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How to travel for cheap? 8 ways to see the world with less money

In this article I'll share the best tips on how to travel for cheap, based on my knowledge as a solo traveller around the world.


how to travel for cheap

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.

Whether it's a city break, staycation, or backpacking your way across the globe, there are many ways in which you can enjoy the trip of a lifetime on a low budget. In this article, I'll give the best tips I learned from my own experience and from talking to other travelers.

How to travel for cheap? 8 tips to help you to save money

Before we start, the number one tip is to be realistic about your trip. You may want an all-inclusive luxury holiday to the Maldives, but if your bank account says otherwise, it's best to listen. 

Make sure to have a rough budget and stick to it - that way you can enjoy yourself without worrying about the expenses.

With that said, here are 8 top tips on how you can travel the world for cheap:

  1. Pick the right destination to make the best with your budget
  2. Do your research to find the lowest airfare
  3. Curb your meals expenses by cooking in your trip
  4. Live it up with some free events
  5. Pack light with a minimalist packing list
  6. Do volunteer work exchange with Worldpackers
  7. Seek out discounts to travel cheaper
  8. Use your skills to make money travelling

1. Pick the right destination to make the best with your budget

how to travel for cheap

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.

There are plenty of beautiful, fun and cheap places to travel around the world. Want some ideas? Read our articles on The best places to travel on a budget and The cheapest vacation destinations.

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.

Find out more amazing tips reading our article on how to find cheap airfare.

3. Curb your meals expenses by cooking in your trip

cooking your own meals is a great way to travel for cheap

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

budget travel tips

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.

Do a minimalist packing list and you'll realise how much more practical your trips will be.

6. Do volunteer work exchange with Worldpackers

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
  • If you're a party person, you can do a work exchange in a hostel and make many friends. 
  • You can also help out at a social impact project, volunteering in a community, school or NGO in amazing places.

volunteering is an amazing way to travel for cheap

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.

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7. Seek out discounts to travel cheaper

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 to travel for cheap

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

Have you stopped to think that budget travel choices are often good for the planet? When looking for affordable alternatives for transportation and meals and experimenting collaborative ways of travelling, you might also travel more sustainably

Here are some attitudes that save you money and help the environment:

  • Walk or cycle around a city if possible, rather than getting a taxi 
  • Prefer taking buses or hitchhiking than renting a car
  • Take a reusable water bottle with you and fill it up where possible
  • Buy shampoo and soap bars, which save space and last much longer

If you're ready to get out there and explore the world, don't forget to check out the amazing volunteer opportunities on Worldpackers.

Have any other good tips and tricks for how to travel the world for cheap? Share them in the comments!

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