Tips for Traveling on a Budget
A question from reader Nia in California:
I really like your page. So I’m just starting to travel..but I want to travel on a budget…any suggestions on how to do that and what are good beginner traveling spots? Thanks♥
Thank you so much Nia!
First tip is to decide where you want to go ahead of time because when traveling on a tight budget planning is key. Look for specials, though note that many of these have restrictions and black out dates, as well as a no-refund policies – so plan wisely and read the small print!
Whether near or far, set a budget. Starting a travel fund is always helps. Make sure you put money into it religiously. $5 or $10 a week or the cost of lunch at work – is a great way to start. Be willing to make adjustments to work the budget well. In other words, you might have to eat out less, or shop less, or bring lunch to work more. When it comes to traveling regularly, you have to make it a part of your every day life: a smaller house, an older car, last year’s fashion, etc.
Don’t ever rely on credit cards to travel as being in debt only limits your capacity for future travel. Use credit cards to book hotel, flights, etc., but have the money saved up to pay those off right away.
Start local, start small and work your way from there. People underestimate the fact that many great travel spots are a road trip away, but if you want to fly then note that at this time of year (close to the Winter season) you are hitting high season (they are usually at their peak starting November) so prices will go up – be on the extra look out for packages! Travel off-season and pick and choose: what do you want to spend most of your money on? Food, hotel, attractions?
I like to check out travel booking sites to see what specials they are offering – Kayak.com is one of my go to sites. I also check out the rates on the hotel websites in addition to the rates on the travel booking sites. Sometimes the hotel websites offer the same rate, but without the service charge that booking sites add on to your reservations. Same with car rentals.
Visit the tourist board for tips on events, attractions, and even discounts and coupons for admission to places. Really plan out everything, not just the bigger stuff. For example, will you need to ride cabs? How much is the metro? Calculate the tips you will need to leave – for the waiter, the doorman, the cleaning lady, the tour guide, etc. Try to travel in mass transit whenever possible. You can make the most of a trip within NYC, or even between some European countries, just by choosing the train over cabs, rentals, or planes.
Ask the locals where they like to eat and hang out, as not only will this open your trip to many adventures, but also save you money from having to spend it on touristy places.
And remember, be patient. Even the most avid traveler has to take breaks sometimes to recoup financially. Don’t get discouraged and stay focused on the end goal.
Though I personally like to read about the more personal experiences from bloggers, I also think a good guide book never hurts to have handy. Use the travel guide resources out there like Frommer’s and Lonely Planet, they offer a lot of inside information. BudgetTravel.com is also a great resource for tips in budget travel.