As much as we’d all love a break from our everyday stresses, going on a lengthy vacation to a far-away destination can often feel out of our reach. Finding the time and resources to take a break from your hectic life between family obligations, paying rent and utilities, and making your online loan payments can feel like a pipe dream, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck.
The truth is that if you know how properly budget and have the right tools in place, this dream can become a reality! We’ve gone and put together some tips to help you create a plan to budget travel that won’t break the bank.
Creating a comprehensive travel budget should be your first step when you start planning your next trip. You’ll need to consider things like:
All of these factors will have to be considered when putting together a basic travel budget template and will have a huge impact on how much you need to save, what time of year you take your vacation, and where you’re able to visit. If you think you’ll need help putting together your travel budget, consider using a travel budget app. Not only can they help you put your budget together in the first place, they’ll also help you with your budget travel goals by keeping track of your expenses to make sure you’re not straying too far from your original budget.
If you find that you’re having trouble coming up with the finances to put together even a tight travel budget, you may want to go back to the drawing board when it comes to your everyday budget. Check out our ultimate budgeting guide to help you get started.
Once you have a clear idea of what you’ll need to be spending money on, it’s time to look at how you can mitigate some of these budget travel costs.
If you’re trying to make ends meet, there’s a good chance that you’ll have a tough time saving a significant portion of your normal food budget for eating out (if you’re having trouble with your food budget at home, check out these tips on how to save money on groceries). So why should this be any different when you’re trying to budget travel?
Making your own meals is one of the simplest ways to save money while travelling. Whether you’re couch surfing, staying in a hostel, campsite, or Airbnb, there’s a good chance that you’ll have access to a kitchen. If not, make your own salads and sandwiches to have on the go. While we’d all love to have every meal taken care of without the stress of staying within a strict budget, this just isn’t a luxury that many budget travelers can afford.
This doesn’t have to feel like a concession though. Visit local markets and look for less expensive ingredients that are native to the area. Cooking like the locals can provide you with a new and interesting way of engaging with the surrounding culture.
Saving enough money to fly across the Atlantic can be an expensive proposition – especially when you consider how hard it is to find insanely cheap flights – but managing to store away enough of your funds to do so could lead to the trip of a lifetime. While high priced European amenities may be out of your reach, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fulfilling experience travelling Europe on a budget.
While knowing what airports to fly to in order to minimize airfare will help you get there, moving your way through the continent once you’re there is a different story. If you’re looking to see as many different places as you can on your budget travel adventure, travelling by train is a good way to save money on travel.
If you’ve plotted out your journey well in advance and know exactly where you want to go and when you want to leave, booking individual train tickets online and well in advance can often lead to significant discounts. This also might be your best bet if you’re only travelling short distances, or if you’re travelling through Eastern Europe where fares tend to be cheaper.
However, not everyone is looking to be tied to a specific schedule or route. If you plan on covering a significant distance and don’t want to be fixed to a specific timeline, then you may want to invest in a rail pass like Eurail. This is especially true if you’re under 28, as you’ll qualify for a youth pass.
No matter how many amenities you want to cut back on to budget travel, there’s one thing you can’t escape: needing a place to sleep. But just like any other travel necessity, there are ways to ease the pain of some of these costs. In fact, if all you’re looking for is a place to lay your head at night, you can find accommodations that are completely FREE!
There are a number of platforms that connect travelers with people who are willing to provide them with a place to stay. Whether they give you a couch, a bedroom, or an air mattress, the common denominator is that you won’t be paying a dime for accommodations. Depending on what type of experience you’re looking to have, services like Couchsurfing can provide so much more than just a free place to stay.
If you’re a social butterfly looking to explore new places with new people, Couchsurfing may be your ticket. Not only will you get to meet other travelers, you’ll be able to interact with the locals and may be able to experience your surroundings in a way you wouldn’t normally be able to if you were to follow the well-trodden paths of previous travelers. Maybe your host takes you to local bars off the beaten path, or maybe they bring you to local events that you’d have a difficulty navigating without a guide. Whatever it is, if you’re looking to have a truly unique experience while budget travelling, this may be your best option.
It can be hard to find home comforts when you’re on the road, especially when you’re looking to budget travel. While moving from cheap hostel to cheap hostel may fit into the travel budget template you’ve created, sharing a dorm room, a tiny kitchen, and a small shower with large groups of strangers can grow tiresome. Couchsurfing can provide you with the home away from home that you’ve been missing.
The online community created by Couchsurfing is expansive and interactive, giving travelers the opportunity to communicate and be a part of a shared journey. But it’s more than just an opportunity for travelers to connect. Hosts are a vital part of this community, and they can often be your ticket to your next host. Whether they’ve learnt about other hosts from other travelers or connected with hosts through the Couchsurfing community, they may be able to help you find your next couch. Don’t be afraid to involve them in the process!
While Couchsurfing can be a great way to eliminate one of your biggest travel expenses, it’s not for everyone. If you’re looking for a more traditional arrangement, large hostel dorms are likely the next cheapest option.
If you’re not planning on spending much time at your hostel and don’t mind sharing accommodations with a large group of people, look for the biggest dorm room available. Typically, the larger the room, the less expensive it will be. Use apps like Hostelworld to have a thorough look at all of your options, and find what best suits your budget.
When you’ve got bills piling up and the stress of everyday life to worry about, the idea of taking a vacation can feel like a far-off dream. But taking some well-earned time off isn’t necessarily out of your reach. With proper planning, patience, and a few travel tips up your sleeve, you can have a fulfilling budget travel experience that won’t break the bank.
Do you have any effective budget travel tips? Share below!