We all want to travel, but traveling comes at a certain price. Many people hesitate about traveling just by thinking of the costs that will dawn on them.
Travel does not have to be expensive. With careful planning and proper budgeting, you can travel with little money. Taking advantage of cheap flights, accommodations, tours, and facilities will turn your travel dreams into a reality.
You should be able to travel without breaking the bank. There are plenty of ways you can travel with little money. All you have to do is be courageous, patient, and creative. Now that you’ve decided you are not going to wait until you are older and richer to travel, we will share with you several strategies how to travel with little money.
We will be sharing both strategies on how to travel with little money and how to travel for free. These are 2 different things but both will let you travel with little money. Below is the outline of this article:
Travel with little money versus travel for free
Planning your travel
1. Choosing your destination
2. Booking your flight
3. Booking accommodations
4. Book package deals
1. Set a daily budget
2. Save on your meals and drinks
3. Look for free things to do
4. Look for cheap activities
5. Look for cheap transportation
6. Find a way to earn money traveling
Travel with little money versus travel for free
Traveling with little money involves careful budgeting and finding ways to lower your travel expenses by reducing costs in every aspect possible. This involves choosing cheaper and more basic amenities rather than splurging on them so that you stay within your budget. Traveling with little money makes use of applications, promos, and rewards points to get discounted flights, accommodations, and activities.
Traveling for free on the other hand means paying no extra cost for your travel. Everything is free – accommodation, transportation, and other expenses. Comfort and convenience may be sacrificed in exchanged for zero cost travel.
While it is difficult to travel entirely for free, in this article we will give you tips on how to possibly reduce other costs so you can still travel with little money.
Planning your travel
1. Choosing your destination
First off on your checklist is your destination. The cost of your travel greatly depends on where you are traveling to. You might have friends or family living in other countries, planning to visit them would definitely save you a lot of money – you will most likely be treated to free accommodation and even free food.
Visa free destinations
Applying for a visa can easily cost you a few dollars. Depending on the issuing country of your passport, there are hundreds of countries you can travel to visa-free. You will eliminate the added cost of applying for a visa. To know more about the countries you can visit visa-free, and compare with other passports, check out the Henley Passport Index. Here is a quick overview of how many visa-free countries passport holders of a country can visit as of 2019:
- Japan, South Korea and Singapore – 189 countries
- France – 187 countries
- Spain – 186 countries
- United Kingdom – 185 countries
- United States of America – 184 countries
- Australia – 181 countries
Choosing your destination will affect your budget – from flights to your accommodations to your activities. Plan to spend your vacation in cheaper destinations. Do your research before booking a flight. Check out the average cost per day for a specific country or city so that you can make wise choices for your destination. European countries tend to be more costly compared to Asian countries. Here’s a list of some famous, but cheap travel destinations:
- South Africa
You can easily travel with little money when hitting these destinations. Food is cheap, so are the accommodations. There are a lot of activities you can do for free and places to explore with no additional cost.
Try the Schengen Visa
If you are looking to travel and tour across Europe, the Schengen Visa is perfect for you. It is not free, but is much cheaper than applying for separate visas for each European country you visit.
A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to countries in the Schengen Area, for tourism or business purposes. These include: France, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland, and 20 other more European countries.
The Schengen visa is only meant for a maximum of 90 days stay at a certain country, so travelers have ample time to explore the continent.
2. Booking your flights
Now that you know where you are headed, it is time to buy that flight ticket. Buying one is a huge expense and without that ticket, you will obviously not be able to travel. Worry no more, because there are ways you can skimp on your flight so that you can spend what you have saved from booking your flight.
Use your credit card to acquire free plane tickets
If you own one, maximize your credit card and take advantage of your card’s perks. Many credit card companies treat you to free airline tickets in exchange for purchasing items or paying using their card.
- Use your card whenever and wherever you can – paying groceries, filling up gas, even when dining outside.
- The more you use your card, the more reward points you earn, until you accumulate enough to purchase an airline ticket.
- Choose a card with no or minimal annual fees and no foreign transaction fees. Spend time looking for the most appropriate card for you.
- You will still pay some fees and taxes but these will be minimal compared to the cost of purchasing your flight regularly
It may take a long while before you earn enough reward points to score a free airline ticket, but there is no harm in starting early. Before you know it, you have spent enough on your necessities to earn you a free airline ticket.
Research to find the lowest airfare offers
You can save a lot of money on airfare by choosing the cheapest ones. It does not matter whether you travel premium or economy, or whichever airline you choose, what is important is that at the end of the day, you arrive safely at your destination. Try purchasing flights from budget airlines. They will not have the same inclusions as a premium airline, but you will still get to your destination anyway.
