Updated September 22, 2021 by Clarisse
Have you ever had this question: How are all of the travelers, backpackers, and digital nomads in this planet able to afford their round-the-world trip?
I’ve always been fascinated by how people can afford to travel endlessly.
With tons of interviews and stories shared under my belt, you are about to read the best tips, tricks, and hacks you’ll ever need. Everything on this list will help you offset your travel costs, and will stretch out your money so you can gallivant even longer.
The truth is, there are plenty of ways to save money on the road. Whether you are traveling for a couple of weeks or long-term, yes this is for you.
The big secret? It isn’t necessarily how much money you have in the bank. But, it is super important to know where your money is going and how much you’re spending.
To help you out, imagine that you wanted a cookie from the store. There are plenty of options, but it’s up to you if you choose to purchase the most expensive one or opt for the cheapest one. You could even go for the one on sale.
Think about the process that goes into your decisions. Are you willing to sacrifice a little bit of quality to get the same product still? Are you willing to cut coupons to save a few dollars?
Below, you will find everything you’ll need to budget travel. But remember, saving money requires a little bit more effort. A few sacrifices are necessary to be able to travel the world in a budget-friendly way.
If this is what you’re looking for, then let’s get to it!
1. Fly on Budget Airlines
Budget airlines are great, especially if you are city or country hopping. But, please be aware that most of these types of airlines will find ways to charge you and an arm and a leg for extras.
To lower your costs, make sure that you check their policies before booking. As well as order anything you’ll need extra during the booking process.
It is much cheaper to add them right away than needing to have the amenities added at the check-in counter.
Preparation for budget airlines is key.
If you want all of the bells and whistles, make sure to compare the costs with a different airline. Sometimes, by the time you’ve added everything you need, others will be comparable in cost.
Still, budget airlines are the way to go for most people who want to save the most money with airfare.
2. Check-in One Luggage Only
Checking in one luggage will help you out in the long-run. Trust me with this one. There can only be benefits when you choose to pack light.
First, you will save on extra checked luggage costs. Plus, you’ll have the advantage of not being weighed down by your stuff when you’re traveling.
3. Stick to a Light Carry-On
Yes, this goes hand-in-hand with the point I made right above. Stick with either a small backpack or a super-light duffel bag. Make sure that they are easy for you to carry with your luggage.
This will help save you some money, especially if you decide to take a budget airline.
I once had to pay an extra $60 because my carry-on weighed 1kg more than what passengers were allowed on-board. So stick to a small carry-on, and only pack your most needed items.
4. Travel Off-Season
Traveling off-season can be a massive win if you are looking to save quite a bit of money. There are fewer tourists at this time. More often than not, this means significant discounts. If you are willing to travel at this time, you can save a pretty good chunk of money.
Remember that each country observes a different peak season, so do your research.
You can get lucky with accommodations. But, you will mostly see the price difference reflected with airline companies.
There are times when I found flights one month apart from each other with a significant price gap. You will be surprised that these can mean the difference of a half-priced plane ticket.
5. Find Deals from Airlines
From time to time, airlines will have special deals so that they can fill up their seats. These advertisements can be found on their website and email newsletters.
Most of the time, they will offer special prices to frequent flyer members. Make sure you check this out and sign up for every airline’s membership. You never know what kind of deals they’re giving out.
This tactic is perfect if you have a little bit of flexibility with your plans. Most of these types of deals are time-sensitive. But, if you can go during that specific period, your savings could add up to over a few hundred dollars.
6. Bring Your Food and an Empty Bottle to the Airport
Airport food, especially that on-board, is crazy expensive! Be smart about this and bring food that you’ve prepared at home.
Yes, you will have to research TSA regulations, but it can save you quite a bit. You should also bring an empty water bottle and refill it inside the airport. There are plenty of water stations available inside.
I can assure you that bottled waters or any drinks for that matter, at an airport are small costs that add up long- term.
It’s one of the reasons you might end up spending money before you even get to your destination.
7. Cook Your Meals; Avoid Eating Out at Expensive Restaurants
Cooking your meals is a great way to save up some money. You should, of course, pick out an accommodation that offers a kitchen.
Having someone prepare your food is a luxury. This is an expense that you should limit to special occasions when traveling.
Instead, you should go to your local store or farmers market and pick up a few things you can cook for the next few days. Doing this will help save you money in the long-run.
As a bonus, if you meet a local, you can ask them to show you how to cook authentic food from their country.
8. Try the Local Cuisine or Street Vendors
If you must eat out, you should stick to the local cuisines or street vendors.
Yes, you should be careful in choosing which street foods you eat. But they are a great way to save a lot of money.
These types of foods are much cheaper than international chain restaurants. Plus, it will offer great insight into your destination’s culture.
