Top Budget Travel Tips: Traveling Cheaply Made Easy

You don't have to spend a fortune to travel and indulge in the luxuries of life. It's possible to travel on a budget and make travel a significant part of your life. These budget travel tips will provide you with the necessary tools to plan your trips and make the most of your travel experiences.

While it would be great to claim that we have unlimited wealth and don't need to worry about expenses, that's not our reality. Like many others, we carefully consider every penny we spend on travel. That's why we want to share our tips for traveling on a budget.

How to Travel on a Budget in Style

Which travel destinations offer the best value for money? How can you save money when booking your trips and find affordable accommodations? By following these budget-saving tips, you'll discover how to travel more while spending less. If you're interested in saving money for your travels, be sure to check out our article "How to Save Money for Travel - 15 Tips to Get Started Now."

Booking Flights

Flexibility for Travel Dates

By being flexible with your travel dates, you can potentially save a significant amount of money on your flights. Consider flying on weekends instead of Monday mornings, as flights are often cheaper. It's important to shop around and compare prices. Surprisingly, we've come across business class flights priced the same as economy flights on different dates. Expanding your search to include 5 or 6 days before or after your desired departure date can yield favorable results. We recommend using Skyscanner and selecting flexible dates to compare flight prices. Simply click on the arrows to explore prices for the day before or after your preferred departure date.

Check Different Airports for Departures

If you reside in a city close to other major transportation hubs, it's worth checking the rates at those airports to see if you can find a better deal. For instance, if you live in Toronto, exploring flights from Hamilton (which is just a 40-minute drive away) might sometimes be cheaper than flying from one of the Toronto airports.

Similarly, when choosing your destination airport, compare prices and consider factors like proximity to the city center. For example, flying into Tokyo's Haneda Airport may be more cost-effective than Narita Airport, considering the additional expenses of transportation from Narita, which is farther from the city center.

For Canadian travelers, flights departing from a US city may sometimes be cheaper than those departing from a Canadian city. If you live near the border, it's worth checking departures from the closest American airport. Additionally, many American airports provide shuttle services from Canada, offering additional options to explore for potential savings.

Search For Flights Online Incognito

When booking your flights online, it's advisable to use an incognito or private browsing window. Websites often use cookies to track your previous searches and may adjust the prices accordingly. By using an incognito window, you can ensure that you're seeing the most up-to-date and potentially better deals.

Additionally, it's important to note that flight costs can vary from day to day. Booking on a Monday may not necessarily offer the best deals compared to booking on a Thursday, for example. It's worth exploring different dates and being flexible with your travel plans to find the most cost-effective options.

Book Hotel, Car Rental, and Flights Together

When it comes to finding hotels during our travels, we prefer to book our first night or two online along with our flights. This little trick has helped us save a significant amount of money. We picked up this insider tip during our time as Expedia Viewfinders when we had the opportunity to learn from the experts at Expedia headquarters.

By bundling our hotel and flight bookings together, we've been able to take advantage of great savings. Additionally, if you're considering renting a car for your trip, we recommend booking it at the same time as your flight. This way, you can potentially save even more money. For instance, when we booked a flight to Italy through Skyscanner, we searched for a rental car simultaneously and managed to secure a 10-day rental for only $75 USD! It turned out to be cheaper than the total cost of the gas we used during the entire 10 days!

Choosing Your Destination

The choice of your travel destination can greatly influence the overall cost of your trip. Opting for travel to developing nations is generally more budget-friendly compared to popular and expensive destinations. While places like Bora Bora or Tahiti may be highly desirable, destinations like Thailand or the Bahamas offer equally stunning beaches and bungalows at a more affordable price point.

Furthermore, you can take your cost-saving approach a step further by exploring even cheaper alternatives. For instance, while Thailand is known for its affordability, Vietnam offers an even lower cost of travel. Similarly, while the Bahamas can be relatively affordable, Honduras presents a much cheaper option for travelers. By considering these alternative destinations, you can maximize your travel experience while minimizing your expenses.

How to Find Cheap Places to Travel

Seek out destinations that have a well-developed infrastructure for independent travel, allowing you to make the most of your budget and prolong your trip. Instead of splurging on an expensive week at a crowded, all-inclusive Caribbean resort, consider the option of staying in a beach bungalow in India for just $10 per night.

By exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, you can avoid overpriced businesses in popular tourist areas that often come with hefty price tags. In places like Honduras, you can find guesthouses for $20 to $30 per night, and enjoy meals for as low as $2 to $3. Local beers can be as affordable as a dollar per bottle.

