HOW TO TRAVEL ON A BUDGET
We put together some ideas to help you plan your next trip on a budget. Check out our suggestions about what you can do to connect to the local culture and save some money while you’re at it
Words and artwork: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Ryan Christodoulou
20 January 2019
Travelling has become more affordable in the recent decades. Planes fly off to different destinations each day and there are many places, especially in the more economically stable countries, where people have the financial stability and the mentality to travel more often. Visiting exotic places or even planning short city breaks has shifted the travelling culture altogether.
There are plenty of ways to travel and not have to spend a fortune to afford a summer getaway to a tropical island or a month visit exploring another continent. We put together some suggestions to help you plan your next trip without having to use the majority of your savings to do so.
Before you book your tickets
Take into consideration the location of the accommodation you’re staying at. Sometimes travelling is expensive mainly because most of your budget is wasted on transportation. Keep in mind that sometimes booking a direct flight or bus ride may not be the best option and if you are not tight on time, make sure to explore all your options to get around.
Be flexible with your tickets
Being flexible with your tickets allows you to have more of a say about the price of your ticket. Typically flying midweek is cheaper because the demand is not that high. Consider the time you have and see whether you can afford booking a flight with a layover or not. Also, booking flight seats next to one another is more expensive so avoid this when possible, especially for shorter flights if you and your travel buddies won’t mind it.
Type of accommodation
As the travelling culture shifted, so did the way the hospitality sector works. Now nomads have more options than ever to choose a place they want to stay at. No matter your budget, you can stay at a hotel or hire a private villa, go couch surfing or stay in homely Airbnb. The opportunities offer you the flexibility to be in charge of how to spend your money better. Our recommendation is to check the reviews of the accommodation you’re interested in first. Consider its distance to the places you actually want to visit and see if it has a kitchen you can use. Cooking on your own is cheaper, healthier and sometimes tastier.
Part of the whole experience is to take in as much of the local culture as you can. This involves the food. Instead of playing it safe and keep eating in the same restaurants you’re used to. Try new things, support the independent businesses and shop from the local street markets. Those guys' fresh, homegrown food and the family-owned independent businesses tend to prepare tasty dishes with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
If you can avoid public transportation, do it. Walking around new places means you get to experience their atmosphere, hear the languages that the locals speak and connect with what the destination has to offer. The best way to explore a place is to stand right in the middle of it and participate in what the locals find important. Walking also means that you will most likely stumble across places that you couldn’t have known you wanted to see because they were not on your map or aren’t a popular tourist attraction. After all, the salt pans of Maras in Peru have existed since the Incan times but only became a tourist attraction in the recent years. How about that?
We typically encourage our nomadic readers to go beyond the way tourists travel and to get to know more about the local culture, custom and way of living. However, sightseeing is part of establishing a connection to a new place and becoming more familiar with its history. Most destinations have attractions that are free such as art galleries and museums. In London for example, you can visit Tate Modern, the National Gallery and the British Museum without entry fees.
Stay away from the crowded touristy places. The centre of the big cities and places where there is more to see, are usually more expensive areas to stay at. Try to stick around locations that are positioned more outside the city centre instead. Talk to the locals as they know all the best places to visit, where it is good to eat and basically how to feel at home there.
Have a credit/debit strategy
If you have a budget in advance, you will find it easier to stick to it because you know how much money you need to save until the end of the trip. Some people like to bring more than one card with them, other set up their bank account for physical transactions so that they would have to go to the bank to physically withdraw money and be more organized with their spending. Find what works for you and stick to that strategy. If you are going to use ATMs often, maybe it’s worth considering using Charles Schwab card. The benefit is that it doesn’t charge you with any foreign ATM fees. On top of this, at the end of the month it deposits back into your account the sum of money that the ATM’s charged you as extra fees.