13 Budget Travel Secrets From Travel Experts That Saves Money

Tips & Hacks For Budget Travel To Keep Your Travel Expenses Low

Traveling and seeing the world may be on your bucket list, but expenses just seem to always drown out those dreams. Flying overseas is hardly ever cheap, while a week’s worth of hotel accommodations can be enough to break your budget.

Travel expenses can quickly add up. Between transportation, all your meals, and sightseeing, your budget can be broken easily.

Instead, you simply need to step back and change your approach to how you travel and visit these amazing places. I’m here to tell you that traveling the world on a budget can be done, and I asked travel experts to share their budget travel secrets.    

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1) Be Adaptable

You just never know when a great deal is going to pop up and having the flexibility to leave everything and go at the drop of a hat, can work out in your favor.

This means you’re not tied down to a particular destination or the timing of your visit. Keep your eyes open for non-peak flying days and any last minute offers.    

2) Travel To Budget-Friendly Destinations

Another fantastic way to grab amazing deals is by choosing to travel to destinations that are kind to your budget. These places may not have been on your radar, but you’ll be surprised at what you will find when you get there.

Check out these budget-friendly destinations that could be your next stop to visit. 

✅ For additional travel tips, I read these.

scenic view from the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland vacation photo from Steffa Mantilla at Money Tamer
Cairngorms National Park

The Best Places To Travel On A Budget:

It’s well known that some places are a lot more expensive to travel to than others. Some of these suggestions may be surprising, but if you get a good flight deal to the destination, you can still keep costs down by staying away from the tourist traps.

Yaz from The Wallet Moth:

  • Thailand, for sure. It is an extremely popular tourist destination, but there are still a plethora of budget-friendly options for travelers.
  • Personally, I loved heading up into Northern Thailand to Chiang Mai and Pai for breathtaking scenery, friendly locals, and non-stop street-food options for a fantastic experience that fit well within my budget.

Lilia Griffin from Blue-Vagabond:

  • Hawaii – the variety of fruits is amazing!  
  • Israel! Delicious bread, hummus, tahini, and vegetables at ridiculous prices (inexpensive).

Hannah Canavan from Adventure Family Travel:

  • Disney on a budget with our three children; I love discovering hacks for budget travel with kids so doing the ultimate kids’ family experience on a shoestring would be perfect!
  • Bali, Indonesia. The weather is stunning, the people are wonderful, the food is out of this world. There is gorgeous natural beauty and it is so cheap! Plus we lived there for 8 months so I’m biased.

Sophie & Paul from Vegan On Board:

  • We travel a lot in Europe, and Portugal is one of our favorite budget destinations. It’s got such incredible nature that you can enjoy for free.
  • We love going to buy fruits and veggies in the local markets. You can come back with bags full of oranges, lemons, fresh herbs and salads for just a fraction of what it would cost in our home country the UK.
  • Portugal is also a great place for foraging for free food which we love to cook within our campervan.

Erin Rodriguez from Vegan Family Travels:

  • San Diego. We can drive there for no flight cost. Stay at a VRBO on or near the beach to reduce meal costs by making them at home. Hang out at the beach all day for low entertainment costs.

3) Try Alternative Vacations

Many times when you think of vacation, you associate it with driving or flying to a destination and staying in a hotel. Airfare is some of the most expensive ways to travel.

Instead, look into renting a Recreational Vehicle also known as an RV. This marketplace is like the Air BnB for RV rentals by owners so the cost is generally less than from a dealership. If you have an RV yourself, you can offer it up for others to rent to make a little extra cash to spend on your vacation.

4) Lighten Your Load

Checked bag prices will add another inconvenience to your trip and pocketbook. Instead, choose to pack light and fit everything into your carry-on luggage to save you money.

Depending on where you crash for the night, there’s a pretty good chance that you will be able to wash your clothes wherever you’re visiting.   

5) Avoid Peak Season

This is one of the biggest tips on my list for being kind to your budget and one you simply should not ignore. Avoid peak season!

This includes the timing of the year for your flight, as well as where you plan on staying. Hotels and tourist destinations hike up their prices during their busy season and all at your expense.

You’ll also notice fewer people during the off-season and still pleasant temperatures for the most part. 

Pro Tip: These are my favorites to make airplane travel a breeze!

6) Earn Free Travel Miles

You’ve probably heard of how people use travel credit cards to rake in free miles or even free flights? They aren’t lying. With as many places you’re hoping to visit, it won’t be long before you decide it’s a good idea to get one too.

One tip is to be careful with these credit cards and pay the entire balance off immediately. Avoid making only small payments and carrying a balance. 

globe of the word with push pins in it travel pin about budget travel tips to save money

7) Don’t Go The Hotel Route

Remember when I told you that it’s important to change your approach to visiting places around the world? This is one of those times.

If you’re on a tight budget, you need to avoid paying hundreds of dollars a night by staying in a hotel room and opt for different accommodations. 

If you have a large family and don’t want to be separated into two hotel rooms that cost you even more, consider going with Airbnb to meet your needs for far less.

Have you ever heard of Hostels before? This is another option where you can find lodging for simply you or your family for less than $50 a night. 

Lastly, there’s Couchsurfing, where families will take you in and give you a room or couch to sleep on for free. This might be a stretch and way out of your comfort zone, but you will meet amazing people that are just as beneficial to you as a tourist guide.     

8) Pack Your Own Snacks

Most airlines permit passengers to bring their own snacks, as long as it’s not a liquid or a gel food.

This tip can save you $30-$40 (per flight) that would be spent on snacks during your flight, while you could keep them packed in your carry-on luggage. 