Furthermore, choosing less-traveled locations allows you to support local economies and the people who genuinely appreciate your business. By venturing beyond the well-trodden path, you not only save money but also contribute to the livelihood of communities that may not receive as much tourism.

The Cheapest Destinations to travel

Eastern Europe offers excellent budget travel destinations such as Budapest in Hungary, as well as Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Romania, and Bulgaria. Sofia, Bulgaria, in particular, stands out as a remarkably affordable city.

Southeast Asia remains a popular choice for budget travelers, with countries like Thailand, Chiang Mai in particular, still offering reasonable prices. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Indonesia are also highly recommended for their affordability and breathtaking beauty.

The Baltics, including Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, provide fascinating and reasonably priced options, despite their proximity to Scandinavia. The Balkans, encompassing Romania, Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, and Turkey, are fantastic choices for budget travel in Europe.

Portugal receives praise for its affordability, drawing expats and travelers alike with its beautiful beaches, rich culture, and delectable cuisine.

For Americans, British, or Europeans, Canada becomes an attractive and cost-effective destination due to the favorable exchange rate. Mexico, known for all-inclusive vacations, also offers inexpensive options for independent budget travel.

Central Asia, particularly Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia, offers the opportunity to travel on a shoestring budget. Although venturing into less-explored destinations may present some challenges, the unique experiences make it worthwhile. Nepal and Sri Lanka provide affordable adventure and cultural experiences.

India stands out as one of the cheapest destinations, allowing travelers to stretch their budget for an extended period. Central America, including Belize, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, remains budget-friendly despite the rising costs in some regions.

Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador offer affordable travel options in South America, with plenty of inexpensive destinations throughout the continent. Grenada is often recommended as an affordable Caribbean destination.

When planning your travels, consider the destination carefully. While popular luxury destinations like the Maldives and Tahiti may tempt you, similar levels of luxury and beauty can be found at a fraction of the price if you choose wisely.

Ways to Travel for Cheap

There are multiple strategies to travel on a budget, ranging from independent travel to exploring alternative accommodation options. To inspire your creativity, we have compiled a list of alternative ways to travel cheaply.

Travel Independently

If you're aiming to travel on a budget, opting for independent travel is often the best approach. While all-inclusive resorts offer convenience, they come at a higher cost, and you may miss out on experiencing the authentic local culture. By traveling independently, you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local lifestyle and explore the destination in a more affordable and enriching way.

Travel During Off-Peak Times

Traveling during the offseason or shoulder season can be a hidden gem when it comes to budget travel. While peak season tends to be more expensive, exploring destinations during quieter times can be just as rewarding. For instance, we experienced delightful weather and snagged a great deal on a luxurious hotel with an infinity pool in Santorini towards the end of its season.

It's important to note that the definition of "off-peak" varies across different regions. While the Caribbean may have low season in the summer months, it coincides with high season in South America. It's crucial to conduct thorough research to determine the best time to visit your desired destination and take advantage of shoulder-season discounts.

During our visit to the Amalfi Coast in Italy during shoulder season, we enjoyed fantastic accommodations and affordable car rentals, all while relishing pleasant weather and fewer crowds. So, keep an eye out for shoulder-season opportunities to enhance your travel experience while sticking to your budget.

Hire Local Guides

We have successfully completed budget-friendly treks to iconic destinations like Mount Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp. Surprisingly, our expenses for these remarkable adventures were kept under $900 for Kilimanjaro and less than $1000 for a 14-day trek to Everest Base Camp, covering meals and accommodation. One of the key factors that helped us achieve these low costs was booking our treks upon arrival in the respective countries.

By opting to hire local guides instead of relying on tour companies, we ensured that the money we spent directly supported the individuals guiding us on these incredible journeys. This not only allowed us to save money but also provided a more authentic and personal experience. So, consider exploring the possibility of engaging local guides and operators when embarking on such memorable expeditions, as it can contribute to both your budget and the local communities.

Eat at local restaurants

For an authentic culinary experience, it's best to dine at local establishments where the community frequents. When you come across a place bustling with locals, you can be confident that the food served there is not only fresh and flavorful but also reasonably priced. To discover these hidden gems, you can seek recommendations from reliable sources such as taxi drivers or guest house owners who are familiar with the area. Alternatively, you can take a leisurely stroll and observe which eateries are bustling with people, as this often indicates the popularity and quality of the food being served. Embracing local dining establishments allows you to immerse yourself in the culture and savor the authentic flavors of your destination.

