How to plan a trip on a budget? Travel seems to get more expensive, and prices for gas along with airfares are on the rise. Demands for accommodations and hotels are strong, especially during the high season and holidays.
Travelling the world without breaking the bank is the dream. Regardless of your current budget, there is always a way for you to travel and explore with the right mindset and a proper travel plan.
Whether you are a student or a young professional on a limited budget, read on for our detailed guide on budget travelling and get the most out of your current budget. From searching for the best flights to finding budget-friendly accommodations, fun activities and dining options, we have got you covered.
Benefits Of Budget Travelling
A limited budget doesn’t mean you have limited options. IG: @magik.bean_travels
Budget travelling, in reality, can be different from the typical imagery people think of, such as sketchy facilities and questionable food. It can be an economical, sustainable, and fun way to explore the world.
With a limited budget, you can still spend an adequate time exploring new places and doing what you enjoy. Aside from saving money, budget travelling gives you a purpose to do more research and planning.
This gives you a rewarding sense of freedom and empowerment. You are in charge of your own itinerary. Depending on your travel style, you get to choose to experience the local life and unique activities instead of only spending time in tourist hotspots and all-inclusive resorts.
Planning And Tips Before Your Trip
Before grabbing your passport and embarking on your exciting adventures, it is important for you to plan ahead. With careful planning, you can avoid unwelcome surprises and stay safely within your allotted budget while maximising your travel experience. For budget travellers, taking time to research and learn as much as possible is always a good practice, as no tour guide and custom-made itineraries are available.
Choose Your Timing Strategically
With millions of travellers planning to travel during the high season, there will be a strong demand for flights and accommodations in popular destinations. And as a general rule, with strong demands, come higher prices. Let's consider these perks of low-season travelling for your next trip:
- You will get to enjoy more intimate travel experiences with fewer crowds.
- You will have lower prices and great offers from airlines and hotels.
- You can receive better service as there are fewer travellers.
- You will save time from waiting in queues (especially at the airport).
Aside from saving travel costs, by travelling in the low season, you are playing a much-needed part in supporting the local economy during their low-income period. And as for the environment, travelling in the off-season means you are putting less of a strain on the environment by actively not contributing to over-tourism.
Select Alternative Destinations
Selecting alternative destinations instead of popular ones offers more intimate travel experiences.
Overtourism is when there are too many visitors to a destination. This can make both locals (e.g. hosts, hotels, restaurants) and travellers feel overwhelmed, irritated and lose interest. On top of that, as a traveller, you are subjected to higher prices because of strong demand and expected additional surcharges during the busy season for accommodations.
Overtourism can happen in historical sights, natural areas and popular cities. Over-tourism destinations include Bali in Indonesia, Venice in Italy and Machu Picchu in Peru. Avoid paying higher prices and skip over-tourism destinations by choosing off-the-beaten-path and alternative destinations.
Have The Right Mindset And Travel Light
Opt for casual and light travel. If you plan to explore and move around a lot, I suggest you pack properly and travel lightly. Unless you plan to spend your entire trip inside a resort, packing light will give you flexibility and freedom to move quickly from one place to another.
By reducing your luggage weight, you can save money from paying for additional baggage allowance and not risk overweight baggage fees.
Do you know that overweight baggage fees applicable at airports are more expensive than booking extra luggage in advance? If you are flying with a budget airline, pay more attention to your baggage allowance to save your wallet.
Always Have A Plan
Spontaneity is great at times but probably not the best idea when it comes to budget travelling. By always having a plan, we do not mean having an hour-by-hour travel plan but booking in advance and planning your trip wisely.
From backpacking to travelling in a large group, however you plan to travel, it is always better to be well prepared. For example, here are a few things to consider beforehand:
- Consider how you plan to exchange currencies and where you should exchange to get the best rates.
- Take into account visa fees before choosing a travel destination.
- Think about convenient yet economical transportation options once you arrive at your destination.
- Plan for unexpected situations that require medical care or medications on the road.
Research Budget-friendly Destinations
Thailand is a popular destination for budget travel, with beautiful landscapes and delicious street food. Photo by day2505 on stock.adobe.com
Popular destinations and tourist hotspots are generally more expensive than off-the-beaten destinations. There are many reasons why.
