Tips on How to Travel on a Budget

By Rana Kamaly

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Traveling has recently become much more costly after the devaluation of the pound, requiring a lot of effort and planning to be able to travel on a budget.

Most of us need to take a break from our daily lives to go somewhere unique and fulfilling, and with the following tips, you do not have to spend years worth of savings to do that.

All these tips mostly apply to trips you are planning yourself, and not through an agency.

Traveling to Europe

Visa and Bookings
  • Book a visa appointment as soon as you know when you are traveling, noting that the latest you can take an appointment is 90 days from the date you are planning to return.
  • Make sure your hotel and flight bookings are refundable so that if for any reason the visa was not issued, you are on the safe side. Also, there is something called an “unconfirmed flight ticket” that you can have issued from most travel agencies and airline companies that the embassy accepts.
  • When booking a flight, always compare price tickets amongst different airlines and try different dates to spot the cheapest. You can use Skyscanner to compare prices.
  • Do not forget to check the luggage policy to make sure it suits you. If you have to buy the extra luggage space, then buying online is almost always cheaper.
  • If you are traveling to more than one city, most of the internal flights do not have the checked in luggage included in the price ticket, so you have to reserve it in advance or pack lightly to save money and so it is easier to move around.
  • If it is a possibility, then travel during the off-season (October through April), as flights and hotels are much cheaper, and the cities will be less crowded.
Accommodation
  • If you are traveling alone and are only using your hotel room as a place to sleep, then hostels in Europe would be the perfect choice, as it is much cheaper and will allow you to mingle with new people.
  • If you are two people, then consider the three star hotels, but read the reviews first to make sure it fits your standards. If you are flexible, check out the prices during different dates to ensure you are getting a good deal.
  • Try different booking sites to find the best price. Sites like Momondo and Trivago compare the hotel prices across different booking sites.
  • If you are more than two people, then consider booking an apartment through Airbnb.
    Combine a mixture of expensive and cheaper cities to stay longer and explore more.
Transportation
  • Use public transportation, and in some cities like Barcelona, if you are more than one person, taking an Uber would be the cheapest option.
  • If you are four people, then renting a car is probably cheaper, however, make sure the fuel prices are low and pick a car model that is fuel-efficient.
  • You do not have to eat in a restaurant everyday, but rather treat yourself to street food.
  • You can also count on the supermarket or a bakery for breakfast.
  • If you are traveling to more than one city, buses are the cheapest way around. Trains and planes are almost the same price. Although planes are faster, trains take you to and from the city center, so you are saving transportation costs as well.
  • If you decide to take the train, then take the night train, as you will be saving hotel fees for the night and saving yourself a day.
  • Walk around from place to place whenever you can. This will save you transportation costs and will allow you to see more of the city.
  • If you are traveling to a lot of cities, then consider a rail pass, but make sure you understand the criteria and guidelines as each pass has its own restrictions.
Exploring
  • Planning to shop? Then plan your trip around the sales period, and shop from outlets, as they are cheaper.
  • Group the main attractions you want to visit daily by location so you limit transportation costs.
  • Drink tap water if advised by locals to save the mineral water money.
  • Communicate through WhatsApp or Messenger using free Wi-Fi that is available in most shopping centers, hotels, restaurants and airports, rather than buying a local sim card or making international calls.
  • Go on the free walking tours, as you will be able to discover more in less time and with the help of experts.
  • Use museum passes, especially if you are planning to visit a lot of them, they will be less costly than individual tickets.
  • Keep track of each penny you spend so you know where you are spending your money, and make a daily budget that you can’t exceed so you do not run out of money in the middle of your trip.

Traveling to Asia

Visa and Bookings
  • Plan your trip as early as possible. For most countries, you do not need a visa or even if you do, there are no restrictions to when you can apply.
  • Book the flight tickets a year ahead if you can, and compare flight tickets from across different providers.
Accommodation
  • Divide your stay across different hotels. Pick a luxurious room with a perfect view for two days and stay in a clean room closer to the areas you want to discover for the rest of your trip.
Transportation 
  • Explore by foot or rent a very cheap Vespa or scooter. Scooters are the cheapest and most common method of transportation in most of the cities.
Exploring
  • Bargaining is your most important tool. All street vendors and small shops can be bargained down to half, but be smart and polite with your bargaining to avoid any issues with the locals.
  • Do all your shopping in the street, as you will get good deals and nice authentic hand made products.
  • Change your money on a daily basis as exchange rates are constantly changing, and make sure to count them before you leave.
  • Do not go to a shop that is selling the local currency way higher than the others as it is usually a scam.

The most important piece of advice would be to make a daily plan of your trip, including what landmarks you want to visit and what activities you want to do even before issuing the visa, as you will be able to create an estimated spending budget that you can stick to. Also, if you know someone who has been to that place before, ask for their advice on what to see and where to stay, as they always have small tips from their personal experiences.

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