!

  • Look in advance for coupons, offers, and booking discounts for major attractions. Whilst a pass to all of Rome's attractions may sound expensive at £90, it'll save you in the long-run if you were to total up the cost of each attraction individually.
  • Scout out small, independently owned restaurants. They're normally cheaper than big chains, and can give you a real taste of local culture.
  • Spend some time before you travel to find out what you can do for free!
  • Turn OFF data roaming on your phone before you travel to avoid hefty phone bills on your return!


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