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How to travel on a budget

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.

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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.

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