Cheap Travel Guide: Tips To Save Money and Start Traveling

As a habitual traveler, I get the same comments and questions all the time. One of the most common is “I wish I could travel like you.” My answer is always the same – YOU CAN. Travel is a choice – one that you have to actively pursue. There is never a perfect time to travel. Someday will never arrive if you don’t put actionable steps into place and follow through. I make travel a priority. It’s that simple! I’ve put together a cheap travel guide to help you put those steps into place. Hopefully it will inspire you to get that first foot out the door!

cheap travel guide

PRE-TRIP PLANNING

Saving Money

It may sound obvious, but having a travel fund is crucial. I recommend having a special savings account just for travel. Make it official – Patty’s Paris Trip or Meg’s Mexican Getaway. Have an end goal in mind.

  • Create an auto-transfer every month into this account. Choose an amount that fits within your budget – whether it’s $10, $50, or $200. If the money is not in your main account, you won’t be tempted to spend it. It automatically transfers so you won’t even miss it!

$50 auto-transfer x 6 months = $300 = Easy Flight Money

cheap flights

Reduce Monthly Expenditures

Do you really need that extra-premium satellite TV subscription? What about that gym membership you use a few times a week? Make a list of every recurring monthly expense you have. Then try cutting that list down to the bare minimum.

  • Choose Netflix over expensive cable packages
  • Exercise at home or public parks
  • Discontinue any luxury subscriptions like Stitchfix, Barkbox, magazines, etc
  • Walk instead of driving. Or plan your errands more effectively into fewer trips. This will save you money on gas (and help the environment)

$25 gym membership x 6 months = $150 = 5 nights in an AirBNB

airbnb

Cut Out Daily Expenses

Coffee lovers, I’m looking at you. If you are guilty of stopping at Starbucks every morning, that’s easy money you could be saving for travel.

  • Set a menu for the week and stick to your budget at the grocery store.
  • Pack lunches all week and cook at home for dinner.
  • Ask yourself this question when you are tempted to deviate from your meal budget: Should I spend $20 on this mediocre chain restaurant I’ve eaten at before, or eat cheese and wine in front of the Eiffel Tower? Insert YOUR dream destination. This simple question will make saving money a lot easier!

Breakfast = $5 x 30 days = $150

$150 x 6 months = $900!!! = Food, activities, etc for your trip! 

amsterdam

CHEAP TRAVEL GUIDE

Budget Airfare

Airfare is typically my biggest expense while traveling. But it doesn’t have to eat your entire budget. If you plan effectively, this can be very cheap!

I love The Flight Deal. They post incredibly cheap flights to destinations all over the world. The only downside is you have to be fairly spontaneous – many deals are gone relatively quick.

Example:  I was browsing in February and found an amazing deal to Beijing – $500 round-trip (!) in October and I bought it immediately. I sorted everything else out later (time off from work, hotels, etc). So many people try to have everything planned all at once and then become completely overwhelmed. Avoid this mistake!

My #1 travel habit is to buy a cheap plane ticket first then let everything else fall into place later.

Other websites I like are: Skyscanner, Momondo, ITA Matrix, and Google Flight Calendar

Additional Tips:

  • Travel in off-season for lower airfare prices
  • Sign up for airline loyalty programs to earn points
  • Sign up for an airline’s credit card. They typically have huge point bonuses if you spend a certain amount within the first 3 months. This should be used cautiously though; you HAVE to pay off the credit card every month. Do not spend what you do not have. I repeat: do not spend in excess!

Example:  I recently signed up for the Delta Skymiles American Express and I earned 60,000 points by spending $1000 within 3 months. I basically used the credit card for every purchase I made (and immediately paid it off) and easily earned those points. Those points were used to redeem a round-trip ticket to France and I only paid $5.60 in fees.

nice france

Budget Accommodation

This is my motto while traveling: I’m going to be out exploring 80% of the time, so I just need a clean bed to sleep in. Why spend hundreds of dollars on a 5-star hotel when I’m only going to be in the room a fraction of the time? That’s crazy talk.

Airbnb

Airbnb offers apartments in prime locations almost everywhere in the world. You can rent a bedroom or a whole apartment and live like a local. This is mostly what I use nowadays for travel. It’s easy, safe, and generally cheaper than hotels!

Use this code to get $40 off your first stay! 

old monaco

Hostels

If you are traveling solo, this is a great option. The cheapest option is a shared dorm room, but privates are available. Forget that one movie, you aren’t going to get murdered – I promise. I used hostels all over Europe and it allowed my money to go further.

Couchsurfing

I know what you’re thinking – why in the WORLD would you want to stay in some stranger’s house? Well first of all, it’s completely free. And if used appropriately, it can offer a stay with a local resident who can answer questions, be a tour guide, and show you why they love their city. It’s a great opportunity to share each other’s cultures.

I split my Europe trip in 2015 between couchsurfing and hostels. I never once felt unsafe and met a lot of cool people. Like the guy who introduced me to Afgahni rappers in Paris, or the girl who took me to a samba drum rehearsal in Germany. It’s not for everyone, but I recommend it for solo travelers and couples!

couchsurfing

So that’s how I travel! I save my money any way I can and book the best value flights and accommodation. Then I splurge on food and experiences while I’m traveling.   You can see from the examples above that you can easily fund a trip to many places when you crack down on your expenses and make travel a priority!

cheap travel guide

Let me know if you have any other questions in the comments below!

About The Author

Jessica