Shop at Local Markets

Instead of browsing through Duty-Free stores or upscale boutiques, opt for shopping at local markets where you can find unique handcrafted designs and handmade clothing. These markets often offer remarkable artworks at incredibly affordable prices, which can become cherished conversation pieces when displayed in your home. By shopping at local markets, not only do you save money, but you also contribute to the local economy, supporting local artisans and businesses.

When venturing into the market, be prepared to engage in the art of bartering, as it adds to the excitement and cultural experience. Bartering allows you to negotiate prices and potentially secure even better deals.

Take Local Transport or Walk

Booking tours directly from your hotel can often be expensive. To have a more immersive and enjoyable sightseeing experience, we suggest exploring alternative options. Step outside your hotel and hail a taxi or tuk-tuk, then negotiate a price to hire them for the day. This way, you can customize your itinerary, go at your own pace, and have the flexibility to explore local attractions that may not be covered by typical tour buses.

Another option is to venture downtown and seek out a local travel agent. Inquire about the cost of hiring a guide and driver for the day. This can provide you with a personalized tour experience, allowing you to discover a different side of the city and gain insights from a knowledgeable local.

If you're up for some adventure, grab a map and a guidebook, and embark on a self-guided tour. Walking through the city streets, renting a bicycle, or hopping into a rickshaw can offer a more intimate and authentic experience, allowing you to soak in the atmosphere and discover hidden gems at your own leisure.

Take Advantage of Free Attractions

During our European vacation, we managed to keep our expenses to a minimum by taking advantage of various cost-saving options. One of the best ways to save money is by exploring the free attractions and museums that many European cities offer. Some museums offer free admission during specific hours, and there are plenty of free attractions to discover.

In addition to free attractions, many cities provide free walking tours where the guides rely on tips for their income. Upon arrival, you can check the website of the local tourist board or search online to find information on free activities and tours available in each city.

Another money-saving option is to consider city passes. These passes often include discounts and free entry to popular attractions, helping you save a significant amount of money. Simply performing a quick Google search like "Free Things to Do in Paris" or the name of your desired city can provide you with valuable information on cost-free activities and attractions.

By being resourceful and utilizing these tips, you can make the most of your European vacation without spending a fortune.


Although traveling to Europe can often come with a hefty price tag, there are clever ways to enjoy gourmet meals without breaking the bank. By exploring local supermarkets, you can feast like royalty without spending a fortune. Picture yourself wandering through vibrant markets, selecting fresh meats, cheeses, and other delectable delights at incredibly affordable prices. Enhance your culinary experience by pairing your culinary finds with a quality bottle of wine, which can be acquired for as little as €2-€4.

Travel Cheap with Alternative Accommodation


During our six-week journey through France, Spain, and Italy, we opted for an unconventional yet incredibly cost-effective accommodation option: camping. The campgrounds throughout Europe offer a remarkable level of luxury, boasting amenities such as swimming pools, spas, on-site restaurants, and even complimentary shuttles to major attractions. Surprisingly, the price for such accommodations was less than €20 per night, making it an incredibly affordable choice.

To facilitate our travels and explore the scenic landscapes at our own pace, we decided to rent a car. With a monthly rental fee of €600, we had the freedom to embark on an unforgettable road trip across Europe. Pairing this with our economical camping choices, we spent less than €500 on accommodations for the entire month. Camping not only proved to be a budget-friendly option but also added a sense of excitement and camaraderie as we made friends along the way.

Our camping adventure extended beyond the borders of Europe, as we embarked on a road trip all the way from England to Mongolia. Throughout our journey, we discovered an array of affordable campgrounds that offered comprehensive amenities. Additionally, we often took advantage of the opportunity to camp for free by simply pulling over and setting up our tent on the side of the road.

Camping allowed us to maximize our travel budget, experience the joys of nature, and forge unforgettable connections with fellow travelers. From luxurious campgrounds to spontaneous roadside stops, our camping escapades offered both affordability and a sense of adventure throughout our European expedition.

Hire a Campervan

During our exploration of New Zealand, we opted to rent a campervan, which proved to be an excellent way to immerse ourselves in the country at our own pace. This travel option is also highly popular in Europe, where many individuals choose to hire campervans for their journeys. In Scotland, for example, you have the freedom to pull over on the side of the road and camp for free, further enhancing the affordability and flexibility of this travel style.

