Adventure and exploration do not have to come with a hefty price tag. You can see the most sought-after tourist spots while on a budget.
Looking for ways to explore different cultures and parts of the world on a budget? This article is the guide you have been looking for. It contains 15 frugal tips that would help you maximize your experiences while still keeping your pockets happy.
While some of these travel hacks may mean forfeiting luxury, the experience, and the happy wallet you would have would be worth everything.
Ready to get started? Read on
1. Traveling During the Shoulder Season
The shoulder season varies from destination to destination, but generally, it is the season between a destination’s peak and off-peak season.
The shoulder season can last a few months or just weeks. For instance, Europe’s peak season is in summer, and the low season is in winter. You, therefore, want to avoid these two seasons and visit in spring and fall.
A “shoulder season” can be just a weekend before or after a popular holiday such as Labor Day or Thanksgiving weekend.
An article on NerdWallet revealed that airfares averaged an incredible 23% less when booked during the shoulder season. The study was done across the eight most popular airlines to the 100 most popular American destinations.
The hotel and restaurant prices will also be much lower in the shoulder season. And you will not have to fight crowds to get the most out of the popular tourist attractions.
2. Booking Flights on Tuesdays
Frequent travelers and people who work for airlines have often advised budget travelers to book flights on Tuesdays.
In case you are wondering why Tuesday would be the best day to book flights, an article published in Forbes revealed that airlines launched new sales on Tuesdays, and it was also a day they generally matched prices to their competitors.
Also, flying out on Tuesdays was found to cost way lower than on weekends. The weekend rush often makes the flight costs expensive on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. An article on NerdWallet revealed that weekend flights often cost 13%-15% more than Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
In short, booking your flight on Tuesday and choosing to fly out on Tuesday can help you save money.
3. Using Fare Comparison Websites
There are so many fare comparison websites that could help you save time when trying to find the cheapest available flights to your destinations.
Going through different airlines’ websites to find the best prices can be highly time-consuming. This is why you need to use fare comparison websites because they list flights available for you to choose what suits your itinerary and budget better.
One of the best things about these sites is that most of them are free to use.
Some fare comparison websites travelers have successfully used include Skyscanner, Kayak, Google Flights, CheapOair, Hopper, Momondo, Expedia, and Kiwi.
4. Staying in Budget Accommodations
Accommodation is typically the second highest expense for tourists. Therefore, if you manage to cut its costs, you would have hacked budget travel.
You do not need to sleep in 4 or 5-star hotels. Boutique and chain hotels are great alternatives for people looking for comfortable and affordable accommodation options.
Depending on your budget, you may also want to consider two or three-star hotels depending on reviews they got from their previous guests.
Furthermore, budget travelers may choose to sleep in hostels or Airbnbs.
5. Taking Advantage of Travel Rewards Programs
Many travel reward programs could land free or discounted flights, hotel rooms, and class and room upgrades.
One great way to enjoy the travel rewards is loyalty and amassing travel points and miles.
Look at different reward programs offered by airlines, hotels, travel agencies, and credit cards, and select one that suits your travel lifestyle the best.
If you are using travel credit cards, look out for when they have promotions such as double points/miles for certain purchases. If they are relevant to you, it is advisable to take advantage of them as they may lower your travel costs.
Travel reward programs can also get you other perks, such as priority boarding and free access to airport lounges.
6. Packing Light To Avoid Baggage Fees
Ensure to stay within the confines of the airline’s baggage limit. It is even much better if your luggage is way lighter while flying out; it allows you room to bring back some souvenirs without paying excess baggage fees on your return flight.
Start by checking the airline’s policies and knowing what their limit is. Then, create a packing list of items you need for your trip. If you do not need it in your day-to-day life, you will probably not need it for your vacation. For instance, if you do not wear heels daily, you will likely not need them for your vacation. In fact, frequent travelers recommend bringing just two pairs of shoes: one pair on your feet and another in your luggage.
Go for versatile clothing that you can style differently. You also want to have the bulkiest clothing and shoes on you and not in your luggage.
Lastly, limit the amount of toiletries you bring. Carry small amounts of shampoo and conditioner in travel-sized bottles. Some travelers even advise not bringing them at all, especially if you can buy them at your destination or if you will find them provided at your hotel.
7. Eating at Local Markets and Street Vendors
There is no better way to sample your destination’s cuisine than to eat in the local markets and street vendors. It is a great opportunity to interact with locals and save so much money while at it.
Start by finding the best spot from locals on social media before traveling. Check out street vendors’ and eateries’ recommendations in your destinations’ subreddit and Facebook groups.
Additionally, you could always ask for recommendations from friendly locals, tour guides, and even the hotel staff. They know a cheap spot in town that you don’t.
8. Using Public Transportation
You do not need a car rental, especially touring cities and regions with a well-connected public transport network.
You could get the city’s or region’s public transport passes for the days you will be around and save so much money while at it. Getting car rentals can cost you a lot of money in terms of what goes to the company, fuel, and parking fees.
While they may be convenient if you are touring regions in the countryside, they are not a friendly option when in the cities. And even when touring the countryside, consider carpooling with other tourists to maximize your savings.
9. Exploring Free or Low-cost Attractions
There are many ways to maximize your travel experience without splurging your money. Start by researching beforehand and find cheap or free places you can visit.
