Travel enriches the soul, and though it can be an expensive hobby at times, it’s not just limited to the rich. If you want to travel, but your budget is low, don’t let preconceptions of the cost of travel stop you! There are many ways to travel on a budget while getting the same value out of your experiences.
The cost of any trip depends on context. For example, if you want to travel like a celebrity by staying in five-star hotels, travelling first class and eating at Michelin-starred restaurants, then yes, your trip is likely to be far more expensive than what most people can comfortably afford. However, if you’re willing to budget a little by staying in three or four-star hotels, kicking back in economy class and cooking a meal or two on a beach BBQ (now, doesn’t that sound nice?), then you’re bound to save the pounds.
While many people consider splurging on more luxurious options to be part of the holiday experience, there are also those that may prioritise sightseeing, absorbing the local culture, and interacting with others, as their main travel goals. Neither are an incorrect way to travel – but if you’re the latter type of traveller, then these money saving travel tips are for you!
1. Use price comparison sites
There are price comparison sites for airlines, accommodation and car rental. Using these sites makes it easier to ensure that you get the best deal, and are not overspending where you could save.
Air travel is often the largest expenditure, depending on your destination. If flights are where you’re looking to save, Skyscanner is a popular website which allows you to filter flights by destination, departure or arrival time, journey time and more. You can also do the same with Google Flights and Kiwi.
2. Use private browsing
Use a private browsing mode, such as incognito mode on Google, to look for flights, and make sure to clear your cookies each time you search. This is because airlines will use your browsing data to raise the prices each time you search for a flight price, as this increases the urgency to purchase the flight.
3. Pack light
While flight prices may appear reasonable at first, airlines will often sting you with a charge for hold luggage or even a large carry on. And don’t forget that going over your luggage allowance may mean a high monetary penalty at the airport!
If you can, pack light. Bring a microfibre towel instead of a cotton towel. Check if the hotel room has a hairdryer so that you don’t have to bring yours. Decant your shampoo and conditioner into smaller bottles. There are many ways to lighten up your luggage load!
4. Travel during off-peak season
The best time to travel, if you can, is during school term time. It’s well known that travel and accommodation prices rise significantly (by as much as 126% between June and August) during school holidays, so if you are able to take your holiday outside this period, you will benefit from much lower prices.
This obviously isn’t convenient for parents, as you can be fined for taking your child out of school without the school’s permission. However, there are still ways to save money, including:
- Booking well in advance to secure the cheapest prices
- Booking during the last two weeks of August
- Travelling to a less popular location
- If you have a big family, opt for a villa or lodge, as these often work out cheaper than multiple hotel rooms
If you really want to save money, try going on holiday outside of the late spring to summer period. There are many cooler destinations to explore. But if you’re still looking for hot weather, try visiting the Canary Islands for warm temperatures all year round. Note: it may cost more to visit destinations in the southern hemisphere during our winter months.
5. Look for online discounts
While it might be fun to take a trip to your local bricks-and-mortar travel agent to arrange your holiday, there are far more discounts available if you look online. Sites like Groupon and Wowcher offer deals and discounts on holidays and travel, though make sure to read the terms and conditions, as they specify restrictions such as weekday only bookings.
You could also try installing a browser extension such as Honey, which notifies you if there is a discount code or cashback opportunity on any website, including some travel company websites!
If you do prefer going to a travel agent, then at least look for deals online first, as your chosen agent may be able to conduct a price match.
6. Go on a mystery trip
Don’t have a preference when it comes to your holiday? Love a surprise? Then a mystery trip is for you. Companies such as Journee and Srprs.me offer mystery holidays based on a few specifications (such as date, continent and budget) and select a holiday based on your choices. Journee even drags out the surprise to the airport, where you can finally find out your itinerary.
In many cases, it can work out cheaper when the choice of destination is in someone else’s hands!
7. Fly into low-cost cities
If you don’t mind taking public transport on the ground, or if you want to see more of a country, fly into a low-cost city, then make your way to your intended destination by bus, rail or car.
For example, if you want to visit Venice in Italy, try looking at prices for flights to Verona or Trieste, then checking public transport fares to Venice. It may be cheaper.
How to travel on a budget: Bonus tips
Need some more advice on how to travel on a budget? Here are some extra tips to help bring down the cost of your next trip:
Take overnight transportation
Get a credit card with travel rewards (make sure you can pay it off each month!)
Travel to destinations with a good exchange rate to make your spending money go further
Try house sitting through sites like TrustedHousitters and Workaway
Sign up to hotel and airline reward programmes
Check if the company you work for offers corporate discounts or travel perks
There are so many money-saving tips when it comes to travel! Remember to bookmark this page and visit it again when you’re ready to book your next trip.