Money Goals

How to travel on a budget?

Jul 31, 2023

Going on amazing adventures abroad and experiencing everything the world has to offer without breaking the bank can feel like an impossible daydream. But Loqbox has some really useful tips and tricks to help you travel on a budget, or even just go on holiday on a budget. Read on for cheap ways to travel and make memories that last a lifetime.

Whether you're planning to do Europe on a shoestring, take a road trip on a budget, or just vacation on the cheap, these budget-friendly ideas will help you explore the world without emptying your pockets. Let's dive in and learn how to make the most of your travel experience with frugal travel tips.

How do I budget my trip?

The first thing you want to do is plan ahead and budget your trip. OK, making a budget and putting numbers into a spreadsheet might seem like exactly the sort of thing you’re trying to escape, but planning ahead of time will give you the best options to travel the world cheaply.

If you want to travel on a budget you need to plan carefully. Start by setting a realistic budget for your trip: where will you sleep? How will you get around? What will you eat? And what can you afford to do? Research the places you want to go, when the peak and off-seasons are, and whether you’d be able to pick up work while you’re travelling there.

Travelling to your destinations will often take up the biggest portion of your budget. Flights can be very expensive, and you’ll especially feel this pinch when you’re travelling on a low budget. Booking your flights ahead of time will give you the best chance of getting cheaper deals. The next big expense will be your accommodation (more on that later). Remember to travel overnight when you can to combine these costs.

While we’re looking at ways you can travel the world cheap, it’s important not to scrimp on your travel insurance. Hopefully your adventure will be problem-free, but even if nothing happens it’s great to have peace of mind. And if your flights get cancelled, or you fall ill while you’re abroad, it’s important to be covered.

8 ‘travelling on a budget’ tips 

1. Be flexible with where and when you go

If you’re looking for tips to travel cheaply, your best friend is flexibility. When it comes to travelling on a budget, consider travelling during the shoulder or off-peak seasons to take advantage of lower prices for flights (midweek is the best time). Also, be open to exploring destinations that aren’t pricey tourist traps. They can offer similar experiences but at a fraction of the cost.

2. Sleep in hostels or shared accommodation

For budget-conscious travellers, backpacking and staying in hostels are fantastic options. Not only do hostels provide affordable accommodation, but they also offer a chance to meet fellow travellers and share experiences. 

Pack light, consider dormitory-style accommodation, and discover the joy of exploring the world with like-minded individuals.

Generally, the bigger the dorm size the less expensive it will be. If you’re a light sleeper you might want to invest in some earplugs, or sleep sounds apps to drown out any snoring neighbours. 

Shared dorms aren't for everybody but it’s a great way to save while you sleep so you can have more fun when you wake up. You can opt for same-sex dorms if you feel more comfortable and safe sleeping in an environment like that, rather than being in a ‘mixed’ dorm.

3. Use budget-friendly transportation

Even when you get to your destination you need to think about how you’re going to get around. Research local transport passes or discount cards that provide unlimited travel within a specified period. 

Planning your journeys, walking or hiring bikes can be an excellent way to explore a city while keeping your expenses down.

Rail passes are a great way to travel. They aren’t always cheap, but they will often be a lot kinder on your wallet than individual flights and other transport options. Europe has excellent Interrail networks and Japan’s JR Pass is a great way to explore the country. Rail passes sometimes offer open flexibility on when you travel as well, letting you freestyle.

If you want to combine two-in-one, you could save yourself a night of accommodation by getting a sleeper train to your next destination, if that’s an option (and besides that, it would make your photos seem very Wes Anderson). 

4. Eat like a local and cook your own meals

Indulging in local cuisine is an integral part of the travel experience, but dining out can quickly drain your budget. To save money, venture away from tourist hotspots and discover local food markets, street vendors, or small eateries favoured by locals. 

Not only will you get to taste authentic dishes, but you'll also gobble up significant savings.

If you’re staying in self-catered accommodation like Airbnb, take a trip to a supermarket and cook yourself a meal with the day-to-day ingredients that locals use. Supermarkets can be as culturally eye-opening as tourist attractions if you research some recipes from the country’s cuisine. Remember, you don’t have to eat out every night just because you’re on holiday.

That said, it will all be down to what you’re looking for from your adventure away. If you know that — rather than going out sightseeing every day — you’d ideally like to spend a large part of your trip by a pool, sipping Piña Coladas and enjoying three full meals a day with snacks on the side, then weigh up whether the cost of going for an all-inclusive package stay will be better value for you. They often are when you include flights and transfers. It’s your time, you do you!

5. Look for work or get a job

Travelling might be about being away from the ‘nine to five’ and having amazing experiences, but working abroad not only helps you to earn extra cash to keep your adventure going, it can also bring you closer to the places you visit and introduce you to interesting people.

There are tonnes of options if you want to work abroad. Consider teaching English, getting shifts in bars and restaurants, working on organic farms, mucking in at hostels (and maybe getting free board), or getting a job at a ski resort or on a super yacht (yes, we’ve all seen Below Deck and want their tips). Working and travelling is a great way to see the world and helps you to balance your budget.

There are even luxury hostels dotted around the globe that are targeted at remote workers. If you want to pop abroad for a week of sunshine but need to be online between certain hours as the UK, the GMT time difference between here and Portugal is exactly the same! 

6. Take advantage of the share economy

With the growth of apps and social networks there has been an explosion of ways to bring locals and travellers together to get free advice, food, and accommodation. It’s now totally possible to find rideshares, home-cooked meals, and tourist information that will get you to the best quality for affordable prices.

Who better to give you the lowdown on the places you’re exploring than the people who actually live there? Check out apps and websites like BlaBlaCar, EatWith, Campspace and Trusted House Sitters to find free transport, food, and places to stay. 

House and pet sitting is a great way to explore the world and maybe even make some new furry friends.

7. Use student and scout cards

Check your eligibility for discounted rates for travel. If you’re a student you might have some great options with your student card. But even if you’ve graduated, check the expiry as it may stretch into the summer after you finish your course. 

There are other discounts for people under 26 and you may even have points available for flights on your credit card.

8. Grow your credit score while you save

If you’re travelling on a budget, tips like this will help you to keep the costs down. But it’s likely that you’ll need to save some money to get started. 

Why not use those savings to boost your credit score and put yourself in a great position when you get back home?

Loqbox Save lets you improve your credit score while you grow your savings. Decide how much you want to save every month, from just £20, and watch your credit score build as we report your savings payments to the UK’s top three credit reference agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

So, is it really possible to travel on a budget?

Yes! Travelling on a budget doesn't mean compromising on experiences. By planning ahead, being flexible, and making wise choices, you can explore the world without breaking the bank. Start implementing these tips to travel cheaply and enjoy incredible adventures while maintaining a healthy bank balance. Happy travels!

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