Traveling on a budget is not always a decision – it’s often a necessity, especially when you really don’t have the dosh to fly in first class, stay at five-star hotels, and shop at the most exclusive boutiques. And that’s why we’ve put this list together of ten ways to travel the world on a budget to help you plan and enjoy your budget holiday.
1. Avoid expensive cities
You might really want to visit cities like Oslo, Zurich, Tokyo, and New York City – hailed as some of the world’s most expensive cities to visit – but you really ought to take your budget into consideration before you go ahead and book your tickets. While the cost of living may not seem so bad, it’s a whole other story when you’re only visiting and have to pay for flights, hotels, food, and often daily city tax. Remember: the better a country’s minimum wage is… the more expensive things get.
2. Buy travel insurance
You might be thinking that traveling without travel insurance is living dangerously. And it is – just not in the Bond, James Bond kind of way you hope it to be, but rather in a survival-of-the-dumbest kind of way.
There’s a one to seventy-seven chance of losing your luggage when traveling with a European airline, meaning there’s a one to seventy-one chance of needing travel insurance. Meanwhile, Ms. Career Girl pointed out that 3.5 million people had traveled abroad in 2013 without taking out travel insurance. Of those 3.5 million people, statistically, over 450,000 travelers were basically screwed because they didn’t think or were too lazy to buy travel insurance.
On an even more serious note, travel insurance could cover any medical expenses amassed due to injury or disease. And God forbid you get blown up in a terrorist bombing, the travel insurance would cover having your body transported back to your family – who you would save from any potential debt.
3. Consider cheaper travel options
Whether you’re traveling cross-country or around Europe with friends or family, you might want to consider the many cheaper travel options available to you. You could rent a car or RV, split the costs between you and your fellow travelers, and head out on a road trip. Some rental companies have branches in various cities and countries, and you could, therefore, pick the car up in, say, Greece and leave it Scotland. If you’re quite the adventurer, you could alternatively consider hitchhiking – women traveling solo, however, should take extra caution in choosing this option. We don’t need to remind you the world is fully of creeps and if ‘Criminal Minds’ has taught us anything, serial killers.
4. Work to stay at a hostel
If ‘free accommodation’ is music to your ears and if you don’t mind sharing a room with five (or more) complete strangers, you might want to consider this option. More and more hostels around the world are now offering their guests free accommodation on the condition that they work for it. You could end up manning the reception, offering a helping hand in the kitchen or cleaning the bathrooms – whatever it is, a hard day’s work really puts a roof over your head. The downside of staying at a hostel is that you usually have to share a bathroom with every Tom, Dick and Harry.
5. Find free things to do
A budget traveler myself, this is one of the first things I look into when I’m booking tickets to my next holiday destination. You’ll be surprised at how many free – and friggin’ awesome – things there are to do for every type of person out there from art lovers to history buffs and everything in between. Although you’ll be saving yourself a lot of money, you’ll still be able to discover the country’s culture by visiting free art galleries and museums, and even attending free events, festivals and concerts.
6. Don’t use ATMs
Using an ATM abroad could prove to be a very costly mistake. When withdrawing money from your bank account from a foreign ATM, a number of additional charges are incurred including exchange rate and handling fees. The best thing to do is to withdraw as much cash as you think you need before you go on holiday. If you think you’re running out of cash, use your card to make any necessary purchases and keep your cash for purchases that can only be made with cash. Only withdraw money from an ATM abroad when you absolutely need to, and buy only what you need with cash.
7. Book cheap flights
What is one of the worst things you can do when traveling on a budget? Flying in first class. Take it from me: it’s nothing special. I treated myself to flying in first class once only to be sorely disappointed. Sure, you get champagne, extra leg space, and extra luggage allowance, but for at least double the price of what you would pay for when traveling in economy.
Better yet, why not travel with a budget airline? Budget airlines offer air travel at mind-blowingly low prices, and some even offer intercontinental flights. You could even use sites like FareCompare and Skyscanner to find the best deal for your chosen dates and destinations.
Also, CheapAir claims that the best time to buy your airline tickets is 47 days in advance for flights within the US.
8. Don’t buy souvenirs
Souvenirs are basically equal to tourist traps. Just think: five cheap-quality magnets in Paris cost an average €10, and it will cost you something like 70% less if you bought them on eBay – including shipping costs. €10 doesn’t sound a lot, but when you start buying souvenirs left, right and center from every city in every country, you’re quickly left with an overweight suitcase and an anorexic wallet.
9. Eat cheap
If you’re traveling on a budget, the last place you’d think about eating in is a three-star Michelin restaurant. Unless you’re rich enough that dining at Sublimotion in Ibiza (regarded as the world’s most expensive restaurant at an average $2,000 a head) could be considered as “traveling on a budget”, you should really look into cheap eats. By all means, we’re not saying junk food should be your primary dietary option. The truth is, with a little online research prior to your travels; you should be able to locate some good restaurants with really good food with even better prices. There are healthier and potentially cheaper, options than McDonald’s – you just need to know where to find them.
10. Don’t use your phone
Using your phone abroad could result in a rather massive bill waiting for you when you get back home. Of course, you’ll need to notify your Mom that you got to Madrid safely, in one piece, so a quick text there won’t hurt. However, you could end up losing track of all the texts you’re sending and phone calls you’re making if you’re not careful. Instead, try to connect to WiFi wherever possible – you could Skype with your family or send them messages through Facebook – and only use your phone in emergencies. If you’ll be away from home for a long time, you might want to invest in a pay-as-you-go plan.
Do you plan to use these tips anytime soon? Do you have any other tips for traveling around the world on a budget? Let us know in the comments section below!