For example, airfare prices tend to rise in parallel to travellers' demand, especially on weekends or during the high season. Similar to expensive flight tickets, accommodations tend to cost more, with many hotels having surcharge policies during high season and holiday periods.
Luckily, the world is full of amazing holiday spots, and with a lot of travel inspirations online, it is not difficult to find them. From affordable accommodations to fun activities to enjoy without breaking the bank, here are our picks of budget-friendly destinations to explore.
Although Asia is home to expensive travel destinations such as Japan and Singapore, there is a great number of Asian countries that are perfect for budget travelling. Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia could be on your bucket list for unforgettable experiences.
Amazing cheap eats, friendly people and plenty of stunning budget-friendly destinations for you to choose from. Asia, especially Southeast Asia, is among the top holiday spots for budget travellers and backpackers around the world.
Delicious food can be found everywhere, and many affordable options for nightlife activities exist. However, it is helpful to be aware of tourist traps and travel wisely to avoid tourist hotspots during the high season.
As the third largest continent in North America, many holiday spots have gorgeous views. From icy Greenland to the tropical paradises of the Caribbean and national parks, North America is definitely worth exploring.
Home to natural wonders, Canada is a fantastic country to visit, with budget-friendly destinations such as Jasper National Park and Banff. Mexico is another great country for budget holidays.
Local eateries and street food in Mexico are perfect for budget travellers. Discover what Mexico offers and travel to the lesser-known holiday spots on your next trip.
Visit enchanting European countries to get a glimpse into their fascinating history. IG: @martamyska
Europe is the dream destination for true adventurers. From glamourous Paris to fun-filled Amsterdam, Europe is a continent full of surprises for travellers. Whether you love the cultures, the cuisines, the history, every country is a great destination to visit. You can explore this continent on a budget and backpack from one exciting country to another.
If you love the Spanish culture but want to avoid costly cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, try visiting Valencia or Seville. Love castles? Then Romania should be on your list. You can explore the popular castle of Dracula in Transylvania or spend a whole day relaxing by the Black Sea.
For many travellers, coming to Africa is either to explore a wildlife safari or to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. From Morocco to Rwanda, there are many budget-friendly countries to visit on this continent. With vast savannas, rich culture and incredible wildlife, it is time for you to immerse in colourful Africa.
Rwanda is a country of unique culture, diverse wildlife and rich history. You can visit Kigali for culture and history or travel further away to Volcanoes National Park for natural beauty. Do you admire beautiful architecture? Then Morocco is your must-visit.
Best known for the grand Andes Mountains and the vast Amazon rainforest, South America offers diverse travel experiences for both cultural and natural tourism. Ready to be surprised by big-hearted, beautiful and budget-friendly countries.
In contrast to popular destinations such as Argentina and Brazil, Bolivia is a great alternative destination for budget travellers in South America. Experience the budget-friendly city of La Paz and discover the curious Witches' Market.
There are affordable tour packages provided by local agencies if you are looking for inexpensive activities to do as well. Travel longer and enjoy your trip to Bolivia without breaking the bank.
There are interesting hidden gems to discover in the beautiful city of La Paz. Photo by Knöpfli on stock.adobe.com
Picture-perfect coral reefs, gorgeous beaches and bustling urban cities, you do not want to skip Oceania. Most people think of Australia and New Zealand when it comes to Oceania. For budget travelling, explore beyond the popular cities such as Sydney and Melbourne and build your unique itinerary.
Tonga offers both jungle and water adventures. You can join a budget-friendly whale-watching trip or go snorkelling and stay in friendly hostels. Into a volcanic landscape? Then Samoa is definitely your must-visit. Travellers love beach huts and island hopping while in Samoa.
Finding Affordable Accommodations
Great deals do not always come easy. You often have to search for highs and lows for them. To find accommodations with great value, you should look up at least a few options from several different sources to compare them before booking.
Hostel and Hotel Apps
Finding well-vetted properties in your planned destinations can be tricky sometimes. You can find hotels online, but searching for them one by one is troublesome. This is where hotel apps come in handy.
