In a world where wanderlust often collides with the constraints of our wallets, the quest for budget-friendly travel experiences has become a traveler’s holy grail. The good news? You don’t have to sacrifice your dreams of exploring the world to maintain financial stability. In fact, with the right strategies and a shift in perspective, you can embark on exciting adventures without emptying your pockets.
In this article, we’ll look at five tips to help you prioritize experiences over expenses. You can savor the richness of travel while keeping your budget intact. So, gear up for a journey that’s as enriching for your soul as it’s gentle on your wallet!
How Do You Stay on a Budget While Traveling?
Traveling on a budget requires planning and a resourceful approach. But, it doesn’t have to be burdensome. Start by setting a realistic budget for your trip, including all major expenses like transportation, accommodation, food, and activities.
Keep an eye out for discounts, travel rewards programs, and travel hacks that can further stretch your budget. With careful planning and a frugal mindset, you can enjoy memorable travel experiences without breaking the bank.
What Is a Reasonable Travel Budget?
The definition of a reasonable travel budget varies from person to person. I recommend implementing a basic annual travel budget template. Consider putting aside up to five percent of your net annual income for travel. Some people may be able to spend more, but just be sure to consider all of your expenses for the year, savings, emergency funds, etc.
Let’s look at an example travel budget template. If your income is $45,000 and you use five percent for travel throughout the year, that’s $2,250. It may not seem like much but there’s a lot of potential for adventure with that amount of money. You could likely do a couple of camping trips or do one big trip. In fact, if you score a plane ticket for $600 to Europe, stay for 28 nights and get monthly accommodations for around $1,000. You’ll still have enough for ground transportation, activities, and eating out. Meals you cook and food you purchase from the supermarket you don’t necessarily have to include in your travel budget since you would have to eat at home too.
5 Budget Travel Tips
Implement these five travel tips no matter what your budget is, as they can be applied across various types of trips.
1. Find Inexpensive and Luxurious Accommodations
When you think of budget travel, sub-par lodging options probably come to mind. But you don’t have to stay in hostels for a low-cost trip unless, of course, you want to. In fact, you can find great deals on luxurious options. Visit places during their shoulder seasons, or off-peak, when prices are lower. Plus, you’ll get the bonus of fewer crowds in popular destinations.
Now that Airbnb is popular around the world, the prices are also becoming more competitive between hotels. So, you do need to do your research and think creatively when looking for accommodations. You can use the filters on lodging sites to help narrow down your options. And I always recommend reading reviews before booking a room. In addition, some places have guesthouses or bed and breakfasts that tend to be cheaper than a hotel. For example, if you’re going to Ireland the B & B Ireland website helps you book affordable lodging throughout the country.
Pro Tip: Visit places like Greece in the off-season to make a dream destination more affordable.
2. Get the Best Airfare
The golden rule for getting the best airfare used to be to book early in the week. This is when airlines often change their fares. However, it’s more of a guideline now. I still watch fares on Sundays, but I’ve also found low prices on Thursdays. To find the best airfare, you can track your route and get email alerts when prices change on most booking websites.
Be flexible with your dates, if possible, and use fare comparison websites and apps for the best deals. If your travel dates and destination are flexible, you might consider using a program like Going. I use Going, formerly known as Scott’s Cheap Flights, all the time even if it’s just to browse for myself or others. Recently, it helped me get a flight to Ireland around 40 percent off what the route normally goes for.
3. Figure Out the Public Transportation System
When traveling without your car, ground transportation can get expensive depending on the location. Be sure to factor in taxis or private drivers, car rental, fuel, tolls, parking fees, insurance, etc. If you’re traveling on a budget, I recommend using public transportation as much as possible. Most major cities have a bus, train, tram, or ferry system. This can be a major cost saving. Plus, it allows you to get more of a local experience which can be extremely life-enriching.
Research your destination before you leave and learn how to navigate the public transportation system, so you won’t be frustrated with it upon arrival. Remember, you can find nearly anything online or on YouTube!
4. Get Insured
Get insured when traveling internationally and be prepared for unexpected expenses. Travel insurance has saved my bank account on more than one occasion. Having it will help ensure your travel budget stays within your limits.
Whether you have an accident, lose your luggage, miss a flight, or get hospitalized, travel insurance can save you thousands of dollars. I once spent $80 on travel insurance for a two-week international trip. That $80 saved me $10,000 due to a five-day hospitalization while I was there.
5. Travel Close to Home
Travel doesn’t have to be to a faraway place. We often overlook amazing activities within a one to two-hour drive of our home. This can be one of the best ways to budget travel. Whether you stay at a luxury resort for a couple of nights or camp at a national park for a week, there are likely several options right under your nose.
Do some research to see what people traveling into your area are doing. Perhaps there’s a bike path you didn’t know existed, a new art exhibit, or a corn maze you’ve never been to. You might just re-discover how fun your hometown is!
Pro Tip: Check out state parks in the U.S. for inexpensive camping options that are often in surprisingly epic destinations.
Travel Is Open to Any Budget
Experience the world – near or far. Use some of these budget travel tips to travel to places you never thought possible.
Know what your travel budget is and find a destination that’s the right fit for you! If you would like help, contact me for a customized planning session.