5 Budget Travel Tips For The Shoestring Traveler

Travel doesn't have to be expensive; unless you want it to be, of course. I start from the premise 'for every problem, there is a solution'. We just have to look for it; and recognize it as such when we've found it. If you want to travel in luxury, please do so; it is as good an experience as traveling on a budget. It doesn't matter how you do it as long as you learn something from the experiences you are having.  As I see it budget travel is the art of stretching you budget so you can experience more for the same money. Here I put together five tips I hope you will find both helpful and inspiring. Alternatively you can check out my list of free activities you can do wherever you travel.

Travel light

Many airlines charge for extra luggage, therefore the best thing to do is to try to keep it all within one bag per person. You won't need your whole wardrobe during your one week vacation, nor will you read two books, I know it and you know it too. Packing stuff 'just in case', can be kind of unfriendly for your budget. Unless you are traveling to the end of the world, there is a good chance you'll find a pharmacy, a supermarket and some shops at your destination. Having less clothes to choose from can also save you some time in the morning. A vacation from the working life can be a great opportunity to also take a vacation from rampant materialism. We can survive on amazingly little. For extra advice check out my packing light tips list.

Travel light - 5 Budget Travel Tips That Can Actually Save You Money

Budget eating

No matter how close or far from our homes we travel, we need to eat. Hotels know this, and that's why they offer breakfast included packages. You think the breakfast is truly free as advertised? Don't be naive! You are paying dearly for it, believe me. The best you can do is find a local coffee shop nearby your hotel and have breakfast with the locals. It might not be as comfortable but you will have the opportunity to blend with the residents and learn something about their habits. At lunch, ask for the 'menu of the day', don't just order à la carte if you care about your budget. The daily deals sites can provide you with some great restaurant discounts too. A picnic in the park with local products bought from the market can also be tons of fun.

Further readings:
How to eat like a local in Beijing
Finding the best cheap eats in Berlin
Tips for eating on a budget in Bermuda
UK's best cheap eats

Coffee Cupcakes - 5 Budget Travel Tips That Can Actually Save You Money

Smart sightseeing

Many cities have a pass available that usually allows you to visit a big number of tourist attractions for free or almost free. The city passes are usually available for one, two or three day, the more days, the more expensive the pass. The number of attractions included is vast, and it is actually impossible to see everything that's included in the pass in the short time it is valid for. But the trick is that some of the attractions included have free entry anyways, and others are so obscure that you don't really care about. The best thing to do is to make a list of the places that fall in your area of interest, take into consideration how much time you have at your destination and prioritize. Have a look if the attractions are in walkable distance from each other or you will need to use the public transport. Do the math and decide for yourself. City passes can be tourist traps or budget saviors; it depends on you. Also, many places offer discounts to children, students, and seniors with an ID card and they usually beat the discounts the city pass offers.

Further readings:
Florentine Colours - 5 Budget Travel Tips That Can Actually Save You Money

Travel off-season

Off-season travel can mean less crowded and discounted tourist attractions, more budget accommodation options,  less stress and more fun.  Check with the local tourism office to find out when their off-season starts. Because off-season means slower business, and therefore less money for the travel industry companies, they usually come up with some very creative ways to boost their profits. Festivals, doors open events, free museum entrances, discounted theme park tickets, medieval markets are just few of the strategies used to bring in tourists when the business is slow. Of course, I am not talking about the big events, like the Rio Carnival or the Venice Carnival. That is high season on the cities map. I am talking about local festivals and events that are more like a well kept secret, nevertheless fabulous.

Further readings:
The magical Prague in winter

Copenhagen Medieval Market - 5 Budget Travel Tips That Can Actually Save You Money

Use the local public transport system

Whenever you can, and you are not too tired, walk. Walking is not only great for admiring the architecture of the place, but it's also free, healthy, environmentally friendly and can even save you time. Waiting for 15 minutes for the bus to come, just to get to the next bus station is a waste of time and money. Biking around is another great way to explore a city on a budget, especially now with all the bike sharing programs in place in hundreds of cities all over the world. Cycling around cities like Paris, where traffic is horrendous, can save you time while keeping you fit. Alternatively, you can purchase a public transportation card for ten trips, one day, or one week, depending on availability. This is a great opportunity to explore remote neighborhoods and learn about the challenges the locals face on a daily basis or the advantages they have.

Lisbon Trams - 5 Budget Travel Tips That Can Actually Save You Money

Photos via Flickr Creative Commons