You know that traveling abroad doesn’t need to break the bank, right?
People have spent years globetrotting on a shoestring budget while having the time of their lives meeting like-minded people from all over the world. Sure, budget travel can be a little difficult to plan, but don’t worry, this guide has you covered.
Not only are we going to tell you exactly how you can travel the world for cheap, but we’re also going to introduce you to the cheapest destinations for budget travelers.
Sound good? Let’s dive in and see how you can make your budget travel dreams a reality.
Travel is about so much more than five-star hotels and fine dining.
In fact, many of the best experiences you will have on the road won’t cost you a dime. But is it really possible to head out into the world without a decent chunk of savings?
The answer is yes, absolutely! In fact, there’s a whole community of people who have been enjoying budget travel for years and make the most of their creativity to see the world’s most beautiful places without climbing into massive amounts of debt.
This guide will present you with many ideas about how to travel the world for cheap, so some might not appeal to you. It will also be split into sections to make it easy to find tips that you’re interested in.
Let’s begin by looking at when you should hit the road.
Plan your trip out of season
The first thing you need to avoid when planning your budget trip is peak season. Everything, including flights, accommodation, internal transport, and any activities that you want to do in the country, are all more expensive during peak season.
So, how do you know when peak season is?
It’s a good question, and it depends on the part of the world you’re traveling to. For instance, peak season in most of Europe tends to be their summer months from June through to September.
Conversely, if you’re planning to travel in Australia, the peak season runs from December through to March. When it comes to working out the best time to travel cheaply, you need to research what is considered peak season in your destination.
It’s a good idea to book your trip during a shoulder season – so in the build-up or the immediate aftermath of the peak season. If you plan your trip for the off-season, it’s likely to be considerably cheaper, but you will have to deal with rubbish weather, and you might even be one of the only people in a particular resort.
Know how to find cheap flights
The most considerable expense any traveler faces is airfare. Knowing how to find the cheapest tickets is half the battle and really is the secret to traveling cheaply.
The first thing to realize about cheap flights is that they’re usually available off-season or in shoulder seasons, so bear that in mind when you begin your search.
To find the cheapest tickets, you need to know where to look. Here are some of the best websites that share budget-friendly airfares:
Travopo Flights Search: It’s our own booking search engine and the best one ofcourse. It scans, compares and shows you sites that provides cheapest flight ticket prices for any destination.
SecretFlying: This is one of the best sites we’ve found that shares details of so-called ‘error fares.’ You can also sign up for flight alerts for your desired destinations, and they will send you notifications when the prices for flights drop.
ITA Matrix: The most customizable search engine for flights, ITA Matrix allows you to search flights from various airports by using advanced codes. It’s definitely worth a try if you have the time.
Skyscanner: This is often many people’s first port of call when looking for flights. One of the best features of Skyscanner is the fact you can search for flights to a particular destination in the ‘cheapest month,’ which helps when planning your trip out of the peak season.
Kayak: Kayak is a bit like a compare the market for travel. The site brings together options from all over the internet and is an excellent place to begin your research.
FlightsFinder: Similar in some respects to SecretFlying, FlightsFinder is a simple search engine you can use to identify cheap flights to your preferred destination.
Although you probably won’t use all of these sites, it’s a good idea to mix things up and not always rely on the same one.
This is because they all work slightly differently, and you might find the same flights on each site for different prices. It’s good to use a couple at the same time when beginning your research.
Now you know where to look for flights, here are some other tips that can help you find the cheapest tickets:
Use a VPN when searching for cheap airfare. Flights vary considerably in price depending on where you book them from. It’s a good idea to search for flights from a destination with a high volume of air traffic, as these tend to offer the most competitive prices.
Open a frequent flyer account. If you’re planning lots of different flights, sign up for any frequent flyer program you can find. Collecting air miles will eventually result in free flights and, in the shorter term, may even result in upgrades to business class.
Sign up for flight alerts. Most flight comparison sites give you the option of signing up for flight alerts. This means they will notify you as soon as the price of a particular flight changes, which will undoubtedly save you money.
Don’t book directly with the airline. You rarely find the best price for a flight directly from the airline itself. While it’s helpful to check out an airline’s site for availability, you’re much better off booking your ticket through a third-party site.
Securing cheap flights is an essential first step towards traveling cheaply. When you’ve sorted your initial transportation, it’s time to look at where you’re going to sleep.
Be creative with your accommodation
Budget travelers have so much choice these days when it comes to where to stay.
