Are you wondering how to travel for cheap? Whilst travelling the globe can seem incredibly expensive, it doesn't always have to be. There are many alternatives to save a lot of money on the road.
Travel used to be something far out of reach for many, but these days people are able to go far and wide without spending much. We now have smarter transport, more choice of accommodation and more knowledge on how to travel for cheap.
1. Pick the right destination to make the best with your budget
As mentioned before, it's good to be realistic about your trip and what you can afford. If you're on a tight budget, travelling to one (or some) of the cheapest countries to visit will make your life much easier.
To start, the best thing to do is create a budget plan. When choosing your location, research the average costs of transport, accommodation, food and other expenses like the experiences you want to have when you're out there.
Take Europe for example - the North is typically very expensive with Nordic countries like Iceland and Denmark but Eastern Europe is the complete opposite. And if you want to save even more, especially on longer trips, consider going to Southeast Asia or Latin America, where most countries' cost of living and currencies make it easier to travel for cheap.
But if your absolute desire is to go to an expensive country, though, the following tips can help you reduce costs on your trip.
2. Do your research to find the lowest airfare
One of the most expensive parts of travelling, especially abroad, is the transport. If you're going somewhere far, you're likely to be flying there.
A great hack to travel smarter is to search for flights on incognito mode on your web browser. And if you can have some flexibility on your travel dates, you're much more likely to find cheap flights.
One of the best things to do if you want to travel for cheap is book flights outside school holidays, that way you won't pay the higher prices. And some airlines offer cheaper flights on Tuesdays, for instance.
Depending on where you're going, you might also consider taking a bus or a train to your destination, even if it's a longer journey. Not only it might be cheaper, but it's also more sustainable.
And if you're flying, it's also good to check out the prices for a city or country near your destination - maybe it's worth it taking another means of transportation from there.
3. Curb your meals expenses by cooking in your trip
Sure, wining and dining out is great but you don't need to do it every meal. One of the fundamntals of travel for cheap is deciding what you really need and what you can live without.
My tip is to pick a few places you're desperate to try out and make a budget for them. The rest of the time, you can cook your own meals. With that in mind, I suggest you stay in accommodation with a kitchen, like a hostel or apartment.
If you don't have access to a kitchen, you can still buy produce from a local supermarket and make your own breakfasts and snacks. As for dinner, if you want something hot then fast food places are a good shout and they don't always have to be unhealthy.
It's also good to look for local restaurants with cheap lunch menus, or street food stalls that allow you to explore local flavours for cheap.
Top tip: Help reduce food waste and save money with apps like Too Good To Go where you can get the end of day food that's been highly discounted. Also, many supermarkets reduce their food at the end of the day too. Always worth looking out for.
4. Live it up with free events
Experiencing a country is best done when you immerse yourself in the culture, explore your surroundings and get to know the locals. You may be tempted to do some of those pricey tours, but they aren't usually as authentic.
In most cities, there are plenty of free walking or bike tours, which is a fantastic way of sightseeing whilst making friends. If you're travelling solo then events like these are one of the best ways to create some great memories and life-long friends.
Some hostels may offer free experiences like cooking classes, tours and pub crawls. And if you talk to locals and do you research, you'll probably find out about days when museums have free entrance, or attractions that aren't made for tourists like parks and street markets.
There's plenty of free stuff out there, in most parts of the world. You just have to look for it!
5. Pack light with a minimalist packing list
If you're prone to taking two huge suitcases on a weekend away, you might want to rethink your packing style.
There are exceptions for items like medication if you have a medical condition or work equipment if you're a digital nomad. However, if you're just packing a years' worth of clothes into a suitcase to keep up with fashion trends, then it's time to become a bit more ruthless.
Many airlines allow you to take one or two free bags for hand luggage and then charge for check-in bags. Travelling light is also a way to travel for cheap because it makes it easier to use public transportation and walk, instead of spending money on taxis and such.
Volunteering while travelling is a great way to learn about different cultures, practice or develop different skills and make new friends. You'll come back home with great memories and it's also a great hack for those who wonder how to travel for cheap, since you'll save a lot of money on accommodation and other expenses.
You can find volunteering positions at Worldpackers, a work exchange platform that connects travelers to hosts from all around the world that offer free stay and other benefits, like meals and tours, in exchange for a few hours of help.
There are hundreds of different opportunities and there will definitely be a perfect position for you. Here's some examples:
If you like animals and eco projects you can volunteer on a farm, ecovillage or permaculture project.
You can also help out at a social impact project, volunteering in a community, school or NGO in amazing places.
Volunteering does mean giving up some of your free time, of course. However, if you choose a good position you'll gain a lot in return for your work. You might be able to learn amazing new things, and connecting with your hosts and other volunteers will make your trip much more memorable.
If you're a student wondering how to travel for cheap, you should definitely take advantage of the student discounts that are widely available. Meals, transport, accommodation, drinks and experiences are cheaper for students in many places.
As for the rest of us, we may not get as many discounts, but there are always railcards and bus passes that make a difference for those looking to save money while travelling.
And if all else fails, there are low cost airlines and bus companies to get you from A to B without splashing the cash.
8. Use your skills to make money travelling
How about not only travelling for cheap, but also making money on the go? Digital nomadism is very common nowadays, so if you can get into it, it may be very worth it. You might not have much money before you go travelling, but if you can work remotely, you can make money and see the world at the same time.
Things like social media marketing, blog writing, video making, and web developing are all examples of how the digital world opens up endless opportunities.
If you don't already have a job that allows you to travel remotely you can still create that opportunity for yourself. This does require some effort, but once you find the right balance between work and travel, traveling becomes much more rewarding.
Bonus tips on how to travel for cheap and be a sustainable traveler
Hey I’m Lauren! I’m from a small town in sunny (I wish) Scotland and took on my first solo travelling trip after graduating in 2019 My experience was way better than I could’ve imagined – meeting wonderful people, seeing amazing things, great experiences and even teaching weekly yoga! I couldn’t have done all this without Worldpackers, I’m so grateful I came across the website. I think everyone should get to experience travelling at some point in their lives – wherever and whatever it may be! My advice if you’re thinking about it is – don’t think too much! Just do, you won’t regret it.