10 Tips to Travel on a Budget

Planning a trip! Before you go, check out these 10 tips to help you save money wherever you go!

Traveling can be expensive. Flights, comfortable shoes, emergency funds, all of those essentials can really cause some damage to your wallet. But, there are easy ways you can change your travel plans to save you some serious cash!

So whether you're going on a weekend getaway to Palm Springs or on a two week excursion through Europe, these tips should help you prepare and save so that you can focus on having fun!

1. Pack a Reusable Water Bottle

Me enjoying my gelato and carrying around a huge plastic water bottle. Don't be like me. Use a reusable bottle you can carry in your backpack!

Although this can seem trivial and like a burden to have to carry around, you’ll probably thank me later. Not only will packing a reusable water bottle during your trip save you money (a bottle of water was anywhere from $1-3 USD in Europe), but you’ll also stay hydrated because you won’t be budgeting or limiting yourself on water consumption when the cost is basically $0.

2. Skip the Hotel and Stay at Hostels and Airbnbs

View from our Airbnb in Paris. It was just a bit above our budget, but not outrageous at all!

During my two-week trip around Europe, we never once stayed at a hotel. Instead, we opted for hostels and Airbnbs that were of quality, yet not overpriced.

I had been to Europe before, but had never stayed at a hostel. And to be honest, there are some things I would rather not experience again, like having to put all my belongings in a locker, or having to share a bathroom with multiple people. But, first world problems, right?

Most hostels have cool activities and amenities that make your trip a breeze!

Many are also themed. Find one that really catches your attention and you'll love spending time there!

If you are someone like me who would rather have all the privacy of a hotel, book an Airbnb. We really lucked out and booked some gorgeous places! And all at much lower rates per night than any hotel!

This Airbnb on the Amalfi Coast had one of the most amazing views. It was less than $100 a night and just stunning!

3. Snack Throughout the Day

Snacking through Europe is what we did! Sometimes it's best to snack so you don't have to walk so much on a full stomach.

This may not sound like the best idea for day-to-day, but I think it’s the best way to experience a new place! If you’re in Italy, rather than having 3 solid meals at moderately priced restaurants, go around snacking, trying everything from a calzone shared with your travel buddy, a cannoli, or a cappuccino! After all, how will you get the full experience without having tried all of the delicious goodies that that particular destination is known for?

4. Limit Splurge Meals

This night in Paris, we really treated ourselves. Do the same after having snacked on local treats throughout the day.

After having snacked on crepes and crepes, and more crepes, you should consider splurging on dinner at a nice sit down restaurant. I think it's always fun to have a nice meal with your travel buddies at the end of the day to kind of summarize your day, and talk about your plans for the next day.

You also won't feel like you're breaking the bank, rather, it may feel like a bit of a reward to eat all the bread, cheese and wine at the end of the day after walking, probably, miles!

5. Postcards as Souvenirs

I didn't get the chance to do this on my last trip, but it's such a great idea, saves space in your luggage, and is less expensive than the traditional souvenir!

I am totally stealing this tip from my travel buddy, @icaari, but it truly is such a great way to save money while also making a meaningful souvenir! Send postcards to loved ones while on your trip. Tell them about some of your adventures you wish they could experience along with you. End it with an open invitation to coffee or dinner to catch up once you’re home!

6. Wash Clothes

Avoid pictures like this, holding a shopping bag because you feel like you need new clothes because the rest is dirty. Instead, pack a versatile wardrobe you can wash and rewear throughout your trip!

This may not sound like a money saver, but just think: if you pack less clothes that you can wash every few days, you can save room in your suitcase, maybe even avoid having to pay to check it in. If that's the case, you can just take your belongings as carry ons and avoid any fees when it comes to weight and size limits. Also, many hostels have laundry facilities. Also, tourist destinations tend to have laundromats in convenient areas.

7. Cook Your Own Breakfast

A delicious breakfast in Paris thanks to my friend! We had shopped the morning before so that we could save money on food.

This idea was a total lifesaver, especially in Paris, a city that can be pricey. As soon as we arrived at our Airbnb and settled in, we headed out across the street to a small market. There we bought eggs, veggies, fruit, freshly squeezed orange juice, and milk for breakfast during our 4 days in Paris. What we spent on groceries for breakfast for 4 days for 3 people, we would’ve paid for one meal at a restaurant! This leaves enough extra cash to be able to splurge a little more on other meals or experiences.

8. Use Public Transportation

Depending on your comfort level and confidence in communicating with locals, traveling by bus, train or subway is always the most cost friendly solution. From my experience, all large cities in Europe, as well as tourist populated places have great transportation resources. The place I personally had the most trouble getting around in was Barcelona, but the taxis there were pretty economical. Another idea if you have a limited transportation budget is to check apps like Uber or others that are specific to the country or area you are visiting.

9. Ask the Locals

The guy in the grey jacket is one of the German men that helped us get to the Metro in Rome. He also gave us a little bit of a backstory on the Roman Forum! Funny fact, we saw them again the next afternoon unexpectedly while on our way to the Spanish Steps! I guess Rome is pretty small!lol

I was not very good at this, but my friends were basically experts! Asking people can sometimes provide better info and options than a map or google. We were very lucky and came across some genuinely amazing people that were willing to help us without expecting anything in return.

In Spain, two older women helped us across the street to a restaurant they were going to and highly recommended. It was pouring rain. We had been walking for a while, looking for a taxi with no luck, so by the time we came across these women, we were drenched. They brought us into the restaurant and even told the waiters to please cook us up something traditional. And once we were done with our meal, they tried helping us get a taxi so we could head back to the hostel.

In Italy, we met so many amazing people! In Florence, an older man from a local cafe volunteered to drive us and show us around a popular tourist spot where we could see all of Florence!

In Rome, we met 2 German men who walked us from Trastevere to the Coliseum where the metro was just because they were already going that way and wanted to help. They even gave us info about the Roman Forum as we were walking along, as if we were on a tour!

In Conca Dei Marini, a young man and his mother on vacation from Singapore helped us find a local market and restaurant where we could find a bite to eat. Since it was a small town, there weren't many options and most were closed, but he was so adamant about helping.

So my advice, ask around, talk to people if they look interesting or if you truly need help with directions or advice on what restaurant to try out. You may be surprised.

10. Do Your Research and Plan Ahead

One of the biggest time and money savers is planning for the day, latest, the night before. If you're going to be in Trocadero, near the Eiffel Tower, research other spots you hope to check out to see what you can visit that day or leave for the next. If there's one thing on your list of places to visit that is away from all of your other activities, research a bit more to make a day out of that trip, or eliminate it from your to-do list altogether.

Planning ahead can also help you determine the type of transportation you may need to take, and what kind of clothing you should wear as well.

Do you plan to use any of these tips on your next trip? Do you have any tips or suggestions for me?

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-The B of V

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