Travel

A Guide To Traveling On A Budget

Seeing that one of the questions I get asked most frequently is „How can you afford to be on-the-go all the time?“, I thought it was time that I wrote a post on it. Yes I’m young, yes I’m broke, and yes I travel all the time! :) While I wrote a post on how save money to travel (in the first place) here, today’s focus is on how you can get the most out of your savings once you are actually on-the-go. There are so many ways you can save your hard earned cash along the way, tricks that have taken much trial and error to learn.

→ Planning Where You Want To Visit ←

Pick the cheapest flight/train/bus

When I went to Barcelona last spring, one of the major reasons that it ended up being my destination was because it was incredibly cheap to visit from Paris. I believe the bus there cost about 15 Euros, and we found a flight back home for only 30 Euros. On websites such as Transavia, Euro Wings or RyanAir, pick the city you want to depart from, and just see where you can go on the cheap. I’ve seen last minute flights to London offered for just 17 Euros or so. Same goes for busses.

Visit cities you can afford

There’s a huge difference between visiting Paris or Berlin, or visiting London vs. Prague. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, don’t go to an expensive city! For example, hostels in Berlin start at 10 Euros, whereas in Paris good luck finding anything under 30.

Look of prices of attractions

Some cities charge a lot more for site seeing (museums, churches, etc.) than others. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, either pick a city where you’ll be content with just spending days walking around outside (like Munich or Amsterdam), or pick a city where you know museum visits won’t bankrupt you (all museums in Paris are free if you have a student ID!).

→ Transport ←

Usually the two most expensive things about traveling end up being transport and accommodation. While I already briefly mentioned transportation, I wanted to go into the various ways you can get to your destination without breaking the bank.

Car-sharing

With websites such as BlaBlaCar you can book a seat in somebody’s car, a person who is leaving from your city to go to your destination. The charge isn’t there for the driver to make a profit, but usually just covers gas and tolls. The website gives each driver ratings so you can know what to expect. I’m a huge fan.

Bus

80% of the time while traveling, you’ll find me taking the bus. With websites such as FlixBus or MegaBus, getting from Munich to Berlin can cost as little as 5 Euros. I cannot say enough good things about this system. Sure the ride may take a little longer, but essentially you get to your destination for almost no money.

Skyscanner

If I know I have to fly somewhere on a particular day, I find my flight using SkyScanner. It always finds the cheapest tickets.

Special train-fare

Be sure to keep your eye out for train specials as well. For example in Germany in the summer, the Deutsche Bahn oftentimes has specials, with which you can get from one side of the country to the other (or even to places such as Italy or The Netherlands) for under 20 Euros.

→ Keep in mind as well that just because you took the bus somewhere, doesn’t mean you need to take the bus back. Combine methods of transportation so that your schedule works out. Our bus ride to Barcelona was 15 hours, so taking it back would have meant one less day in the city. On our way home we spent 10 extra, but ended up getting a full additional day to explore.

→ Accommodation ←

Air BnB

Each place I’ve been this year where I didn’t have a couch to crash on (see below), I’ve stayed in an AirBnB. I’m sure any travel lover has heard of this website, but basically you can rent out anything from a couch to an apartment all around the world, for a lot less money than a hotel room will cost you. I personally love AirBnB because I feel like you are truly experiencing the city you are living in; nothing more French than staying in a genuine Parisian apartment!

Couchsurfing

Truthfully, I’ve never used Couchsurfing, but my best friend swears by it and another friend even met her boyfriend for it. Couchsurfer is a website that allows you to sleep on couches around the world free of charge. The people that let you into their homes are usually super open and young, one friend even got an entire tour of Paris and a close new friend through the experience. Plus, did I mention that it’s free?!? 

Visit places where you know people!

The truest way to save the most money is to crash with people you know. Truth be told, often I chose destinations based on whether I know people there or not. Nothing is more fun than catching up with a friend, and exploring a new city with somebody that already knows their way around. I’ve done this all around Germany, and will do it in September as well with a very dear friend from Utrecht. :)

→ While There ←

Save money on food and drink

Eating out can get super pricey, so plan in advance. Another reason that I love renting AirBnB apartments is that you can whip up your own meals; eating a home-cooked meal on a balcony in Rome is just as good as hitting up a restaurant. Also, pack a water bottle you can fill up throughout the trip and hit up the nearest grocery store for fruits and veggies you can snack on throughout the day.

Give yourself a budget each day, don’t take more money with you than you can spend

For each trip, I withdraw the maximum amount of cash I want to spend, and spend it throughout the trip You’re less likely to go over your budget if you have a pile of cash rather than always charging a card. Plus, no withdrawal fees! Or course I always have a card for emergencies though, you never know what can happen.

Turn off your phone data

An obvious one, but a mistake that can easily happen! Be sure to turn off your data, even a moment of web surfing can cost a fortune. Stick to WiFi, or get some sort of an international phone plan.

It’s been super fun writing this post, and I hope you were able to learn something new. As always, ask any questions or contribute ideas in the comments below, I love talking with you guys!

Much love and thank you for reading,

Julia

P.S. Photo above not mine! I couldn’t find the original photographer, if anybody knows please let me know :)

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  • Natalia Cooke (The Petite Expl

    Great advice! I always try to fly early and back late, avoiding any extra nights’ accommodation!

  • Lauren @ atipsygypsylife.com

    Excellent list! I adore using google flights to get real time info
    ?

