I was working on my computer in a coffeeshop in central Copenhagen, and I’ve “overheard” a conversion of a couple who sat next to me. They were talking about my favourite subject, traveling, so I’ve obviously couldn’t stop myself from listening. They guy was saying how they haven’t been on any trip for a year now, and he was trying to convince his girlfriend that they should go traveling together, but she didn’t want to. She was coming up with all kinds of excuses, mainly about how expensive traveling is, and how expensive the flights and the hotels are, and how you have to take taxis which cost a fortune and eat out 3 times a day. I wanted to jump into their conversion so badly and tell her how much I disagreed with her, but I just kept on pretending that I’m very interested in my own computer, and I got inspired to write this. My tips on how to travel on a budget. Yes, traveling is not the cheapest think ever, but you can definitely make it affordable! You don’t need to stay in an expensive hotel, take taxis or eat out in restaurants 3 times a day. It takes certain sacrifices and devotion, but with the right planing skills and open mindset, you can definitely make it way more affordable than some of us tend to think!
1. Save up
Saving up is the key. You need to ask yourself do I really need another pair of jeans or do I really need to have sushi tonight, or would I rather save that money and go traveling one day? I try to save up money for my future travels every month, it doesn’t matter how much it is, sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more. It doesn’t always work out, some months are more “expensive” than the other, let’s say beginning of the school year when I get new books and hang out more with my friends because it’s still warm outside, and than in winter months I often menage to save up a bit more, because I spent most of the time buried in books, studying for my exams.
What you can do is to contact your bank and open up a separate account where you can put money aside, sort of saving account, and it really makes saving up a lot easier. It’s all about choosing your priorities. For me traveling is way more interesting, than going out every single weekend or eating out, and trust me, if you tell yourself that you will go out twice a month instead of twice a week you will menage to save up a lot more than you think.
It’s important to have a goal in mind, and decide how much money you should put aside for that specific trip. It’s always easier to save up, when you know exactly how far you are from reaching your goal. And remember, it doesn’t matter how much you save up, or how long it takes, because in the end it will be so worth it.
2. Keep your eyes open for sales
Airlines have sales or hotel sides as booking.com have sales, it’s all about keeping your eyes open, checking frequently, and planing ahead. I’ve recently managed to book a really nice hotel in Warsaw for 60% off. I’ve booked it for several month ahead and checked different dates, because some weekend are way more expensive than the others. It’s often because of some important events that are happening, it can be football games, big congresses, concerts and especially holidays. Holidays are always the most expensive time to travel, because that’t when everybody is traveling, and airlines and hotels take advantage of that. So in order to avoid crowds and overpriced everything, try to travel off season.
3. Plan in advantage
Planing in advantage is important, because you can find better prices and avoid being overcharged, but I find it especially important when you’re planing on visiting more than one place. Let’s say you want to go to a few different cities or even few different countries, it’s a good idea to check the connections between those places to find out if it’s not too expensive or if it makes sense time wise. If your flight is coming to your destination at 10 pm, than you have to wait for your luggage and than get to the city and find your hotel. It can easily take up a few hours, which means that you’re paying for a day in a hotel that you’re basically not using. Plus in many places, there is no public transportation at night, or the only option are night busses which can be very time consuming or some places even slightly dangerous.
4. Explore different forms of transportation
It’s always good to explore all the options that you have. Sometimes it can be way cheaper to actually fly than drive or take a train. It’s often possible to find flights from Copenhagen to Berlin for 20 euro, and train can be about 80 euro! Recently my friends and I bought direct one- hour flights from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam for about about 20-25 euro, and the train would cost about twice as much and it would probably take a full day of traveling.
