Cheapest Ways To Travel When You Do Not Have Money
These are 30 clever ideas for the cheapest ways to travel.
Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive.
In this blog post, I share about ways that you can save money while traveling.
I pretty much implement most or a combination of these things whenever I go somewhere.
I know some people prefer traveling in luxury and splurge during vacations.
But if you have a limited amount of money, I hope some of these tips can help you save money and spend less.
You can travel, have a great time, and not go into debt.
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Cheapest Ways To Travel: Accommodation
1. Stay With A Friend
Whenever I start to plan where to travel, I always check if a friend or family I know lives there.
You have to be a bit shameless for this one because you are asking for free accommodation or if they even have space for you.
Accommodation is one of the most expensive parts of traveling, and immediately cutting this cost of out the equation is one of the cheapest ways to travel.
2. Compare Airbnbs and Hotels
Throughout the years, Airbnb prices aren’t what they used to be.
Before booking an Airbnb, the price per night might seem inexpensive, but once you’re ready to pay, you are hit with a cleaning fee, service fee, and taxes which sometimes doubles the price you have to pay for booking.
Always compare different accommodation types to make sure you are getting a great deal.
3. Stay At Hostels
People (typically those who have never stayed in hostels) have a negative impression of hostels.
They are basically cheaper hotels and involve sharing a room with multiple people.
Mind you, there are so many different hostels, where some you can have a private pod or room.
If I can help it, I usually book a private room, which typically will only cost me a few dollars extra.
Aside from being cheap, hostels are such great places to meet other people.
It’s actually how I traveled with new friends all over Southeast Asia.
4. Stay At Campgrounds
If you are not looking for luxury, and just really need a place to stay, check out campgrounds and go camping.
If you already do not have a tent or gear, you can rent the tent and other equipment and some cabins might have cabins that you can rent out.
I once stayed at a campground while visiting Rome, Italy.
It saved a lot of money, especially in a high tourist place like Rome.
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Cheapest Ways To Travel: Dividing Costs
5. Travel With A Group
Traveling with a group automatically cuts down your expenses because you can split the cost of food, accommodations, rental car, and any activities.
Plus, for attractions, you can bet that there are discounts for big groups.
It’s usually even more fun when traveling with other people.
6. Invite Your Rich Friend
Seriously, invite your rich friend to travel with you.
You think I am kidding, but it really cannot hurt.
There are those blessed friends who are always willing to offer to pay for everyone’s dinner, drinks, and other expenses because they are aware that they can afford it more than anybody else in the group.
But don’t invite them just because they money. Or do.
That decision is between you and the lord.
Cheapest Ways To Travel: Food And Drinks
7. Visit Local Grocery Stores
I am surprised by some people who do not visit grocery stores when they travel.
This is more for international travel because I have found grocery stores in other countries so fascinating.
You can treat this activity as a fun little excursion.
It’s free to go in and explore, and while you’re there, you might as well go grocery shopping to save on food.
8. Cook Meals
Another great way to save money while traveling is cooking your own meals.
Eating out can get very expensive when traveling.
When you visit new places, it’s so easy to eat with your eyes and try everything.
Though it is fine to do this, it is definitely NOT a cheap way to travel.
- Like when I visited Taiwan and ate everything: Taiwan Itinerary
You can try a combination of both when you’re traveling.
Maybe set a couple of meals where you want to cook and some where you are going to eat out and try local restaurants in the area.
Cooking meals in your hotel are ideal for breakfast or dinner.
Especially if you are traveling with a group, it’s a great activity to enjoy your time together and enjoy your accommodation.
9. Book An Accommodation With A Fridge
If you are not up for cooking, try to make sure that your accommodation at least have a refrigerator.
This way, you can bring home any leftovers, drinks, or any perishable items that you have.
Any leftovers can be eaten for breakfast the next day which will help you save money during your travels.
Another budget friendly tip for food is to eat fruits and pack sandwiches for lunch.
