How to Travel Cheap On a Budget While On a Low Income
“Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul” – Jamie Lyn Beatty
If you picked 100 people and asked them one thing they’d do in the world if they had no money worries, more than 80 would likely say travelling.
The desire to see the world has never been greater with more connectivity, technology (Instagram!) and cheaper travel.
For about a decade of my life, I lacked the means of travelling, and would often sit at parks and count aeroplanes fly by.
I always wondered who the fortunate people on those places were and what adventures they were flying towards.
In 2010, a year after meeting Mary, it was time to begin my life adventure of travelling.
Our very first holiday together was to Venice (Italy) and we immediately followed that with a trip to Luxor and Cairo (Egypt).
We have since caught the travelling bug and so far visited over 50 global destinations and counting.
Travelling is the one thing we never quite gave up on the journey to Financial Independence.
We’ve continued to visit places we love around the world, but we’ve done it with a lot more intention and planning.
For those living on a tight budget, how to travel cheap may be considered impossible.
Due to budget constraints, ongoing bills, or family-related responsibilities, travelling can be difficult, but it is never beyond the bounds of possibility.
It all comes down to how you plan and prepare, and after reading today’s tips, you’ll be ready to finally check travelling off your bucket list.
To keep this post as personal as possible, all images you see in this post point to dream Cities we’ve visited.
Seeing is believing and we hope that you too will find a way to make regular travelling a dream come true in your life.
Even if you managed to travel once a year, your life will be vastly improved if you do it with intentionality.
I’ve always found that a change of routine coupled with a change of environment is what I’ve always needed to dream bigger.
Next stop for us is St. Lucia to celebrate 10 years together. This trip has been 2 years in the making. I share more below.
Now let’s dive into some tips on how to travel cheap on a budget while on a low income.
Venice was our first ever holiday destination. It's forever a special place in our hearts. We have this scene reproduced in a painting at home:
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”– Helen Keller
1. Pick The Right Location (Cheap places to travel)
Whether you have a specific destination in mind or not, it’s important to pick the place that works best with your schedule and budget.
Certain places have inexpensive accommodations that can add to the incredible experiences you’ll have.
If you’d rather chill at the beach over walking around a big city, research the related budget-friendly options so you enjoy every aspect of your stay.
Personally, we pick holiday destinations based on a dream list, although it’s not always possible to visit everywhere we’d like to.
Often when we can’t visit a place due to costs, we’d find a budget friendly place that gives us a close enough experience.
Spain and Portugal are possibly our most visited countries because they often tick many boxes on things such as cost, location, flight time, etc.
2. Take Time Into Consideration
Depending on when you want to travel, the time of the year can create more opportunities for cheaper tickets and hotel deals.
For whatever destination you plan to visit, take peak times into consideration and schedule your trip during the off-season.
This can prove to be a challenge though if you have kids with restrictions due to term time at school.
Visiting your preferred destination during a quiet time of the year can reduce total expenses and avoid tourist traps.
For example, our trip to St. Lucia is during the so called “hurricane season”.
Whilst this is a risk, it is one we have considered and prepared to take. The trip was booked way cheaper too.
3. Be As Open As Possible
If you are speaking with travel agents about your travel plans, mention that you’re on a tight budget and willing to be as flexible as possible.
The more information they know about your financial status, the more understanding they’ll be when helping you outline your trip.
If there are flight or housing options that present an amazing deal slightly outside of the dates you originally planned for, it’s worth taking advantage and booking it.
Zanzibar has the most beautiful beaches we've ever seen. We planned our wedding sitting right here and set our 10 year plan in motion:
OUTLINING A FINANCIAL PLAN
“Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination.” – Roy M. Goodman
4. Budget ahead of time
When you’re on a budget, it’s important to allocate a specific amount of money towards luxury purchases.
In this case, planning a trip requires a lot of additional thought on how you’re going to budget your pay.
Even though travel accommodations can be found cheaper than usual during certain times of the year, it’s important to create a budget months in advance so you have time to save enough.
Whether it’s writing things down on paper, or using an excel sheet to track your payments, keeping your money management consistent and organised is key.
Related post: How To Budget & Save On A Low Income
5. Use Credit Card Perks
Many credit card companies have travel reward programs that can save you money and give you great bonuses to use towards your trip.
Seat upgrades on flights, free air miles, and zero bag check-in fees can be great options if you sign-up.
To ensure you’re registering under the card that’s best for you, know your travel goals.
There are certain credit cards that accumulate points at a quicker rate with better offers and great travel protection.
Before acquiring travel rewards, analyse your credit score to ensure you won’t get declined during the verification steps.
We personally use AMEX and it was through collecting points that we booked our trip to St. Lucia.
In fact, we collected enough for two Companion Vouchers and got our travel for free except for taxes.
This is an important one if you're exploring how to travel cheap.
Other ways we explored how to travel cheap through air miles (avios points) was by:
- Paying for large planned expenses through our credit card and then paying it off immediately.
- Helping family members book planned large purchases through our credit card.
- Getting referral points from friends and family.
One word of caution –
Please don't get a credit card if you are terrible at managing cash flow.
Always pay off ALL credit card balances each month for this to be worthwhile.