You can easily find them on the App Store or Google Play at the ease of your fingertip. From top-rated luxury hotel chains to boutique hotels, there are great deals for everyone, especially super-save deals for budget-conscious travellers. They often have several promotions at once. Plus, the apps verify hotels before publishing them on their sites.
Other great features, such as guest reviews, information on amenities and nearby attractions, are also available in most apps. There are options to book and pay in advance or at hotels.
Depending on your preferences, you can pay a lower price in advance or later for easy cancellations. For popular apps, customer service is available 24/7 and in multiple languages. Here are a few hotel apps that you might find useful.
Comparing different offers in hotel apps and travel sites to find the most costing-saving offers for your next stay. Photo by Africa Studio on stock.adobe.com
- Hotels.com with special saving deals for last-minute reservations. You can sign up for rewards and accumulate your points for more perks. For budget travel, be sure to check out secret prices and local deals for extra savings.
- Booking.com has various exclusive discounts and a large number of hotel listings available. Aside from hotels, this app also includes larger properties such as apartments and homes.
- HotelTonight is a go-to app for last-minute bookings. This app has a large inventory and tons of deals. Based on your location, you can search for hotels with specific filters such as Basic, Luxe or Hip.
- Airbnb is for travellers who prefer something more unconventional instead of regular hotels. You can use this app to book accommodations directly with your host. From a room to an entire villa, you can find what you need in Airbnb whether you are planning for a short-term or long-term stay. Do compare the prices that you found on Airbnb with hotel rates in traditional hotels to see which one is better before booking.
Hostels are among the greatest options for budget travellers around the world. Nowadays, there are many apps that connect hostels to travellers while providing ways to socially connect travellers together. Not only can you find great hostels to stay at, but you can also connect with like-minded travellers and make new friends.
- Hostelworld is an app with thousands of hostels in 180 countries. This app specially focuses on fostering relationships among travellers and building an online community of like-minded travellers.
Couchsurfing is a great way to meet your friend-to-be all over the world. Photo by Jacob Lund - stock.adobe.com
Couchsurfing is an affordable way for every traveller to explore the world, especially when you know how much flights and accommodations can add up to. Aside from the budget-friendly prices, Couchsurfing allows you to meet friendly hosts and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Think of it as a hospitality exchange. Hosts can help travellers by providing accessible accommodations, advising and sometimes showing guests around.
In return, travellers can help with house sitting, share story-worthy experiences with the hosts and sometimes offer to buy food or simply make lunch. Even if you don’t need a place to stay, it’s still a great way to attend events and meet other travellers. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, check out these Couchsurfing apps.
- Couchsurfing is the most popular platform. It has an extensive network of over 400,000 local hosts and more than 15,000,000 travellers. You will only have to pay a monthly membership and stay for free at local hosts' homes.
- HomeStays allows you to find local hosts that can offer you a place to stay at a much lower cost than a hotel or a regular Airbnb. With more than 33,000 homes available in 176 countries, it is a good place to look up homestay options, especially when you do not have to pay a monthly fee.
Travellers can easily find travel deals and reviews on online groups about most travel destinations. Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels
From cheap flights to attractive travel packages, there is something for everyone in online travel groups. Facebook groups and travel forums are great places for you to connect with like-minded individuals to ask questions or to find amazing deals.
With countless groups online in different platforms, you can narrow down the potential list of groups to join by filtering out inactive groups and overly saturated groups.
Looking for groups and forums that align with your travel styles is another good idea. For example, there are female or male only travel groups, groups for young travellers, groups for digital nomads and so on.
Aside from choosing travel groups based on preferences, travellers can find exclusive deals tailored to a specific region or destination. Adding keywords such as "cheap flights" or "cheap hotels" before your target destinations can generate better results as well.
Loyalty Programs and Membership
Signing up for membership or loyalty programs can get you benefits such as complimentary breakfasts, late check-out and receive bonus points with monetary value.
Even though these benefits vary greatly between hotels, hostels and other accommodations, it is fairly easy and fast to double-check before booking. If you are lucky, you may even get a first-class seat for free.
Low-cost Transportation and Airfares
Hitchhiking can be an adventurous way to meet locals while saving more on transportation costs. Photo by PR Image Factory on stock.adobe.com
With fuel prices continuously rising, you definitely need to know a few cost-reducing ways to travel. Getting a better-value flight, booking tickets in advance and opting for public transportation when you travel are among the most popular options among budget travellers.
