Dreaming about taking a trip but finding yourself immediately discouraged upon logging in to your banking app? Does your bucket list consist of breath-taking sites and thrilling traveling adventures throughout the world? What if I told you that you could cross off items on your bucket list without breaking your bank? I refuse to allow my salary or consuming work schedule influence my dreams of seeing the world – and you shouldn’t either.
Here are some of my tips for traveling on a budget:
Whether it’s the day of week you board your plane or the season you book your vacation, timing matters. The day of the week in which you decide to fly can boost the cost of flights. The cheapest days of the week to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Saturdays. Most people will request Friday off for a long weekend. Why not take Monday off instead? This will allow you to save some of your hard-earned cash.
Avoid traveling in July and August. It is common for hotel and flight cost to skyrocket during summer break. If you still wish to enjoy warmer weather, try scheduling your trip in April or May. If your schedule is flexible, early is December and late January are affordable for flights (before and after holidays). It’s worth researching the best month to travel to your selected location. I was able to save over $300 on accommodations in Ireland by traveling in April instead of June.
Some of my favorite sites to book are Kayak, because it tracks prices in flights and lets you know whether or not it is a good time to buy, Google Flights, because it is a very easy way to see the price differences per day, and Skyscanner because it consistently delivers competitive pricing.
Hotels can easily consume most of your vacation budget -- even when most of your trip should be spent outside the hotel room. My advice is to stay away from the traditional hotel. Hostels provide amenities and host social events while offering prices as low as $20 a night. Hostels can range from small room sizes to gender specific dormitory rooms. It is also a fantastic way to meet other travelers from around the world while enjoying happy hour prices on drinks (a win-win situation). If hostels aren’t your thing, Airbnb and B&B are best suited for a relaxing vacation. Renting an apartment on Airbnb will commonly allow you the leisure of a kitchen which can help reduce cost of food. This is especially relevant for long-term stays. Nothing beats the comfort of an apartment and your “home” cooked meals.
It is not a real vacation if you’re not diving into the local cuisine. Eating is a necessity however; that doesn’t mean you need to eat up your wallet. Some of the most authentic places will serve you the best meal of your life at fast-food prices. If you wish to enjoy a sit-down meal, try going out for lunch rather than dinner. Aim to book B&B, hostels, or hotels that include breakfast with your night stay. Visit the nearest grocery store and pack a basket of sandwich, local treats, and a bottle of wine while heading to a tourist attraction. Enjoy your cheap meal while embracing the beautiful scenery.
The greatest attractions shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Locations such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Eiffel Tower, and the Colosseum cost less than $20. Some other sites are even FREE! Save your old/current college ID and ask for student discounts in museums and historical attractions. These same locations can offer free entry on certain days throughout the month. Do your research beforehand and save big bucks!
Use local transportation to navigate yourself around town for only a couple of bucks. Subway and trolley systems in places like Europe are practical, clean, and affordable. The best method of getting around town is by walking! Add steps to your Fitbit while truly embracing all the wonders in this new town for no cost at all. If you are interested in traveling to multiple countries throughout Europe, book a Eurail pass. This pass allows you to visit over 25 European countries within a given timeframe.