Independent Hotels

Rather than spending a fortune on chain hotels, consider seeking out independent guest houses or bed and breakfast establishments. With some effort and a bit of patience, you can find affordable beach bungalows for less than $10. Guide books like Lonely Planet can help you locate budget-friendly areas and accommodations. Rest assured, it is entirely possible to make it happen!

Chain Hotels

On the other hand, if you prefer the reliability and convenience of chain hotels, there are options available that suit your travel budget. Ibis and Etap Hotels, found throughout Europe, offer affordable accommodations with essential amenities such as cable TV, Wi-Fi, private bathrooms, and even breakfast at select locations. Some Etap Hotels in Europe have streamlined their operations by eliminating check-in counters to reduce costs, allowing you to access your room using a code after payment. These chain hotels provide a cost-effective choice without compromising on comfort and convenience.

Stay in Hostels

Maximize your travel experience by saving on accommodation expenses and fully enjoying your destination. Hostels have significantly improved in recent years, offering a wide range of amenities comparable to hotels. You can find hostels with private rooms equipped with bathrooms and TVs. Additionally, most hostels provide free Wi-Fi access and kitchen facilities, allowing you to cook your meals and save on dining expenses.

Choosing hostels is an excellent way to travel affordably while also providing opportunities to meet fellow travelers who share similar interests. HostelWorld is a recommended platform to begin your search for hostel options, offering information on prices and reviews specific to your destination.

Apartment Rentals or Air BnB

Apartment rentals are a fantastic option for saving money during travel. By accommodating more people in one place, you can split the cost among the group, resulting in significant savings. The ability to cook meals at home further contributes to cost reduction. Additionally, exploring local markets for groceries adds to the adventure and provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Moreover, apartment rentals are often located in central areas, allowing easy access to the main attractions and amenities, all at a fraction of the price of traditional hotels. When considering accommodation options, check AirBnB for rates and availability in your desired destination.

Stay for Free

Housesitting, Couchsurfing, and work exchange are excellent alternatives for budget travelers to save a significant amount of money while exploring new destinations.

Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Maximize your travel benefits by using a travel rewards credit card that allows you to accumulate miles and earn bonus rewards. Instead of missing out on potential rewards, why not take advantage of the money you're already spending?

One popular option is the American Express Platinum card (full disclosure: we used to be American Express Ambassadors but no longer work with them). The Amex Platinum offers excellent travel benefits that we still enjoy and use. With this card, you can book your own travel and pay with your credit card. Then, simply contact American Express to have them pay for your purchase using your accumulated points.

In addition to point redemption options, the Amex Platinum (and the Chase Sapphire card as well) offers automatic upgrades to SPG and Marriott Gold, as well as Hilton Gold status. These upgrades come with various perks such as early check-in, late check-out, and complimentary internet access.

Another valuable feature of our card is the free car rental insurance it provides. This coverage saves a significant amount of money, as you don't have to worry about paying extra for daily car insurance. If any issues arise during your rental, American Express takes care of it all.

By utilizing a travel rewards credit card like the Amex Platinum, you can enjoy numerous benefits, earn rewards as you spend, and take advantage of valuable perks that enhance your travel experience while saving money.

Travel Slowly

Having ample time during your travels can significantly help you stay on a budget. When embarking on a long-term journey, you have the flexibility to make cost-effective choices that can greatly reduce your daily expenses.

One advantage of having time is the ability to utilize local transportation options, which are often more affordable than tourist-specific modes of transport. By exploring public buses, trains, or even walking, you can save money while immersing yourself in the local culture.

Time also allows you to search for deals and discounts on guides and accommodations. With thorough research, you can find affordable options that suit your budget without compromising on quality. Additionally, by booking in advance or during off-peak seasons, you can often secure better rates and maximize your savings.

Another way to stretch your dollar is by shopping at local supermarkets and preparing your own meals. This not only helps you save significantly on dining expenses but also provides an opportunity to experience local ingredients and flavors.

We personally experienced the benefits of having time during our climb to Everest Base Camp. By taking the time to search for a guide that aligned with our budget, we saved hundreds of dollars without compromising on the quality of the experience.

Prioritize researching your destination before your trip. By familiarizing yourself with local customs, attractions, and available resources, you can plan effectively and make informed decisions that align with your budget.

So, if you're ready to explore the world, make sure to allocate sufficient time for your travels. By doing so, you'll have the opportunity to stick to your budget, enjoy a stress-free journey, and create unforgettable experiences along the way.