One of the most enriching and life-altering experiences that I had is travelling to different places and experiencing different cultures. I’ve had the privilege of doing this for the past few years with my good friend Cez.
What we have realised all these years is that we don’t need to spend a lot of money when we travel. Sharing our experiences of travelling for less than $25 a day has been very helpful to many other travellers. This continues to inspire us to look for more ways to get the most out of a limited budget.
Here are 7 ways to get the most out of your travel budget:
#1 Learn how to bargain
Many popular travel destinations have merchants that mark up their prices by 50%, 100%, or even several times the typical price. Do not fall into the tourist trap of giving in to the first price that was offered to you. Whenever we go to a new country, we make it a point to learn what the phrase “too expensive” is in their language.
We have learned how to negotiate and ask for a good discount, because more often than not, merchandisers, travel agents, and tour operators will sell a product or service to you at the price that you asked for.
#2 Choose a good time
Frequent travellers are well aware that each place has an off-season and on-season rate. Look for good off-season deals. Every airline or hotel offers these packages. We often take advantage of the off-season rates which are considerably cheaper.
Planning your trip around carefully chosen dates will save you lots of money. If you travel time is limited to school or Christmas holidays, it is always best to book at the earliest possible time or choose the latest dates. The very first week or the last weeks of the holiday are usually cheaper.
#3 Stay in a hostel
Contrary to the bad reputation that cheap hostels usually have, there are actually very good places all over the world where the value of a night stay way exceeds its price.
It takes a bit of research and an ability to sift through reliable bits of information, but we can attest to the fact that we have stayed in some of the coolest and cheapest hostels. There are useful and helpful budget hostel reviews online. Hostels are also places where you meet other budget travellers and that’s where you can start your day trips together or even lifetime friendships.
#4 Manage your money smart and accumulate reward points
We have realised all these years of travelling together that some of our best experiences are the perks of using our travel credit cards. Selecting the best travel credit cards on offer is a must for every budget traveller. You could benefit from the use of a credit card that offers airline or hotel rewards and rebates. Aside from those aforementioned rewards, the particular credit card that I own also waives foreign transaction fees whenever I have to get cash from an international ATM.
Same goes for the frequent flyer schemes which, when used properly and consistently, can extend your global reach without emptying your pocket. As a traveller, you probably fly often, so take advantage of what is on offer to you at no extra cost.
#5 Be wise about food and drinks
When it comes to dealing with food and drinks during a trip, we have come up with several ways of saving money. Food in “touristy” places such as airport lounges and hotels are very expensive, so for our meals, we often ask around and eat at places where locals go. When asked, many locals would gladly recommend a place where the food is very good but affordable.
Since we do not want to deprive ourselves of the best food the city has to offer, we often choose the best rated “touristy” restaurant and dine there once during our trip. We usually book during lunch because dinner is more expensive. As a general rule, we also shop in supermarkets like locals, and bring our own food during train rides or long bus rides. It is also wise to bring your own water bottles. The accumulated cost of buying bottled water for every trip might astound you.
#6 Arrange your own tour
Needless to say, instead of booking sightseeing tour groups, it is much better and more economical to plan do-it-yourself tours. Tour groups always have a set route and a set schedule. If you create your own itinerary, you don’t only get to see the city’s famous tourist attractions but you can also make side trips to other interesting places.
Part of the fun of being in a new place is discovering interesting, out-of-the-way places. I usually plan my itinerary by checking out reliable travel websites. Besides, spontaneity is fun! All of that makes the experience so much more memorable (especially the mistakes you make on the way) while making it way cheaper than you’ll ever get it from a tour company.
#7 Look for places with free admissions
I have become an expert in finding museums, art shows, and performances that do not charge admission fees. Some cities offer free admission to museums and galleries on certain days of the week.
We often take advantage of these offers. We have seen many cultural shows and performances without paying anything. There’s even a whole part of our blog devoted to things you can do for free in certain places.