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Travel on a budget

I started traveling by myself from a very early age on, as my father had a passion for adventure and exploration and passed that lifestyle on to me.

With the age of 16 I went just by myself on a year abroad to the USA, followed by a social service in Mexiko with 18 and had an exchange semester of uni with 23 years.

In between the longer stays, I kept on having the pull to discover other cultures and therefore have already visited close to 60 countries all around the globe.

Most of my travel happened between the age of 16 and 28 and that was a time when I was usually pretty short on money. However that never kept me from doing what I wanted to do; I just became wise about finding ways how to travel on a budget.

In this article I´m sharing my best findings, how you can save money whilst exploring the world.

Before choosing a place, always get familiar with the general costs of living there. I went to Lebanon and NYC without having a clue about these places and on arrival was shocked how expensive everything was. If you plan to travel without spending much money, look out for places, where your currency gives you a lot of value.

Flights will usually be one of the biggest expenses on your trip. Therefore it makes sense to take some time to investigate before the booking.

I´d recommend to use comparing platforms like Skyscanner or Booking to compare times, airlines and prices. If you have checked connections too many times from your computer or wifi without booking, the prices will rise on the platform. Try a reset all cookies and put in a VPN client to get it back to neutral. If you are a very frequent traveler, the prices might be shown more expensive to you as well. Try booking from a device of a friend or family member who does not travel much in that case.

If you do not find a good and cheap connection, choose other airports close to your city or your destination. Sometimes the prices differ by huge amounts.

If you book flights from abroad, always choose to pay in the local currency. The exchange rate the platform gives you is very bad compared to the one of your bank.

Travel with handluggage if you can, that will not only save you a lot of stress and waiting time at the airport, but also makes you more flexible traveling inland. Often you have to pay extra for big luggage in busses or planes, so keep it by 7-10kg if you can.

The transportation to and from the airport can be very expensive. Usually there will be a local alternative though, which might be a bit slower but way cheaper. Check the apps or websites of the local transportation system, to get information on busses, trains or trams that bring you for a regular fare to the airport and back.

Inland travel from one place to the other can sometimes be confusing to understand. Thats why often people book expensive packages for tourists. There are always cheap alternatives though, which can be found by asking the locals. I always took the 2. class busses in Latin America, because they only cost half the price and actually were much safer, because no one expected a tourist to be in there.

If you take an overnight bus, you can save the money for a nightly stay somewhere.

A nice accommodation is the key for a successful trip (caves person speaking). If you are on a budget, staying in a hostel might be your best option. Using platforms like Hostelworld are useful to find your best options and they also sometimes offer a discount. I´d always check their reviews on many different platforms before booking though. Check on google maps, Booking and Airbnb and Hostelworld before making a decision if it´s the right one for you.

I used to do couchsurfing as well, which offers stays for free. Possibly it´s not used that much anymore or has changed over the years. I didn't use it in a while, but if it feels right for you, why not have a look.

If you stay a bit longer in a place, you can also check out Facebook or Telegram groups that will have cheaper accommodation offers available.

Food is always a big part of the culture and defiantly worth checking out when abroad. Local markets always have free samples and I would always eat my way through all stands until I was full. Like this you can save some money for a meal ;)

In ice cream shops I would always ask to try all sorts of flavours before deciding, so a basically had a free scoop.

Little side note: These days I wouldn´t do that anymore, but when I was younger and had no money, well that was the option haha. You decide for yourself what feels good to you.

Some coffee shops also offer a free coffee if you buy beans or have stamp cards to collect for a free coffee.

For activities check out Groupon, where you can often find really good deals on spa and wellness places, as well as events and activities.

Every city also has a website with free activities, so its worth checking that out as well.

At the atms always press decline when they offer you a currency rate. You will still get your money out, but for a much better rate through your bank. You can also observe the fluctuations of the exchange rates throughout the week. Usually on weekends they´ll be much higher, so make sure to get your money out when the rate is in your favour.

A few more extra gains can come if you rent your apartment or room while you are gone. That might not be possible for everyone or everywhere, but if you got the chance, at least you have your expenses covered.

I wish you lots of fun exploring and adventuring! Don´t let the financial part hold you back if you feel called to travel. It´s more affordable as you think and the experiences and learnings you´ll make are priceless.

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