When traveling by plan it’s also really important to check how far the airport is from the city and how much it will cost you to get there. Many European cities have more than one airport, and the cheaper airlines usually fly to the one which is far away from the city, plus the bus or train tickets from the airport to the city centre can sometimes be more expensive than the flight itself. For example in Warsaw there are two airports, a while ago Ryanair was offering really cheap connections to Modlin (the airport which is located about 60 km outside of Warsaw). The prices were about half of the ones for the Chopin Airport (which is basically in the city, about 15 min taxi drive from the centre). Plus Ryanair was flying to Modlin in literally middle of the night, and from what I heard the flights were always late. It obviously depends on the circumstances, who you’re traveling with etc, but remember to always check if it doesn’t pay off to get the more expensive flight to a closer airport.
In Europe it can also be quiet cheap to travel by bus, and easily get from one country to another, or you can also get an interrail pass, which allows you to travel to 30 different European countries! You can basically spend every day in a new place, and you don’t have to worry about buying tickets or standing in lines, all you need is just one pass.
5. Travel with your carry on
Usually you’re allowed to have 8-10 kg in your carry on luggage, and trust me, it is enough. In the beginning it might seems impossible but it’s totally doable. It saves up money and time, and you don’t have to worry about airlines loosing you luggage. I travel quiet a lot only with my carry on and I love it. There is something that feels almost liberating about not having so much stuff with you. It obviously takes some practice and planing, you need to plan you outfits carefully, pack simple, basic clothes that you can mix and match with each other. If you’re really think about it, we often tend to pack a lot of stuff that we actually don’t need or don’t even end up using. After a couple of days you will probably forget how much crap you actually own.
6. Cut down on your food expenses
Don’t get me wrong, i’m not telling you to cut down on food, because I freaking LOVE food. Eating is for my the highlight of life, I’m going to Vietnam soon and all I can think about is all these delicious spring rolls and mazing tropical fruits that i’m going to eat there. Traveling is all about eating and trying new foods, it’s a huge part of discovering and experiencing a new place and its culture. So my point is, you need to eat, but you don’t necessarily need to eat in restaurants. Eating out can often be one of the biggest expenses while traveling, especially because while sightseeing you will often spend a lot of time hanging out around overpriced touristy spots, where food is expensive and not necessary good. Do some research before you go, try to find small, local restaurants with decent prices. Give yourself a limit, let’s say, you eat out twice during the trip, and rest of the time you cook at the place you’re staying (good idea to find a hostel or a flat with a kitchen). I remember one night in Milan, when my friend and I decide to cook a dinner at home (we were staying at a nice little flat with a kitchen) and I still remember that dinner because it ended up being so nice! The whole process was super fun, we went to an Italian supermarket, got some traditional Italian food and cooked gnocchi (my favourite Italian dish), mozzarella salad and we even made a cake. If you’re traveling in summer, options are endless, you can get yourself a baguette, fruits and wine, and enjoy your meal outside in a nice park or beach. If you’re traveling to Asia, don’t be scared of street food, it’s often super cheap and way more authentic. I’ve had some of my best meals “on the streets” 😉
7. Explore free activities and sightseeing options
I assure you that wherever you go there are always plenty of things that you can do for free. You don’t always have to do the mandatory tourist attractions, that are usually way too overpriced. I personally enjoyed the view from Terrasse du Printemps, which is free, way more than the view from Eiffel Tower, or watching Shanghai’s skyline from The Bund (for free) is way more cooler than seeing it from The Oriental Pearl Tower, where entrance cost about 25 euro. The best way to discover a new place is by walking, take your most comfortable pari of shoos, ditch the metro and walk everywhere you can. That way you will see places you didn’t even know existed and you will experience the real atmosphere of the place you’re visiting.
8. Set a budget and write down all you’re spending while traveling
Setting a budget will give you a better overview of how much money you actually can allow yourself to spend, and that way you can also plan your trip depending on your budget. It’s also a good idea to write down how much you’re spending while you’re traveling, that will help you to realise how much money you’re actually using on a daily basis, and you will be able to keep track of how much you have left.
Gran Canaria, Spain
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia