For most of my life, I stayed in 5-stars hotels, I was picked up at the airport by a Mercedes or Limousine, I ate at the best restaurants, and shopped at the best boutiques. Did I like it? Of course, I did and I still like it sometimes, but I always felt I was just moving from one place to another in a comfortable bubble and I was a simple tourist but wasn’t truly experiencing the journey. I wanted to be more, I wanted to be a traveler instead. I always had the strong desire of experiencing adventures, traveling alone, meeting people with a background different from mine. So when I started earning my own money, I finally turned this “dream” into reality and started traveling alone and on a budget.
For the past three years of my life, I traveled mostly on a budget and I can tell that not only it’s possible but it is also really fun. Most of all, it helped me understand that we don’t need much to travel and discover the world.
So, how to travel the world on a budget?
Here are 10 tips that will save you a lot of money!
Trains or Bus over Airplanes
Most of the times, trains are much less expensive than flights. If your train ride is long (more than 6 hours), I recommend traveling during the night; this will allow you to save time and the money you would have spent to stay in a hotel. In China, for example, I travel by train 99% of the times, and I find it particularly comfortable during the night because Chinese trains have sleeping-cars. In Myanmar I traveled during the night by bus from Yangon to Inle Lake and from Inle Lake to Mandalay and I found it really safe and comfortable. However, in some countries, traveling by train or bus at night is not safe, so please check safety reports on specific blogs or websites. You can read about the experiences of other travelers by searching on Google or Bing “ Is it safe to travel by bus/train at night in (name of your destination)?”.
Find the best deals
If traveling by bus or train is not safe or possible, you can choose airplanes without having to spend a fortune! Just be smart and find ways to score the best deals! In Asia, for example, I found out that Ctrip offers the best deals, with some flights costing as much as trains, so go for it!
Couchsurfing is an app that allows you to stay at other people’s apartments for free. At first glance, it may seems like an unsafe suggestion, but if you know how to use this app properly, it can be extremely safe and fun!
- Select the city you plan to visit;
- Select the date of arrival and departure;
- A list of people accepting guests will appear;
- Check their reviews from previous travelers;
- Check previous guest profiles, to make sure their reviews are not fake and come from real people (for example if a large number of reviews come from profiles with no profile pictures, same city/location, there is a chance those reviews are made up to look real!);
- Only go with verified people. In fact, only people who provide their ID, credit card, and other important information are verified by the app;
- Have a chat with your host before you arrive to see if you notice something weird or something that doens’t fully convince you;
- Let other people know where you are staying and let your host know that other people know you are staying at their place.
Staying in hostels will allow you to spend much less and to meet other travelers, which is great especially if you are traveling alone. Despite the fact that sometimes hostels do not have a good reputation, I can assure you that hostels are safe and can be clean as well. Click here to read “How to find the best hostels”
Sometimes hostels also offer the breakfast included option, which will save you even more money!
Airbnb offers a large range of prices. Some accommodations are really expensive, some are average, others are really cheap.
In any case, some bloggers have joined Airbnb affiliate programs to offer discounts by using their unique promo code. Check the blogs mentioned below to get your Airbnb discount / coupon!
Food is one of the reasons motivating me to travel. I have to admit I am not a picky eater, I really eat (and ate) everything! There is just one thing I cannot stand: fake Italian food like pasta with chicken or Hawaiian Pizza. Through food you can truly understand certain aspects of a country’s culture. That is why when I travel I don’t look for Italian restaurants. On the contrary, I carefully avoid them and prefer local restaurants, which are generally cheaper anyway.
Subway systems are not available in every city, but when there is one…use it! You will be surprised to see how much you can save getting around by subway rather than by taxi. Furthermore, subway stations are often just a short walk from important sites and attractions!
Sometimes just walking around a new city is the best way to fully explore it! I used to be the kind of traveler who goes from point A to point B, without seeing anything in between. If there are multiple attractions in the vicinity of each other, just walk! This will help you stay fit while you’re traveling and see more than just some tourist attractions.
Learn to Read Maps
Avoiding taxis, which usually offer the advantage of taking you exactly where you asked, means you’ll have to be able to know where you are and where you’re going. So, start familiarizing yourself with maps!
I used to spend a fortune on souvenirs for me, my family, and my friends! Trust me, 99.9% of the times souvenirs are not worth the money you spend on them, plus they take space in your luggage or backpack. So, before buying souvenirs that will end up becoming dust collectors on a shelf, always ask yourself: do I/do they really need them? You’ll see that most of the times, the answer will be: NO!