To start off with, let me just say that I’m not an expert on travelling in any way. However, I have been travelling since I was born. By combining my tricks and my mother’s tricks (the queen of budgets & effective travels), I’ve come up with several tips and tricks that have helped me immensely while travelling. Also, not everyone is currently in a good enough financial position to travel, and that travelling is a great privilege. That being said, this article may not be for everyone, but if it is for you, read on and enjoy.
Being Smart with Money
- Get a Job & Save Money
This first step may be super obvious, but it’s still worth reiterating. If you have a job but don’t save any of your money, you’re no better off than just having no job at all. So, first things first: get a job, and make yourself a budget. Not everything that comes in needs to go out. However, this is something that is very particular and varies based on personal preference and job type. As a student, it isn’t always possible to save lots of money in one go. A tip that has gained lots of traction online recently has been to keep a jar or envelope at home, and every time you receive a 5$ or 10$ bill, keeping it inside this jar/envelope.
- Prioritizing when and where to spend money
If you’re truly serious about travelling, then it is important to note that travelling must be a spending priority. Some people choose to spend all their money on makeup or clothes, and that’s fine, but it simply means that they are prioritizing these things above travelling. Of course, priorities aren’t always a choice. Some people need to pay rent or need to have money left to afford tuition. This doesn’t mean that those people can’t travel, but that it may take twice as long to save money. No matter what your situation in life, recognizing what your current priority is, is the first step to travelling.
- Credit Cards & Rewards Points
Now, I am no expert on travel credit cards. However, I know some cards do rack up air miles. If it is an option, this can be a good method of saving money on plane tickets. As well, the air miles card is another rewards card that accumulates points to exchange with flight dollars. These two are great options to consider and do more research into.
Picking a Location
Location is key when travelling on a budget. As gorgeous and envious as Hawaii and Greece may be, they are also some of the most expensive places to travel to. Of course, this also depends on where you are living. If you live in Hawaii, travelling to another Hawaiian island may be cheaper than going to the mainland. Exchange rates also determine which locations are cheaper than others. As a Canadian, it may be cheaper for me to go to South America than to Los Angeles (fluctuations in plane prices also come into play here). All this to say, even though Italy may be your dream, it may be best to go to Peru first, and save Italy for further out into the future.
Choosing Your Travel Style
This is also an important step in planning your travels. Backpacking is probably the cheapest method of travel, while 5-star resorts with Michelin starred meals would be the most expensive. Once again, this is something that varies based on preference. If the goal is to travel on a budget, I wouldn’t recommend looking for the most glamorous hotels in the most expensive cities. I would go for a hostel in Bali, or couch surfing in Cuba. Whichever style you choose, there will always be a price range. So, whichever type of travelling you do, do your research and chose the lower end of the range for a budget-friendly trip.
Helpful Apps & Online Resources
- Excel & Other Budgeting Apps
Personally, I’m a big fan of budgeting on Excel, so that I can punch in numbers myself and see exactly what’s coming in and going out. However, there are loads of helpful budgeting apps, Mint by Intuit being a very popular one (available in the US and Canada, but not yet in Quebec).
Kayak is an app that tracks the cheapest airfares, car rentals and hotel rates. You can choose your destinations and specific dates, or keep the dates general. Then, put it on a watchlist, set notifications, and wait for prices to go down.
This app is more or less the same thing as Kayak, however only for flights. I personally think it can’t hurt to use both, in case prices listed are different on either app.
This app is in the same genre as Hopper and Kayak, however it is only for Europe and gives prices for flights as well as trains and buses.
This app will help people find hostels all around the world, simply plug in a city and chose the cheapest option that comes out.
This app is like Hostelworld, however for people who rent out their homes instead of hostels. It is usually more expensive than hostels, but there can be added glamour and privacy if that is preferred.
This app is pretty cool, and by far the cheapest option. It is similar to Hostelworld and Airbnb, but is completely free. People all around the world offer their couches or spare rooms for free, sometimes even offering tours of their city for the chance to meet people and have cultural exchanges with them. Staying with verified people and reading reviews from previous lodgers is a great way to find a safe option.
- The Financial Diet
This is one of my personal favourites in terms of online resources. The Financial Diet is a website and YouTube channel hosted by two women, who discuss ways in which other women can get smarter with money. I love this because not only are their tips useful for travel, but for personal finances in general. They also have a more modern take on finances, and are way more fun than listening to old men drone on and on about investment and other uninteresting (but necessary) aspects of financial management.
And lastly, but finally not least… Research strenuously. Picking the first option that shows up on a google search or booking the first flights you can find impulsively without comparing prices may be “cool” and “spontaneous”, but if you haven’t done your research in advance, you may be paying way more than necessary.
Finally, every trip is unique and every person has different methods and preferences. Let me know in the comments below if you have any specific tips, tricks or methods to travelling on a budget.
Founder, Author & RYT-200 Yoga Teacher @ MAP Yoga