Mind & Soul

10 Tips To Help You Travel on a Budget

Don’t pine for a trip you may never take – make it happen today!

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” – Anonymous

There are so many reasons that people travel – to see the world, to experience new cultures or amazing vistas, to relax, to visit family or friends, to escape the mundane everyday life – the list goes on and on.

But there are obstacles to travel, and some seem insurmountable. Money, time, and companionship (who to travel with) may be holding you back.

But you don’t have to let them!

I am a firm believer that there is a solution to every problem, and we will discuss all of the different ways to make travel affordable.

Are you sitting there saying to yourself…

But I just don’t have the money to make it possible.

It can seem like we never have enough money. Not even for our bills, let alone a trip!

I spent the first six months of this year using the phrase, “I wish I could make 20% more money but work 0% more.” Pretty downer of me, right?

So over the last 4 months, I changed my tune.

I started asking myself why I’m not making room in my budget for travel. And guess what? Everything changed.

I changed the way I spend, I changed some of my habits, and most of all, I changed my attitude.

And guess what ended up happening?

I went on 4 trips this year and am looking ahead to hopefully 3 next year!

So let’s take a look at 10 tips that have helped me travel on a budget.

You can click to scroll ahead, we’re going to cover:

10 Tips To Successfully Travel on a Budget

1. Make Saving for that Big Trip A Priority

Let’s start with why most of you are probably here – saving for that BIG trip! The one you’ve dreamed about for years (for me, it’s Tahiti and Fiji). Maybe you’re dying to see Paris, or the pyramids, or the Great Wall of China.

The absolute best advice I have is:

Open a savings account or get an envelope or shoe box – and put money in it every week or month.

Don’t let taking the money out be an option.

If you don’t trust yourself to continually put the money away, set up a weekly direct deduction from your checking account. 

Go online and look at your credit card spending for the last few months. Do you see a lot of smaller purchases? What are they? Can you cut those out and start putting that money aside?

Obviously everyone always says, “Stop spending $5 on coffee everyday” (and I agree) but lots of us brew coffee at home and waste money elsewhere.

How about trying any of these money savers?

  • Stop getting expensive haircuts.
  • Cut down on manicures and pedicures.
  • Go out to eat less.
  • Don’t go over budget on gifts.
  • Stop buying new clothes every season!
  • And definitely stop with any impulse buys like seasonal decor or candles.

You may be surprised with how much you can actually be saving at this point – or you may be disappointed, because you already live a minimalist life.

Well, if you’re the latter, these next tips are for you!

2. Don’t Underestimate Local Travel

Do you sit around on the weekend while you see your friends posting pictures online from fun day trips or 2-day trips?

Maybe they’re visiting freshwater springs, beaches, historic towns, or botanical gardens.

Look around for things that are within a few hours drive from you. I bet you’d be surprised at how many attractions you’ll find in your area.

Spending a weekend at a winery, visiting historic town squares, or hiking to scenic waterfalls are just a few suggestions!

You can drive, ride your bike, take a train or bus, carpool – and see what’s out there!

3. Here’s How to Save Money Now

Never forget that you have to give to get. You have found a way to live on your budget whether it’s $30,000, $50,000, or $70,000.

So how do you find money in your budget?

Start by making an actual budget. In a spreadsheet.

Write your monthly bills and add them up. Then write your yearly bills and add those up.

Figure out what you need to make every week to pay your current bills. How does that compare to what you bring home?

If you see a surplus, start putting that away – as often as you see it (weekly, monthly, whatever). If you’re not making ends meet or barely breaking even, let’s start making changes.

Picture your entire day of spending on an average day. Do you spend money on getting to work? On breakfast? On lunch? Do you go out after work? Do you go shopping often? Eat dinner out or pick up takeout? Visit the salon, go to concerts, or other events?

What can you comfortably cut out?

Start with something small like using Tupperware instead of Ziplocs so you have one less thing to buy. Download savings Apps like Ebates, iBotta, and Cartwheel so you can keep up on deals and spend more effectively.

There may be treats in your life that are too painful to let go of – try to make them a weekly treat instead of a daily one.

Breakfast out can become breakfast in. Pack snacks for work so you’re not running out to buy something. If you love live music, look for free shows instead of buying concert tickets.

4. Be Open Minded

If you were really hoping to make that romantic trip to the Greek Isles this year, but your friend has an opportunity for a group trip to Montreal – consider it!

Some of the most amazing trips I’ve ever taken were booked on the spur-of-the-moment because they were a great deal!

Consider every offer that comes your way – even if you don’t know your travel companions that well, or the accommodations are a little tight. You may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

5. Give The Weekend Getaway A Chance

Ah, time. There’s never enough of it, and these days we have increasing demands on ours.

I dream of a day that I can spend a month on vacation, leisurely exploring an entire country. Unfortunately, that day is not today.

But, that doesn’t mean you should sit home just because you don’t have all the time to spend somewhere.

You can see a lot in a short amount of time! Don’t underestimate the power of a weekend away.

Plus, when you’re only going for a weekend and you’re flexible on location – you can search travel sites for deals! Your dates are set so you don’t have to play the game of adjusting dates to see what’s the best price.

6. Don’t Let Your Relationship Status Deter You

You may be dreaming of the day that you stroll by the Eiffel Tower, hand in hand with your soulmate, or watching a sunset in Santorini with your sweetie, reveling in the romance of it all.

