The prospect of travelling on a budget often comes from a place of necessity rather than preference, as most people tend to splash out on their holiday plans above all else, yet if you have a tight budget this year it doesn’t mean you can’t have an awesome travel adventure.
Indeed, travel is often associated with a sense of freedom yet when money is tight this feeling of freedom can feel restricted, yet that doesn’t need to be the case; there are ways of being frugal that mean you can still have a great time whilst not paying over the odds.
There are many great ways to save money in order to fuel your travels and there are plenty of ways to make money too, from simple side hustles to investing in real estate which you could combine with your travels. Then, on the other side of the coin, there are money saving strategies you can use when planning your travel that can save a small fortune and help you squeeze the most of your travel budget.
The key to this is making sure you have as much spending money as possible from your travel budget; and the best way to do this is to reduce your main expenses such as flights, accommodation and car hire. For instance, if you can save a few hundred pounds by flying out on a different day, perhaps at an inconvenient time, then you suddenly have a few hundred pounds more spending money – which is well worth the early morning start to get to a flight that leaves at 5am… for this is where we really notice our restricted budget, when we are in the destination trying to have a fun time, we don’t want to feel like we have to hold back on things such as ice creams or going for a nice meal, rather than always having to go to the cheapest place.
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 which compare thousands of flights by every airline to present the cheapest possible deals for the dates and destinations you’ve inputted can save you a lot of time and money.
Flexibility is what will keep costs down; in terms of the place you fly from, where you fly to, and the date itself. It’s always frustrating if you’re fixed to a specific date to find the morning before had a flight that was half the price.
You want to consider being flexible with your departure and arrival airports; for instance if you’re final destination were to be Chiang Mai in Thailand, then it would be worth searching for flights to the whole of Thailand; as flying direct into Bangkok, then getting a cheap internal flight could save you a considerable amount of money.
Similarly, if you were to be living in America or Australia for instance, and wanted to visit London – it’s worth checking to see whether there are cheaper flights (i.e. promotional fares) to other cities that will be much cheaper; for instance, at the moment Norwegian Airlines are doing flights from Providence (just a short train ride from New York) to Belfast for just £79!
Admittedly, you would need to fly from Belfast to London but as Ryanair offer flights for just a few pound that take less than an hour, it’s worth considering these protracted routes, as they can save you a small fortune.
See, frugality isn’t about doing less, it’s about finding inventive ways to enable you do the things you want to do within a tight budget.
In summary, the more flexible you can be in terms of time and location, the cheaper the flights will be, and as flights are such a large expense when travelling this is the one area you really want to save on – particularly as it’s not really the most enjoyable aspect of your trip, and all flights, within reasons are pretty standard in that they get you from A to B.
Accommodation is your second most significant expense and it’s understandable that people want to make sure they have a nice place to stay, as this can really affect the standard of trip you have – much more than a flight. Therefore, hotels aren’t in the same category as flights that are commodities designed to get you from A to B; the accommodation component of your trip really matters.
For this reason, similar to searching for flights via a comparison engine, you can do the same on sites such as travel supermarket which will compare all the main providers such as Expedia, Hotels.com and Booking.com to find you the cheapest deal.
There is the option to rent a property via AirBnB, and if you really are on a tight budget, there’s always the option to do a workaway which is where you volunteer for four hours a day, and get free accommodation and food in return.
This type of travel is known for being more suited for solo travellers, but there’s no reason f family couldn’t engage in this, and often it’s a very enriching way to travel because you become part of a community and often make a difference in terms of the volunteering work you are doing.
Similarly, there are a number of car hire comparison websites that take the leg work out of searching for the best deal on car hire.
The one thing to consider, however, is that many car hire companies won’t accept debit cards – in that they require credit cards to secure the deposit, and often times, particularly when looking to the cheapest car hire companies such as Goldcar, the deposit they request can be upward of £1,000 which can take up a huge chunk of your travel budget. For this reason, it can be better to go with a company like Avis, who will normally hold around £200 as a deposit.
The Little Things
In addition to reducing these main travel costs there are several things you can do in the destination itself, such as to make a packed lunch (often sourced from the breakfast buffet) rather than eating out. You can get off-peak travel tickets (usually after 9am) rather than peak tickets and make use of coupons, discount cards or apps, for instance, there’s an app called tastecard that offers 50% or 2 for 1 deals at a variety of restaurants in England.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.