How to Travel on a Budget
Travel Budgeting & How To's
We all love a good holiday right? But wouldn't it be nice to do it on a budget, allowing for little luxuries along the way. Here's my list of advise and tips for how to travel on a budget and making the most of your money.
Set flight notifications for cheap deals
Often the biggest expense when travelling is flights. The cost of flights can fluctuate dramatically throughout the year so be sure to buy them at the best time. Consider using apps like Hopper and Skyscanner to get alerts on when the best time to buy is. But you'll need to be quick and ready to jump on the best deal! Do some research into the cheapest times to fly for different locations and for what works for you.
Look into Travel Pre-Paid Currency Cards
It's becoming more common lately to take a travel card with you instead of loads of notes from converted currency. Especially if you're moving around a lot, carrying lots of money with you can be both a hassle and a danger. I usually pre-book all of my accommodation before hand on my credit card. Only taking only notes with me for food and attractions. Any other money I load onto pre-paid currency cards. I like to use the Caxton card which offers over 24 currencies with low withdrawal charges and a frozen exchange and buy-back rate.
Split the Costs With a Friend
Unless you're travelling alone, it can often be beneficial to split the costs with a friend or partner. Sharing a ride in a taxi to and from the airport, putting money in a kitty to put towards food if cooking together, and sharing a hotel room or apartment together. It all considerably helps bring costs down, and you get to do it together!
Avoid the Tourist Traps
We all know the old cliche to avoid the tourist traps. Yet often it's easy to find yourself sucked back into them. Especially when in an unfamiliar place, you don't want to stray too far from the key locations to gauge an idea of where you are. Yet often the places down hidden side streets are the best ones. These days almost everyone always has Google Maps to fall back on if you get lost, but getting lost is part of the beauty of it all anyway.
Eat Local, Or Do It Yourself
Things like Tripadvisor are my best friend when looking for somewhere to eat. Avoid the tourist traps and follow the locals down that little side street, where none of the menu is even in English. We had some of the best Italian food of my life when in a small village called Scafati outside of Pompeii, where we used Google translate to even figure out what was on the menu!
Don't be put off by not knowing what something says, make a note of key phrases for food to know what to look for in another language. If you have allergies be sure to have these written down so you can show the waiter to ensure you don't get served something that could cause a reaction. Another option if you're going down more of an apartment or Airbnb route would be to cook at home. Head to the local food market or shop to get in fresh ingredient and save money by cooking yourselves some nights.
Utilise Public Transport
Transport is one of the things that can be massively overlooked when booking a trip away. You get wrapped up in flights, accommodation and attractions that it's often forgotten. I try and avoid hiring a car at all costs and prefer to keep budgets small by utilising public transport. Do some research and see if there are any passes that you can invest in to make things cheaper. In places like Hong Kong you can get an Octopus Card to top up and use on all public transport, from the MTR to busses.
We've all been there, saying 'we're on holiday, let's just do it' when it comes to spending. By all means, have fun and live a little, but do it within budget. Is it really worth it to blow all your budget on booze if it means you end up cutting your trip short, or missing out on something you wanted to do? You could also find alternatives to expensive bars by heading somewhere more local, or even buying something from a shop or supermarket yourself and taking it back to your room or a public space (within the law).
Invest In Good Travel Insurance
It always amazes me when I hear of people planning trips away but foregoing their travel insurance. Travel insurance literally saved my life and now it's one of the first things I'll consider when going away. Be sure to use comparison websites for the best deals, and always read the fine print. Cheapest isn't always best, and often I'll take out extra cover to insure things like my camera and lenses.
Budget or Luxury?
Depending on your preference, you might find yourself torn between going for budget or luxury. I personally like to head for somewhere in the middle. Not quite hostels, but not always a 5* hotel either. I want somewhere that's clean and safe to rest my head at night, and that might come with little perks like a pool, which can be a lifesaver when you need to cool down in a hot country! Whatever your decision, be sure to shop around for the best deal and always read the reviews.
Set a Realistic Expectation
I often find myself getting wrapped up in fantasy ideas of all the places I want to visit. I'll hopefully get to them all one day, but try not to cram too much into your trip in one go. Unless you're planning on an extensive long trip, set yourself realistic expectations. How many days do you really need to take in order to see everything you want to? You're on holiday to relax after all, don't make it a race to fit in as much as possible in a short time frame.
Consider Traveling Off-Season
It's so secret that airlines and hotels hike their prices in prime school holiday season. If you're able to, try travelling just out of season for much lower prices to help stretch your budget further. It's not only cheaper but also much quieter, allowing you to beat the crowds at popular tourist destinations.
I hope this has helped give you some tips on budgeting for your next travel adventure! What are your best tips to keep to a budget?