10 ways to travel on a budget

Finding the money to travel may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually not as difficult as it seems.

Want to know how?

Here are 10 practical ways that will help you travel on a budget!

1. Prioritize what is important to you

What’s important to you?

To me, traveling is important – so I put aside some things in order to be able to save for traveling.

For example, I don’t need to constantly go out to eat, nor do I need a new outfit every month. This doesn’t mean that I will never go out to eat or buy new clothes – I just do it in moderation.

Some details of the stream

2. Put a percentage of your salary and earnings away for travel

Sometimes, all it takes to have enough money to travel is being mindful of how you are spending your salary.

Personally, I divide my salary into the following percentages (it may change every now and then, but I try to stick to this):

  • 20% savings
  • 50% necessities
  • 15% activities/shopping
  • 15% travel

Although traveling is important to me, my rule of thumb is to always have at least 20-30% put into my savings with each paycheck. Traveling is fun and sometimes I might think “why not put less into my savings, and more into my travel funds?” — but you never know when an emergency may happen. And even if an emergency does not happen, you’ll still need savings for retirement down the line. So always keep savings!

Pie chart depicting the breakdown of my salary into savings, necessities, activities/shopping, and travel. I do this to create a budget for my travels.

3. Travel in the off-season

Be conscious of the seasonality of travel. Off-seasons differ from country to country, since different destinations have different tourist seasons.

Typically, tourist season falls during the spring and summer time of a country. It’s pretty much during the time of year where you would be able to walk around outside without either freezing your butt off or melting into a puddle on the ground.

During off-season there will be less tourists, so both flights and hotels will be much cheaper. Although the weather may not be what you might have previously considered “perfect”, it has a special beauty of its own.

I went to Poland during the off-season (January/February) and although it was chilly, it was stunning. Christmas decorations were still up, drinking hot drinks was so enjoyable while walking around, and the scenery was beautiful.

Christmas decorations in Poland.

4. Book smart

Book flights in advance

By booking flights in advance you will not only be able to find cheaper tickets, but you will also be able to let go of the the stress that might accompany finding a flight right before your trip.

Additionally, midweek travel prices are lower than weekend flights. I’ve read online that Tuesdays are typically the cheapest day of the week because of the low demands of flights.

It is true that sometimes you can find cheap tickets closer to when you will be flying out (if the flight wants to sell their seats if they haven’t been able to), but this can sometimes be a gamble.

Use a private browsing window

Have you ever noticed that every time you look up prices for a flight on the same website, the prices will change? Usually by getting more and more expensive?

There is a reason behind this. Every time you look up flights, this information is saved and tracked by the sites that you are looking at online.

A way to avoid this is by switching to incognito mode in your browser. This can be found on the upper right corner of your browser, just click on the three dots to see it.

How to help find good flights online? Open an incognito window! (10 ways to travel on a budget)
Book through websites that show you the cheapest flights

Try looking at google flights: it will give you the cheapest flights from your location by exploring destinations on a map.

A screenshot of google flights - showing flight prices to different countries. Which country is in your budget?
A view of prices in Europe — Bucharest flights are at a great price currently from my destination!

Try looking at cheapflights or skyscanner for finding great deals too!

Cheapflights - a great website to go to to find flights that are within your budget
Skyscanner - a great website to go to to find flights that are within your budget

5. Travel light

Some airlines require you to pay more if you want to check-in baggage. Save money by only bringing a carry-on with you and avoid these checked baggage fees.

Not to mention, lugging around a carry-on while traveling is also much easier than lugging around a huge suitcase!

6. Walk off the beaten path

Explore non-touristy areas while you’re traveling. Food will be cheaper than tourist locations, and most of the time more authentic to what the locals will eat. You’ll also get a glimpse of what life and the culture are actually like in that country.

Korean food with banchan

7. Shop at grocery stores and outdoor markets

Traveling doesn’t mean constantly going out to eat at fancy restaurants or eating out all of the time. Why not go to a grocery store for a change or visit an open-air market?

One of the best ways to save money while traveling is on food. By going to a grocery store you can get food to make at a fraction of the price and you can find produce that is local to the country you’re visiting. It’s always so much fun!

Vegetables being sold at Naschmarkt in Vienna
Vegetables being sold at Naschmarkt (Vienna)
Spices being sold in the Old City of Akka (Israel)

8. Get your steps in

Walk more!

If you can walk somewhere rather than take the public transit or taxiing, you can save money AND also experience more of the city.

It’s a good excuse to also eat 10x the amount of food since you’ll be telling yourself that you’ll be burning off all those calories.

To some, walking around might be a pain. But it’s one of my favourite parts about traveling. There is so much to see — you’ll come across parks that are filled with nature, hidden cobblestone alleyways, friendly people who are always available to give you directions, and delicious restaurants or food stalls. There is always something fascinating to see!

9. Find good deals

Read up on any deals you might find in the country that you’re visiting.

Want to take public transportation? Check to see if there are any deals on bus, subway, or train passes.

For example, when I went to Vienna – the list below ended up being the deals for the public transportation. It allowed you to use the subways and buses for as many times as you wanted during the allotted period.

Single ticket (for comparison purposes)€2.40
24-hour ticket€8.00
48-hour ticket€14.10  
72-hour ticket€17.10  
Weekly travel pass€17.10  
Monthly travel pass€51.00  

Some cities also have free days for museums. Read up on which day of the week a museum is free and save yourself some money.

Details on the inside of the Kunsthistorisches Museum

10. Choose a destination that fits your budget

Just because some place is expensive, doesn’t mean that it will be better than somewhere that is cheaper. Choose yourself a destination that fits your budget and not a destination that all your friends are telling you to go to.

Look at flight prices, but also look at accommodation expenses. Sometimes, flight prices can be cheap, but when it comes to your hotel or airbnb, it will put a huge dent in your wallet. For example, when choosing between Vienna and Rome, I saw that there were similar flight prices, but accommodations were almost double in Italy! So Vienna it was.

Pro tip: Use google flights to help narrow down the destination that you will be traveling to. By looking at flight prices, you can have a better idea of what you can afford or not at the moment.

Do you have any tips for how to save money to travel? Let me know in the comments below!

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