Got that travel bug but you don’t have a huge budget to play with? You don’t need to abstain from your next adventure just because your purse is mostly filled with coins rather than big time bank notes. There are many ways of travelling on a budget and sticking to that budget! Here are our top tips for keeping your travel expenses on the down low.
1 Find a deal for your flight
Unfortunately there are no official rules when it comes to finding the best flight prices and yes, it can be very difficult to know when you’re getting the best deal.
Generally speaking, booking flights too close to departure will usually result in higher fares. Equally you often end up paying more when you’re booking flights too far in advance! It’s a mad world. If you want to make sure you’re getting a great deal then you’ll have to put in some work and do the research. Be on alert about flash sales if you’re flexible about your destination. If you already have a place in mind, do your research around flight prices in high and low season and in 3, 6 and 12 months’ time to get an idea of pricing for your chosen route. You’ll then know for sure when you’re bagging that bargain!
We usually find that booking international long-haul flights are most affordable 3-6 months before you go, for shorter flights you’re most likely looking at 2-4 months before departure. There are no official rules though, so don’t assume you’ll get a great deal if you’re sticking to these timelines, always do the research!
2 Pick the cheapest route and dates
We already went through how to get the best deal for your chosen flight, but really, you also need to think about your route AND dates. A lot of people don’t realise that the cheapest fares are often for return flights to the same airport. If you are planning on going on a tour that starts but finishes in different cities you might be better off buying a return flight to the same airport and organising a separate internal flight to create a round-trip.
Be careful though, if you choose to book an internal flight separately and you end up missing your international flight then you will have to buy a new ticket… so make sure you leave plenty of time or you might see your travel budget going through the roof.
The day of the week also affects the price of a flight. It’s usually cheaper to fly on Tuesdays through to Thursdays. If your tour starts on another day why not consider to fly out a day or two early? Yes, you’ll have to pay for the accommodation but it often still works out cheaper, you will have time to adjust to the climate and time zone and you have more time to holiday! A win-win situation if you ask us.
3 Ditch overpriced restaurants
Travelling on a budget can be especially tricky when it comes to food. Eating out for breakfast, lunch, dinner and let’s not forget snacks and local specialities you want to try during the day! But actually, most countries are very affordable without having to stand behind the stove, but even if they aren’t, this trick will make it a whole lot cheaper in pricier destinations.
Instead of heading to cafes and restaurants for every meal why not try local markets? When you’re in bigger cities don’t go for the tourist traps on the main streets, even going to one or two side streets down major tourist areas and you will see prices drop. So don’t follow fellow travellers when dining out, do as locals do. Not only will it stop your purse from losing weight too quickly, it will also give you that authentic encounter with the local cuisine we know you’re after!
4 Use public transport
You arrive at the airport after a long-haul flight and all you want to do it sleep. Yes, we’ve been there and we know how easy it can be to just hail down a taxi and jump in. But in reality you are probably paying 10 times more than you have to and it doesn’t stop there, getting a taxi from the hotel to attractions, a taxi here, a taxi there… it easily adds up and can increase your budget without you noticing.
Our advice? On your next holiday take public transport and save serious money! Especially airports are usually very easy to navigate when it comes to public transport. Do your research on the local public transport system before you arrive and your bank account will thank you for it. It’s also a great way to embrace the local culture and feel less like a tourist.
5 Haggle (if appropriate)
It’s acceptable to haggle in most markets – locals even expect you to negotiate. Put your savvy business brain to action and save some cash when you buy souvenirs for your loved ones. Just be conscious and responsible about haggling, after all, the livelihood of local people does depend on it.
6 Be organised
Booking a holiday last minute is exciting and it’s probably the way to go if you have money to spare but on a tight budget you might want to reconsider your approach. Being organised and getting started ahead of time can save you a lot of money.
Research excursions in advance: What can you do for free? When looking at pricier excursions ask yourself: Are they worth it? Is it something you can do for cheaper on a different holiday?
7 Working holiday?
Maybe you’re reading this with the ultimate goal of going on an adventure for more than your average two weeks. If you’re looking to stick around for longer and experience the local culture then it may be time to consider getting a job before or after your tour to earn some extra money. Plus, it’s a great way to make friends with fellow travellers and local people.
8 Stick to your budget
Stick to your budget… duh, too obvious right? The ugly truth is that this is the downfall for a lot of travellers who aren’t that experienced when it comes to budgeting. It can be difficult to stick to your daily budget when you have your total budget in mind and guess what, you’ll probably end up spending more on your trip. A good way to get around this is having a daily budget or a daily food & a separate budget for souvenirs. That way you can stay on top of your spending, say no to additional expenses and avoid any surprises when you return home!
9 Be flexible
Whilst it’s good to be organised, it’s also important to be flexible and do your research before you start planning. Yes, of course it seems logical to pin down one destination, research the best time to go and take it from there but if you’re an experienced budget traveller you know that it’s not the best way to keep your costs low.
Travelling out of season is a great way to save money on flights and tours. Being open-minded about your destination can also help you bagging a real bargain. Book when you spot a deal, it might not be exactly the tour you were initially after but isn’t it more exciting that way anyway? And let’s face it, deciding on a destination as a passionate traveller is always a challenge – decision-making based on travel deals is definitely the way to go, for your head and your purse.
10 Cut down on alcohol
It pains us to say this, but even one or two beers every evening can add up, especially in bigger cities and more expensive destinations. We realise you’re on holiday and you want to relax and enjoy yourself. If you don’t want to say goodbye to your evening drink then being more sensible and aware will go a long way to keep your travel budget in line. If you usually have 2 drinks, opt for 1 or choose to go for drinks every second evening.
Here at Tucan Tavel we always have weekly deals on offer for budget conscious travellers. Take a look at our travel deals or sign up to our newsletter if you want to be the first to know about secret offers!
Anna is on the marketing team at Tucan Travel. From a young age Anna has travelled solo and on group tours through Europe, Africa, the Americas and Southeast Asia.