- Skyscanner is a useful application when searching for the lowest airfare. It automatically detects cheapest fares to selected destination for your city of origin. Not only that, you can also easily compare flight costs between different airlines. It quickly shows you how much you can save on a ticket by tweaking your departure and return flights a bit.
- Prior to your booking, subscribe to travel websites that regularly post airfare promos so you will be notified when one comes up.
- To make sure you land the lowest possible ticket price, book your tickets using an incognito tab. You will be surprised at how much you can save simply by doing so.
- Subscribing to different airlines newsletter will also guarantee that you will not miss out on upcoming seat sale and promo fares.
Travel during off season months
Another trick when booking your plane ticket is to book off peak season dates. Off season is the time of the year when there is the least amount of tourist activity in a certain destination, which is mostly due to weather conditions or available activities.
- Traveling during off season times allows you to travel with little money because of cheaper flights, accommodation, food and shorter queues.
- Traveling off season can be 3 to 4 times cheaper than traveling during the peak season.
- Do your research on a particular season and check its high and off season months, that way you can try to fit you travel during the off season months.
- Traveling during that times gives you a more authentic feel of the destination because of lesser tourists.
Buy one big plane ticket
If you plan on hopping from one destination to another, then it might be helpful to book just one big instead of buying separate flights to each place.
- If the destinations you plan on are not that far apart, consider traveling by land as you hop from city to city rather than flying. Traveling around Indochina and crossing the borders by bus is a cheap way of exploring different countries that will not hurt your pocket.
- Research about the best combination of point of entry and point of exit in your destination of choice.
- There are several airports in one country which you can mix and match so that you can visit several places at a single trip.
If you are only traveling for days and not months, pack as light as you can. Select carefully your pieces of clothing, footwear and accessories and bring only what you need.
- Get additional space by bringing a backpack as your carry-on luggage instead of a small bag.
- Packing light means you do not have to pay extra crazy fees for overweight luggage.
3. Booking your accommodations
Now that you have saved from purchasing your flight, it’s time to think about your accommodation. Accommodations are another thing you have to spend for when traveling. This can easily take a chunk of your money. When you plan to travel with little money, even the minor things such as accommodation can help you cut costs. You will be surprised at the countless ways you can get cheap accommodation or even for free.
Here are some ways you can cut on accommodation when you travel with little money:
Stay with a friend or family
You might have a friend who lives in a tourist destination or a family member who lives abroad, so you might want to consider paying them a visit.
- Accommodation costs can be cut down by staying with a friend or family – in turn you can have your share of the grocery so as not to be a burden to them.
- Your friends and family will surely be pleased to see you and be with you.
- If that’s not an option, then you have to look into cheaper accommodation alternatives when you travel with little money.
Try house sitting
House sitting is particularly popular in Western countries. There are listings for various places and it is in your luck to land a house sitting job at your planned destination.
- Basically, you stay in someone’s house while they are away and look after it.
- You’ll also do small chores for them such as feeding the pet, watering the plants, or some other things.
- In exchange, you do not need to pay a single cent for your stay and you even get paid.
You can find house sitting gigs all over the internet for free. Some websites may require a membership fee, but it is very minimal compared to what you can save on accommodations plus your potential to earn extra money. These sites requiring a subscription fee are trusted, so you will not get scammed out of it. One of the trusted and reputable sites that we recommend for house sitting jobs is HouseCarers.com. Just simply register as a house sitter and HouseCarers will securely match you with homeowners who are looking for house sitters.
Try out Couch Surfing
The concept of couch surfing is staying at a stranger’s spare room or couch. This is a good way to earn free accommodation while meeting new people and making friends.
When you try couch surfing, you are entering a network of people who love to travel and socialize.
The downside is that some couch surfers have had a bad reputation with some female travelers, but this should not stop you since there are many hosts out there that are nice and decent.
Head on to Couchsurfing.com to connect with locals who can offer you a place. You can check your potential host’s identity and background, and assess his or her reputation based on user reviews.
Skip the hotel
Hotels at travel destinations can impose alarming rates, so why not choose to stay at hostels or dorms instead? These cheaper versions of a hotel will have the basic amenities you need since you are going to spend most of your time exploring the area anyway. As long as you are not particularly choosy of whom you want to share a bedroom and shower with.
- Whether you are traveling alone or in a small group, your cheapest option might be a hostel.
- Hostels also often offer services and amenities such as free breakfast and free Wi-Fi.
- Hostels are readily and widely available worldwide. This type of accommodation is what most solo travelers choose not just to save money, but also to gain new friends and travel buddies.
