It’s no secret that travel can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. With a little bit of planning and creativity, you can save money while still enjoying yourself on your next backpacking trip.
Here are ten tips for squeezing the most out of your travel dollar.
1. Pick your travel dates around the shoulder or low seasons
Avoid travelling during peak seasons if you’re looking to travel on a budget. Planning your trip around shoulder seasons or low seasons will help you save money, and you’ll also have a more authentic experience since there won’t be as many tourists around.
Of course, there are some downsides to travelling during off-peak times – you might have to deal with bad weather, for instance. But if you’re willing to put up with a bit of inconvenience, you can enjoy all the benefits of travelling without spending a fortune.
As you’re planning for your next trip, remember to consider the time of year – it could make all the difference in your budget.
2. Plan your trip ahead of time to avoid last-minute expenses
If you’re the type of person who likes to live spontaneously and take each day as it comes, more power to you.
But when it comes to travel, it could pay to plan ahead – literally.
By booking your flights, accommodation, and other activities well in advance, you can avoid the inflated prices that come with last-minute planning.
For flight tickets, the rule of thumb within the travel community is to aim for that 60 days window for short-hauled flights within North America and allow yourself 3-4 months for long-hauled flights to Europe and Asia. Keep in mind that doesn’t take into account special deals or promotions.
Nomad tip: if you’re flexible with your destination and your travel dates, check out the Explore tab in Google Flights, that could save you tons!
3. Stay in hostels or budget hotels to save money on accommodation
If you’re looking to save a few bucks on your next trip, then forget about five-star hotels and luxury resorts. If you’re travelling solo, one of the best ways to keep your accommodation costs down is to stay in a hostel.
You’ll be surprised that you don’t have to sacrifice so much comfort while staying at a hostel. Many of the newer hostels feature pod-like bunk beds giving you some sort of privacy, and have very modern amenities. So you’ll be able to enjoy all the same attractions and activities as everyone else – without breaking the bank. Check out your destination on HostelWorld to discover a wide range of hostels.
In addition, staying in a hostel can actually be a lot of fun. You’ll meet interesting people from all over the world, and you may even make some lifelong friends. So if you’re looking for an economical way to travel, be sure to check out hostels.
4. Research free activities in the city or town you’re visiting
Saving money while travelling is a challenge for anyone, but it’s especially difficult if you’re trying to have a good time. It seems like every activity you want to do costs money.
But don’t worry, there are ways to have fun without spending too much cash. In fact, many of the best activities in any city or town are free! Many museums and galleries offer free days or hours, so take advantage of them!
If you really want to do something that costs money, see if you can find a discount. Many times, your hostel will offer free or cheap tours, and they sometimes have deals on activities and attractions.
Don’t be shy to talk with locals!
Locals always know the best (and cheapest) places to eat, drink, and have fun. They can also tell you about free events that are happening in town.
5. Cook your own food instead of eating out all the time
When you travel, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of trying new restaurants and local cuisine. However, eating out all the time can quickly become expensive, and it’s not always the healthiest option.
If you’re cooking for yourself, you have more control over the ingredients and their preparation. A visit to the grocery store or local market can also be a fun cultural experience of its own.
Staying in an Airbnb or hostel gives you access to a kitchen that is sometimes fully stocked with spices and condiments, so you can save money and eat healthier by cooking your meals. Plus, it’s a great way to meet other travellers.
Nomad tip: next time you plan a trip, search online for 5/15 recipes (5 ingredients – 15 minutes cooking time) and remember to pack your favourite recipes to impress your new hostel friends. Bon appetit!
6. Rent a bike or walk instead of taking taxis or private transportation
While it may be tempting to hail a cab when exploring a new city, there are plenty of reasons to consider renting a bike or walking instead. Not only is it a great way to get some exercise, but it can also help you save money. Plus, taking your time to wander the streets on foot or by bike can help you explore parts of the city that you might otherwise miss.
For a true cultural immersion, take local transportation.
Yes, the chicken bus in Central America might seem like the most daunting ride you’ve ever taken in your life, but it’s also a fraction of what you’d pay for a private transfer. Embrace the local way of life and consider getting around the old-fashioned way – you might be surprised at how much you enjoy it.
7. Ask friends or family for recommendations on affordable restaurants and attractions
It’s always good to get recommendations from friends or family when it comes to finding affordable restaurants and attractions. They may know of some great places you haven’t heard of before, and they can give you an idea of what to expect in terms of pricing. Plus, it’s always nice to have someone to talk to about your travel plans – they may even have some helpful tips to share!
So before you leave for your next trip, ask around for recommendations on where to eat and what to see. You may just find some hidden gems that you wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.
8. Choose the right travel insurance
Travel insurance is one of those things that you hope you never have to use, but it’s essential to have just in case something goes wrong. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a huge medical bill in a foreign country. But how do you know which travel insurance plan is right for you and won’t leave you broke?
The first step is to determine your travel insurance needs and your budget.
Did you know that some travel insurance brokers receive up to 45% commission from your policy? No wonder you get quoted so much!
With soNomad, you could get comprehensive travel insurance coverage for as little as $1.50/day. That’s about 25% cheaper on average than what’s being offered on the market.
The bottom line is that travel insurance is worth the investment. Contact a soNomad agent to find an affordable travel insurance for your needs. It will save you a lot of money (and stress) later.
Find the best travel insurance for your next adventure
9. Pack light, so you don’t have to pay extra
Packing light seems like such a simple concept, yet so few of us manage to do it. Don’t you wish you didn’t have to pay the check-in fee because your backpack is either too heavy or big to be considered a carry-on?
Let’s be honest, how annoying is it to carry a massive backpack, only to wear the same two outfits every day? If you’re sick of being that person, here are a few tips for packing light:
- Make a list of everything you think you’ll need for your trip. Then go through and edit it down, getting rid of anything that you can live without.
- Pack versatile items that can be mixed and matched to create different looks.
- Invest in some good packing cubes – they’ll help you maximize space and keep your belongings organized.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to pack light and avoid paying those pesky overweight baggage fees.
10. Try out the sharing economy while travelling
The sharing economy has been a game-changer for travellers, and for a good reason. Not only does it provide a way to save money, but it also allows you to connect with locals and experience a destination in a unique way.
Thanks to start-ups like Turo and BlaBlaCar, it’s now possible to save money on transportation costs by renting cars from private individuals or carpooling with other travellers.
While Airbnb is a great way to find unique places to stay, when it comes to accommodation, there are plenty of other options for finding low-cost or even free places to stay. Couchsurfing, for instance, allows you to sleep on the couch (or in your own room) of another traveller.
Campspace and HomeCamper provide affordable camping options in someone’s backyard, and TrustedHousesitter, an opportunity to housesit for someone’s house and care for their pets while they’re away.
So if you’re looking to save money on your next trip, check out the sharing economy.
Saving money while travelling doesn’t have to be complicated – just use your common sense and be willing to try new things. With some planning, you can easily find ways to cut costs without sacrificing your travel experience.
What tips do you have to save money while travelling?
The founders of Nomad Junkies are proud to be ambassadors for soNomad and to help change the travel insurance industry so that it costs you less!