A Fashion & Lifestyle blog by Tobi.com, featuring fashion inspiration, beauty tips & tricks, travel guides, delicious recipes, fitness & health routines and more!
Written by Jessica Moore
We’re always daydreaming of ways to cure our perpetual wanderlust. White sands in the tropics, ancient cobblestone streets; wherever your heart leads you, suddenly you’ll find yourself immersed in sounds and smells you’ve never felt before, and everything is beautiful.
Unfortunately, the costs of travel can get pretty rough. We have our fave countries on our bucket list, but it can definitely be overwhelming when you think about how much it costs to get there, how much you’re going to have to spend there, how much food costs, how much, how much…it can be a headache, we know.
But that shouldn’t stop you from seeing the world and experiencing a worldly vacation! Be a minimalist tourist! Travelling can be full of crazy adventure without having to spend an arm and a leg doing it. There are all types of ways, big and small, to save money to do more. Budget travel your way through seeing the world and at the end of your trip, you’ll find that you’re rich with experiences and memories that will stay with you forever.
Here are some tips and tricks to save your money and save yourself from stress–because when you’re on vacay, who has time for that?
Do extensive research on the area you’ll be visiting with budget travel destinations and options in mind (Pinterest is a great place to research and organize your travel plans!). For example, you can search for delicious street food found at your destination, and look forward to eating like the locals do without having to spend so much money at higher-end restaurants (and who says four star restaurants are more delicious than that woman servin’ up tacos on the street? No one. Ever.). Search for ways to save money in each city: what are cheapest, good-quality markets in town? Are there free events during the month we’re visiting? Are there great hikes? What about famous bookstores to hang out in? The internet has everything nowadays, so use it and ask it anything!
Trust us…this is KEY. If you have a bunch of travel destinations you can’t decide on, this may be the tie breaker you need. Xe is a reliable source for current currency rates.
You’ll save so much money travelling off season. Plane, bus, and train tickets are significantly cheaper, accommodations are more affordable, and plus, you’ll get to experience all the sights without the annoying crowds peak season attracts.
Solidify how much you want to spend on your trip, and stick to it.
There are some beautiful, generous humans in this world who routinely open their homes for passing travelers in exchange for a taught skill or work. Ever heard of Couchsurfing or WWOOFing? A common mistake budget travelers make is waiting ‘til the very last minute to plan accordingly with your potential host. Couchsurfing works best when you put in the work months before to develop your online profiles and talk to the people who seem kind and interesting. Hey, it’s a process, but it’s also free, so make sure you’re on top of it.
Mentally prepare yourself to spend less money on material things, and more on experiences. ‘Souvenir’ in French means ‘memory.’ Keep that in mind throughout your travels: instead of racking up souvenirs to take home with you and to your pals, stay present and in the moment. Take more pictures, meet more people, journal & collect foreign newspaper and magazine clippings…let the people you meet and the memories you share be your vacation souvenirs. As for your friends back home, send them a postcard. Handwritten anything is trés chic, and is pretty much the antiquated form of “pics or it didn’t happen,” right?
Airfare Watch Dog and Scott’s Cheap Flights can alert you when a flight you want is at a price you can afford. You can sign up for a subscription to airlines and destinations all over the world, and these sites will send email alerts based on your choices. Scott’s Cheap Flights (international flights only) is free, but you can pay a small fee to get more targeted alerts for departure airports (do it, it’ll feel great to support this awesome dude hooking it up with the best flights).
Don’t check in a bag! Checked bags can be SO EXPENSIVE, especially if you’re planning to do more travelling within the country via bus or train. Pack a 60ml backpack or less, which is perfect for budget traveling. Our backpacking essentials article has everything you need to effectively pack and condense all your stuff for any trip. Pack lighter than your concept of light, and you’ll be so grateful for how free you’ll feel.
Hostelworld is the world’s “largest online hostel-booking platform” with thousands of reviews for hostels everywhere. Hostels are more affordable than hotels and Airbnbs. They’re also fantastic places to meet fellow travelers to swap stories and find out the best deals in the city, because everyone in a hostel can relate to budget travelling. All in it together.
It’s hard to believe that trains, especially in countries in Europe, can be so pricey, even more expensive than flights! Skip the choo choo and go with the air-conditioned buses instead. We’re talkin’ ‘bout buses that have WiFi (can we get a ‘YAAS pleeease!!?”), bathrooms, and ample (and we mean AMPLE) legroom. Depending on what bus service you use, they’re surprisingly comfortable, and you get to see more of the country from a different perspective. If you’re off to Europe, for instance, Flixbus goes almost everywhere in Europe and runs from just 5 euros a pop. GoEuro is a great comparative place for all bus, train, and plane travel, so you can easily compare the cheapest route anywhere in Europe. Redbus in India helps you book your bus throughout the country! Remember, there are apps for that, so do your research!
Free walking tours are offered in the most popular city destinations. They’re not technically “free” because you should definitely tip your tour guide for their awesome knowledge, but it’s such an inexpensive way to learn the ropes around the city. They usually last 1-2 hours, and it’s a great opportunity to get the feel of the city and ask your guide for every recommendation you’re looking for (they definitely know the ins and outs of a city, so get to know these magical beings, please!).
Be around locals. Bring some food. People watch. Find a hiking path. Feel connected to the place you’re in.
Are museums on your to-see list, but can’t bear to think of how much money you’ll spend for admission? Most popular (western) museums have free museum days, or in the very least, free museum hours, and in some places in Europe (like Paris), if you’re younger than 26, you’re already free to enter! Same thing goes for places of worship: most are free to enter, and are great places to (respectfully) marvel at incredible art and historical architecture.
Go visit an open air market and cook for yourself using local ingredients, which will FOR SURE taste differently than the stuff you get at home (come on, strawberries in France? They’re practically candy!). Meet some farmers, shake some hands, take in the hustle and bustle, and cook a delicious meal straight from the land you’re visiting. It’s almost poetic.
Grab a baguette and a block of cheese. Picnic. There’s your lunch. It’s as simple as that. Try to avoid tourist traps that lure you in for a three course meal and instead have an experience at a foreign market! Think of all the crazy, magnificent foods you can try (roasted chicken chips, anyone?).
Ok, so maybe a couple glasses of prosecco sound absolutely diiiiiivine at a restaurant, but let’s be honest–drinks can get expensive, and not just in America, and one of the most awful things that can happen is blowing your budget on liquor at a bar. Instead, buy some wine and beer from a market (which should be significantly cheaper than American prices), and depending on what sort of laws are in place wherever you are, find a scenic place to people-watch, crack one open, and take it all in.
Depending where you’re headin’, clean water can be an issue for a lot of travelers. Buy a gallon of sealed water from the market, and keep refilling your portable bottle just to be on the safe side.
Think simply, act simply, explore with gusto.