To save money on airfares, start finding cheaper flights by picking your dates and destinations based on price. Be flexible, consider secondary airports and use multiple sites to search for the most affordable flights for your next trip.
Round the World (RTW) ticket is a cost-effective way to consider, especially for travellers who wish to circle the globe. How does an RTW trip work? You will have all your flights booked for a year based on your pre-determined itinerary. It’s simpler and more convenient (sometimes even cheaper) than one-way tickets.
And always remember, travel light to save more on baggage fees, especially if you are flying with budget airlines. Popular flight search engines that you can try are Google Flights and Skyscanner.
To travel from one place to another during your holiday without breaking the bank, opt for public transportations. You can use buses as a travel medium or trains, bicycles, and regular tickets instead of day passes. If you are feeling adventurous, try out hitchhiking and have fun meeting locals. (not really recommended for solo female travellers).
Many cities offer free city tours for travellers, and you can find information about them online. Photo by Atstock Productions on Pexels
Depending on your personal preferences, there are many fun activities and interesting places to visit in any city. Many cities around the world offer free city tours for visitors. You can look up these tours on the countries’ tourism sites. Simply visit a cafe and spend an afternoon watching people or pay a visit to the local markets in the morning to see the locals' way of life.
Some activities are more affordable than others. Knowing where to find budget-friendly activities and how to spot free ones will save you a lot in the long run. Each traveller has a different way of finding activities and things to do. However, there are two key sources that you should look at.
The first option is to look for recommendations from friends, family, locals and fellow travellers. For example, ask your Couchsurfing hosts or people you meet for itinerary ideas. From friendly taxi drivers to your newly met travel friends.
The second option is going through online sources such as travel deal sites, social media groups or event sites for upcoming activities in your area.
Printed sources such as newspapers and posters are also options worth exploring. Depending on the activity, asking for the best offers directly at museums, shows, or events can work too.
There are many ways for travellers to explore the world regardless of the budget limit. Photo by Pexels on Pixabay
1. What Is Budget Travel?
Budget travel aims to maximise a limited budget with best-value travel deals, smart planning and cost-saving travel tips. A budget traveller often explores the world in budget-friendly accommodations such as hostels or Couchsurfing, travels during low season and is open-minded about travel experiences. With good planning, budget travel can be a rewarding experience regardless of budget size.
2. Which Countries Are Best For Budget Travellers?
There are plenty of interesting destinations around the world to explore, aside from the popular travel hotspots such as New York, Paris or Tokyo. Think Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia or European countries like Romania, Hungary or Poland.
Colombia and Mexico are promising destinations as well. Your choice is limitless with excellent planning and timing.
3. Is Couchsurfing Safe?
Like with all things, there are two sides to everything. Overall, many travellers have positive experiences with Couchsurfing. People often enjoy the company and the option to travel without being overly stressed by expensive accommodations. However, there is always a certain level of risk associated with Couchsurfing. By spending time to research the hosts and interact with them before deciding to stay, you can know better if it is a good match.
4. Is $1,000 dollars enough to travel?
The main expenses when travelling are accommodations, food, transportation and entertainment. If you spend your budget wisely on accommodation, you can have more to spend on food and activities. Consider affordable locations and room-sharing options instead of private hotel rooms while travelling on a budget. Save money and book low-cost flights in advance or consider destinations that do not require air travel.
5. What Is The Cheapest Way To Plan A Trip?
With a limited budget, detailed planning and strategic budget allocation are among the most important factors. Be realistic with budget allocation. Be flexible while picking destinations to travel to. Know how much the travel costs vary between a domestic trip and an international trip. Plan in advance and book ahead to have more options to choose from.
How To Plan A Trip On A Budget: The Ultimate Guide For Travellers
How to Plan a Trip on a Budget? There are many ways to explore the world without breaking the bank. Make the most out of your travel budget, explore the world and immerse yourself in truly unique experiences. Consider cost-saving ways to deal with the main expenses that can affect your budget, such as airfares, accommodations and transportation costs. We hope this detailed guide can serve as a tool for your future trip.