No cooking involved.
All you really need to have is a fridge.
10. Combine Meals
One of the simplest ways to save money while traveling is combining meals.
If you don’t like cooking or going to the grocery store, then you can think about going to brunch instead of having breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You can also eat snacks throughout the day and then splurge for dinner.
11. Don't Buy Drinks
Let’s be honest, drinks, especially alcoholic drinks can be extremely expensive.
In Vegas, an alcoholic drink can easily be $25 each.
I already mainly only drink water, but when I am on vacation, I tend to get super excited and buy cool sounding drinks.
Being cautious of your consumption of drinks or only drinking water while traveling are some of the cheapest ways to travel.
Buying drinks eventually add up.
12. Eat Street Food
Bring out your adventurous side and try the street food instead of going to a sit-down restaurant.
Street foods are usually more inexpensive and convenient.
13. Travel With A Water Bottle
Traveling will make you thirsty.
I personally tend to stay away from buying bottled waters if for environmental reasons.
Having a water bottle while traveling since you can fill it up for free when you see a water station.
Or you can ask your server to fill up your water bottle when you’re at a restaurant.
How To Save Money While Traveling: Money
14. Use Miles and Cashback Credit Cards
It is not a secret that you can save so much money while traveling when you use miles.
I personally own a couple of Chase and Capital one credit cards for this reason.
You can use travel miles to book flights and hotels and any cash back credits for other purchases.
It’s literally free money that you can use on trips.
15. Use Cash
If you are someone who gets all credit card swipe happy, you should
If you don’t trust yourself with a debit or credit card, try to use cash instead.
In this way, you can clearly gauge and see how much you have been spending.
When we swipe credit cards, it’s much harder to keep track since we don’t have the visual of how much is being taken out from our account.
Using cash is a way to save money while traveling because you can see the physical cash that you are spending.
16. Use No Transaction Fee Credit Cards
This is geared towards international travel, but debit cards and credit cards will usually charge you a service fee every time you use when you’re traveling internationally.
I love my Chase credit cards for this reason because it doesn’t have any international travel feels, which saves me money while traveling.
17. Set A Budget
As a person who doesn’t like to have limits especially while I’m traveling, I don’t strictly adhere to a budget.
However, I usually try to have an idea and estimate of how much the trip will cost.
You can easily figure out a general ballpark by calculating the costs of the following:
- Number of nights
- Cost of accommodation per night
- Any attractions or activities that would cost money (ex. Surf lessons, tours, etc.)
- Cost of food per day or how much you are willing to pay
- Cost of transportation
If You Need Help Saving Money For Travel:
Cheapest Ways To Travel: Transportation
18. Explore Your Transportation Options
Depending on where you are, always check the public transportation and see which one is the cheapest way to travel.
If there are available options like the MRT, metro, or the subway, you might be able to get deals for a day pass.
Taxis can be ideal when traveling in order to get to different destinations, but they could get expensive.
Public transportation might be a bit intimidating at first especially if you are not familiar, but it will likely save you money in the long run.
The lesson is you won’t know until you try!
19. Walk Everywhere
You know what’s cheaper than using public transportation? Walking!
Unless a car is required wherever you are traveling to, you should walk everywhere (if that capacity is possible).
Walking is a privilege, so if this is possible for you then you should.
In addition, walking also allows you to see and notice more things as opposed to when you are driving or riding public transport.
Ways To Save Money While Traveling: Activities
20. Visit Public Parks
This one is pretty straightforward.
I love things that I can do for free, and going to public parks is one of them.
In larger cities like New York or Paris, there are usually some event or performance going on.
Anything free contributes is good for traveling on a budget.
21. Shop At Night Markets
When traveling, some people tend to shop at malls or basically any mortar and brick stores.
Try shopping at local night markets to save money while traveling instead.
You’ll find that the products and foods sold are usually cheaper and are sold by local small businesses.
