Lifelong Vagabonds Home Banner

10 Tips for Budget Traveling

10 May 2016 | Mri Grout


Traveling doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg; it doesn't have to be only for the rich and famous. It can be for the everyday skint person like you and me. I left home after saving up about a grand more than the cost of a plane ticket, but yet I still managed to budget my small pile of money to last for more than eight months in Australia - AKA: the expensive land of Down Under.

However, I wouldn't entirely recommend you go about it like I did because that was a bit extreme. Instead I would suggest you follow these 10 tips for budget traveling to make sure your money stretches the furtherst abroad.

1. Travel Young and/or During/After University

For those under 26, you have a lot more discounts available at your fingertips than your older friends do. For instance, if you're under 18 then the Louvre is free to enter and if you're under 26 and a citizen of the EU then the Louvre is also free. If you have an STA International Youth Travel Card or International Student Travel Card, then you will have access to thousands of discounts all around the world, with the most important being cheaper flights.

Students and recent graduates (ie: under a year ago) have even more countries open to them as they can apply to 1. foreign exchange programs and 2. working holiday visas in more countries.

*STA Travel also has a discount saving card for teachers with the same perks.

2. Travel Somewhere That Offers a Working Holiday Visa

picking apples  on a working holiday
This is an ESPECIALLY good idea if you want to visit Australia or New Zealand due to their exceptional pay to cost ratio. If you go to either of these countries as a traveler and convert your money from your home currency to spend, then everything will seem fairly expensive. But if you work there for a few months first, save up some cash, and then go traveling everything will seem a lot cheaper. That $15 dinner is now less than an hour's work instead of the two hours it would have cost for someone converting American dollars to AUD or NZD.

And obviously, the biggest plus with a working holiday visa is that when/if you run out of money, you've got a pretty solid back up plan. (:

*Only those under 30 are eligible and from select countries are eligible.

3. Have a Plan Beforehand

Not only will this give you a better idea of how much money you need to save (add 20% just to be on the safe side!), but it'll also stop you from wasting fuel/money driving back and forth to see all the things you missed the first time around. You'll also have more time to look for and cash in on great deals like 20% off snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef or 2 for 1 Crocodile River Tour.

4. Try Your Hand at Hitchhiking

hitchhiking in Australia
I've hitched for two years, mostly on my own as a small female and during that time I have never felt threatened by a driver (even the creepy masturbating dude who I'll get to later). I have heard every horror story associated with hitchhiking. I have been personally asked for sexual favours towards the end of my lift (but that's all they ever were, just curious questions). I have turned down a ride based on the uncomfortable feeling of my gut and later proven right when fifteen minutes later he came back with the bait of a shower at his house. I have unwisely stayed inside the car of a man whom I am pretty damn sure masturbated to me while I pretended to sleep so I didn't have to talk to him/hear how he would 'take care of me.' DO NOT DO WHAT I DID! LEARN FROM MY STUPIDITY AND GET OUT OF THE DAMN CAR EVEN IF YOU'RE REALLY TIRED!

But if you trust your gut and listen to the knowledge of the locals (ie: if they say a lone woman shouldn't hitch in Poland or to/from that town, then don't), then hitchhiking is fairly safe. Well, as safe as driving ever is.

For more information on how to hitchhike efficiently and safely check out The Galaxy's Guide to Hitchhiking.

5. Be Flexible

For some reason flights are cheaper on some days than others. There are loads of theories and sworn statements regarding why this is, but some are contradicting and others are full of crap. Luckily, the why doesn't really matter. All that matters is that if you're up for flying on a Thursday instead of Saturday or in the off season instead of the high season, then you could save hundreds of dollars.

But it's not just the flights that reward flexible travelers. Many museums and historical attractions are free on the first Sunday of the month or another day of the month/year. Festivals, holidays, markets, and other free events that could help spice up your travels are also (obviously) only on on select days of the year.

But the best part about staying flexible is attending a foreign rock show with your ride or spending more time in a breathtaking place because you don't have a hostel you have to be at that night. So stay flexible and let life and the discounts just flow on through.

6. Connect with Locals (and Free Couches) on Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a fantastic way to get in touch with locals and learn about all the secret gems of their home town. Who knew that there are some free cave houses to explore just outside of Alicante, Spain? Or that there's a fantastic fruit and vegetable stand less than a kilometre from that much-used swimming hole? Then throw in the amazing people you meet, the wonderful nights you spend with them looking up William Wallace's kilt, and a free place to sleep that's not under a bridge (with some even have gorgeous balcony views too!), and you have the fine makings of new friendships in a foreign land. And really, what's more golden than that?

For those wondering how to increase their acceptance levels, then check out our post: How to Write a Kick-ass Couchsurfing Request: According to a Host

7. Buy a Camping Stove Instead of Eating Out

The cost of a one burner camping stove, a 250g bottle of gas, a pot/pan, and fresh food all up will undoubtedly be cheaper than eating out every meal for a week. Especially if there's more than one of you in your travel group. And if it's cheaper buying all that for a week, how much do you think you'll save in a month, six months, a year? If you answered, “a lot” then you're probably right.

8. Visit Free Attractions

free koala hospital in Port Macquarie, Australia
Just because you can't pay an arm and a leg to see something amazing doesn't mean your trip will be full of lacklustre events. I might have never listened to a performance inside the Sydney Opera House, but I've learned about the wool industry from the insides of a giant ram. I might have never paid to swim with dolphins, but I've swam in sheltered bays with friendly sharks, giant clams, and spotted rays. I might have never visited the castle at Disneyland, but I've felt the sheer power of history standing in the ruins of England's castles.

This website is dedicated to completely free attractions all over the world. Keep your dreams alive by accessing my knowledge in our Travel Page for the countries you wish to visit. (:

9. Make and Keep Connections

Not only will these keep you grounded and less lonely on long travels, but world-wide friends also open the doors to new amazing adventures. Just like in the 'real world' (ie: where you work for monetary success and then die) every person you meet is a possible opportunity to benefit. However, instead of having business connections, you have friends with travel connections.

Maybe someone booked a hostel that he/she can no longer stay at. Maybe you have a skill set that your friend the boat captain wants on board. Maybe you have a long drive ahead of you and need someone to help you pass the boredom (and cover the fuel ;). All of these maybes can be answered by keeping in touch – and trust me, when the days turn into months and those into years, you're going to be really grateful for having good friends to lean on.

10. Treat Yourself Every Once in a While

paragliding tandem
As weird as it sounds to need to spend money to save money, this advice is pretty solid. If you deny yourself the luxuries in life all the time even though you can afford them, eventually you're going to snap. And you're going to snap financially via an extreme splurge. On cheese probably. Lots and lots of cheese.

So let yourself have the occasional treat. Besides you've earned that paragliding trip by saving money all those other ways. :)





[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Do you have any other budgeting tips for when on the road? If so, we'd love to hear all about them in the comments below!