This guide shows you how to bring delicious food through airport security to save tons of money on airplane food.


Recommended Budget Food Items Or Snacks While Traveling:

Food can easily be one of the most expensive parts of a trip. Sometimes you don’t have access to a fridge and you end up eating out all meals of the day.

These tips will help you plan ahead and keep your food budget while traveling manageable.

Tip: Snacks purchased ahead of time are less expensive than touristy areas.

Yaz says, “It depends where you are. In Asia, there are loads of local markets where you can buy huge fresh mangoes and giant bunches of bananas for the equivalent of maybe $0.10, so stocking up on fresh fruit is the obvious answer.

If you’re traveling within your own country, I’d recommend stocking up on cheap breakfast bars to keep you going until you can have a more filling main meal.

Sophie & Paul “try and avoid plastic packaging as much as possible so we make all our own snacks on the road. Apple rings and nuts keep us fuelled when we are on a hike. If we want an extra special snack to keep us going then we love a piece (or two!) of our vegan campfire brownie!”

Erin enjoys, “Granola bars… anything I can easily carry in my bag to avoid hungry meltdowns from adults and kids.”


9) Research Free Things To Do

No matter where you visit, there are always a handful of events and neat things to do that won’t cost you anything. That doesn’t make you a cheapskate, you’re just thinking outside the box.

It’s important that you do your research before you get there. There’s sure to be free museums, beautiful parks, window shopping and hiking trails that take you to epic heights.

waterfall in the Scottish Highlands vacation photo by Steffa Mantilla of Money Tamer
Waterfall in the Scottish Highlands

10) Steer Clear Of Taxis

Traveling just a few blocks with a taxi in a big city can easily cost you around $20. Plus there’s the inconvenience of traffic and how long it takes to get to your destination.

Choose to travel like a local and take the bus or subway while paying only a fraction of the price. 

Yaz recommends, “Use public transport if it’s safe to do so. When you’re in a new city, catching the train or a bus can feel really intimidating, and it often seems easier to just jump in a taxi.

Using public transport can save you so much money though! I’d always recommend you do your research in your next destination’s layout and public transport network, so you know how to get to where you need to be without having to spend all your money on taxis.”

11) Plan On Preparing Meals

When you’re traveling on vacation, you probably don’t feel like doing any cooking while you’re there. Touristy areas have restaurants that will charge you a premium price, so if you’re choosing to eat out, find out where the locals eat for far less.

While it’s important to try the local cuisine when you’re visiting, you’ll save even more money by choosing to cook your own meals for the majority of your visit.

Sophie & Paul’s strategy: “We record our expenses as we go, so we can see what we are spending money on and where we can make savings. On our first 3-month road trip we found we spent a lot of money on coffee and eating out so we cut down on that. We are very lucky that traveling in a van means we always have a kitchen with us!”

12) Be Selective With Restaurants

If you want to go out to eat, Yaz recommends “Always ask for local recommendations for restaurants. One of the best ways to save money when traveling is to ask the staff at your hotel or a local tour guide where they personally go out to eat in the evenings. You’ll get a great insight into local cuisine cooked for locals (very different from the places that cook for tourists), and you’ll be paying much cheaper local prices, too.”

Lilia says, “It depends on the person, but basically have only one large restaurant meal a day. Eat a simple breakfast at your room in the hotel/Air B&B, snacks during lunchtime (also makes you less tired while traveling), and then a restaurant for dinner – that’s where you spend most of your budget.”

Hannah’s strategy is to, “Get a hotel with breakfast included and fill up/ take a little doggy bag for your day so that you can save money on food! Also, check out what the main attractions are and then get public transport to them instead of booking expensive tours.”

13) Find Work While You Visit

If you’re visiting places like Europe and you plan to on hitting up several locations while you’re there for an extended period of time, you may want to think about working while you’re there.

This can make traveling even more affordable and you might come back with a few extra dollars in your pocket.  Be sure to check the local labor laws of your destinations to see if this is a possibility.

Sophie & Paul who travel in a camper van says, “We love volunteering networks such as WWOOF and Workaway for finding places to stay where you can receive free food and accommodation in exchange for helping out on a project. It’s also a fantastic way of meeting locals, immersing in their culture and giving back to the community.”

14) Avoid Buying Tons Of Souveniers

While it’s nice to have something memorable from where you visited, so many of the trinkets and souvenirs will never be looked at again once you get back home.

If you are traveling with kids, the demands for souvenirs may be even greater.

This is how Erin handles souvenirs with her children:

  • Have the kids buy their own souvenirs. My kids save their allowance. When we are on vacation, they are in charge of buying their own souvenirs. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
  • Make them a travel book with postcards. I buy them a postcard for each destination we go to. (This is the only souvenir I buy for them.) They put these in photo albums they have at home to remember there trip. It’s a cheap and easy souvenir anywhere you are.

Overview

Traveling the world isn’t cheap, but it doesn’t have to cost as much as you think. By using these budget travel secrets, you’d be amazed at how many more places you could afford to visit.

What are some destinations that you cannot wait to visit? Or maybe you’ve come across a few other tips for budget-travel that have made your dreams even easier? I’d love if you shared them below.  

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Steffa Mantilla

Budgeting & Debt Payoff Expert

Steffa is the founder behind Money Tamer. After paying off over $80,000 in debt through budgeting, she now teaches families how to get their own finances in order. Steffa’s background in operant conditioning and behavioral husbandry has given her an understanding of motivation and motivators. She uses this training to help people understand the reasons “why” behind their money behaviors and how to successfully change them. You can learn more about her here.

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Secret Tips For Budget Travel That Will Save You A Lot Of Money

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