How to Travel Cheap: My Personal Tips for Budget Beginners


Are you looking to see the world without spending a ton? I’ve got some tricks for you. As someone who loves traveling on a budget, I’ve found that being creative is key. I’ll show you how to enjoy amazing trips without going broke.

Traveling on a budget is totally doable. You just need to plan smart and make use of every tip. Whether it’s finding cheap flights or staying at affordable places, I’ve got you covered.

Keep reading to learn how you can have the journey of a lifetime without emptying your pockets.

Key Takeaways

  • Utilize flight search engines like Skyscanner and Google Flights to find the best deals
  • Consider budget airlines and “basic economy” fares for cost savings on international flights
  • Book vacation rentals through Airbnb for group travel and take advantage of hostel accommodations
  • Explore alternative free or low-cost lodging options like Couchsurfing and house sitting
  • Plan your trip well in advance to secure better prices and availability

Start Planning Early

Start your travel planning early to find deals on hotels and flights. You may not get the cheapest prices, but keeping track can help. Plan your trips at least 10 months in advance and watch flight prices. Websites like Capital One Travel let you set alerts for the best ticket prices.

Gather Necessary Documentation

Getting your passport and looking into travel insurance early will save you money.

Research Travel Insurance Options

Travel During Off-Peak Seasons

Traveling during off-peak seasons can save you money. You’ll also enjoy a less crowded time. Prices for flights, hotels, and tours are typically high during busy times. Europe’s peak season is the summer when many folks visit. However, from November to March is the off-season. This time offers cheaper airfare, hotels, and less crowding.

In Southeast Asia, the off-season is the monsoon period from June to October. North America’s off-season, not including tropical states, runs from November to March/April. Mexico and the Caribbean label their off-season from May to mid-December. South America’s off-peak times vary by region. For places like Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, it’s from December to March.

Learning the shoulder season for your destination helps save money. During this time, there are fewer tourists. This means you can find cheap travel deals and save on flights and hotels. The North Shore in Oahu, Hawaii, for instance, has fewer visitors in its off-season, November to February. And the Yasawa Islands in Fiji are more budget-friendly from January to March, their wet season.

DestinationOff-Season TimeframeKey Benefits
EuropeNovember to MarchCheaper airfare, wallet-friendly hotel rates, fewer crowds
Southeast AsiaJune to OctoberLower prices, fewer tourists during monsoon season
North AmericaNovember to March/April (excluding tropical states)Discounted travel costs, fewer crowds
Mexico and CaribbeanMay to mid-DecemberBudget-friendly travel deals, less crowded
South AmericaDecember to March (varies by region)Lower prices, fewer tourists
Africa (Safari Hotspots)March to June, October to DecemberBetter deals, more favorable game viewing conditions
OceaniaAustralia: June to August, New Zealand: Winter monthsDecreased crowds, potential savings

Choosing the off-peak seasons helps you save on flights and lodging. This time also means less crowd and a chance to feel the local culture more deeply.

Consider Alternate Routes and Stopovers

Keep an open mind and check out different flight paths. This can make traveling from the U.S. to Europe and Asia cheaper. In fact, some trips within those regions cost less than just going to a U.S. airport.

Explore Low-Cost Carriers

First searches might miss low-cost carrier options. By considering flying through less expensive places, you might save. Some airlines, like Icelandair, let you have free stopovers in their main cities. This means you can see new places without paying more.

Break Up Long-Haul Flights

Long flights can be costly. Breaking them up with a stopover can help save money. A few airlines let you stay in the stopover city for a few days at no extra cost. This way, you can see another city and cut down on expenses.

Combine Multiple Destinations

If your vacation time is flexible, combine numerous destinations into one trip. This saves flight time and money more than just visiting one place. Have a spot that’s not budget-friendly? Try mixing it with a cheaper one. That way, you can see more places without spending too much.

Utilize Budget Airlines for Short Hops

Going to the Caribbean? Visit more islands if you can. Dreaming of London, Stockholm, and Rome? See them all on one trip. Look for low-cost airlines that are budget-friendly for short trips. Or aim bigger. Plan a trip that covers six or seven countries across four continents.

Create a Multi-City Itinerary

Booking a multi-city flight can save money on airfare. It lets you combine places into one ticket, saving on baggage fees. This kind of flight saves time, skipping extra layovers. Book it early; it can be cheaper during busy times than one-way tickets. Airline schedules come out about 11 months in advance,suggested to look 6 months ahead for multi-city flights. They can also be open-jaw flights, flying into one city and out from another. Use KAYAK Flight Search for easy booking of these flights.

Negotiate Directly with Hotels

Want to stay at a costly hotel but can’t find a good deal online? Consider calling the hotel directly. Ask for value dates. See if your stay could fit your budget at certain times. You might get a better deal than expected.

According to Consumer Reports, the best hotel prices come from calling the hotel. This beats online services or booking sites with low price promises. For example, a call saved nearly 30% off a Disneyland Hotel’s rate on a weekday.

Independent Traveler warns that central booking systems for hotels might not be accurate. This can lead to wrong info or no rooms if you don’t call directly. They suggest calling certain days to get better rates.

Know the lowest online prices and other hidden fees. This info helps in bargaining. Use special phrases like “cheapest, non-refundable rate” when asking for prices. Always check new deals by calling a few days before your stay.

