April 1, 2024 8:35 pm

Duane L. Coker

Hey there, fellow journeyers! Are you itching to explore the world but worried about your wallet? Fear not! I’ve got you covered with 10 essential tips for budget-friendly travel along with a BONUS tip that might surprise you. 

Get ready to embark on an adventure without breaking the bank!

10 Budget-Friendly Travel Tips

A couple days one way or the other can save big money!

Be flexible with your travel dates: Prices can vary significantly depending on the day of the week and time of year. Consider traveling during shoulder seasons or on weekdays to snag the best deals on flights and accommodations.

As part of this tip, be sure to search prices for your trip BEFORE requesting time off from work.  There’s nothing worse than realizing, after you put in that vacation request, that had you gone a week earlier or later, you would have saved some serious cash.

Embrace the art of comparison shopping: Don’t settle for the first price you see. Use websites like Skyscanner, Kayak, and Hostelworld to compare prices and find the most affordable options for flights, hotels, and hostels.

Also, if you are using points, or booking through your credit card travel site, be sure to check more than one card (if that’s an option).  Pricing and rewards “value” can differ significantly from one credit card website to another, often depending on the airline you’ve selected or whether travel is considered international or domestic.

Stay in budget-friendly accommodations: Ditch the fancy hotels and opt for hostels, guesthouses, or vacation rentals. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also have the opportunity to meet fellow travelers and immerse yourself in the local culture.  

AirBNB and VRBO are favorite sites, but you can also search for private homes and non-typical vacation rentals on sites like Expedia and Hotels.com.  Just be sure you set your filters to include those options, if you want to check for lower-priced options.

Cook your own meals: Eating out for every meal can quickly add up. Book accommodations with a kitchen or kitchenette, and shop at local markets to prepare your own meals. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also get to experiment with local ingredients and recipes.  

Further, you might consider booking a slightly more expensive accommodation if it provides for “dinner with a view” as you can more than make up for the extra cost by dining “in” a few nights on your trip.

One of my favorite examples of this was a trip to Maui.  My wife and I used VRBO to book a condo on the beach.  The condo had a small patio with a grill, dining table and chairs, and it was literally less than 20 feet from the water.  We ended up cancelling several dinner reservations and having dinner on the patio 6 of the 7 nights we were there.  The view was better than any restaurant we might have gone to and, with the relatively high island prices for dining out, we saved hundreds of dollars over the course of the week.

Take advantage of free activities: Many destinations offer a variety of free activities, from hiking trails to public beaches. Do your research and plan your itinerary around these cost-free options to keep your expenses low.

Use public transportation: Taxis and rental cars can be expensive. Instead, opt for public transportation like buses, trains, or subways. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also get a chance to rub elbows with the locals and experience the city like a true resident.

One of my go-to apps for this is Rome2Rio. Not only will this app help you find budget-friendly travel options from one side of a city to another, you can find multiple ways to get from just about any place on earth to any other place. It’s great for finding trains or ferries around Europe or the best bus to take from your hotel to the museum you’re visiting.

Invest in a travel rewards credit card: If you’re a frequent traveler, consider signing up for a travel rewards credit card. You can earn points or miles on everyday purchases, which can be redeemed for flights, hotels, or other travel expenses. A great website to get the scoop on just about any travel rewards credit card is The Points Guy, which compares cards along with valuing the different rewards and benefits so that you can select the card that works best for you.

Filling an elevator is NOT your best route to budget-friendly travel nirvana!

Travel light: Airlines often charge hefty fees for checked baggage. Save money by packing light and sticking to a carry-on bag.

Plus, you’ll save time at the airport and have less to lug around during your travels.  

If you end up renting a car, you can also save by not needing a larger, more expensive car just to lug around those extra large suitcases!

Better yet, travel with a backpack, or small bag that includes backpack straps. The ability to pack stuff on your back will allow you to cover shorter distances on foot saving those pesky bus or Uber fares.

Take advantage of student, youth or senior discounts: If you’re a student or under 26, don’t forget to take advantage of student or youth discounts. Many attractions, museums, and transportation companies offer reduced rates for students and young adults.

Also, if you are an older traveler, be sure to check for senior discounts.  Many places, especially in Europe and Asia, start offering senior discounts to visitors over 50.  While many of us in that demographic don’t consider ourselves “seniors,” if the place you’re visiting does, why not take advantage of the opportunity to save?!?

Be open to new experiences: Sometimes, the most memorable travel experiences are the ones that cost the least. Be open to trying new things, whether it’s attending a free local festival or striking up a conversation with a friendly local. While caution is good during travel to a new place, the old “Never Talk To Strangers” is not a rule to live by if you want to really experience your new locale.

. . . and a Bonus Tip . . .

And, finally, here’s a BONUS tip that on what is becoming the go-to way to achieve budget-friendly travel for many younger travelers and there’s no reason that everyone can’t take advantage of it:

Earn money while you travel: Here’s a surprising tip that many travelers might not consider – earn money while you’re on the road! 

If you have a skill or talent that can be done remotely, like writing, graphic design, or teaching English online, you can fund your travels by working part-time. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr can help you find freelance gigs, while platforms like VIPKid and italki connect you with students for online tutoring. 

By earning money as you travel, you can offset your expenses and extend your adventures even longer!

Travel Safe and Budget Friendly!

There you have it, folks! With these 11 essential tips, you’ll be well on your way to budget-friendly travel. Remember, the world is your oyster, and you don’t need a fortune to explore it. 

And, if you have budget-friendly travel tips of your own, please share in the comments section below – we’d love to hear them!!!

Happy travels!

About the Author

Avid backcountry splitboarder, camper, overlander, traveler, foodie, trained sommelier, and lover of tech and gadgets!

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