When people ask me how I afford to travel, the answer is actually quite simple. It’s important to me. But I’ve also learned how to travel on a budget and I want to share with you just how I do that.
Here are my tips and tricks on how to travel on a budget. Hopefully, you’ll find some of them are useful to you!
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1. Use Public Transportation
I am obsessed with public transportation and I love riding the subway. Especially in foreign countries. I don’t know why, but I look at it as a challenge. Something new to figure out and master. I almost always use public transportation when traveling, unless it doesn’t make sense to, like during our Iceland Road Trip. When we took our family trip to Switzerland, we exclusively used public transportation (trains and buses) and it was fantastic. The subway is so cheap, even in cities like Paris and NYC, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of it.
2. Avoid Staying in Hotels (if possible)
My husband and I really love Airbnb and opt to stay in an Airbnb quite a lot. I know a lot of people have their opinions about Airbnb, but we like them and have never had any issues with Airbnb or the hosts we have encountered. Another great option for some people are hostels. I have never stayed in a hostel, but I have heard there are some pretty amazing ones out there, especially in Europe, and they are really well priced.
If we are traveling somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of Airbnb options, I look into locally-owned hotels because they are usually cheaper than a bigger named hotel. Even though I don’t stay at big named hotels all the time, I still recommend joining a loyalty program for one. I am a loyalty member of Marriott (I also have a Marriott credit card) and have earned quite a few free nights over the years.
3. Make Use of the Kitchen in your Airbnb
This goes along with the tip above. Odds are the Airbnb you stay in will have a fully-functional kitchen. Having access to a kitchen will be invaluable in your efforts to save money. You will be able to stop by a market and pick up groceries and cook instead of dining out for each meal.
4. Visit Museums, Exhibits, etc. on Free Days
This tip will be most useful in larger cities like Paris, London, etc., but a lot of really popular museums and exhibits are free on certain days of the month. If your trip falls in line with one of those days, definitely take advantage of it and save yourself some money. For example, in Paris, The Louvre is free on the first Saturday of every month and Musee d’Orsay is free on the first Sunday of every month.
5. Travel in the Off-Season
Every country has on off-season. While it may not be the most ideal time to visit or even when you want to visit, it will be substantially cheaper than traveling during peak season. If you don’t want to travel during off-season, shoulder season is another great option. Although it won’t be as cheap as off-season, the prices won’t be nearly as high as peak season. The weather will also be a little better than during off-season.
The tips below aren’t necessarily tips for how to travel on a budget, but they are tips on saving money so you can afford to travel. In my eyes, they go hand in hand.
Stop any Frivolous Spending
This may sound like a silly suggestion, but you would be surprised how fast a $3.00 latte from Starbucks every day adds up. Think about it, buying a cup of coffee five days a week can cost you upwards of $800.00 a year. To put it in perspective, my roundtrip plane ticket to Paris cost less than that. Now, I am not saying you shouldn’t drink coffee, but buy it from the grocery store and make it at home. Instead of spending money on frivolous things, put the money you were going to spend in a savings account set up just for funding your travels.
Open a Travel Savings Account
Now that you have some money saved from stopping your daily Starbucks habit (because I suggested that above and you listened, right?), go open a savings account dedicated to nothing but traveling.
Go over your budget and determine a dollar amount that is suitable for you to set back each pay period and then on the days you get paid, transfer your pre-determined dollar amount to your travel account. And remember, no amount is too small.
Utilize Travel Reward Credit Cards
I think this is the best way to rack up airline miles/hotel points. I personally have the Citi AAdvantage credit card and my husband has the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red credit card. There are tons of airline reward cards out there. I use my Advantage card like a debit card so I earn a ton of miles every month. Because of this, we’ve been able to use airline miles to cover flights for several of our trips.
Now, I know some of you are probably thinking, ‘but I don’t want a credit card’, and that is totally fine. Having a credit card is a huge responsibility and I completely understand why a lot of people avoid them. If you don’t want to take the plunge and sign up for a travel reward credit card, I would suggest flying exclusively with one airline and signing up for their frequent flyer program. These programs are free and you will earn miles when you fly with them. I did this with American Airlines before I got my AAdvantage credit card. I even wrote a blog post dedicated to the best travel rewards cards.
Did you find my tips and tricks for how to travel on a budget useful? What are some of your tips for traveling on a budget? I would love to hear them, so leave me a comment!
**The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only and is based on my personal opinion. Always remember to read all fine print before you sign up for any credit card.
How To Travel on a Budget