And yes, traveling with a companion can save you money as you split a room, cab rides, etc. But you do NOT have to be in a relationship to travel!!

Do NOT let this little detail hold you back!

I have created lifelong friendships with people because we were available to travel together!

Yes, it can be awkward sharing a room with someone you’ve met 3 times. But when you struggle together to read a menu in another language, learn how to ride scooters together, adjust to time changes together – you form an unbreakable bond. The memories of your trip will last a lifetime – even if you have nothing else to talk about, you can laugh about your adventures.

Unless you have a very valid reason to say no, try saying YES – to a group trip with people you barely know, a work friend, a cousin. You may have the time of your life!

7. Look Around For Deals

So I’ve convinced you, and you’re ready to travel now? Great! Let’s get online and start looking for deals!

Here are some good starting points:

  • Momondo.com
  • Skyscanner.com
  • Travelpirates.com
  • Orbitz.com
  • Travelocity.com
  • Priceline.com

A tip that has worked for me – search constantly for several days. A trip you may not have thought of can come up as a deal. (I was searching for Portugal for 48 hours straight, and I ended up going to Oslo for $549 round trip.)

8. Weigh Your Options: Drive vs. Fly

Air travel is costly, there’s no getting around that. And it leads to more costs – rental cars, airport shuttles, and public transportation upon arrival.

So (when possible), is it worth it to drive?

Ask yourself several questions:

  • Is it/can it be a scenic route?
  • Are there interesting stopping points along the way?
  • How long is the travel time in relation to how long you will be on your vacation?
  • Who are you traveling with?

They always say it’s about the journey, not the destination – but weigh your options before deciding which journey makes the most sense!

9. Consider Your Level of Accommodations

A 5-star resort & spa sure sounds nice, doesn’t it? I can already picture the lavish lobby and luxurious bathrobes. But then I picture the bill slipped under my door, and suddenly I remember I don’t even wear bathrobes.

There are so many different ways to travel these days, in every budget range. You just have to decide what’s most important to you.

Again, you may have to give some comforts up in order to be able to afford your trip.

When choosing accommodations, you can choose from options like:

  • Resorts
  • Hotels
  • Hostels
  • Home Rentals
  • Room Rentals
  • Couchsurfing
  • Camping
  • Home Exchange

Top Accommodation Options

Resorts offer a level of luxury, and typically have everything you could want onsite – pools, spas, restaurants, bars, etc. They also come with a hefty price tag. You can find deals on unsold rooms (especially with flexible dates and travel times), but often very few amenities are included in these rates.

Hotels have much more variation in their prices and amenities. You still get to enjoy a private room and bathroom, but to varying degrees of comfort and cleanliness. Check the reviews before you book!

Hostels are a great option on a low budget. You share a room with other travelers and upon check-in, you are assigned a locker to store your belongings in. You share a bathroom (think locker room), but prices can be as low as $15/night. Again, check reviews before booking! Some hostels are in old castles. Others are not safe for people traveling alone.

Home Rentals have become very popular for group trips, and made very easy with sites like Airbnb.com, HomeAway.com, and VRBO.com. Often you can rent a whole house for less than the cost of a hotel room each night! Many have minimum stays and cleaning fees, so make sure you check out all of the requirements before you blow your budget. Also check reviews to ensure the owner is legitimate and trustworthy.

Room Rentals can also be found on sites like Airbnb.com. Priced similarly to hostels, you literally use a room (bathroom may be shared) in someone’s house. Many of these hosts can offer you local intel and recommend sights to see and restaurants to enjoy on your trip.

Couchsurfing is an app that has lost some popularity in recent years, but you can quite literally stay on someone’s couch, many times for free.

Camping is a great option for road trips and to truly connect with nature in the great outdoors. Many campsites charge per night, so do your research on what fits your budget and offers any amenities you may need (on-site showers, hookups for RVs and campers, etc.). Some countries, like Norway, allow free camping on any public property!

If you’d like to travel more long-term without selling all of your belongings, consider Home Exchange – and trade houses with foreigners! You will want to have ample storage for personal items.

Bonus Tip

If you’re traveling to a city with a lot of excursions and sightseeing, consider doing away with a fancy hotel. You won’t be in it enough to make the lofty price tag worth it.

Reserve your most luxurious accommodations for when you travel to a scenic destination where a swim-up bar or ocean view balcony will make all the difference in your experience.

10. Be Realistic

When booking any travel on a budget, try to be realistic and flexible.

Dreaming of Paris in the spring? So is everyone else, and so the travel industry will charge a premium at that time!

I recently saw flights to Ireland in January for $386 round trip – an amazing deal, but yes, it will be more gray than green at that time.

Take time to organize and research your ideal trip; then, take time to figure out what elements are “needs”, as opposed to “wants”, for you to enjoy the trip.

Once you find your cheap flight to the right continent, get around easily and inexpensively using trains and buses. The views can be amazing, and you’ll expand your horizons!

Travel is an incredible way to learn about the world, create deep and lasting relationships, and connect with yourself.

Traveling on a budget doesn’t have to be a downer!

Start researching today while you start cutting back on some expenses. Before you know it, you’ll have realigned your priorities to find enough room in your budget to fit in a few extra trips this year!

Which trip do you want to cross off your bucket list first? Let us know in the comments!

Up Next: Mind & Soul | The Power of A Positive Well-Being

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