The 3 Keys to Budget Travel

In the past year I have traveled to atleast 5 countries and 3 continents. People tell me that I must be so rich, or lucky. Although ofcourse I am a very fortunate person to be able to travel this much, I am absolutely not rich and it actually has very little to do with `being lucky`.

The most important thing to keep in mind is what your expenses are exactly. The largest part of your expenses will lay in the transportation and the acommodation/food, and if you know how to save money on these things, you can bring your expenses to an absolute minimum.

1.Transportation

¨The journey is more important than the destination¨ they always say, and this might explain why most of the times this can be the most expensive part of the entire trip. But no worries, there are plenty of ways to save money on transportation. Here are some tips.

– Finding cheap flights –
(this also applies to finding train or bus tickets)

This of course might be easier said than done. The first step is to find a good website. Usually websites from airlines will ask you for a specific date and time, and then come up with ridiculously high prices. The Skyscanner Application gives you the option to put a week, month or year and shows you from day to day what the pricing is, which can save you up to hundreds of euros.

Another option it gives is to put in the name of the country in general instead of a specific airport. This is very interesting to look into as it might sometimes be cheaper to book a flight to a different airport (note: this could even be in a different country!) and travel to the desired destination by train or bus.

The prices of plane tickets change from time to time, so this is definitely a process worth putting some time into. Checking everyday, until it is a desirable price for you. Don`t get too scared when they suddenly go up as the week after they can go down again just as easily. It takes some time to get the hang of it as these are some of the most unpredictable pricing in the world, although it is said that prices are the lowest about 3 to 2 months before departure (definitely not the soonery, the cheaper!). What I always do is that I set a budget for myself, and when the prices go under, I buy the ticket (of course to get a clear idea of what to expect I first watch the prices for some days, also looking ahead to other months just to see how low they can go).

Don`t underestimate how much money you can save this way! It has often happened to me that the people sitting next to be on the plane paid double or triple what I paid for the flight.

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– Go hitchhiking/carpooling –

While I have never done this myself, I know a lot of people who have and this could be a great way to save money. Especially when you are a guy and you are traveling in Europe, it is quite safe. The only problem is that it could take more time to get to your destination as it might not always be easy to find a ride.
Here you can find some basic tips on how to start hitchhiking.

Another thing you could do is look for a carpooling website. Some people drive to other countries regularly and want to save on their fuel expenses (don`t we all?) so they post their trips online and you can join them for a certain price.

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2. Accommodation and food

This of course is a very important part of your trip. Something to keep in mind is that you basically spend money everyday on food and accommodation. You can rent out your place while you are away and go to the supermarket and cook for yourself. This way you will have around the same expenses as you would have at home.

– make international friends –

This has definitely been my biggest expense savor on my trips. In my house we have always hosted a lot of people (without asking money for it), and it has always been an amazing experience. Wether they stayed with us for a some days or for an entire year, it is a wonderful experience for everybody, and all you need is an extra bed and an extra plate.

The nice thing about this is also that they will often return the favor. Not only will you not have to pay for your stay and food (although of course you can always give a small compensation, or at least bring some gifts), you will also get a look into the culture of the country you are traveling in. Now even if I had to pay triple what I would pay for a hotel, I would still prefer this over the five-star Costa Inn that is right in the city centre next to the bus stop for City Sightseeing.

 

 – couchsurfing –

If you don´t have international friends, you can also try couchsurfing. It`s the same idea only here the people are strangers who have a couch or a bed left that they are willing to share with travelers. These people, if they are not too busy, are often also willing to give you some great tips on things to do in the city, often places that the great majority will never discover.

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3. Be flexible

This of all tips might be the most important one.
No, you won`t get a business class flight and a beach bungalow on some tropical island for under 5 dollars. You have to be realistic, but you also have to be flexible. Instead of looking for one particular destination, surprise yourself by going somewhere else. In Europe tickets are generally very cheap, especially to countries in eastern europe and the Balkan. These might not be the most popular tourist destinations, but every country has it`s charm, and personally I find it much more interesting to discover a city by myself than to be in a bus driving around a city that practically looks the same as all the photos of all the books that have already been written about it.

The fact that you don`t have a big budget might be a way for you to do things you normally wouldn`t do, and that might be the best thing about traveling in the first place.

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