For budget friendly hostels, we highly recommend booking your accommodation thru Hostelworld. This online booking platform has the world’s largest network of hostels. Hostelworld is an amazing website and app that helps you book a hostel with ease and security. Read more about Hostelworld here.
If hostels and inns do not sound appealing to you, look for budget hotels that will not break your bank. For wide selection of cheap accommodations, Booking.com stands out among other hotel websites. The great thing about Booking.com is they don’t charge you any booking fees or add any administrative charges. You can book now and pay later and Free cancellation – In many cases, your booking can be cancelled free of charge, saving you money if your plan changes. To know more about Booking.com, read more here.
If you are planning to stay long in one place, say more than a week, consider renting out an Airbnb place. Long term rentals in these spaces usually come at a discounted rate. Many hosts are kind enough to guide and tour their guests around the area as well. It gives you the privacy and freedom to cook, wash your clothes, and many others.
If you have a credit card, check your card’s travel rewards programs. They are not limited to rebates and airlines – some hotels and lodging partner up with some credit card companies too.
Bring along with you a compact tent and sleeping bag and you can save tons of money on accommodation alone. You can camp for free on a beach, in the jungle, or vacant lots.
Although this may not be applicable to highly urbanized destinations, you can still give camping a go when you travel elsewhere. Be careful where you pitch a tent, ask permission in the area first.
4. Book package deals
If you are not particular about your travel destination and dates, try searching for travel package deals online. These package deals usually cover for airfare, accommodations and even tours at a much discounted price.
- Travel companies are able to sell these packages at lower rates because they book them in bulk and in advance and take advantage of promotional deals too.
- You can save money on last-minute flight bookings and accommodations by purchasing pre-picked travel packages instead.
- These package deals often come with their own set of itinerary, and if you are not picky then have a go with this one.
- Package deals are not as flexible as booking your own separate things. You do not get to modify seating and baggage arrangements, or go on your own tours, but rest assured you will be able to visit the famous sit while on tour.
1. Set a daily budget
Budgeting your trip is necessary since you want to travel with little money. Estimate how much your trip will cost you in total, and set a daily budget that you need to work around. Your daily budget again, will depend where you are going to travel, and how long you plan on traveling. If you are not a big spender, budgeting your daily expenses while traveling will not be too difficult.
- Always set a daily budget, and it is up to you how little or how much you are willing to spend.
- Spend only for necessities and avoid spending on non-urgent things.
- When you travel with little money, limit what you spend for meals, drinks, and accommodations.
- Balance things out: if you spend in excess for one, cut back on the others.
2. Save on your meals and drinks
Cook your own meals
Cooking your own meals can be much cheaper than dining out. It is good to try local cuisine once in a while, but if are going to travel with little money, you may have to sacrifice food a little.
- Purchase groceries and cook instead of eating out.
- You can also pack your own snacks such as sandwiches for you to eat on the go.
You are not going to compromise your travel because you decided not to eat out. There a lot more other things you can spend money on such as tours, activities, and sightseeing.
Take advantage of local street markets
Wherever your destination is, it is always certain to have a famous local street market. These street markets let you try out the local food for cheap, while still ensuring proper food sanitation.
- Instead of eating frequently at restaurants, visit some local markets where you are sure to find authentic tasting local cuisine and a lot more.
- Local street markets usually occupy one whole block or street, and there are a variety of food to try – from appetizers, rice dishes, snacks, and desserts.
- It is a great and cheap way to immerse with your destination’s cuisine.
Skip the expensive coffee
Do you really need that fancy frappuccino today? If the answer is no, then skip it for today.
- You can easily save a meal’s worth of money by skimping on your coffee consumption.
- If you feel the need for some coffee, try some market bought ones or get your coffee from local coffee shops and convenience stores like 7-eleven, surely they will be cheaper than those from famous coffee chains.
3. Take advantage of free things to do
Go on free walking tours
Many countries have their own version of walking tours. Luckily, some of them can be entirely for free.If you want to explore the place like a local would, getting some ideas from a walking tour would be great. When on walking tours, you learn about the city, know where to head for the best food and drinks, and see the major tourist sights.
The best way to fins such free walking tours is to visit the local tourist office or your accommodation where you can participate in free walking tours.
Even large cities house beautiful museums. If you are a fan of history, visiting museums can both be educational and fun. Simply Google your city for nearby museums and check out which ones are free.
Look for free Wi-fi
Ask around for free Wi-fi connections so you do not get charged crazy for data services. But if you’re looking for cheap pocket Wi-fi rentals, head on to Klook.
Explore on your own
Rather than participating in organized tours that can limit you from exploring the rest of the destination, visit places independently.
