Budget Travel Tips
You may remember our post on Saving Money for Travel. Now that you’ve saved all that cash, learn how to spend it wisely with these Budget Travel Tips. Traveling doesn’t have to be as expensive as one may think. I’m certainly not rich, but just like my yoga practice and working out, I make it a priority to see as much of this glorious earth as possible. Nothing compares to embracing nature first hand, experiencing other cultures and sharing meals with the locals.
Take into account these Budget Travel Tips and you too will be on your way to seeing the wonders of the world!
Fly with Miles
Shop around for a credit card that earns miles, especially if you are a responsible card holder that pays your bill off entirely each month. If not, beware! I put as much as I can on that card from groceries to even my rent. Those miles rack up fast! I have flown for “free” more times than I can even count to places like Chile, New Zealand, El Salvador and Ireland. I’ve had my same card for 15 years. I use the hell out of it and pay it off each month. This works for me, but may not for some, so be careful. You can only spend what you earn. Going into debt is never a part of my travel plan!
Travel During Off-Season
Also known as shoulder season. Instead of going during what may traditionally be considered the “best” time of the year for a particular destination, go before or afterwards. It will be less crowded and less expensive overall for everything. Flights, hotels and activities will all be cheaper. I like to travel in the Spring (not Spring Break) and the Fall. April and September tend to be great months for many destinations. Kids of all ages are still in school. You’ll often find young couples and adventurous solo travelers looking to take advantage of this prime time. Don’t even think about flying first class. Unless you get a complimentary upgrade or use your miles, just suck it up and forget about it. You can spend all that money you saved on the actual vacation.
Alternative to Hotels
Stay in a Hostel
I enjoy a swank hotel as much as the next gal, but let’s face it, chances are you’re not going to spend much time in your hotel room anyway (if you are you’re probably not even reading this post). You’ll be out hitting the streets and having exciting adventures. You may think you’re too old to stay in a hostel, but gone are the days of dingy rooms, crowded with bug infested bunk beds where all your stuff gets stolen. There are many hostels world wide that offer sparkling facilities, complete with restaurants, bars, wi-fi, full kitchens and sometimes even pools! Most all hostels now offer private rooms with en-suite bathrooms at half the cost of a typical hotel room. If you just can’t see yourself doing the hostel thing check out hotel groups like Accor which has budget hotel chains like Ibis and Mercure. I stayed at a fantastic Motel One in Berlin for 60 Euro per night!
Couchsurfing is the budget way to go! Yep, you stay in a strangers home, open up your home and make a ton of global connections while in the process. It’s a whole community. Read more on couchsurfing.org
Rent an Apt
Another great option these days is to rent an apartment, especially if you’ll be in one place for several days. Of course there’s Air bnb, but there’s also Housetrip, Flipkey, Homeaway, and Vrbo.
Travel by Bus or Train
The flight is usually the most expensive part of any journey. Once you arrive at your destination you can avoid the high cost of internal flights by taking the bus or train. Everyone knows Europe has an extensive rail system, but India does too. In South America the bus is the way to go. Of course it all depends on how much time you have. After all, you need to make the most of your trip. If you are taking a 2 week trip you may choose to do a few internal flights in a place like Thailand where Bangkok Airways offers fairly inexpensive one way flights. If you have 3 months to a year off you can probably afford the time on the bus. For example a train ride from Mumbai to Goa is about 12 hours and costs about 400 Rupees or $6.50. The flight on the other hand is 1 hour and may cost about $100. La Paz, Bolivia to Lima, Peru will take about 28 hours and costs $55 compared to what could be a $600 flight. Understandably, a 28 hour bus ride may sound horrific to you. I’m not talking about a “chicken” bus, but a plush comfortable bus where you can actually lay back the seats, watch a movie and will be served food and beverages. Companies like Cruz del Sur and Ormeno are well known in South America. Again, you need to be efficient with your time, especially if this is a once in a lifetime trip, but the train or bus can save you a lot of money.
Walk or Bike
Once you’re at your destination. Never mind taxis or public transportation and simply walk or rent a bike. You see so much more, plus it’s nice to get some exercise after what was more than likely a long flight. Invest in some comfortable, (yet stylish of course) walking shoes and hit the streets. You can spend days exploring cities like Paris, Prague and Buenos Aires. Chances are you’ll find all the hidden gems not listed in your guide book.