I’ve been asked many times how I manage to travel several times a year. On talking to people, I’ve realised that I spend in a year on my travel what people spend in one annual vacation. If you like to travel, it is very possible to do quite a bit of travelling on a small budget. Thing is, you need to prioritise.
Budget travel is fun and it saves money, but it needs homework/research and planning, Here are key secrets every budget traveler should know about seeing the world on the cheap so that you can travel much more with same amount of money.
Forget 3-4-5 star hotels
If you want luxury, then you need to either shorten your trip or increase your budget, I think this goes without saying. Depending on the country you are exploring, you might be able to stay in tents or sleep on the beach to cut costs further. Use popular websites to find out decent but cheap accomodation.
Forget pre-planned ‘tours’
When you start planning your own trips, you’ll find that you will spend a fraction of what tour operators charge you. Of course it takes more effort because you do all the planning, but it is totally worth it.
Plan ahead – way ahead/fly on weekdays
Ideally when you have your yearly holiday list, plan out which holiday you would like to spend where, and set price alerts for those dates. Planning 3-6 months in advance gives you the best window of opportunity. You can put alerts for cheap airfare on popular sites. Also try to find out which nearby airports might be cheaper. Normally weekday flight fares are cheaper.
Forget peak season
This is another obvious one. The prices during peak season are the highest and if you want to travel cheap then it makes sense to travel during non-peak season. Of course, travelling during the off (shoulder) season when there are heavy rains or heavy sunshine may not be a very good idea so choose a time that is in between. Peak season can be a pain, too much crowds and waiting in long queues can kill the fun, in other words, shoulder season travel is not only cheap, it is also more enjoyable.
Learn to travel light
Many cheap airlines charge for checked in baggage, so if you learn to travel light then you save quite a lot. If you pack creams and lotions in 100ml bottles and wash your clothes as you travel, you can manage with very little luggage.
Traveling from one site to another is an important aspect and must be minimised. In some cities, one can commute by walking, others might have great public transport and in others it might make more sense to drive yourself or rent a car. Do a good study on internet and you can zero on the best and cheap mode of transport in a particular country.
Company reduces costs
If you travel with one or two more people and share a room, it can cut accommodation costs unless you stay in hostel dorms. If you are going to be driving around, then a group of 4 might be the best idea.
Plan but be spontaneous
It’s great to have a list of tentative places to visit and stay at, and it can sometimes be very beneficial to book last moment since you may be able to bargain. Don’t try this during peak season though.
Watch where you eat/drink
If you’re open to street food and little shacks, not only do you save a lot of money, but you also get a much more authentic experience of what the locals really eat. Sometimes if we find the food expensive, we switch to fruits for dinner. If breakfast is included with your accommodation then having a heavy breakfast and an early dinner is a great idea.
Learning to maximise the Internet
Skyscanner helps you set alerts for the cheapest tickets. You could also Google for cheapest way to fly between two places and see if that brings up anything you might have missed. TripAdvisor and a host of hotel and hostel comparison websites can help you find the cheapest stays with the best reviews.
Keep your eyes open for unusual things. Some places especially in Europe, offer free walking tours. Not only are these quite amazing but you also get the opportunity to meet other travellers and swap notes.