- Instead of paying for tours, explore cities and towns on foot and use public transportation when necessary.
- Buy local maps and guidebooks so you don’t get lost. Most hotels and hostels provide these for free
- Utilize your mobile data to search for local tourist spots and sights to see.
- If you stay at hostels or other shared living spots, the host, caretaker, or fellow travelers can often offer valuable insights.
4. Find cheap activities
If you are visiting a famous destination or a large city, research whether they offer tourism discount cards. These cards are like coupons that will offer you discounted and/or free access to the major attractions and sights in the city, as well as discounted and/or free public transportation.
These cards are popular in famous destination such as London, Paris, and Los Angeles. Getting ones saves you hundreds of dollars’ worth of money. Plus, you get an idea of the sights to see and the places to go as recommended by the tourism card. Local tourist offices are more than willing to assist you and will answer all your questions and help you save when you travel with little money.
Plan to go shopping? Contemplate whether you need to buy that piece of dress or those pair of sandals before you buy them. Remember, you are traveling on a budget. You do not want to consume your pocket money just a few days into your trip.
For discounted activities, we highly recommend using Klook.
- Klook experts all over the world uncover and curate the best experiences every day.
- They offer the best price guarantee and as the official partner of top attractions and operators worldwide, Klook ensures all their offerings deliver quality experiences at the discounted rates.
- Klook offers seamless and safe Booking. Their platform’s intuitive design and strict security measure ensures that every customer has a seamless and secure booking experience.
- They have user friendly mobile app that makes it easy and convenient for users to book activities. Start your search below!
With over millions of user reviews, you can always get an authentic look at other customers experiences.
Venture into less common tourist spots
Always ask locals for advice – they can often direct you to affordable yet amazing attractions. Ask information about not so well-known destinations as these are less visited and cheaper. Venture into less common tourist spots.
5. Use cheap transportation
Rent a bicycle or motorcycle
While rail passes are a must in Europe and other advanced countries like Japan, traveling to some Asian countries is a little bit different. Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Cambodia promote, two wheeled vehicles.
You can get around the city by renting out a bicycle or a motorbike for a minimal price. Not only do you get around the city cheaply, you will probably lose a few calories peddling along!
Get rail passes
Utilize the local transportation in your destination. If their primary mode of transportation is by train, get yourself a rail pass to save money when you travel with little money.
- Rail pass is cheaper than booking individual train trips.
- When booking trips into another city, try to book in advance – these can be cheaper by up to 50% rather than purchasing them on the day of departure.
- Rail passes also give you the flexibility to hop on a train whenever and wherever you feel like headed, rather than staying in a fixed destination.
- Rail passes can particularly be useful in Europe, Japan and China where you are sure to save money by getting one.
Try ride sharing
Some countries support ride sharing apps and activities. Most of these come with a handy app where you can book your rides. The concept is passengers headed to the same destination or nearby area can split the bill for the ride, rather than paying for it alone.
The ultimate way to save money on transportation is by walking. If the weather is fine and you have a lot of energy, walk around the city for sight seeing is probably the best. Walking is both a form of exercise and gives you enough time to take in the beauty of your destination.
If you are heading out in the summer, do not forget your sunscreen and pack a light umbrella or a hat!
6. Find a way to earn money while you are traveling
There are many freelance or part time jobs you can engage with when traveling. You begin to travel with little money but that will not mean you cannot earn while you travel.
Here are some jobs you can get when you travel:
- Freelance remote work – There are so many opportunities for freelance work out there. You can work hourly or on a project basis as a virtual assistant, designer, telemarketer, programmer, or a writer – depending on your skills. This allows you to add to your travel money while not taking out a huge portion of your time.
- Farm or orchard work – Although not the most glamorous one on the list, if you are up for some dirty work and physical challenge, this is a great way to earn money in a short time. This is particularly useful if you are traveling to places such as those with vineyards, or flocks of animals, where hiring assistants is always warranted.
- Teach English Overseas – This is something you can do to earn money while travelling as long as you have a good internet connection and a trusted laptop. There are many websites that will allow you to do so. This is one of the best ways to make money for travel. You can make a lot of money teaching and there are no strict requirements needed, but being a Native English speaker is definitely an advantage.
There you have it, all the easy ways you can travel with little money. Traveling with little money will be closer to your grasp when you plan for it beforehand, be flexible with your schedule, and put on a go-getter attitude. Next thing you know, you will be flying to your destination of choice without thinking about being broke. Traveling with little money does not mean skimping on everything; after all, it is the experience that makes it priceless.
Feeling inspired? Share this article to your family and friends!