How to travel on a budget

Planning on travelling but do not want to spend a fortune? Here are our top tips on how to travel on a budget.

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

Source: Getty Images

When investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you put in.

Read More

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be, nor does it constitute, any form of personal advice. Investments in a currency other than sterling are exposed to currency exchange risk. Currency exchange rates are constantly changing, which may affect the value of the investment in sterling terms. You could lose money in sterling even if the stock price rises in the currency of origin. Stocks listed on overseas exchanges may be subject to additional dealing and exchange rate charges, and may have other tax implications, and may not provide the same, or any, regulatory protection as in the UK.

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More.

Many of us enjoy travelling in our leisure time, but it can be a pretty costly pursuit. Thankfully, if you’re prepared to be a little creative, there are number of ways to travel without breaking the bank.

If you are planning to travel on a budget and are looking for ways to limit expenses on your trip, here are a few practical tips to help you.

Travel during the off-season

During peak travel seasons, many popular destinations are likely to be fully booked, meaning that there are few discounts on offer. If you are willing to travel at off-peak times, you could take advantage of significant price breaks (some places can drop their prices by as much as 30%).

If you do intend to travel during the off-season, it’s a good idea to do a little research and confirm that the attractions and activities you are interested in are still available.

Book your flight early

It is a good idea to make your travel arrangements and book your flight as far in advance as possible. Buying your ticket weeks or even months in advance of your travel date can lead to significant savings.

The cheapest plane tickets tend to sell out soon after flight schedules are announced. If you wait until the last minute, you may find that the only remaining option is an expensive ticket that will put a huge dent in your travel budget.

Be flexible on dates

Being flexible on your travel dates can help you score the best travel deals. Airlines often offer the best travel deals on certain days of the week or month to encourage more travel at what are considered to be quieter times.

You are also likely to pay less by flying economy (especially for short flights) rather than business class and choosing routes with connecting flights rather than direct ones.

Sign up for frequent traveller clubs

If you sign up for the frequent traveller club offered by your favourite hotel, airline or cruise line, they can send you notifications when they have good travel deals on offer. If your travel dates are flexible, you can then plan your travel accordingly, taking advantage of these deals.

With frequent traveller membership you can also collect points as you travel that can lead to rewards including free travel. It also gives you a chance to enjoy other perks such as seat upgrades and priority check-in.

Look for cheap accommodation 

When travelling, if your aim is to spend as much time as possible out exploring the sights and experiencing the culture, it could help to consider cheaper accommodation options. Instead of staying in hotels, resorts or apartments that you’ll barely see, you could opt for much cheaper options such as hostels or Airbnbs.

If you have a relative or a friend who lives near where you are going, you could reach out to them and see if they can accommodate you. 

You can also reduce accommodation costs by skipping the room with the ocean view (which is likely to be quite expensive), booking a place that is a few blocks from the beach rather than right next to it, or looking for a place a little more off the beaten track where the prices are more reasonable. 

Do your own cooking 

Restaurant prices, especially in popular holiday destinations, are often high even for casual eats. It could help to look for places to stay that offer a kitchen where you can do your own cooking. You will be able to save significantly, even if you only use it to prepare your own breakfast or a casual picnic lunch for the day ahead. 

If cooking your own meals just isn’t viable, another useful cost-cutting strategy could be to buy food from local street stalls and independent eateries, as they are likely to be far cheaper than restaurants. 

Hand wash your clothes

Using hotel laundry services can be very expensive, and going to a local launderette can eat into both your budget and your precious holiday time.

As most hotels have baths and basins that you can use to wash your clothes by hand, it could be a good idea to pack some washing powder in your luggage and take care of it yourself. You can then wash clothes as you need them and hang them to dry in your room while you’re out exploring for the day.

Favour places that display prices

Many restaurants and bars do not openly display their prices. This can lead to nasty surprises once you’ve ordered your drinks or settled in at your table and opened the menu. It might therefore make sense to stick to places that display their prices by the door so that you can make an informed decision before stepping inside.

Search for free activities

Exploring new places and experiencing all they have to offer can be very expensive, and spending on activities or attractions each day you’re away could quickly swallow your budget.

It’s worth considering having the occasional day that costs nothing more than a bite to eat at lunchtime. Why not take a walk and enjoy the local architecture and parks? Some attractions including museums often have cut-price or completely free days that you can take advantage of. You can find out more about free activities and attractions from tourist information offices or websites.

Key takeaway

Travelling on a tight budget is entirely possible. It might mean sacrificing some luxuries and doing a little extra work to find the best deals, but doing so could help your budget stretch that little bit further. If you are looking for more tips related to travelling on a budget, check out our articles on how to manage your money while travelling abroad and how to travel Europe on a budget.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

MyWalletHero, Fool and The Motley Fool are all trading names of The Motley Fool Ltd. The Motley Fool Ltd is an appointed representative of Richdale Brokers & Financial Services Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the FCA, and we are permitted in this capacity to act as a credit-broker, not a lender, for consumer credit products (our FRN is 422737). The Motley Fool Ltd does not have permissions for, and does not advise on, investment products and services, but may provide information on investment products and services.

The Motley Fool receives compensation from some advertisers who provide products and services that may be covered by our editorial team. It’s one way we make money. But know that our editorial integrity and transparency matters most and our ratings aren’t influenced by compensation. The statements above are The Motley Fool’s alone and have not been provided or endorsed by bank advertisers. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Lloyds, Tesco and Barclays.

More on Travel

Investing Articles

Rolls-Royce shares are nudging higher. Should I buy now?

With Rolls Royce shares edging above 120p this week, is the worst behind it? Dylan Hood investigates the long-term potential…

Read more »

Personal Finance

Lockdown 2: are flights cancelled?

Find out what the lockdown 2 restrictions that come into force on Thursday 5 November mean for travellers, including whether…

Read more »

Investing Articles

Forget easyJet’s share price. I’d buy these stocks instead

Easyjet's share price has fallen more 50% in 2020 due to coronavirus disruptions. Is now the time to buy the…

Read more »

Personal Finance

10 must-know travel blogs to inspire your next holiday

Can’t wait to get away when this crisis is over? Check out these 10 must-know travel blogs for ideas and…

Read more »

Personal Finance

Careers for the nomadic: top jobs that involve travel abroad

If the thought of broadening your horizons and traversing hills and valleys in search of adventure during your lunch break…

Read more »

Personal Finance

5 things to look out for before booking a budget hotel

Here a few signs that should tell you that a budget hotel is not worth taking a chance on.

Read more »

Personal Finance

Best eco-friendly hotels in the world

Thanks to the Greta Thunbergs of this world, we’re all just a little more aware of our environment and the…

Read more »


Why building an emergency fund is a good idea

Here's a breakdown on why you need to keep an emergency fund.

Read more »