Travelling on a budget seems impossible If you’re like me, a young college grad in their early 20s you’re probably not making that much money. Coming out of college into an entry level job means low pay, new bills, student loans, you get the point. In this post, I’m going to discuss all the ways you can budget a trip to be able to go abroad affordably. My first trip outside of college costed about 1k all included, and I was actually TRYING to spend money.
Condensed list of tips:
- Find the best flights
- Book on Incognito/VPN
- Pack light
- Pick an Affordable destination
- Travel in the “off-season”
- Stay in hostels/Air BnBs
- Travel with someone
- Budget an amount for each day
- Eat local
- Buy groceries
- Buy postcards not souvenirs
- Take advantage of free tours
1. Find The Best Flights
The biggest expense of your trip will obviously be the flight. It doesn’t need to be too pricey if you know where to look for tickets to stay in budget.
Sky Scanner – Sky Scanner is useful for finding cheap flights because it will pull up flights with the lowest fares. Sky Scanner also pulls up flights that larger search engines may neglect to show right away.
Look for Connecting Flights – Connecting flights are typically much cheaper than direct flights. This is if you’re willing to be flexible with your travel plans. Besides, you can use this as an opportunity to see another city if your layover is long enough!
Book Within 90 Days of Your Trip – The best prices for flights are typically when you book 90 days prior to departure. Anything earlier or later could be more expensive. You want to hit the sweet spot to get the best deal for your budget.
Fly on Weekdays– It’s been said that Tuesday is the best time to fly. Generally if you fly Mon-Thurs you will find better deals than flying on the weekend. If you can make it happen, try to book during the week.
2. Browse Incognito/Use a VPN
You can also use a VPN to browse incognito for the same result. I personally use Cyber Ghost and have never had a bad experience. There are several reputable VPN hosts to use, so it is up to you which to pick.
3. Pack Light
Packing light will save your back, but it will also save your budget. Paying for checked bags is expensive. It can be minimum $50 per bag! If you’re flying a long haul flight, you will probably get a checked back included in your ticket.
If you are hopping place to place during your trip, be sure to check each airlines to find out what is included. Some smaller planes won’t even let you bring a large backpack into the cabin.
If you see that an airline isn’t allowing carry on bags larger than a small purse, purchase a checked bag online in advanced. When you get to the airport and are informed to check your bag they will charge double the online amount which can throw off your budget.
I feel more comfortable packing just a carry on when I can because I always have my bag with me. If you’re flying with connections you’re risking your bag getting lost or searched through. It’s also much quicker to exit the plane and leave the airport without having to wait for bags!
4. Pick an Affordable Destination
Be flexible about where you want to travel. When you’re trying to travel on a budget places such as Monaco or Switzerland may be off the table. Here are some countries by region where your budget won’t be stretched thin.
Asia – Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Philipines, Myanmar
Europe – (mostly eastern) Hungary, Turkey, Ukraine, Romania, Georgia, Bulgaria, Poland, Czech Republic
South America – Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina
North/Central America – Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala
Africa – Morocco, Egypt, South Africa
5. Travel in the “Off-Season”
Off-season means fall through early spring for traveling. Peak seasons will be spring break and summer. To find a good flight deal, travel during the off-season.
There are other positive aspects to traveling in the off-season than just budgeting. A lot of times you get to experience holidays abroad and how other cultures celebrate. There is less tourism, which means less crowds.
6. Stay in Hostels or Air BnBs
Hotels are by far the most expensive places to stay when traveleing. Hostels are much more affordable. Hostels have multi-person rooms, or you can book your own room.
Depending on where you are traveling, Air BnBs can be as just as affordable as hostels. When I traveled to Budapest, my friend and I split the cost of an Air BnB for $11 a night. That’s comparable to a hostel, so the choice was obvious.
7. Travel With Someone
Traveling with a buddy can be the best way to travel in a budget. Splitting the cost of everything will reduce your trip costs tremendously. When I traveled to Vietnam with my boyfriend, we split the cost for everything. This included hotels, Air BnBs, food, tickets, etc.
8. Budget an Amount for Each Day
The easiest way to stay within your budget is to allocate an amount to spend each day. Planning how much to spend each day will allow you to think ahead. For example, my boyfriend and I budgeted $50 a day spending money and that was being generous.
Booking in advanced can help to plan your finances. By having your itinerary written out, you will have a better idea of which days you will be spending more or less.
Be sure to have a small emergency fund as part of your budget. Most likely you won’t need it, but it’s worth it just to be safe.
9. Eat Local
When you’re traveling you may not have access to a kitchen, so you’ll be eating out quite a bit. To compensate for this, eat local! Find the street food stalls, and you will pay significantly less than any sit down restaurant.
In some places such as Southeast Asia, you can get a full meal for $1-2. Street food is always delicious, and the best way to try local cuisine.
10. Buy Groceries
If you have access to a kitchen where you’re staying, buy some groceries! When traveling with someone, this is the best way to split expenses. Having granola bars for flights or breakfast means you’re cutting out the expense of a meal. I always pack snacks for flights because airport food is way overpriced.
Shopping for groceries in another country will expose you to the local way of life. Experiencing wet markets can be quit a shock sometimes, but they’re the best place to find fresh fruits and veggies, meats, grains, etc.
11. Buy Postcards not Souvenirs
Your wallet and bag will thank you when you choose not to buy souvenirs. They can be tacky, overpriced, and bad quality. The best way to remember your trip is to pick up a postcard. This is a cute idea to scrapbook all of your adventures.
I have sent so many postcards to my friends and family internationally. They love it and save the sentimental messages, so it doesn’t become a cheap piece of junk.
12. Take Advantage of Free Tours
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on tours. Besides, tours can be very commercialized. Plenty of large cities have free walking tours in a variety of languages. These free walking tours will be a great way to learn history of the city and see the most important spots.
You can look online to find walking tours in your city. Typically, the guide will be standing under a big umbrella with the language the tour is in printed on it.