Do you remember back in the day when it would cost thousands of dollars just to fly to Europe? Such is not the case anymore! In addition to learning how to find super great deals on flights ($300 flight to London anyone?), Jacob and I have learned the true secrets to travel on a budget.
If you are one who has thought that traveling the world was impossible, I am here to change your mind. With these tips, anyone can make their traveling dreams happen!
1. Fly with the budget airlines.
This is my favorite tip to travel on a budget as it always comes as a huge surprise to people (no one knows you can fly abroad for $300!). Instead of taking the mainstream airlines like Delta or United, opt for the budget airline companies instead.
Some of our favorite budget airlines are Norwegian Airlines and Wow Airlines. You can get some seriously amazing deals on flights through Norwegian and Wow, especially during the off-season. Plus, if you want to save even more money with these flights you can opt out of the extra options such as in-flight meals and reserved seats.
2. Fly out of a main airport.
To go along with our favorite budget airlines, we also like to fly out of main airports to save a good chunk of change. Main airports like LAX are always going to be cheaper to fly from.
Most of our flights abroad are out of LAX, even though we live pretty close to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. In my opinion, it’s worth it to take the six hour drive to Los Angeles (or short flight out of Las Vegas) to save hundreds of dollars on flights.
3. Pack your own snacks.
If you aren’t careful, food can get pretty expensive when you are traveling. This is why we always like to bring along our own snacks with us. Granola bars, jerky, dried fruit, crackers, fruit leather, etc. Healthy snacks that aren’t loaded with sugar can come in really handy when you need a quick pick me up or an easy breakfast.
4. Don’t be afraid to do a lot of walking.
If a city doesn’t offer good public transportation (metro, bus, trains, etc.), then we usually just put our feet to work. As long as you have a good pair of walking shoes, walking around the city can save you a lot of money (those $20 taxi rides can add up after a while). Plus, walking is always a good excuse for getting some exercise in!
5. Bring along a water bottle.
While a dollar or two for a water bottle may not sound like much, if you are paying for a water bottle everyday of your trip it can get pricey especially when you are trying to travel on a budget. This is why I always bring a nice metal water bottle with me when I travel. I take my bottle empty through security and then fill it up once I get to my gate. A water bottle is also great to have on the budget flights who don’t provide complimentary drinks.
6. Don’t withdraw too much money.
When you take out cash during your trip, never take out more or less than you think you will need. Jake and I usually estimate how much we will be spending for transport, food, souvenirs, attractions, etc. beforehand so that we don’t take out too much or too little. Those pesky foreign transaction and ATM fees can add up fast, so be mindful of this when making cash transactions.
If you do find yourself with extra cash at the end of your trip, don’t even bother converting it back to your home country’s currency. Every time you convert money over to another currency, it loses its value. We learned this the hard way when we traveled to Thailand and lost almost $40 converting the Thai money back to USD. Ouch! Instead, spend any extra cash on souvenirs or food, which is certainly a better way to get the most out of your money.
7. Sleep in the airport.
This certainly isn’t a glamorous option, but it’s so worth it if you don’t have much time to enjoy a full night at a hotel. When we traveled to Italy a few years ago, we had a layover in Stockholm. We arrived to the airport around 12 AM in and our flight left at 7 AM the next morning. Instead of bothering with a hotel that night, we decided it would be much easier to just sleep in the airport. While it was exhausting, we saved a lot of money on a hotel and taxi.
8. Don’t pay extra for international phone service.
International phone plans can get so expensive if your phone company charges extra for them. This is when taking advantage of local hotspots is a great idea. We have traveled to many countries who have had great wi-fi hotspots. McDonalds is always a good option if you need the chance to check your emails or post travel photos to your Instagram. Airports and hotels usually have great wi-fi as well, so it’s usually pretty easy to find a place to access the internet in most countries.
9. Don’t take taxis if you don’t have to.
Taxis are one form of transport that can get really expensive if you aren’t careful. Depending on where you travel though, there might not be many other options to get around the city. Just make sure you are aware of the taxi fare before you take a trip or else you could be in for a surprise.
10. Park in the economy parking lot.
While covered parking in a parking garage may sound great, economy parking is a fantastic way to save some money. We’re talking a difference between $10 a day for economy and as much as $15-30+ for covered parking. This is why we always park in the economy parking lot.
11. Always take a carry-on.
Who hates paying for a checked bag and then waiting at the baggage carousel for an hour after a long flight? I know I do, which is why I always travel with my trusty backpack instead. If you are up to carrying a few pounds on your back, taking a backpack as your carry-on bag makes flying cheaper and easier.
12. Travel during the off-season.
Not only are flights and hotels cheaper during the off-season, but the crowds will be better as well. What’s not to like about that?! Jake and I have traveled to Italy in both February and May and the price difference on flights and hotels between the two times of year was crazy! Not to mention the difference in crowd size… Just keep in mind, the off-season does vary depending on the country you visit.
13. Never eat at restaurants by the popular attractions.
As a foodie who is always scoping out the best local foods to eat when we travel, this is naturally one of my favorite tips. When Jake and I first started traveling to Europe, we would eat at the restaurants that were located by the main attractions (i.e. eating crepes at a café by the Eiffel Tower), just as any other tourist would.
As I gained more experience as a foodie I came to realize that these “popular” restaurants were always over-priced and the food was usually pretty mediocre. Now whenever we travel, we look for restaurants that are off the beaten path, the ones that only the locals know about. These are the restaurants that you can never go wrong with as they always serve delicious, high-quality food where you’ll get the best value for your money.
These are just a few of the ways that we have been able to save money when traveling. What are your favorite ways to travel on a budget?
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