We’ve all had that moment when we are sitting at our desk, dreaming of a far distant land with crystal clear waters, exotic birds, and deliciously fresh foods to sample. The one thing that holds most of us back? Our fear of running out of money and our misconception that you need a bank balance with quadruple figures.
We’re here to change that idea, and show you ways that you can travel on a budget and enjoy a whole world of free activities. Let’s dive in!
Save on travel
There is no denying that the actual travel part of traveling is the most expensive. Want to fly across the world for next to nothing? Don’t panic because there are plenty of ways to save on your travel costs.
1. Travel light
By packing just one hand luggage sized bag you’ll be surprised at how much you can save. The cheap airlines will always charge a large sum for checking in luggage. However, if you’re traveling with just hand luggage then you can avoid this cost altogether.
Just remember that having a sturdy bag will save you a fortune in the long run, so make sure that you purchase the right bag for you.
2. Flight search on Tuesdays
You may, or may not know that generally, airlines upload their tickets on a Tuesday. This means that they are automatically in a bidding war with other companies to sell the most tickets.
Not only can you grab a great deal, but also sometimes, if you’re really lucky, you can find a mistake fare. A mistake fare, or error fare, is when an airline price glitches and massively reduced flight tickets are uploaded.
The easiest way to stay up to date with mistake fares is to simply follow the pros; the people whose job it is to scour the internet and find the mistakes for you. Secret Flying is one of the most popular sites to check.
3. Search further afield
An easy way to save the cash on your travel expenses is to have flexibility. If you can travel either side of your chosen date, don’t mind layovers or even flying from a location slightly further away then you can easily save money.
A great tool to use is Ita Matrix which allows you to search multiple exit airports to find the best deal.
4. Think local
There are millions and millions of companies worldwide that offer tourist-friendly travel. Expect large comfy seats, air conditioning and maybe even WiFi. These are great if you have the extra cash to splash out on comfort.
But the cheapest – and in our opinion, the most fun – way to travel is with the locals.
For example, in Mexico, you can purchase an ADO bus ticket which is targeted to tourists and has all of the aforementioned qualities.
Or, you could take a local Collectivo which is half the price and is a tight squeeze in a small, van with no air conditioning. It’s a sure-fire way to meet local people and maybe even make some friends.
Save on accommodation
This depends on what you are willing to compromise on or not. Want to have a beach front property with five rooms and a hot tub, that will be difficult to save on. But, if you’re willing to compromise on a smaller property a few rows from the beachfront and with a small swimming pool, you might be in luck.
1. Join accommodation booking sites
Instead of booking as a website guest, join the websites with a profile and a whole host of special deals will open up to you.! These may even be 50% off sales and insider discounts and promotions.
You’ll be surprised at how much you can save. You’ll also receive discount codes for friends and family which, when used, will also give you credits.
An extra tip is to swap discounts with fellow travelers so you can each save.
2. Volunteer for work-stay trade
There are thousands of opportunities worldwide for volunteering at hostels to wwoofing (Working Weekends On Organic Farms), and even spending time on cruise ships.
Generally, you will spend four or five hours a day volunteering in return for free accommodation and sometimes a meal or two are included.
Depending on what type of experience you are looking for, there are a number of specific websites to use. One of the best, for an overall view of many different types of opportunities, is Workaway.
3. Book a vacation rental with a kitchen
Other than the actual travel element, did you know that the second most expensive cost for travelers is food? It’s not surprising really, add together breakfast, lunch and dinner and you’ll soon see your cash fall into your belly.
One way around this is to book a rental that has a good kitchen included. At the very least, a kitchenette with a fridge, oven, microwave and kettle will save you a fortune. Check on sites such as Airbnb and VRBO for vacation rentals.
4. Look after someone’s house
Okay, so we’ve all heard of Couchsurfing, which is fine for a few nights. But, if you are hoping for a bit more comfort then look toward staying in someone’s home.
From mountain-side chalets in the Canadian Rockies to rustic cottages in French Polynesia there is a plethora of choice. Housesitting takes some time to organize, so this is not a quick turnaround. Opportunities range from just a few days to longterm positions.
One of the most trusted sites is Trusted Housesitters
Save with free activities
We all love ‘free-fun’ – so much so that one of the biggest global activity websites, Time Out has a whole section dedicated to it! Here are some of my favorite ideas:
1. Visit local parks and beaches
Whether you are staying near the beach or in a city you are sure to be near to a park or beach. On a sunny day, pack a picnic and relax outside.
Public spaces are a fantastic way to spend the day people watching, as well.
2. Bushwalking and trekking
Search on google maps and you’re bound to find some nearby walking paths. Be sure to pack all the items that you need to be safe during your hike.
It’s a fantastic way to learn more about the local environment!
Before you head to your destination research local points of interest and download them on an offline map app so that you can get there, with or without WiFi.
For most places, you may need to pay an entrance fee but if you wish to enjoy the architecture this can still be marveled at from the outside.
4. Free museums and art galleries
There are many museums and galleries that offer free admission with a donation box near the entrance or exit. Technically, you don’t have to pay, although it is normally very welcome to help with the maintenance of the collection.
Some special exhibitions may charge for a ticket, separate from the main collection.
5. Visit temples
Finding out about the local culture is an ideal way to acclimatize to your surroundings. A lot of larger temples, with many tourists, will charge an entrance fee – but chat to the locals and you’ll soon hear about smaller sites that don’t charge.
Not only will you only get a more intimate experience, but it will also be for free, or on a donation basis.
6. Play Geocaching
Not heard about Geocaching yet? Millions of users worldwide are playing this treasure-hunt online game. This outdoor recreational activity is free to play and is a great way to explore the local area.
Sign up and you’ll see an online map which points you to a small box or other items. The aim of the game is to find the item, from the GPS points and hints given, and log it online.
Not only will you be lead to points of interest but you’ll also be provided with interesting facts or history so you’ll also learn more too.
Don’t let frugal living stop you from traveling
So many of us are scared to travel or are held back, by the fear that money will run out. The truth of the matter is, that it will.
(Unless you work remotely that is. But that’s another article entirely.)
So, save yourself the stress, follow our top tips to frugal travel and you’ll be surprised just how far you can go with the budget that you have. Grab a map, let go of your fears and embrace the experience. We wish you good luck, intrepid traveler!
About the author, Liam Gibson
“I’m an Industrial Designer by trade, but also a part-time stay at home dad. I’m a really active person and love getting outdoors to explore and staying fit.
I blog at The Ultimate Backpack blog, where I write about the design elements of backpacks and also help people to find the right backpack for their needs.
The goal is to provide people with all of the information that I have wanted to know when searching for a backpack.”