It can sometimes be difficult to admit when you’re good at something. But sometimes you’ve just got to let it out.
I’m very good at travelling on a budget. When I’m snapping up cheap flights to niche locations or finding great deals on accommodation, I’m in my element.
Over the years, I’ve picked up some little tricks to keep the cost of travel low, which I thought might be of use to other eager globetrotters whose bank balances can afford them a McDonald’s Happy Meal rather than a luxury stay in a Shangri-La.
Here’s 5 game-changing ways to travel on a budget.
And no, unfortunately I’m not being paid to write this.
1) Skyscanner‘s multi-city option
Now this one’s a biggie.
Booking flights through a price comparison website is nothing new, but with a bit of flexibility and research, you could save hundreds of pounds/dollars/magic beans on your flights.
Contrary to what you might believe, booking returns flights to and from the same airports isn’t always the cheapest way to fly. Instead, try playing around with Skyscanner‘s ‘multi-city’ option. You might find that being a bit more open-minded with where you want to fly to and from can get some sweet deals.
Last Spring, my partner and I went on a month-long trip to Eastern Canada.
After a lot of playing around with dates and airports on Skyscanner, we ended up flying from London Gatwick to Toronto, then Montreal to Halifax, Nova Scotia, then from Halifax back to Gatwick.
How much did it all cost? £350 ($440/5 magic beans). Now that’s what I call cheap travel.
We initially looked into flying from London Gatwick to Toronto and back again, which would have cost us about £400 ($500) each – still a great deal. But I personally find it’s better to pay less and get another flight thrown in there. Might just be me, though.
Taking time to play around with the multi-city feature is essential if you’re looking to travel on a budget. It’s also a great way to make your trip even more adventurous!
2) TripAdvisor‘s ‘Cheap Eats‘
I can’t remember the last time I just wandered into a restaurant like some madman without having looked up the menu, prices, and reviews in advance. Perhaps it’s generational.
The fact of the matter is, eating out is expensive. But I’d never advise that people avoid it when travelling to a new city.
Instead, I advise to do your research.
Handy features like TripAdvisor‘s ‘Cheap Eats’ filter are great for finding good value eateries that wont break the bank. This is a great way to avoid overpriced tourist trap restaurants that charge twice the amount as the ones locals visit.
If you’re planning on having a special meal out, go ahead! But research first on Google Reviews or sites like TripAdvisor to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
3) Book excursions in advance
Cheap travel and advanced planning go hand in hand. Booking as much as you can, as far in advance as possible, is often (though not always) the best way to get the best deals.
The same goes for those awesome trips you’re planning on doing while you’re away. Now I don’t have a specific website to use for this. I would just Google it and see what’s on offer from different companies.
Want to go snorkeling in Bali? Google it, check your options, book it.
Walking tour in Prague? Google it, check your options, book it.
You get the idea.
Airbnb has completely changed the game in the travel world. And it definitely doesn’t mean you’ve got to stay in someone’s sad spare bedroom.
Staying in an Airbnb (even if you choose to have the ‘Entire Place’ as I do) gives you the opportunity to save loads on accommodation costs.
Unlike hotels, Airbnb’s are often situated in cheaper, more residential areas that can actually give you a more authentic experience of the place you’re visiting. Expanding your search outside of the central hub of a city opens up a whole new world of options.
You can find some real gems too. It’s great to pretend you actually live in that luxurious apartment, even if it’s just for a few days.
Most importantly, staying in an Airbnb gives you access to a kitchen and cooking facilities. Which leads me to…
5) Cook at home
This one is super easy. If you’re looking to travel on a budget, eat at home.
Cooking new recipes using the local produce you picked up at the market is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in a new country’s culture. And it’s an even better way to save your pocket money.
Packed lunches are also a great way to go. On longer trips, I’d rather spend my money on some cool experience than a £5 cheese sandwich that I could have made at home for 50p.
At the very least, get breakfast in. Picking up some cereal or a loaf of bread is so easy, and it’ll stop you wasting money on that croissant or overpriced avocado toast at the hipster cafe down the road.
But then again, sometimes you’ve just gotta have that avo.
And there you have it: 5 game-changing ways to travel on a budget without having too much of an impact on your trip.
If you’re looking to splash out or have money to burn, cooking at home or staying outside of the city centre might not be particularly appealing.
But if, like me, you want to travel whenever you can without breaking the bank, these tips are a great place to start.
Now you’ve got no excuse to stay at home this summer! (Except maybe a global pandemic…)