9. Find Free Museums or Tours Available
There are plenty of things you can do that are free to the public. Walking tours are usually available for free in a lot of cities. Museums are also a great option, especially art museums. For some reason, most art museums are offered to the public at no charge.
You can also do hikes or visit any outdoor areas that won’t cost you anything to look at and take a few pictures.
Make the best of your time with the memories you make.
Decide which paid tours are worth it to you. Otherwise, try and find as many of the free things offered in your destination.
10. Walk As Much As Possible
Walking is FREE. Let me say that again, it’s completely free to walk everywhere.
Nothing will save you money, quite like walking as much as you can when you are traveling. This is especially true if you are staying in the city center.
A train or bus will usually cost up to about $3 one way, depending on which country you’re in. Those few dollars can and will add up over time.
So yes, walk everywhere. You can also think of it this way: it’s good for your health.
11. Avoid Getting Scammed, Especially by Taxi
Yes, it’s hard to avoid getting scammed.
But, knowing the exchange rate and the potential cost of living can make a big difference. This will help avoid taxi drivers from overcharging you.
An extra tip is to make sure that they have a meter. If possible, you should also ask them for an estimated cost before getting inside the taxi. You could also opt for a trusted local to get you a cab.
There are plenty of taxis that will charge you $50 for a one-way trip that takes about 10 minutes. Taxi drivers know that you don’t speak the language and probably have no idea how much a taxi should cost.
Remember, do your research. Try to find information any way you can. These can come from fellow travelers, or even a simple google search will do the trick.
12. Do Your Research
Research is one of the most important things you can do to save money while on the road. Your research must include your destination’s average cost of living. This will range from accommodations to food and tours.
You should ask around Facebook groups to see if there are travelers already there. They may be able to help give you a better idea of what it’s like in that country or city.
You should also have a general idea of where you would like to go and what you would like to do while there.
This will help save you time and manage your money better by the time you are ready to go.
13. Travel to Budget-Friendly Destinations
Would you like to know a secret?
Travel budget-friendly destinations are the way to go if you are looking to save on costs.
Choosing the right countries can be the difference between thousands of dollars saved. All this, of course, will depend on how long you’re planning to stay.
Trust me, you’re not giving anything up by being in these countries either.
The most popular continents to consider are Asia, Africa, South, and Central America.
These places are beautiful, rich in culture, and above all, the cost of living is affordable. You won’t regret taking this advice.
14. Stick with only 1 or 2 Souvenirs
Stick with only a couple of meaningful souvenirs that you’d love to have. At the end of the day, it’s your memories that will count.
If you buy more souvenirs than your luggage can handle, chances are they will end up in a box in the attic. Even if you plan to display it at your home, it will look more cluttered than anything else.
So choose your souvenirs wisely.
Take this advice from someone who used to do that exact thing. I used to bring home anything they were selling under the sun. You name it, from magnets, keychains, shot glasses to postcards.
After coming home and giving a ton of it to my friends, I was still left with at least a box full of stuff.
Doing this will save you heaps of money altogether, and you won’t end up with so many things you don’t need.
15. Stay in Hostels
Ahh, the hostel, where you will find budget travelers from all over the world.
Hostels are a must if you are serious about traveling the world in the cheapest way possible,
At the very least, you should stay in one for some parts of your trip.
Hostels are great for meeting people. Plus, you will save quite a bit as room-sharing with other travelers is their platform.
Yes, it is almost like sharing a dormitory room in college. Except for this time, you’re surrounded by other travelers, and there are going to be at least 4 of you in a room.
To be honest, hostel was a foreign word to me. That is until I started my gap year in Australia and began my long-term world travels.
But, there is a reason they exist. Try them out at least once in your lifetime. You never know, you may end up liking it.
16. Avoid Hotels at All Cost
There are many perks to staying in hotels. Amenities include things such as fancy buffets, room service, and quality customer care.
But, if you are looking to save money, cutting hotels out of your vocabulary should be your #1 priority.
Hotels are way too expensive no matter which part of the world you go to.
Plus, there’s about a 90% chance that you won’t have a kitchen where you can cook your meals. As you should know, this is a big part of cost-cutting when traveling.
17. Get International Free Fee Cards
International debit and credit cards do exist without foreign transaction fees.
If you are wondering where such a unicorn might exist, look at Capital One cards. I am personally very fond of their card choices.
I love that all of their cards, including their debit cards, offer a foreign free transaction fee.
What does this mean? It means that you won’t have to pay the 3% fee that all banks charge their customers. The best part is that most of their cards don’t have any annual fees either.
As a traveler, this is a win-win for you. Especially since you will accumulate points on purchases both at home and abroad.
I have the Capital One Venture One for those of you who are curious about their credit card.
