How to Travel on a Budget (without feeling like you’re actually on a budget!)

For those of us that are no longer in the early twenties backpacking crowd, it’s easy to forget the budget travel tips you pick up out of necessity as a broke college student. When it comes down to it, travel is expensive. Period. But there are definitely things you can do to minimize the cost and keep travel affordable (and I swear you don’t have to feel like a broke college student while you do it).

Getting There

Probably the biggest budgeting hurdle is getting there. If you live in Europe there are all sorts of low-cost flight options and many countries are close enough to drive or train to. In the US and Canada, however, it can be hard to find cheap flights to a neighboring state, let alone a foreign country. A couple of things to keep in mind when booking your travel:

  1. Travel off-season – If you can travel outside the summer months and popular holidays, the price options may be more reasonable.
  2. Travel on a Weekday – Booking a flight on a weekday is usually cheaper than leaving on a Friday or Saturday.
  3. Be flexible – If you’re open to where you’re going then you will have more flight options to choose from and may find a steal!
  4. Pay more upfront – Consider destinations where your currency is strong. If the destination will be less expensive when you get there, it may make sense to pay more for the flight.
  5. Travel closer to home – Sometimes it’s easy to forget how many great places are in your own back yard. Exploring nearby places with the eye of a tourist can be surprising, exciting, and may even help you appreciate where you are from more.

Where to Stay

  1. Visit friends or relatives – Not only is it fun to catch-up with the people you love, but friends and family are the perfect source for free accommodations!
  2. Avoid Hotels – Check out Airbnbs, B&Bs, and even hostels (not all hostels are aimed at backpackers). You may find that the accommodation is less expensive and potentially more charming than a standard hotel.
  3. Night Train – If you’re traveling by train, consider taking an overnight train to cut out one night of accommodation.

Getting Around

  1. Walk Everywhere – Not only will you see more of the destination, but avoiding cab fees and even public transportation can save you a lot of money.
  2. Public Transportation – When possible use public transportation (or rent a bike) over a cab or rental car. It’s usually more fun, less stressful, and definitely cheaper.

Eating & Drinking

  1. Eat with the locals – Avoiding restaurants nearby tourist locations can drastically lower the price of your meal and you’re more likely to be eating with locals.
  2. Have a Picnic – Pick up provisions from the market, grocery, and local shops for a picnic in a park or at the beach. I love seeing what is sold in grocery stores in foreign countries and you can’t beat dining al fresco!


  1. Skip the tours – Pick up a guidebook or print off content from a blog and make your own tour.
  2. Enjoy free activities – Most cities have free admission to museums, live music, parks, and hiking trails.
  3. Don’t over tip – In the US we are used to tipping 15-20% for everything, but in a lot of countries that’s not necessary. Understanding the local customs may save you quite a bit.
  4. Keep your Souvenirs Simple– photographs, postcards, or a small trinket are great ways to remember your trip by and won’t cost you a fortune.

What other budget tips do you use? I’d love to hear!

Happy Travels!

xo, Jenny


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