So if you haven’t noticed a recent theme on Lola & Lilacs, I’m all about saving money! This post is catered to all of you who want to travel abroad, but have cold feet because of money. These budget travel tips will help you jump two feet in to your next trip, without any hesitation. Traveling on a budget can look overwhelming, but really it is so easy if you plan ahead. Read on for six tips for budget travel.
Don’t Splurge on Lodging
When I travel, I’m usually only back at the place I’m staying for the night. I don’t usually hang around there during the day because I want to get the absolute most out of a trip abroad. That being said, I always try to get the cheapest place that’s closest to all the things you want to do (so essentially you’re saving on lodging and transportation). I was fortunate enough to travel abroad with my family growing up, and my parents always booked hostels for us or we stayed with friends. I never really had the luxury of staying in nice hotels, and for that, I am super grateful … because I have no crazy expectation for where to stay! Always try to look for local hostels – if you’re not comfortable with staying with others in the same room, many hostels have private accommodations. Hostels are awesome places to meet fellow travelers, and make connections from around the world (you might even find someone that’ll let you stay with them for your next trip abroad :)). Hostel Booker and Hostel World are great places to start looking. On top of that, make sure to check Airbnb for either a private room or full apartment/home to stay. Many times, this option is comparable to Hostels – or even cheaper! If you’re super adventurous, and maybe even want a local tour guide … check out Couch Surfing. I’d definitely recommend doing this option with a partner, but it’s always amazing to get the local feel!
Do Your Research, then Create a Budget
Figure out where you want to go, and don’t just pick somewhere because it’s popular. Research on Pinterest, Rick Steve’s and Lonely Planet for places that will be friendly to your wallet – just because they’re less expensive, doesn’t mean they are going to be less cool, TRUST ME! Oftentimes, the cheaper places are even cooler because they are often less touristy and discovered. Asia and Central America have definitely been the cheaper places I have been to, and they are my favorite so far. Once you land on an area, start creating a budget – then stick to it! The budget should obviously be realistic, but once you set those parameters, look for lodging and activities in your price range. Creating a budget and sticking to it will be your best friend. SOAP BOX: creating a budget for your entire life should be your best friend. There’s extreme freedom in limiting purchases and staying on track of your goals!
Find a Friend
While traveling alone is fun, and should definitely be done at least once in your life, doing it on a budget is a bit more difficult. Find a friend that wants to travel too, and then plan with them! Not only is traveling with a buddy the best, it also cuts many of your expenses in half. This last summer, my best friend and I went to Belize together and were both on a total budget. We found a sweet little Airbnb that was $30 – so we each only paid $15/night for private accommodations. WHAT THE WHAT! If you are able to split food and lodging, a lot of your budget will be freed up for activities, and you’ll just save tremendously.
Eat Street Food
While I know most budget accommodations don’t have places for you to cook, there are many hostels with communal kitchens. If that’s the case, get some food from the market and cook it up at home. Obviously you’re not going to want to cook every meal because, well, that’s just not realistic. You also have to try the local cuisine! So … be daring and find the street food. Some of my absolute favorite food in Asia is the street food; my mouth is watering typing about it. Street food is always ridiculously inexpensive, and you know you are getting a somewhat local experience. If you don’t know what cart will be good, check out where the locals are going. Then get in line behind them and say “I’ll have what they got.” If you hate it, realistically it probably only cost a dollar or two.
If you’re wanting to get out of the country for an extended period of time, working abroad is definitely a wonderful option. There are many organizations that cater to this, but two that always come to mind are WWOOF and Workaway. Find a place you want to go, or even a place you think would be interesting to work at, then plan your trip around that!
I always rave about the Hopper app, but I know there are plenty of sites that you can monitor flights. I only use Hopper for my flights in and out of Seattle, and flights are usually cheapest on Tuesdays. If I’m looking to fly from country to country while I’m abroad, I always check the local budget airlines. That being said, most of them have wonky rules and bag limitations, so you have to make sure you read all of the terms before hitting buy on your ticket. I’m all about following those rules because you can get some serious steals on flight prices! Definitely look into trains, carpools and boats as well to see if they are a cheaper travel option in the region you will be.
What are your favorite budget tips for traveling? I’d love to hear!