Hotels are more open to deals off-peak. Shooting for a 25% cut from the base rate is advised.Changing your dates can cut prices significantly.Special discounts are often given to AAA, AARP, and older guests.Ask for rooms with slight issues for a lower cost.After you get a good rate, push for extra perks and upgrades.Talking to hotels directly is the key to savings and bonuses.Always try to negotiate, but choose the right time to call.Knowing what others charge helps in your talks.Get the name of the person you talk to about your booking to avoid problems later on.

Leverage Airline and Credit Card Loyalty Programs

Using airline and credit card loyalty programs can stretch your travel budget far. If you fly often, choose one airline or card to earn more miles. The benefits are awesome. You can get more rewards, lower prices on tickets, and enjoy flying more. Plus, you may get through lines faster, board earlier, and even get upgrades.

Earn and Redeem Frequent Flyer Miles

Using frequent flier miles can let you travel even more. You earn these miles by flying or by using a special credit card. Take Capital One’s travel cards, for example. You get miles on every purchase. Some, like VentureOne, give extra miles to new users.

Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards

Credit card rewards are key for boosting your travel money. Nomadic Matt got 380,000 points from different cards by spending $11,000 in three months. The big savings made his spending worth it. He used Chase Ultimate Rewards to save over $6,500 on his trip’s costs.

Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees

When you go abroad, watch out for foreign transaction fees. They add up fast and can shrink your vacation budget. These fees are usually about 3% of what you spend and are charged by credit card companies when you buy things in another country. If you spend $5,000 abroad with a credit card that has a 3% fee, you could pay an extra $150 in fees.

To beat these fees, use a credit card that doesn’t have them, like the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card. Some banks have cards with low foreign transaction fees or they give you back the fees from using other banks’ ATMs. Also, it’s smart to have a debit card that waives foreign transaction fees and gives ATM fee refunds, such as the Schwab Bank card.

It’s risky to carry lots of cash because of pickpockets. Instead, bring a mix of credit cards, debit cards, and some local currency when you travel. This helps lower the impact of foreign fees and ensures you always have a way to access your money.

Pack Light and Stay Organized

When packing light for travel, plan carefully. You should aim for 20 pounds in a carry-on. This is a rule many travelers follow.

Imagine going on a European tour with only one carry-on and a small day pack. It’s not just doable; it makes your trip smoother. Plus, you skip extra fees and the worry of lost baggage.

Most airlines let you check a bag for free on overseas flights. But, watch out, extra charges may apply. Bag weight matters, too. It’s wise to keep your stuff under 10kg (22 lbs) for long journeys. For carry-ons, pick something around 35 to 40 liters.

Always pack wisely. Take what you need, and check twice for essentials. Using mesh bags helps keep things neat. A tip: save room for souvenirs. Or, add a lightweight bag to your luggage for returns. Remember, keep it light, always.

Packing TipsRecommended Specifications
Backpack WeightAround 1.5kg to 1.6kg (3.3 lbs to 3.5 lbs)
Luggage SizeAround 35 to 40 liters for carry-on compliance
Clothing for Long TripsPack at most one week’s worth
FootwearHiking or walking shoes, everyday shoes, and flip-flops
Hiking ClothingMerino wool due to its remarkable properties
ToiletriesPack essentials in limited sizes due to airline restrictions

how to travel cheap

Use Public Transportation

Use public transportation to save money. This is better than renting a car or using taxis. Many cities have a good system for moving around without a car. It’s cheaper than other ways of travel too.

Seek Out Free Attractions

Traveling often costs money, especially if the place is popular. But, you can find free or cheap things to do. Places like museums and parks are usually free. They can help you spend less while having fun.

Explore Small Towns and Local Destinations

Adventures can be found outside big cities too. Small towns offer a chance to save money while having fun. They have cheaper places to stay and food that’s true to the area. Plus, you can enjoy things like parks and old buildings without the big crowds.

For example, try Black Mountain, NC, with just over 8,400 people. Or visit Stuart, FL, known for big game fishing. It’s near the St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon. Leavenworth, WA, looks like a tiny Bavarian village. It gets busy at Oktoberfest and Christmas. Harpers Ferry, WV, has eight parks and historic sites. And don’t forget Bardstown, KY, where you can taste the best bourbon. They make famous brands like Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark.

It’s always great to travel to small towns within a budget. doing so provides a real, affordable adventure.

Dine Creatively and Cook Meals

Save money while travelling by getting creative with your meals. Instead of eating out, try picnics or cooking in your room. These options are not only affordable but also fun for kids. By eating simply, you can save money for special activities and sights.

Picnic Outdoors

Packing a picnic lets you enjoy beautiful views and experience local life. Here’s an example: a family planned to have s’mores during their cabin vacation. This is a cheap and fun way to eat outside. You could also bring a variety of cheeses, fruits, and nuts to snack on.

Cook in Your Accommodation

If your place has a kitchen, consider cooking some meals yourself. For example, one family made breakfasts and dinners in their cabin. This saved them lots of money. Their breakfasts included canned biscuits and eggs, while dinners were simple with burgers and fries.

Being creative with food means you can save more for your trip’s highlights. Include cooking and picnicking in your plans for a budget-friendly vacation.


By following these personal tips, everyone can start their adventures inexpensively. Starting your plans early, going where few tourists go, and eating smartly help you save. With creativity and smarts, travel joys are yours without high costs.

Use loyalty programs, search for better hotel deals, and pack light to cut down on charges. Smart and flexible choices are the ticket to affordable travel. Planning, taking different paths, and going local stretch your travel money. With these tips, a world of affordable travel awaits.

So, why wait? Begin planning your next budget-friendly trip. The world is full of chances to travel, and with creativity, your dreams can come true without spending too much.

My Regards

Lily Hurtado

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