To travel cheap doesn’t mean that you deprive yourself of doing what you want, but the key is knowing how to buy, where to make reservations, and knowing the tricks to pay the cheapest price. In this post, I want to share with you my tips and tricks for cheap travel to any destination.

Tricks to travel cheap

A large part of our budget will go to transport and accommodation, but the reality is that a large part of the money also goes to “mini-expenses”, those that go unnoticed, which we think do not add up and at the end of the trip they almost equal other super-expenses.

“Small” expenses: a coffee here, a few beers there, a snack, a souvenir, bottles of water, access to bathrooms (where you have to pay for their use), bank commissions payable abroad or exchange of currency, etc.

Here I will break down each expense to offer you tips for cheap travel that you can apply to your needs.

travel on a budget

How to buy cheap flights

We already know that one of the most important expenses in a trip is usually the flight. Although in a post-pandemic world some flights have become cheaper, the truth is that this will not last. The airlines want to recover their losses and everything will once again be left to the free market of supply and demand.

One of the first tricks to finding a cheap flight is to “be flexible in terms of flight dates” and, above all, avoid peak seasons. However, this is very easy for those who have freedom in their work, but not for the vast majority. So what can you do? The trick that many people use is the use of “VPN”.

Why is it useful to buy a cheap flight? Because when the airlines set a price for an air ticket, that rate is directly linked to the country from where you buy it and to your socioeconomic profile (which they know from cookies, from your IP, etc.).

How to use VPN to buy cheap flights? The first thing you should do is perform a normal search from your computer. Once you find the air tickets you wanted, write down the prices. Then connect to your VPN and connect to a server in a different country than yours, the one that is less economical than your country. Another option is to connect to a server in the country you want to travel to.

Once connected to the server of the chosen country, open an incognito window in a different browser and search for the same flights. You will see the prices change. Write down these prices too. You can repeat these steps changing countries over and over again until you find the cheapest rates. My recommendation is that you always buy your ticket in the local currency and do it using a debit or credit card that does not charge commissions and has good currency exchange rates.

Save on transport

In addition to flights, domestic transport in a country can also entail a large part of the total cost of the trip, for this reason it is necessary to choose the means of transport wisely and make the most of it.

  • Always compare the prices and the different means of transport! Many times, when we go looking for a transfer within a country, we assume that the train is cheaper than the flight, but it is not always the case.
  • If you have to make a long journey by road (more than 7 hours), try to choose the means of transport that offers a bed, so you save a night’s accommodation.
  • Whenever you can try to opt for public transport rather than private services (such as taxis or tourist vans) and you will save a lot of money.
  • If you have to take a taxi or other private transport, try to share it with other travelers. At the airport or train or bus station, there will be many travelers who go to the same area as you.
  • Try to travel with a small and light backpack or suitcase. Today many airlines charge a “plus” for dispatching a bag.

Save on accommodation

Another of the big outlays of money is usually accommodation. Being able to cut this expense will make a big difference at the end of the trip. Even for long trips, it will also mean being able to extend your stay by several days or weeks.

  • Do a broad search, which will show you prices for both hotels and hostels as well as tourist apartments or rural houses. Then you can filter according to your needs: price, location, free cancellation, etc. You can use the VPN trick that I told you about for cheap flights.
  • If your original idea was to travel low-cost, then choose to stay in hostels or guest houses instead of hotels. In addition, most of these accommodations have a common kitchen where you can cook and thus save on food.
  • Choose the hotel rate without breakfast, since they usually charge disproportionate prices for this meal. Better to have breakfast in a nearby bar, surely for half the price that the hotel charges you.
  • To save on accommodation, you can also choose to sleep on the “sofa” of a local or even act as a “house sitter”.

Save on food

Eating cheap doesn’t mean eating poorly. On a trip, especially if it is a long trip (more than 1 week for example), the small savings you make on each meal will add up to a lot of money at the end of the trip.

  • In many countries it is very common to eat in “street stalls”, so try it. The food from street stalls is usually delicious. My recommendation is that you always opt for the street stall where you see what the locals eat, so you can guarantee that it will be good and fresh.
  • Try not to eat in restaurants located in tourist centers or near the main tourist attractions. Sometimes moving 5 or 6 streets away will be enough for the price to drop considerably.
  • Use a local app to search for restaurants and compare the prices.
  • Before ordering an alcoholic drink, always ask about the price.
  • Cooking your own food can save you a lot of money. Maybe not always, but some days you can have a picnic and eat in a square or in a park. Good pretty and cheap.
  • If you want to save a little more, large supermarkets usually lower the prices of many of their products at the end of the day, especially fresh products or bread.
  • If breakfast is already included in the price of the hotel (and you accepted it because it was very cheap), take the opportunity to make yourself a sandwich for lunch or for a mid-morning snack. You can also grab a piece of fruit and some cookies.

Souvenirs

If you want to buy some souvenirs, avoid buying them in touristy areas (airports, train and bus stations, in shops facing tourist emblems such as the Eiffel Tower or the Roman Colosseum).

Whenever you can, try to buy them at a local artisan market, so you make sure that the money stays in the community you visit and you get something really original and authentic.

Currency exchange

To change currency you must first look at the official exchange rate of the day and then find out in exchange houses and banks to see who offers you the best exchange rate.

Whenever you can, avoid the exchange houses at the airports that charge a very high fee. Another option is to change before traveling at your bank or at an official and trusted exchange house.

Internet

Before you travel, find out if you can use the phone without roaming charges (for example, within the EU you can use your phone with data and you will not be charged for it).

In case there is romaning, I advise you NOT TO USE IT. It is preferable to connect to the internet only in those places with free Wi-Fi access (the hotel, a restaurant where you eat, free internet points, etc.) or buy a local SIM.

When I arrive at a new destination, I buy a local sim with a good data package to be able to access the internet on my mobile without depending on the wifi of hotels or restaurants. Find out the prices of the companies, compare services, and choose the one that best suits your needs.

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