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Last updated: June 23, 2022 • Traveling Around the World

Traveling on an Extremely Tight Budget

While it certainly isn’t the case with everyone, we’d say that most people enjoy traveling. Taking in the sights and sounds of a new and unfamiliar place as you walk streets you’ve never walked before is an experience that just about anyone can enjoy. There’s no accounting for taste, but it’s safe to say that this is perhaps the most common day dream of the modern adult. 

Unfortunately, the thing that stands between most people and their dream of traveling is not personal preference, but instead cost. With the world ever increasingly becoming more and more expensive, traveling is a prohibitively expensive luxury that most normal people simply can’t afford to engage in. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it is… right?

Don’t give up hope just yet though. What if we told you there was a way to travel the world no matter how small your budget? That’s right; by managing your funds in a responsible way and following the tips and tricks we’ll provide in this article, you too can experience the joys of traveling for yourself. 

So, are you ready to hear the secrets of low budget traveling? Excellent! In the coming sections, we’ll be giving you some of the most useful low budget traveling tips and tricks you’ll ever hear. From pointers on how to choose the right destination to well kept secrets regarding where to stay while you’re there, we’ve got a lot to cover; let’s get into it! 

Low budget traveling 101

planning vacation map

Before you can start your economically limited journey, you’re going to need to get in the right mindset. It’s important to note that low budget traveling doesn’t bear a lot in common with the glitz and glamor of an all expenses paid vacation or a high caliber business trip. When you’re traveling on a budget, you do it for the experience, not the luxury. 

The first step towards getting in this mindset is to figure out what your traveling budget actually is. Whether the money is scrounged up from a chunk of your savings, the leftovers from last month’s paycheck, birthday money from grandma or the vault of your local bank, the only thing that matters is knowing how much you’ve got to work with. Also, it’s usually a good idea to keep a log of exactly how much money you spend on your trip. You’ll thank us come tax season! 

Once you have a good idea of how much money you’ll be able to spend on your trip, it’s time to start thinking about how capable you are of not making impulse purchases. These seemingly small buys are probably the most dangerous pitfall for the low budget traveler, turning otherwise frugal and low-cost outings into shameful credit card spending sprees that leave you nothing but regret to show for it. Get a handle on your spending habits at home before you go on the road! 

There are other tips to explore, but these are the fundamentals. Once you’ve acclimated to these realities, you can move on to planning and then embarking for your big adventure. There’s no right or wrong way to travel on the cheap, but you can definitely spend less if you follow the advice we’re about to give you. Speaking of that advice, let’s have a look at some of our best tips for low budget traveling! 

Picking a destination

size view unrecognizable male tourist

“Wait a minute!” we hear you exclaim. “I already know where I want to go; what do you mean ‘pick a destination’?” Well, we’re sorry to break it to you, but there’s a good chance that the place you want to visit is just a tad bit too expensive. Sad though it may be to face this reality, the simple fact is that most destinations are not made for the low budget traveler. 

If you’re going to be traveling on a budget, you’re going to need to pick a destination that reflects this reality. From food to fuel to lodging, even small discrepancies in the average price of basic necessities can add up over time, leaving you empty pockets and mountains of credit card debt. We don’t need to tell you how bad that can end up being!

Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable cities that still have plenty of incredible attractions to explore. There are a number of online platforms that allow you to research the cost of living in a given city beforehand, which you’ll want to make use of. Once you survey a few prospective destinations, we’d wager you’ll find one in no time! 

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Get creative on your way to getting there

ride sharing taxi service on smartphone

Once you’ve chosen your destination, it’s time to think about how you’re going to get there. If you’re traveling to a destination in the United States, you’re probably inclined to drive to your destination. Unless your destination is within a few hours drive from you, you might be better off choosing an alternative means of transportation on your way there! 

One of the most economical ways to cover long distances without breaking the bank paying for a copious amount of fuel is to use a ride sharing app such as BlaBlaCar. These services allow travelers to share their vehicle with extra passengers and split the cost of the fuel accordingly. Whether you share your vehicle or ride along in someone else’s, the end result is the same: you’ll arrive with more money than you would have had you come alone! 

There are plenty of other ways to get around inexpensively besides ride sharing. Flights are often a lot cheaper than you might expect during off seasons, and trains sometimes prove substantially cheaper than driving as well. If you’re feeling adventurous and particularly hard-up for cash, you can even try hitchhiking! 

Find an inexpensive place to stay 

people rest comfort leisure concept

After transportation, lodging is usually the second most expensive part of any trip to a far-removed destination. If you’ve ever spent a week or two in a popular vacation destination, you’re likely well aware of what we’re talking about. In a week, you can easily end up spending a month’s wages exclusively on a room with a bed and a table. 

If you’re on a budget, this simply won’t do. You’re going to need to find an inexpensive place to stay while you’re in town. In order to find lodging that fits this description, you’re probably going to have to make some concessions as to what exactly constitutes lodging. Don’t worry too much about that; if you’re really experiencing the city you’re in, you won’t be spending much time in your bed! 

There are plenty of options when it comes to inexpensive lodging, many of which you may never have even considered. Hostels are fairly common in large cities, and are almost always nicer than cheap motels. If you’re traveling with a group of friends, AirBnB might be the best way to go; if you’re alone, you might want to try Couchsurfing

Make your own food

young blonde woman planning vacation trip

We know, we know. A big part of the thrill associated with traveling to a new city is immersing yourself in the local food culture. How are you supposed to do that if you’re subsisting entirely on sandwiches and other road food? Don’t worry; we’re not saying you can’t eat out over the course of your entire trip. We’re just saying you shouldn’t do it most of the time! 

When you’re on the road on a budget, grocery stores are your best friends. While a $20 bill scarcely gets you a meal at most sit-down restaurants, the same amount of money can easily be turned into three or four tasty and nourishing meals. Add a couple fresh fruits and veggies to the mix and you’ll be eating healthier too! 

The great thing about this strategy is the fact that it will leave you with more money to eat at the best restaurants in the city once or twice without worrying about the cost. Whether you’re sampling the American classics at the best restaurants in New York or enjoying a tasty jambalaya at a sidewalk bistro in New Orleans, making your own food in between restaurants meals is a must! 

Enjoy the simple (read: free) attractions 

No matter what city you’ve chosen as your destination, there’s a good chance that most of the paid attractions are fairly pricey. Even in generally inexpensive places, leisure activities just seem more costly these days. If you’re going to have a fun time without spending a fortune, you’re going to need to find some free activities! 

Luckily, most cities have a plethora of thoroughly enjoyable activities that can be experienced for the low, low price of $0! Orlando FL is a great example of this, with a long list of excellent free attractions such as Disneyworld complex of resorts, hotels and themed attractions. Wouldn’t you know it, you can see a substantial chunk of the things this city has to offer without paying a dime! 

If you look hard enough, we’d wager you’ll have no trouble finding similar attractions regardless where you go. For cities near a coastline, beaches are the obvious first choice; cities near national parks or nature preserves, on the other hand, are perfect for nature lovers of every color and creed. Do your research and make an itinerary; you won’t regret it, we promise! 

Conclusion 

Well, there you have it; a conclusive guide to traveling on an extremely tight budget. Your travel experience will without a doubt differ substantially from the conventional vacation, but that’s okay. If you’re in the right headspace, there’s virtually no chance you won’t have a good time. We wish you the best of luck!

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