Thanks to the rise of the sharing community in recent years, you can now make use of websites that link you with local people who offer you free accommodation in your destination. The two most popular sites are:
Couchsurfing: Budget travelers utilize Couchsurfing to find free places to stay with friendly locals. People offer their spare bed or couch and welcome you into their homes. It’s totally free. Just be willing to take them out for a drink or meal to say thank you for their generosity!
Servas International: With more than 15,000 households in 100 countries, Servas is a not-for-profit organization aiming to build world peace, goodwill, and understanding by connecting people from different cultures. People can sign up as hosts or travelers and contact people in different parts of the world.
Both Couchsurfing and Servas International expect nothing in return from travelers other than, of course, common decency and the opportunity to connect! However, if you feel uncomfortable with staying for free in someone’s home, you could consider the following two options, which again offer free accommodation, but expect something in return:
WorkAway: You can find opportunities on WorkAway to stay with people or families for free. In return, you might be asked to carry out particular tasks around the home (you might work as a childminder, for example). Some opportunities are more practical, and you might be asked to work on a particular project in exchange for food and board. It’s an excellent way to meet locals and contribute to wherever you find yourself in the world.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms: As the title suggests, this platform allows you to apply to work at organic farms in different parts of the world in exchange for your room and board. It’s an excellent way to experience communal living while contributing to a new country.
There is a wide variety of opportunities on each of these sites, so you should spend some time researching opportunities that are appealing to you.
The four sites we’ve introduced so far do offer free accommodation when traveling abroad and should be tried by anyone who wants to travel cheaply over a long period of time.
However, staying at people’s homes isn’t for everyone, which is fair enough. The cheapest alternative to these free options would be to stay in a hostel.
Hostels come in many shapes and sizes and often have unique personalities that make them incredibly interesting places to stay. Hostel World is the best place to begin your research, as you can find accommodation listed in every corner of the world.
Here are some important tips to consider when choosing a hostel to stay in:
Dorm rooms provide the best value for money. If you’re comfortable sleeping in the same room as strangers, you can stay in dorm rooms for anywhere between $5 and $10 per night. The larger the dorm, the cheaper the price.
You can find a job at hostels. Travelers who plan to stay in one place for a considerable period of time opt to apply for hostels jobs. You can use a site like Hostel Jobs to find the perfect job for you.
Pay attention to security. Hostels are communal spaces, so security is important. Many hostels offer female-only dorms, and most provide lockers for your valuables. Pay attention to reviews on independent sites before booking into a hostel.
As well as providing excellent value for money, hostels also present the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded travelers from all over the world.
But what if you like your own space and don’t want to sleep in a dorm with strangers?
That’s okay, too, and there are several other options available to budget travelers, including:
Stay in a private room in a hostel. Hostels aren’t just about the dorms; many give you the option of staying in your own room. Although these are more expensive than beds in dorms, it gives you the chance to meet other travelers in hostels, while enjoying your own privacy at night. They’re usually considerably cheaper than hotel rooms.
Rent an apartment. Short-term apartment rentals can prove to be an excellent option for budget travelers, particularly if you’re traveling in a small group. Check out a site like Airbnb to see accommodation options in the city that you’re heading to. You will almost always find that split between two or more people; it will be cheaper than booking a hotel room.
Find discounted hotel rooms. If you enjoy staying in hotels, you should make the most of a comparison site like Agoda, where you can find discounted rooms at incredible prices.
Camping divides opinion amongst the backpacker community. It’s undoubtedly a cheap option, but because you have to carry so much stuff (tent, sleeping bag, roll mat etc.), you really have to way up if it’s worth it. Also, you have the added hassle of having to set up and take it down every time you reach a new place. While it’s undoubtedly cost-effective, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Checkout the adventure essential checklist for stress-free packing.
When it comes to accommodation, every traveler has different preferences and chooses to stay in a comfortable and affordable place, depending on their needs.
If you’re new to budget travel, it’s a good idea to experience a variety of the options introduced here, so you can become familiar with the different approaches and see which are the best fit for you.
You might find that you enjoy mixing things up depending on where you are in the world. After all, there’s no one right way to travel, and you need to find out what’s best for you.
Tap into the sharing economy
If you’re hoping to be a successful budget traveler, you’re going to have to tap into the sharing economy. We’ve touched upon this a little already with our accommodation tips, but the sharing economy extends much further than only where to stay.
When it comes to sharing, the bottom line is that it is 99% likely to be cheaper than doing it yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s travel, accommodation, food, or excursions, if you can split the bill with others, it will work out cheaper for you. Here are some excellent websites that you can tap into that help you make the most of the sharing economy:
BlaBlaCar: A global ride-sharing app that connects you with drivers who have extra space in their vehicle. For a nominal fee, you can end up traversing a whole country in the comfort of a private car, instead of having to rough it on public transport. This is a valuable option instead of taking long buses on terrible roads in certain parts of the world.
