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Traveling on a budget and how to travel cheap: Top 5 Tips

  • June 2, 2018
  • By Stephanie, The Roving Fox

Traveling on a budget

Today I share some of the ways I search for budget travel and how to travel cheap. Sometimes I get asked how I can travel so much and isn’t it expensive? The answer is more nuanced than you might think. Yes, travel can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! I also choose to not live an extravagant lifestyle at home just so I can travel more. Traveling on a budget is as easy or hard as you make it.

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I still drive my 2001 Honda Civic, and likely will until it doesn’t run any more. I make most of my meals at home and shop at Costco so I can eat affordably. Everyone has their priorities in life, and some people like material goods, some like partying, and some like to travel.

I use a variety of ways to travel on a budget, including various apps, website, points, and plain old OCD when it comes to finding the best deals. Once I have a travel idea in my head I won’t let up until I get the best deal possible.

With all of my various methods, it makes traveling on a budget and sticking to your travel budget an obtainable goal! I hope you find some of these top 5 tips helpful when you search for the best travel deals.

1. Search for Cheap Flights Online

Thank heavens for the internet for us budget travelers!!! There are so many tools I use to find great deals.

Google Flights – Google flights is one of my first stops to finding cheap flights and traveling on a budget. You can search by a specific airport, region, country, or continent. You can also enter a variety of start and end dates to see if prices rise or fall. For example, here’s a flight I found to Paris this fall round trip from Boston for $306. I found a similar flight like this for my own trip to Paris in September for $301 round trip. That’s crazy! You have to watch out for bag fees on some of these budget airlines, but if you can travel with just a backpack or carry on, you’re golden.

Next, I’ll head to Skyscanner to see if I can find any better prices on similar dates. I love Skyscanner becasue you can literally type “everywhere” into the destination field. Maybe you don’t care about Paris, specifically, but just want to get to Europe. Skyscanner will find you the cheapest flights anywhere in the world. I just booked a flight to Costa Rica using Skyscanner and saved $150 on the exact same flights if I had booked them with the airlines directly.

Hopper – I also put a travel alert on the app Hopper, which tracks flight price patterns and advises you on whether to wait for a better price or buy your ticket.

2. Sign up for cheap travel email lists

I’ve found some of the best deals on flights and hotels from travel lists like Scott’s Cheap Flights, Travel Zoo Top 20, and even Groupon. Signing up for these email lists costs you nothing except a few emails in your inbox per day, but could end up saving you massive amounts of money on flights.

I just got back from a 10 day trip to China which including round trip direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai, hotels, 1-2 meals per day, tours, and a guide for under $1,000 inclusive of my Chinese visa. I found that deal on Travel Zoo’s top 20 email list and think it was an amazing find!!

3. Be Flexible

Perhaps one of the most important tips to traveling on a budget is remaining flexible. If you can be flexible with your travel timing, you can save a bundle. Flights that depart on a Tuesday or Wednesday are generally cheap flights that aren’t full, so the prices are lower. I also usually book flights on Tuesdays. I am not sure if that’s the best day by way to data usage, but I feel like from Thursday-Sunday prices are sometimes 25% more than when I look on a Tuesday.

4. Stay in hostels or Airbnb, or listen to a timeshare presentation

This suggestion isn’t going to fly with everyone. I personally don’t mind staying in hostels or AirBnBwhen I travel. I usually figure I’ll be out and about all day anyway, and it allows me to travel on a budget and to stretch my money further. You can search for budget hostels on Booking.comand also read reviews and see photos of every hostel or budget hotel. I also met amazing people when I backpacked throughout Europe in 2014 and I stayed exclusively in hostels. No, I did not get bed bugs or get murdered (obviously).
A few times we have stayed in really nice hotels for next to nothing if we attend a timeshare presentation. You have to be strong and turn down the sales pitch, but if you can stick close to your 90 minute time slot, you can get in and out pretty painlessly.

enjoying a beer in Munich

5. Busabout

Busabout is a great budget travel option for people of all ages. The company organizes affordable tours, sails, and hop-on-hop-off travel throughout Europe. This is the company I used to backpack in Europe in 2014 and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

The buses are clean, the recommended hostels are among the best in Europe, and the other travelers are so nice. I was on the “older” side when I went (I was 31), but there were a smattering of travelers in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond.
Traveling by bus on their pre-set routes allowed me to go to cities I never thought I would see, like Bruges, Lauterbrunnen in the Swiss Alps, and Grunau in Austria. One day I hope to do one of their Croatia sail trips!

Final Thoughts

Have any of you tried these techniques for traveling on a budget before? If not, I hope these tips give you some insight into my budget travel booking process and how much care and attention it takes to snag great deals!
I’ll delve into booking travel on points and how to accumulate lots of points in a future post.
Leave a comment on my Facebook or Instagram to let me know if you enjoyed this post!
By Stephanie, The Roving Fox, June 2, 2018
Stephanie Janes The Roving Fox blog
Hi, I’m Stephanie

Hey there, I am Stephanie, aka “The Roving Fox!” I started this blog to share travel tips with friends, and eventually started incorporating more info about my hip labrum surgery, beauty products I love, and restaurant reviews. Please say hi here on the blog, on Instagram, or Facebook!

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