How to travel on a low budget

Travelling is amazing but can be pretty expensive. Many of my friends tell me that they cannot afford travelling due to lack of money. But travelling does not need to be expensive. Travelling on a budget allows you to travel more for less money. And as most of us need to work hard for their money, travelling on a low budget allows to travel more often. For me, travelling on a budget also adds some fun. It is just more adventurous. Spending money is easy. Travelling with a certain budget is a challenge. Here are ten tips of how to travel on a low budget and how to safe money on the highest expenses: accommodation, commuting, eating, entrance fees and souvenirs. You do not have to be rich to travel, all you need is the right attitude.

1. Write down your expenses

I am not the kind of person that keeps track for their expenses. But once I am travelling, I keep my journal with me everywhere and write down not only my adventures but also my expenses. Keeping track of your expenses and setting a daily limit is a great way to get a feeling of how much you spend and on wich categories you spend the most. If you do not track your money, you are likely to overspend.

“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them.” ― Jo Walton

2. Try out hitchhiking 

Hitchhiking is an easy way to save money on commuting. Many travellers struggle to try it out – but it is so easy. I was a bit uncertain weather to try out hitchhiking as a girl or not. I do not hesitate to decline the offer of a ride if I do not feel safe or comfortable and take enough money to buy a bus or train ticket in case I do not get a hitch. Prepare a piece of carton with the destination you want to go to and start to stretch out your thumb on a street where many cars pass, can see you easily and can stop easily. You can check out the best starting points for hitchhiking by using search engines or try it out with a mate the first time. 

“I wasn’t scared about somebody stopping who was scary. What scared me was nobody stopping, and I’ll be standing here overnight.” John Waters

3. Use Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a great way to safe money on accommodation. But as the main reason of Couchsurfing is not saving money but meeting amazing people, you should still reserve some money to prepare a nice dinner for your host or invite him for a drink, ice-cream or bring a small present – the gesture counts. And as Couchsurfing is a sharing-and-caring-community, hosting another traveler once you are at home and have enough space to share it with someone – go for it.

“Strangers are just friends I haven’t met yet.” Will Rogers

4. Visit friends 

When planning your next journey, you might want to visit some friends on the way. Visiting friends is a great way to safe money and still make the journey memorable. They will be happy to see you again and will be pleased to give you shelter and food. I like to stay in touch with my former travel mates and are always happy when I get the chance to see one of them again – either when I visit them or when they visit me. 

5. Check out free stuff to do

Most cities offer activities for free. Check out at which dates the museums opens their doors for free. Churches are often for free as well as botanical gardens and many historical buildings look stunning even from the outside. Take some time to check out the offers. I really like the „free walking tours“ that many cities offer. The tour guide is going to ask you to pay him as much as you please after the tour. Travelling on a budget does not mean to spend nothing and be stingy. As it is their job, you should at least give them 5€ if you enjoyed the tour. That way you will get a tour for a crazy good price but do not leave the tour or the tour guide with a bad feeling. I always google „free things to do in …“ once I am in  a new place and are surprised about the possibilities. 

6. Eating out – go to the locals places

A fancy restaurant where everything is written in English might seem inviting, but you can be sure that these place is addressed to tourists. And as soon as a place focuses on tourists – prices rise. When I reach a new city, I always stroll through the streets without a destination in mind and look out for the quite places without fancy decoration and no menu outside. This are mostly the places locals like to go to. Check out the people inside – tourists are easy to spot. If you do not see anyone inside but the place is full of locals – it might be a cheap but tasty place. They know the city well. I mostly get in touch with a local and just ask them about a good and cheap place to dine. Check out the menu before you order – no matter if you order breakfast, lunch, a sandwich, beer, coffee or ice-cream. You cannot withdraw from the order after consumption.

7. Cook your own food 

Another way to save money on food is to cook your own food. It does not need to be a five star dinner. If you stay in a hostel, look out for one with a kitchen that guests can use. Cooking with travel mates you meet in the hostel is great fun. And you can even buy the beer in the supermarket. Double check.

8. Saving on the plane

Airlines charge enormous fees for the luggage. If you travel light you can squeeze it into a small carry-on-suitcase or a backpack and safe the money of the check-in luggage. On top of that, you need to pay extra at most of the low-budget airlines for selecting a seat and for ordering food. Skip the seat selection and take a neck pillow with you in case you get the seat in the middle or at the aisle and prepare a tasty and healthy snack for yourself. 

9. Travel at low-season

Travelling at low-season is a great way to save money. The prices for hostels drop, trains are not fully booked and everything seems to be less expensive. On top of that you do not need to squeeze yourself through a crowd of tourists but can explore a calm city and really get a felling for it. 

10. Collect moments not things 

Souvenirs are mostly overpriced. Stop buying them and print out your most beautiful pictures once your home for your friends. This way, you give them a personal gift without spending heaps of money. Travelling is not about buying stuff. You want to be happy? Stop buying stuff and start travelling. If you practice these habit in your everyday live as well, you can save even more money.  For your next trip for example. 

You cannot buy happiness with money. But a plane ticket. And that is pretty close.

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