    • Oh I’ve never used it before, I’ll have to check that out!

  • Robbie Wullschleger

    I agree with most of these. The grocery store can be a great friend when traveling. Also, i would like to add that camping is one big way to save money on traveling. It may not always be easy to find a place to pop a tent, but is cheap and i have spent some of my most memorable nights traveling while i was camping.

    thenimblenomad.com

    • Camping is so great!! My parents always took my and my brother when we were kids, seriously some of my favorite summer memories :)

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  • Great tips!! I always try to get a hotel with breakfast or go to the market to stock up on yogurts/snacks. Walking and grocery stores can save you so much money!

    • Yes exactly! Especially buying a pack of granola bars, it’s better than buying an overpriced sandwich at some point during the day just because you’re starving :)

  • Jen

    Definitely some good tips in there :) I just wrote a post on getting started with AirBnB but Couchsurfing is definitely the best for budget/ intimate travel, I love it. Most hosts on AirBnB are actually old couchsurfing hosts.

    compasskeen.wixsite.com/travel

    • Yeah I could totally imagine! The people that host Air BnB are usually pretty well traveled themselves :)

  • Great advice thanks! x

  • Kamilla Haaland

    Great advices :-)

    kamillahaaland.com

  • Great advice, I always tell people it’s easier to travel cheap than they think! You just have to be smart and creative in how you go about it.

    • Totally! You just need to take some time in planning :)

  • Fred Hernandez

    Great tips. I’m currently saving for my first European trip so it’s helpful to read tips and tricks from seasoned travelers like yourself.
    ▲ fredsguidetolife.com ▲

  • Super helpful post! Airbnb is a great way to travel! I currently just used it and definitely recommend it! I’ve heard of skyscanner and definitely want to give it a try!

    Great post
    Thanks!

    Tiffany-
    http://Simplybeinggreat.net

    • Thank you so much Tiffany! :)

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  • I can’t believe I forgot to put public transport in the post! What I also love is just walking everywhere..I went to Barcelona a while back (which you might have seen on the blog!) and we walked everywhere. This way we really saw the entire city.

    • You did mention buses, but there are also metros or tram in most big cities, which is also convenient 😀 Walking is great too, I remember walking a lot in Barcelona too – only taking the metro to go to Park Guell, which is awfully far from the centre to me haha. A lot of cities are manageable by foot, it’s true!

      • I remember, we even walked that! It was so hot that day, I ended up getting so sunburnt!!

  • Amber Holyoake

    These are awesome tips, thanks for sharing :)
    http://www.wethelostgirls.com/

    • Of course, thank you for reading! :)

  • Hi Jamie! Unfortunately the image is from Pinterest and I couldn’t find the original photography credit. I tried looking online again just now, but no luck. So sorry that I can’t help you further!

    • jamie

      aw no worries! really appreciate you checking. :)

      • Any day!! :)

        • kristyisrad
          • Wow you are awesome, thank you for finding this!!

          • kristyisrad

            I loved it so much that I had to hunt it down (an hour and a half and multiple key word searches later). Not cheap, but I’m going to keep a look out and see if I can find a more reasonable one. Haha.

          • Ok now you’re really really awesome! I also really liked it but the price tag is a biiit too high for me as well. If you end up finding an alternative let know, it would be great in the future for packing carry-on bags!

  • Taste of France

    Skimp on where you sleep (cheap hostels) and do one really good meal a day or every other day. You don’t want to be so stretched that you don’t experience the food, which is such a key part of culture. On the other hand, if you hit the grocery store for your other meals, you usually can save a lot. Also, go for the fixed price lunch specials at nice restaurants–they are much cheaper than at dinner. You can get a gourmet fix without breaking the bank.

    • Thank you for the awesome advice! I totally second this, I’m a huge foodie.

  • Sharon Wells

    Wondering who makes the wonderful planner in the above picture?

  • Great tips! thank you for sharing. Although I do not agree with couch surfing (yikes yikes)
    http://sepatuholig.blogspot.com
    Instagram @grace_njio

    • Ahaha I totally get it! My friend is a lot more comfortable with the idea than me as well, but it was too good not to include in the list!!

  • Great tips. I love to travel as well, but I prefer the expensive cities, haha. Not good for my wallet. 😛

    Kisses from Berlin
    Valentina | DAILY SUIT

    • Totally feel your pain girl!! Ahaha :)

  • pennyanddash

    Great tips! I have been traveling for a couple of months and I have actually used a lot of these tips myself :)

    http://www.pennyanddash.com

  • This is honestly SO helpful. I’m planning a few trips before the end of the year & any tips to help keep the cost down are more than welcome! It’s so easy to travel whilst were still in Europe for such a low cost! Trying to take advantage of it whilst I can & cram it all in!

    Katie // wordsbykatie.com

    • I’m so happy I could help you out! Where are you traveling to? :)

  • I think most Americans I know would agree that we’re all insanely jealous of the low cost and ease of travel between places in Europe! Of course, traveling between countries there is similar to traveling between states in the US (mile- or kilo-wise) but I would do anything to be able to hop on a budget flight to a city three states away for anything under $350. Totally jealous! RyanAir would make a killing here.

    • So true! The airlines would make a killing if they introduced budget airlines in the United States. We’re seriously so lucky over in Europe!!

      • We have a few, but they can’t the European ones! I think the one nearest me can get me to 2 airports in Florida for about $160 RT. Better than nothing!

      • They can’t touch* the European ones…whoops!