I'm a student. I'm a broke college student. But, I also love traveling and going on adventures. I've learned a thing or two about traveling as cheaply as you can, while still enjoying yourself. It may not be the glitz and glam of staying at 5 star resorts, flying first class, and taking private yacht cruises, but it's still good fun.
The thing about traveling is not the size of your budget, it's about the adventure and the company you're with. As long as you approach traveling with a positive perspective and appreciate the journey, you will have a good time.
With that being said, here are my tips to saving money while traveling (especially if you are a college student like me):
1. Use Google Flights and Skyscanner when searching for flights
These are the two best resources for searching for the most affordable flights. I definitely prefer Google Flights over Skyscanner, and I'll tell you why it's the BEST:
- if you have flexible travel dates, you can use the graph or the chart to find the best days to fly out and return.
- If you are not picky on a destination, you can use the map to browse the cheapest place to visit. This is great when you don't have an exact set location, but want to visit and area or region.
- Google Flights typically has better rates than Skyscanner. But not always! Be sure to check both before committing.
2. Check Budget Airlines Websites for Deals
Often times, budget airlines will not show their rates on travel comparison sites, such as Google Flights or Skyscanner. Google budget airlines in the area you live and see if any of them offer good rates on flights to your destination. It might be a pain to check out their website individually, but you could potentially be saving hundreds of dollars.
3. Check to see if there are buses or trains that run between cities
If you want to check out multiple cities in a country, or if there are major cities not too far from each other, chances are that there are buses or trains that you can use. Buses are usually, the cheapest way to get from place to place. Sometimes they are not the most fun form of transportation, but they work just fine.
4. Airbnb or Hostels make for great cheap accommodation
Hostels are the budget traveler's dream. They are dorm-style rooms that 4+ people share. Hostel prices can range from $8-100 depending on what country you are staying in and which hostel you select. CHECK THE REVIEWS BEFORE YOU BOOK A HOSTEL. Go on Hostelworld, and read through the reviews and comments. Some hostels can be dirty, and you don't want to stay anywhere unsafe. Do the research. Another alternative is an Airbnb. People rent out homes or rooms for travelers. They can be a great way to get a homey-feel in a foreign place. Again, check the reviews to make sure you are not getting scammed in any way. All my experiences with Airbnb have been absolutely wonderful, and cheaper than staying in a hotel.
5. Minimize Food Costs
Food costs can add up no matter where you are. Minimize food costs by eating local food, or buying food from a grocery store. Local cuisine tends to be cheaper, so try to eat at places the locals do. Be careful about cleanliness though! Sometimes our bodies are not used to the local food or water, and you can get sick. Another money-saving option is to buy food from a grocery store. You can buy ingredients to make a sandwich, or salad, far cheaper at the store than you could at a restaurant.
6. Maximize Luggage Space
Here's the thing: most airlines will not weigh your carry on luggage. I've been on over 12 flights in the past 4 months, and only once did they weigh my carry on. And, I think they only did that because my backpack was suspiciously full. That being said, when flying, put all your heavy items in your carry on luggage. When packing your check-in luggage, there are ways to maximize space (and here's a helpful graphic):
- Roll your clothes
- Use pants to line the bottom of your suitcase
- Stuff socks and underwear in shoes and other nooks and crannies
- Lie bulky items on top
- Packing cubes can be a great option as well
7. Make sure your web browser is in private browsing mode when buying tickets
This is also known as incognito mode on the Chrome browser. Websites track your cookies (messages from the website to your computer) and may raise the price if they see that you have been searching for flights or tickets. By being in private browsing mode, websites cannot see what you've been searching for, usually resulting in better prices. The price difference could be a few dollars to a few hundred dollars!
8. Prioritize your activities
Write down all the must-do things on your trip. If you want to see this ancient temple, eat at a famous restaurant, go on a tour, etc., prioritize those activities. See how much they will cost, and from there, budget the rest of your trip. You can save money on other areas that aren't as important to you. If you know you wanna go on an awesome jungle tour, try saving money on drinks or shopping. It's all about finding a balance.
9. Travel in 4s
This may be a weird one, I know. Bear with me. Everything is made for either pairs or for 4s. Odd numbers just don't work as well. If you are booking a hotel room, it's cheaper to book a room with 4 people than it is for 2 people since you need two beds anyway. Taxis typically can hold 4 passengers. Hostels often offer 4 bed dorm rooms, and by traveling with 4 people, you can have a private room! I've traveled with 3 people, I've traveled with 6 people, I've traveled with 2 people. Trust me, 4 people is the ideal number.
10. Travel During Off-peak Season
During the less popular times of the year, you'll be more likely to get deals on transportation and accommodation. Look up the peak travel season at the location you plan to visit, and see if it is possible to visit at a less popular time. If you're going to Southeast Asia, beware of monsoons. While it is cheaper to travel during the monsoon season, the rain could interfere with your plans