How To Squeeze The Most Out of a Tight Travel Budget

How To Squeeze The Most Out of a Tight Travel Budget

The prospect of traveling on a budget tends to come from a place of necessity rather than preference, yet just because you have a tight budget, doesn’t mean you can’t have an awesome adventure.

Unfortunately, money is the fuel that will transport you from where you are to where you want to be, as without money your travel adventure will be akin to a plane grounded on the runway without the fuel to take off and explore the big wide world.  

Even when we look to ‘cheap’ destinations such as Nepal, Indonesia and India money is an essential component, and often, whilst the cost of living decreases the focus on money becomes more and more intense.  It’s not nice to feel like a walking wallet or purse at the best of times, but if your wallet is empty it can feel like an unpleasant experience.

Air BNB helped my daughter and I find the amazing apartment and because it didn't have a lift we saved a lot
Air BNB helped my daughter and I find the amazing apartment and because it didn’t have a lift we saved a lot

That said, you can travel on a budget and still have a wonderful time – the key to this is making sure you have as much disposable cash as possible in the form of spending money; and the best way to do this is to reduce your main expenses such as transportation and accommodation.

The other consideration is to find ways to increase your budget.  There are plenty of ways to do this – from tapping into savings accounts, selling unwanted items, or dipping into an overdraft.  The best way, by far though, is to increase your income whilst traveling.

Visiting Versailles, we used the train and bought the tickets online. Cheaper and no queue
Visiting Versailles, we used the train and bought the tickets online. Cheaper and no queue

You could, for example, rent out your spare room for a few hundred dollars each month (particularly useful if you’re going on a long trip).  Similarly, you could start a travel blog that you monetise, set up a side hustle such as an Etsy shop where you source interesting items whilst on the road; or work an extra job for a few months prior to your trip.

The other side of the coin from increasing your budget is to reduce your costs; in the sense of squeezing the most out of your travel budget by saving on certain aspects of travel in order to experience more from your trip; as an example, staying in cheap accommodation and riding on buses.  

The benefit to this, is that whilst it can be convenient and comfortable to hire a car rather than getting a bus, the amount you’ve saved will allow you to do all sorts of cool things like test out your Ninja Shark on a snorkelling safari.  This, concept could be viewed as budget repurposing, and in that vein, this article continues with looking at how to reduce your two largest travel expenses; flights and accommodation.

CHEAP FLIGHTS

Flights can take a large chunk of money from your travel fund.  However, if you can be flexible with your flight dates then searching for cheap flights via comparison engines such as www.skyscanner.net or www.momondo.com that compare hundreds of flights by almost every airline in the world to present you with the cheapest deals for the dates and destinations you are looking for can save you a heap of cash.

Another factor to consider is being flexible with your departure and arrival airports; as an example if you were flying to Chiang Mai in Thailand it might be worth searching for flights to other parts of Asia; then fly direct to a hub airport such as Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok – then get a cheap internal AirAsia flight direct to your final destination.

A further example is if you were to want to visit Laos, whilst it is convenient to get a flight direct to the capital, Vientiane, it would be a lot cheaper to fly into Bangkok, then get either a cheap 50 minute flight to Udon Thani or a super cheap express bus to the border town of Nong Khai, where you can enter Laos with Vientiane just a few miles away.

Similarly, if you were to be living in America or Australia for instance, and wanted to visit London – there might be cheaper flights to other cities such as Manchester that are $200 cheaper.  

Our apartment wasn't in a fancy area, but we had a fresh market below us and a tiny kitchen so we ate our meals in our apartment to save on restaurants
Our apartment had a fresh market and a tiny kitchen & ate our in our apartment to save money

It would, therefore, make financial sense to book that flight and travel to London on a cheap train ticket that will only take two hours to reach London.  The other thing to consider, if traveling to somewhere like London are that there are a number of airports all within range of London; there’s Heathrow, Luton, Stansted, Gatwick and London City.  

The most convenient for London is Heathrow or London City, but the cheaper flights, particularly if you’re coming in from Europe tend to arrive at Gatwick, Luton or Stansted.  The other thing to consider, when flying, is how to get from the airport to your destination; as an example, in London you can take the Heathrow Express that costs around £24 or you can get an all day tube ticket that costs around £10 and is valid on all public transport throughout the whole of London.

In summary, the more flexible you can be in terms of time and location, the cheaper the flights you will be able to find but squeezing the most out of a tight budget should extend to onward ground transportation too.

Patisseries are wonderful in Paris, don't scrimp on the desserts!
Patisseries are wonderful in Paris, don’t scrimp on the desserts!

WORK FOR YOUR ACCOMMODATION

Even in countries known for being cheap such as Malaysia, a basic room can be around £10 a day – which adds up to £300 per month.  There is the option to rent a property for a few months, which can work out a LOT cheaper than staying in hotels or even hostels. Then, if you’re particularly enterprising you could always rent a three bedroom house in a convenient area which you sublet via AirBnB to other travelers.

The other thing to consider, if you’re really on a budget, are sites such as workaway that essentially allow you to volunteer for four hours a day, and in return you get free accommodation and food.  This is not just a cheap way to travel, it’s a great way to be part of a community and meet other people whilst making a difference – particularly if you were to be volunteering somewhere like an orphanage or animal sanctuary.

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