Before I started travelling intentionally, I thought travel was expensive. I have since realized that the expenses in travel are largely influenced by choices. For me, travel is about experiencing the people and culture of a place. Yes, you will have to spend money to do that but it doesn’t have to be so much.
Here are a couple of tips to maximizing your travel budget while experiencing all that a new place has to offer.
Flight tickets tend to go up as the travel dates approach. I tend to buy my flight tickets 3-6 months in advance. The closest I have ever bought a ticket was a month before and that was because an airline had a massive sale I couldn’t resist.
Couch surfing is a website that offers varied accommodations and mostly for free. While most people are familiar with the increasingly popular Airbnb, Couch Surfing is not as well known. Like Airbnb, it is a great way to make friends and connect with the folks when you travel. Fair warning though; expect no frills. You can’t pay little or nothing and expect luxury. I have never used this before but my Korean friend who has visited more than 20 countries swears by it. She also assures me it is pretty safe.
Travel on a weekday
From my experience, flights are cheaper on weekdays. Wednesdays and Thursdays especially seem to have quite a bit of travel discounts so plan accordingly. There is also a theory out there that buying flight tickets midweek end up being cheaper than buying on a weekend.
Being a tourist is expensive but if you are able to do your research before travelling, you can live like locals and cut down costs. One major cost of travel is transportation. While visiting Belize, I had the option of taking a taxi or driving from San Pedro (inland) to Caye Caulker (one of the many islands). After speaking to my Airbnb host in San Pedro, she told me she usually took a bus and then a ferry to get to the beach when she wasn’t driving. Total cost ended up being around $30 while a taxi to Belize City would have cost at least $70 and then another amount for the ferry. Another example was in Caye Caulker, most locals who didn’t cook bought breakfast from taco stalls. It cost about $2 and was the most delicious food I have ever tasted and filling too. Eating breakfast at a normal restaurant would have cost me 10 dollars at least every morning.
Cook your meals
One of the reasons I love AirBnB is the opportunity to live in a real house/apartment and have access to the kitchen. Hawaii is probably one of the most expensive places we have ever visited. Our travel hack was to eat breakfast at home every morning. Some hotels also come with microwave, fridge and a burner to cook small meals. So you can take advantage of this travel hack while staying in a hotel as well. Eating breakfast at home saved us a tremendous amount during our 7 day trip with average breakfasts going for $15 per person.
In Cuba, I made friends with a group of folks staying at my resort. We ended up renting a car to tour Matanzas and the nearby caves. Tour companies were asking for an upwards of $90 per person. We ended up spending less than $50 per person and taking our time to do all the stuff we wanted to do.
Those are a few of the travel hacks that have served me well over the past couple of years? How do you stretch your budget while travelling?