The most important part of preparing for an excursion is to save as much money as you can without breaking the bank.
If possible, set aside a specific amount of cash each month to use towards your travel funds.
Whether it’s by opening a savings account, or using a piggy bank, you’re promising yourself a sufficient amount of money while traveling if untouched.
For additional ways to save, look into your monthly subscriptions and decline any that you don’t consistently use.
For traveling purposes, you may want to look into a bank account without monthly fees to track your finances.
If you’re going outside of the country, you can decrease your chances of getting charged with foreign transaction costs.
And if coffee shops are your thing, you may want to take a break and brew at home for the time being.
This can take your saving success to another level!
Kenya is a special place for Mary. She volunteered in Nairobi. Then together we visited the safari park on route to Tanzania:
BOOKING YOUR FLIGHT
“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac
7. Search Flight In An Incognito Window
As you’re booking flights, you may see a strange pattern of changing prices.
Based on the cookies in your browsing window, flight requests can be tracked based on search popularity.
By searching for flights in a private window, you’re getting a realistic price based on the date and time you want without being influenced by search volume.
This method will ensure you’re getting the lowest prices.
8. Track the Cheaper Flight Days
There is a myth around whether or not there are certain days of the week where flights are more inexpensive than usual.
To make things easier, look at flight prices for the entire month and track what days you notice a lower booking opportunity for your airline and route.
This feature allows you to choose the exact month you’re looking for and will list all of the prices for each day, so you’re aware of the best booking opportunities.
Rhodes remains one of our best family holidays with kids. Mary relaxes in a rare moment of peace whilst the boys were swimming:
9. Use Travel Fare Websites (But Only The Best)
Websites like Skyscanner, Expedia and Priceline offer low cost flights under many major airlines.
While scheduling a flight through the airlines’ actual website is okay, using a secondary site takes your budget into consideration by showcasing more inexpensive options.
Definitely one to explore if you're exploring how to travel cheap.
They also allow you to compare prices, have an early check-in and have an easy cancellation process just in case something comes up.
“Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.” – Lovelle Drachman
10. Stay in An Airbnb Or Hostel
Compared to a hotel, an Airbnb or hostel are wonderful alternatives if you're exploring how to travel cheap.
You may be thinking, “are these options going to be as nice as a hotel?”.
Honestly, a hostel or Airbnb rental can be just as clean and put together as a hotel.
We enjoyed a beautiful studio apartment in Florence for 40 Euros per night compared to 190 Euros for a hotel room.
A rental property may have different rules and regulations associated with the contract because it is someone else’s owned property.
However, the prices are unbeatable, and your stay can be just as convenient, comfortable and clean.
Florence was our 3rd Italian City after Venice and Rome. Another holiday booked with avios points. This view is one we enjoyed on a sunny and warm day over lunch:
11. Find Affordable or Free Activities In The Area
Before embarking on a new journey, do some in-depth research on all of the fun activities the area has to offer.
Depending on the location, there may be nature walks, parks, museums or events available to visit at little to no cost.
If any require a reservation or tickets, make sure to plan accordingly.
Services like Trip Advisor can help you find things to do during your travels all while keeping your finances in mind.
Depending on where you are staying, you may be distant from the happenings in the area, like restaurants and bars, shopping, and other events.
If you need to get from one place to another look for cheaper options, like Uber or Lyft.
These options work great if you don’t have a vehicle and make it easy for whoever is with you to contribute to the cost by splitting the bill.
DURING YOUR STAY
“Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination.” – Roy M. Goodman
13. Shop at Local Markets or Stores
Local farmers markets sell fresh fruits, veggies and meats at a super low cost.
This is a great option for travellers who want to save cash, meet the locals and maintain a healthy lifestyle all at the same time.
Usually every city or town provides a market on the weekends, so take advantage of it if you are looking to spend less on groceries.
14. Carry Snacks & A Refillable Water Bottle
While eating out can be great, it can throw off your budget faster than you think.
Instead of constantly buying food on the go, bring snacks with you to feed a sudden growling stomach.
Going on a big grocery shopping trip as soon as you arrive gives you some immediate food options.
It can also save you money in the long run and lower the risk of eating out over and over again.
15. Avoid Tourist Traps
If you’re travelling to a place you’ve never been before, it’s common to get caught up in the tourist attractions.
These are almost always busy, and because more people want to participate, there is a possibility to get charged more for the experience.
Instead of booking a tour guide, talk with as many locals as you can.
These individuals know the hidden gems, and if they know your budget is in mind, they may give you free or inexpensive activities to do!
Egypt was an surprising adventure. Luxor, Cairo, Karnak… Lots of history! Quad biking in deserts of Luxor is something I'll never forget in addition to the pyramids and Valley of the Kings…
Posts To Read Next:
- How We Live Well On A £50 Budget (Family of 4)
- 50+ Ways To Save Over £10,000 Per Year
- 5 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Budget Consistently
- 10 Reasons Why People Spend More Than They Earn
Do you have any tips on how to travel cheap on a budget? What has been your best holiday destination on a budget?
Do please share this post if you found it useful, and remember, in all things be thankful and Seek Joy.