Plus, I also signed up for their checking account. They gave me a debit card I can use on ATMs abroad without worrying about any extra fees that may pop up.
PS. Please note that Capital One is only offered for US residents only.
18. Open Line Your Phone and Get a Local Sim Card
I used to think that the only way to get data and minutes abroad was through my phone provider at home. Unfortunately, this way of thinking has cost me a lot in the long-run.
One of the most expensive ways to keep your phone active is by taking your provider’s roaming plan. This is especially true if you plan to stay in a specific country for a while.
Your best bet is to open your phone line and get a local prepaid sim card when you get to your destination. The caveat is that your phone will have to be fully paid for; otherwise, you won’t be able to do it.
If you need help, contact either your service provider or the phone manufacturer.
For my iPhone, I went to the Apple store. They were able to open my phone line within a few minutes.
19. Skip the Expensive Drinks and Bottled Waters
Skip any drinks that are unnecessary, especially bottled waters. The little $2 bottles that you pick up at the store every time will add up in the long-term.
You should also skip buying alcoholic or fancy drinks at the restaurant. The profit margins for drinks in a restaurant is outrageous. If you must drink, pick some up at the local store. But, do try to limit these as well.
Otherwise, you will exceed your budget just on drinks alone.
20. Get a Bus Pass or Train Card
If you are looking to stay for a few weeks to a few months in a different country, I suggest getting a bus pass or train card.
Public transportation, other than walking, is the cheapest way to get around a new city.
Please note that I am suggesting that you should purchase a prepaid card or monthly pass. Paying for public transportation with cash every time tends to be more expensive.
You will see that this is a necessary step to save on long-term costs. Think of it this way, a dollar or two extra per bus ride, can add up to about $50-$60 at the end of the month.
21. Try Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing is quite a unique platform. If you go on their website, you can sign up and find homeowners that will let you stay on their couch for free.
The whole idea is being able to exchange cultures and stories. All the while being able to help backpackers out, on a budget, who need a place to stay during a specific time.
Couchsurfing is one of the best ways to save money on your travels.
But, please do exercise caution before staying at someone else’s house. As a solo female traveler, this isn’t one of my top options. To reassure you, I have met people who have both couch-surfed and hosted people from all over the world.
As long as you do your research, you should be good to go.
22. Try Housesitting
Housesitting is a popular option among backpackers.
There are a few dedicated websites made to handle these types of bookings. You can apply to either be a house or pet sitter for owners going on vacation themselves.
The only caveat to this is that you will need references or a little bit of experience.
Remember that you will have to get the owners to trust you with their house or fur-babies. But, if you find a gig, housesitting is a great way to travel the world without paying for accommodation.
23. Be Flexible with Your Plans
Try to be flexible with your plans and wait for the right time to travel. Discounts coupled with basic supply and demand is usually a huge factor when it comes to prices.
If you spot a good deal, there’s usually no better time to save. But, you do need to have a little bit of flexibility.
It’s a good idea to check if traveling to a particular destination during a specific time of year could be cheaper.
24. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Extra Layovers
Extra layovers usually cost a lot less than direct flights. More than not, the more stops you have, the cheaper your ticket will become.
Don’t rule this out when you’re deciding on which flight to book. You can easily save a few hundred dollars by going with this option.
25. Split Your Costs, and Travel with a Friend
If you are traveling with someone, you can save quite a bit of money by sharing accommodation costs.
You can opt for an Airbnb to maximize your savings, as you’re paying for the room, not per person.
Even if there’s an extra cost for the second person, it’s usually only for a minimal amount.
26. Use Google or Skyscanner to Find the Cheapest Flight
Personally, I use Google in incognito mode to find the cheapest flights. But, I have known digital nomads and backpackers who swear by Skyscanner to check for prices.
It doesn’t hurt to use either one, and you could also double-check prices on both platforms.
Using incognito mode helps out a lot (at the very least, it can’t hurt). I have seen costs jump from 2x-4x their prices if the airline companies know that someone wants to buy a seat.
You should opt to try and search for different dates so that you can compare prices. It’s also helpful to do this so that the algorithm won’t know exactly when you’re planning to travel.
I have also noticed flights going up for only the days you search for when it’s done repeatedly.
Book Your Travel Today
There you go, the 25 ultimate tips on the cheapest ways to travel the world.
If you still have any questions about budget travels, feel free to comment or sign up for the email list below.
If you are still contemplating whether you should book that flight or take the trip, I say do it!
These money-saving travel tips should help you better plan and budget your trip.
I promise you, there’s not much stopping you from traveling the world. You can do this! So yes, take all the tips in here and find the time to implement it in your life.
You will be glad that you did it!
As always, thank you for being a reader of LiveLifeOTBP.