Have a case of wanderlust, but don’t want to break the bank? It can be frustrating to reconcile your desire to travel the world without being able to spend a ton of money. But it can be done. A 2014 survey found that 42 percent of those living in the United States didn’t take the vacation time they were owed. But vacations are good for our well-being and, above all, they are fun. Follow these 10 tips to travel the world on a budget so you can indulge your adventurous side and see the world. From food to lodging, this guide has you covered.
1. Eat Cheap at Street Festivals
Wherever you choose to go, you don’t want to blow your travel budget on food. And hey, you have to eat, so you may as well eat like the locals and check out a street festival. There are fun ones all over the world and as a bonus you get to eat some authentic, delicious food. It’s a cultural experience that also allows you to save money on a more expensive restaurant meal.
2. Don't Rule Out Fast Food
For better or worse, you can generally find a McDonald’s wherever you go. While you don’t want to be eating burgers and fries for your entire trip, for obvious health reasons, it doesn’t hurt to have some every once in a while in order to save some funds. After all, if you’re backpacking through Europe or on a quest to see Thailand, you don’t want to be wasting time finding a cheap place to eat when you could be exploring and sightseeing.
3. Hostels Over Hotels
You might have heard some horror stories about hostels, but they aren’t all bad. You can find deals online, too. Even if hostel living isn’t for you, you can consider staying there at least a night or two during your trip in order to save money, therefore lowering the overall cost of your travel accommodations.
4. Take the Train
The best part about being in Europe is the fact that you can easily and quickly travel by train between European cities. This is a great, cost-effective way to see Europe. Once you’ve landed in London, for example, buy a train ticket to Paris and just keep going. If you’re 25 and under, you can get an amazing discount on Eurail tickets, and passes are affordable, too: you can get one under $200 to explore two to four countries.
5. Check into Airbnb
Staying in Airbnb apartments has become increasingly popular lately and for good reason: this service allows you to stay somewhere that makes you feel like a local, allowing you to soak up the surrounding environment and culture without shelling out for a fancy, expensive hotel room. Visit diverse cities such as San Francisco, Vancouver, and Rome.
6. Explore Free Culture
London and New York City are just two examples of cosmopolitan cities that offer lots of free museum and art gallery passes. Check out London’s Tate Modern, the British Museum, and the National Gallery if you’re into art.
7. Walk Around Neighborhoods
The best way to explore a new place is on foot. Forget your guidebooks and maps, and choose a day where all you do is walk around your destination, letting your adventurous spirit take hold of you. You will be surprised at what you find. And you can always ask any locals you meet along the way what the best (and cheap) activities are.
8. Take a Road Trip
If you want to stay a little closer to home and take your car, then plan a road trip and explore somewhere that is within a few days’ drive away. You will save on plane fare and restaurant food if you pack some meals and snacks in a cooler and, depending on the drive and where you are, you could see some beautiful sights (or at least drive the scenic route through the mountains). If you have more vacation time, think of your road trip as a vacation in itself and drive for one week straight, exploring all the charming towns and cities that you pass along the way.
9. Travel in the Off-Season
Unsurprisingly, airfare and accommodation prices skyrocket in the summer months and around Christmastime. Choose a month that is in the off-season and you can save big. The same goes for resorts: if you’re dreaming of visiting a new country that happens to have beautiful beaches, resort stays will always be cheaper in the less popular months.
10. Do Your Research
Travelling on a budget is not something you can do by just winging it, showing up in a foreign country, and figuring you will find cheap food and lodging as you go. You have to do some careful, detailed research beforehand in order to find the best deals. Plan ahead and do as much as you can before you leave to ensure that your trip is as life-changing as you hoped it would be.
Seeing the world doesn’t have to mean spending all of your savings and being left with nothing. Follow these 10 tips and you will be able to enjoy your travel experience without worrying about money. Whether you stay in a European hostel, eat only street food or explore free museums, you are guaranteed to have a fun, interesting and affordable travel experience.