22. Free Walking Tours
My favorite travel tip to save money is joining free walking tours in the area.
A lot of the cities that I have traveled to typically have them.
I did a walking tour when I traveled to Taiwan and New Orleans.
Simply google “free walking tours in whatever name of the city.”
How do free walking tours work? Are the really free?
Walking tours typically lasts for 2 hours.
At the end of the walking tour, you basically tip however much you want, but I have personally tipped around $20 USD.
I’d feel guilty not paying anything since you really do get so much information and the guides are typically locals who have all the knowledge and can even give you recommendations and fun facts.
23. Check Out Museums
Checking out local museums is one of the ways that you can save you money while traveling.
Not all museums are free, but museums tend to have days and times when offer free admissions.
Don’t miss out on these opportunities.
24. Travel During Rainy and Off Seasons
I strongly believe in this.
- In fact, check out my backing trip where I backpacked SE Asia for 3 months during the rainy season.
One of the reasons traveling can get expensive is people tend to travel during the sunny summer months.
This makes a lot of sense, but this also means that it is peak season, and the prices tend to be the highest (same case during Christmas and New Year time).
Perks of traveling during off season like the colder rainy months can help you save money while traveling because the prices of accommodation and activities will be lower since there will be less tourists.
25. Go To The Beach
Going to the beach is a free activity.
It’s a combination of relaxation and fun and you can spend most of the day here without spending anything aside from food.
Beach days are a great way to save money while traveling.
26. Cooking Classes
I think of cooking classes as an activity and food rolled into one.
Please explore the different options as some might be expensive depending on where you are.
But the ones I have done in Southeast Asia were around $25 per person, which were such a steal.
If you live in the US, $25 can easily be a meal for 1 person if you include tipping.
27. Compare Tours Vs Planning Yourself
I used to be such a tour snob because I did not want to be all touristy, but if you are in a pinch for money and time, organized tours can be a way to save money while traveling.
I am all for DIYing your trips, but it doesn’t hurt to sit down and calculate how much would cost you if you were to do it yourself vs going with a group tour.
With a tour, you are typically guaranteed to check off multiple sites on your list while not having to worry much about planning, transportation, getting information, and food.
- Check out websites like Klook for organized tours.
28. Visit Less Tourist Areas
You can pretty much easily assume that touristy areas tend to be very expensive for obvious reasons.
Going to less touristy areas not only save you money, but it also saves you time because it’s less crowded.
It is also one of the cheapest ways to travel.
An example of this is when traveling to Portugal, the best place to get the highly sought-after dessert, pasteis de nata, is to go and line up at Pasteis de Belem.
Don’t get me wrong, Pasteis de Belem has the best pasteis de nata, but other pastry shops nearby sell the exact same thing and you can find pasteis de nata all over Portugal.
This example is more for food, but finding accommodations in less touristy areas will also save you money.
29. Pictures As Souvenirs
This might be controversial, but I am not big on souvenirs.
Not buying souvenirs can help save money while traveling AND it also saves space.
Collecting magnets and shirts are fine, but sometimes I find that they just add to the clutter at home.
To each their own, but I view pictures as the best souvenirs since it doesn’t cost money if you use your camera or phone.
30. Schedule Relaxing Days
Many people forget to schedule days to relax and rest.
The more activities you include while traveling, the more likely you will be spending money.
There is nothing wrong with having a chill day where you take the time to enjoy your hotel, sleep in a little bit, and basically do nothing.
Scheduling relaxing days is a way to save money, especially if you are traveling for a long period of time.
You need to rest and take care of body too!
31. Go Hiking
Hiking is my favorite free thing to do. It’s free!
Here are some of my previous hiking blog posts that you can check out:
I hope this post about the cheapest ways to travel helps you in the future. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive and there are many ways to make it affordable.
Are you already applying some of these tips when you travel?
Do you have any questions or suggestions?