Look for museums, parks, historic sites, and events offering free admission or minimal entrance fees. If they charge a fee, you may want to check if they have free days. Grab the opportunity if free days align with your schedule.
Also, many museums and sites offer discounts to seniors, students, or people under 25. Be sure to check out this if you fall into these categories.
Additionally, many cities and regions have beautiful parks, nature reserves, and hiking trails that are free to access. Enjoy the outdoors, go for a walk, have a picnic, or relax in a natural setting and save your money.
There are also a lot of historic churches, temples, local markets, street art, public beaches, and free guided tours that you can enjoy without spending a penny. Research and plan to take advantage of them to save your money.
10. Traveling With a Group To Split Costs
To begin with, travel agencies often offer lower costs if you book in groups. So, if you use a travel agency, consider bringing your friends and family on board.
Secondly, you could share hotel rooms and car rentals to save money if you travel in a group. You could even split street food as the portions are typically generous.
Also, many tourists like to take lovely photos for memories. This way, many solo travelers end up paying photographers to capture their memories. Of course, you could avoid this by learning to take self-portraits or asking strangers to take your photos. However, having your company do it is hands-down the best way to capture your memories.
11. Avoiding Tourist Traps
Whether you’re looking for somewhere to eat or buy souvenirs, you want to avoid falling for tourist traps.
These places often have inflated prices that are not just worth the money. Besides, the quality is often not that great compared to when you go to where locals get their items.
Be sure to ask for recommendations in travel forums and from locals. It will help you explore more than the city center or the tourist traps that may not live up to the hype.
Additionally, if you want a more authentic experience, consider staying in neighborhoods away from touristy spots. Find hotels or hostels slightly away; it will be calmer and more affordable.
Lastly, the whole destination you choose can be a tourist trap and be more expensive just because of the crowds. For instance, when traveling to Europe, countries such as France and Greece will have inflated prices because this is where every tourist wants to go.
You, however, can have a calmer, more affordable, and even more fulfilling experience in countries such as Albania and Macedonia.
12. Utilizing Travel Deals and Discounts
Be flexible with travel dates to get the most out of travel deals and discounts.
If your schedule allows you, be ready to fly out whenever a great deal arises. Then, you want to sign up for fare alerts from airlines and travel agencies. Take advantage of the discounts whenever something good comes along.
Other than the flight dates, you may want to be flexible with the destination. Some discounts and deals may be particular to the destination you can go to.
Additionally, consider booking vacation packages that include flights, accommodations, and sometimes activities. These bundles can offer substantial savings compared to booking each component separately. You, however, need to make a comparison before deciding to settle for the best option.
13. Traveling Off-peak to Popular Destinations
Traveling off-peak will help you save money in all aspects of travel. The savings start right from the airfares; an article published on CNN.com revealed that domestic flights are 29% cheaper on average, while international flights are 31% cheaper during the off-peak season.
If you will be traveling off-season, you want to book your trip way in advance. CNBC recommends booking domestic flights 3-4 months in advance and 7-8 months in advance for international flights to get the cheapest airfares.
You will also save more regarding accommodation, car rentals, and guided tours. An article published in The New York Times revealed that many Miami hotels slash up to 50% off their prices during the slow seasons. They further revealed that these hotels offer more significant discounts to let tourists sneak in an extra night or dine in their restaurants and use their spas.
On top of saving money, you will get the best experience because of the smaller crowds at the tourist sites.
14. Couchsurfing or House-sitting
While Couchsurfing may not work for everyone, many travelers have had tremendous success doing it and have saved loads of money while at it.
If you are down to try and share spaces with strangers, check out Couchsurfing websites and message locals who are ready to host.
Be sure to read reviews on the Couchsurfing site to ensure previous guests had great experiences with the host. This is certainly not a guarantee that you, too, will have a great time. It, however, increases the chances.
Besides saving money on accommodation, you can enjoy free recommendations and city tours courtesy of your host if they are down to do it. You may also get to prepare meals in their house and reduce your spending on food. It is worth a try for tourists on a budget.
You may also want to check out house-sitting arrangements available in different destinations. This may involve caring for your hosts’ pets while they are out of their city.
15. Bartering or Volunteering for Accommodations
If you are looking to travel the world and impact the places you visit, you should consider bartering your skills or volunteering for accommodation.
You could volunteer in different sectors such as education, healthcare, and other community development projects.
You may also find places such as farms, schools, hostels, guesthouses, and more where you can offer your skills in exchange for accommodation. With such arrangements, you can work on weekdays and spend your weekends touring different regions of your destination country.
Lastly, if you are in your 20s and want to travel through Europe, consider being an Au Pair and getting a host family. It will help you see different countries and save money while at it.
15 Frugal Travel Hacks
It is no secret that many people are now traveling more than before. Unfortunately, people’s quests to explore different cultures and places are often impeded by the high cost of travel. Globetrotting would not remain a dream if you embrace these frugal travel hacks and explore the world on a budget.
It is not just about pinching pennies; it’s about embracing the journey with a savvy, resourceful spirit. By approaching travel with these cost-effective techniques, you save money while getting in touch with a world of unforgettable experiences.
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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.