CampSpace: If you’re camping your way around the world, CampSpace introduces you to small campsites near your location. These are often on private property and aren’t necessarily camp sites, so you can find all sorts of quirky opportunities.
EatWith: You can connect with chefs in more than 130 countries and share a meal with people in their homes. It’s an awesome way to sample incredible cuisine from a particular place and meet new people at the same time.
Meetup: Before you arrive in a city, make sure you check out Meetup. You will find community groups that do all sorts of things from Yoga to five-a-side-football, and it’s the perfect way to get active with a community group in a place you’re unfamiliar with. While not all events are free, they are usually inexpensive.
Turo: If you want to rent a car while you’re in a particular city, but don’t want the hassle of renting a car from a rental agency, you will find what you’re looking for on Turo. You will save money and also connect to locals who are willing to share their ride with you.
As you can see, the sharing community is an incredible resource for budget travelers, with so many great options available for a small fee. While not everything will work out for you, if you’re prepared to try new things and approach everything with an open mind, you will find a resource that undoubtedly saves you money along the way.
Prepare your own food
If you want to travel for the long term, it’s unsustainable to eat out every day of the week. Even if you’re in a country where meals are super cheap, it’s still more expensive than buying food from the local market or store and preparing it yourself.
You will end up saving hundreds of dollars a month if you elect to prepare your own food, so it’s really worth the extra effort. And it doesn’t matter where you stay, as you will find opportunities to prepare your own food wherever you are.
Most hostels have kitchen areas you can use, and if you’re Couchsurfing or renting a room in an apartment, you will likely have access to a food preparation space. If you decide to stay in a hotel for a few nights and don’t have access to a kitchen, you can always prepare some sandwiches or salads to save you money, as you don’t need a sit down meal all the time.
It’s really important that you get yourself into a routine when you’re on the road, and try and be as disciplined as possible with how and where you prepare your meals. While it’s great to treat yourself to a lovely meal once in a while, it shouldn’t be every day if you’re travelling on a budget.
Some budget travelers think about how often they go out for a meal when they’re at home, and try and mirror that when they’re on the road. Just because you’re traveling, it doesn’t mean you need to splash out on lavish meals every night.
Get a job while you’re on the road
There are so many opportunities to work while you’re traveling. Depending on the country you’re in, you will be able to find employment in seasonal jobs like bar work and fruit picking.
Although not a long-term solution, they’re an excellent way to build up some much-needed capital while you’re traveling, so you can set off from a particular place with some cash in the bank.
If working in a practical job doesn’t strike you as appealing, you can always sell your skills online by joining the digital nomad community. Some helpful websites where you can find work online by freelancing include:
Fiverr: The market place where you can find someone to do anything for five bucks (theoretically) is an excellent place to sell your services. Whether you can write blog posts, design websites, or edit PDFs, you will find a market for your services.
Upwork: A little more professional-focused than Fiverr, Upwork gives you the chance to find lots of work as a consultant. You can often charge more than you can on Fiverr.
Italki: If you speak a language fluently, you can sign up to Italki as a conversational tutor. You don’t need any teaching qualifications, you just need access to WIFI and patience. People pay you to help them improve their language skills. It’s also an excellent way to meet people all over the world.
You can also check the classifieds on Craigslist or Facebook, as people often post causal job vacancies they have at short notice. This could be anything from labouring to gardening, but it’s often a good way of picking up some cash in hand while you’re on the road.
As you can see, you can use so many tips and tricks to travel the world on a budget; you just need to be open-minded and willing to try new things. There’s a fantastic quote in The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho, where the King says to Santiago:
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
This is true for budget travel. If you want it badly enough, you will find people all over the world that are willing to help you turn your dream into a reality.
Now that we’ve looked at how you can travel on a budget, we’re now going to introduce you to the cheapest countries in the world for budget travel.
This isn’t to say that you need to go to all of them or hop from one to another. It just provides you with an ideal starting point for your research, and it will help you plot your journey.
In Conclusion: As you have hopefully learned from this comprehensive guide, you don’t have to empty your savings to travel around the world.
Providing you research your flights well and are willing to get creative when it comes to accommodation and food while on the road, you will be able to manage your costs and find excellent value for money.
What’s more, if you head to one of the fourteen countries that we’ve introduced, you will find your dollars go a lot further than they do at home, which is great news if you’re hoping to see the world as cheaply as you can.
We hope this guide helps you to plan your trip around the world and gives you the inspiration to see that affordable, budget travel is possible when you put your mind to it.
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