Travelling can be expensive, there is no doubt about that. When you start looking at flight prices and hotel rooms it really seems a bit out of reach. There are many ways to save money for travel. Here are some budget travel tips that we use when we travel.
Budget Travel Tips
1. Travel in Off Season (Shoulder season)
So when you are planning your trip you might find these words mentioned:
- High Season
- Low Season
- Shoulder Season
High Season for the location in question is usually late spring into summer, or around the time of certain festivals or holidays. Summer is high season because the weather is better and schools are out. This makes it the perfect time for families to get out and travel. Unfortunately this causes the flight prices and accommodation prices to increase drastically.
Low Season is usually winter time, especially in areas without ski resorts etc. Iceland is a great example, February would be their low season since it is the middle of winter and they receive no sunlight during this month, so it may not be as appealing to some people. Since these are not ideal conditions prices drop on flights and accommodation during this time period to encourage people to visit. This is usually the best time to visit to get the best deals on flights, accommodations and tours, but the weather may not be as nice or certain tours may not be running.
Shoulder Season is the sweet spot. It is usually around April/ May or September/ October in most countries. Prices are usually quiet low still as children are still in school and things are quiet. The weather usually improves but can be hit or miss depending on how early or late in the shoulder season you travel. Attractions may be cheaper, car rentals, hotel and hostels prices may even be lower at this time.
January is also a great time to travel, after Christmas a lot of airlines have seat sales to try to increase their January sales. Usually people have travelled to be with family over Christmas, so no one is really travelling in January. On top of that children are now heading back into School as well.
We usually travel in October which means we get to spend our birthdays in some epic locations!
2. Use Google Flights or Skyscanner.
Another budget travel tip is to track flight prices, you can use these sites to track prices for your flights. Google flights puts out suggestions for saving money suggesting that if you fly out a day later or earlier you can save X amount. Skyscanner shows you all your options, length of trip vs price etc, both are really useful apps. Other websites include, the official airline’s website and secret flying.
3. Stay in Budget Accomodation.
Ok hear me out, if you love the outdoors then why not? If you are planning a road trip then campsites cost a fraction of a hotel. Some countries even allow free camping in some areas. So if you have your own gear, you can rent a car and sleep for free under the stars! We did this around Iceland but stayed in a campervan and it’s still one of our most memorable trips to date! This is one of our favorite budget travel tips as we love the freedom and the outdoors.
People automatically think of hostels as disgusting, dirty places that you don’t want to stay in. In actual fact they couldn’t be more wrong. I stayed in a few hostels in New Zealand that cost $20USD per night. They varied from 4 bed dorm with a private shower to 6 bed dorm with communal showers. All of these places were clean and well kept with pleasant and helpful staff. Bonus if you’re a solo traveler, hostels are a great way to meet new people so you have company on your adventures! On top of that, they also offer private rooms at budget prices instead of just 12 person dorms. There are also options for 4 bedroom dorms and even separate male and female dorms There are so many options out there and some places can be as little as $10 in some countries.
In some cases you can get amazing deals and amazing accommodation through AirBnB. We have yet to use it ourselves but we have stayed at an AirBnB with family and it was absolutely amazing so it is definitely worth checking out.
- Budget Hotels
Stacey swears by Booking.com, which is why she’s going to write about her top tips for booking an epic rooms. Booking.com no longer has only hotels in its search engine, you can also book apartments, guest houses and B&Bs.
This is an awesome one, because you connect with locals and stay at their homes free of charge. Of course you need to be careful with it, we have never done it. It can be a great way to meet new people in a new country.
4. Use Public Transport
Our best budget travel tip for getting around other countries while travelling would be to use public transport. Travelling by bus is almost the cheapest way to go. Overnight buses are even better because you save yourself money on accommodation for that night! One of the best things ever was booking a 10hour bus ride to Wellington for $1, one of the worst was booking a 10 hour bus ride! I booked ahead because I knew my plans but if you have the time the long bus rides will almost always be cheaper than a flight. Bonus, you get the experience more of the scenery this way. I used the Naked Bus in New Zealand and there were chargers and WIFI, it was really quite comfortable.
Car Rentals can be quite depending on the season and if they are offering discount prices. Travelling in your own car allows you to explore more off the beaten path locations as well. Look into any car relocation deals especially in Australia and New Zealand, sometimes a car has been rented to go in one direction and the companies will rent out the car for next to nothing if you bring it back to the starting point!
5. Travel Light
Another budget travel tip would be to travel light! Here are five reasons why you should start travelling lighter.
- You Save Money
More and more airlines are now charging you to carry one peice of luggage with you. A few airlines charge about $25US per checked bag. It may not seem like much but in South East Asia that would be 2 nights accommodation. Imagine if you were taking 2 different flights, each charging $25 for a checked bag… Travelling light saves you money.. All those travel fees add up! So get a good carry-on bag and learn to pack light. It does take some practice but you get the hang of it. Check out some of the biggest packing mistakes and my Osprey Sirrus 36L backpack.
- The Airlines can’t lose your luggage.
The $25 you pay to check your bag does not guarantee it will even arrive at your destination. We know that this doesn’t happen often and it has never happened to us. But we have heard some horror stories about people’s luggage going missing and they have no clothes for their vacation and that would really ruin your trip.
- You always have a change of clothes on you.
If you travel light, you always have your clothes with you. What if you are clumsy and dropped food on your shirt and you have another 12 hours of travel until you can change… If you have all your clothes in your carry on, you can just change in the plane’s bathroom and freshen up all at once.
- Carry On bags fit a lot more than you think!
We travel with an Osprey 36L and a Deuter 40L backpack. We can comfortably fit a weeks worth of clothes plus an extra day or two, camera equipment and toiletries in our backpacks. We usually travel with a small packable backpack that we use as our day bag!
- Easy to carry!
Less stuff to carry means its easier to move around. We can walk further with just our backpacks on than we could dragging a suitcase. It’s actually easier getting around the airport and bonus, we don’t have to wait for our luggage at baggage claim!
6. Travel to more affordable countries
Ok so maybe the plane ticket may be a bit more expensive to get there, but accomodation, transport and food will be way cheaper. Places like South East Asia, India and Nepal, and countries in South and Central America, even South Africa are cheap places to travel. Here are some more tips for learning to travel for less.
There are other options as well. You can work abroad on a holiday visa or join a WWOOF program where you work for your room and board.You can also teach english abroad. Couchsurfing is an option as well, I haven’t personally used it but I have met up with a couple of couchsurfers who were quite cool. Use with caution though, if something doesn’t feel right then don’t stay with someone just because it’s free.
I hope some of these tips encourage you to start exploring this beautiful world! You can check out this post about how to be a nomad if you want to travel full time. Book that ticket and go on your adventure. Find out 7 simple hacks to make you a better traveler here.