I like to think that I’m quite well-educated in the art of travelling on a budget. Some call it ‘travelling on a shoestring’, but I like to call it being super smart with my money and making that dollar stretch as far as I can. Stretch it till it screams!

A couple of pounds saved here or there can mount up to an amount that can aid you in more adventures. The basic gist of travelling on a budget is to save on the things that are unnecessary, yet tempting, and splurge on things that are more beneficial and memorable. Sounds easy, right?


If you’re a bit of a financial lost cause who struggles with curbing the spending and thinking ahead with the dollars, you may need more of a helping hand in this. I’ve scratched my head and brought together some travelling on a budget tips to help those who need it. Who wants to be a thrifty traveller who doesn’t have to survive on pennies at the end of her trip? Read on!

Be Flexible With Your Flights

If the timing of your trip isn’t set in stone, then you have the freedom to be a bit more savvy when booking flights. Browse top flight search engines, such as Skyscanner to see what airline has the cheapest flights in the year and structure your expensive long-haul flights around the cheapest times of year.

Rumour has it that Tuesdays are the best day to book flights! Obviously, avoid flying in peak seasons where all the school kids are on holiday and on public holidays, and flying on a Friday and Sunday will always be more pricey.

Remember The Sneaky ‘Cookies’

I don’t mean the type of cookies that you happily munch on in front of Netflix, I mean those cookies that lurk on your computer. Every website will ask for your permission for cookies to track your activity, however it doesn’t give you an option to refuse these cookies. The cookies will remember your activity and some airline websites will raise the prices of flights if you keep returning to the same dates when you visit the website.

To avoid this, clear your cookies and browsing history on your computer if you are returning to buy flights after the initial research. Hopefully this will mean the flights will be the true price and the sneaky cookies won’t be trying to greedily get more money out of you.

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Sign-Up To Airline Newsletters

How do people actually find out about great sales with flights before you do? One of the top ways is by utlising airline newsletters. Although they might clog up your inbox, you’ll be first in the know when a brand new sale is launched and you can whip onto their site to book that spontaneous trip!

Some sales are insanely cheap with for a limited time only and with terms and conditions that mean you can only travel in a certain period, but they are worth it! EasyJet’s newsletter has got me booking random flights to locations that I never initially thought to travel to, all thanks to some great sales.

Actually Have A Daily Budget

This is quite obvious but a tip that is often overlooked. How many times have you jetted off on a trip, regardless of whether it’s long or short, and just got stuck in without looking carefully at your finances? Throwing down cash without thinking of the impact it might have further down the line is a top way of overspending.

Look at your bank account. See how much you can spend on this trip and divide the spending amount by how many days your trip will last – this is your daily budget. It should cover the night of accommodation, feeding and a daily allowance on whatever you please.


If you find you underspend on some days, make a note. If you overspend, make a note. On the days where you underspend, the surplus can be put aside for tours or flights that you may want to add to your trip. If you overspend, you need to remember to take it easy for the next day or two with the bank card.

It’s boring and it’s a blast of reality, but if you watch your spending carefully it’ll make you conscious of where your money is going and what is unnecessary.

Always have a backup fund in a separate bank account in case shit hits the fan, and make sure you can access the account easily via internet/mobile banking!

Flights vs Living Costs

If money is an issue, you just have to face it that you WILL be spending money while travelling. Rarely can one travel without paying for a thing so you need to figure out what you want from the trip.

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If you’re the kind of traveller who likes to cram in activities and plenty of delicious eating, then perhaps pay more for a flight to get to places where the living costs are lower. A flight to the Philippines might make your eyes water, but when you get there you can eat, sleep and drink like a queen with less cash!

If you’re heading to more expensive European cities, you’ll be able to save on the cheap flight but may have to spend more when you’re there. Big cities will always come with higher prices than small villages or towns, so the choice is yours. Just don’t forget you can be thrifty wherever you travel.

Know How Much Your Money Is Worth

Going to far off lands means you’ll have to deal with a new currency. It can get confusing and it sure is a culture shock in the first few days. To avoid getting ripped off or regretting having gone to that restaurant that (literally) ate up most of your daily allowance, write the conversion rate down on a scrap of paper and keep it in your wallet.


Use it as a reference as you get used to the prices and soon you’ll be calculating the exchange rate super fast in your mind! It’s the best way to realise how much your money converts to and you can spend smarter.

Research How To Spend

When on the road, the question of how to transport your money is quite an issue. Do you get a heap of cash out and stash it in various places to keep it safe? Do you travel with a few bank cards? Do you use a credit card?

Getting out cash and carrying a card is a clever way to go, but look into the bank fees that you may be charged on your card. Find out if it’s cheaper to use a travel card or your own bank card, or even go and open a new bank account if a bank in your home country has great international rates.

It’s important to look into the fees that are attached to your card as it sucks to get stung by fees when you’re desperate for money.


Research The Best Place To Exchange

It’s wise to look into where you can get the best rate when you want to exchange your money. Travelling on a budget is hard if you repeatedly get charged inflated conversion/commission rates, so do your homework: Which airport can give you the best rates? What bank offers decent exchange rates? What local shops could give you more bang for your buck?

A fantastic community of Spanish people in Bristol have set up their own exchange system. As they travel between England and Spain often, they directly swap their Euros for pounds with each other and give each other whatever the direct exchange rate is at the time. Why not try this with your friends if you all jetset a lot?

You could even exchange cash with someone who’s heading to your home country… if you happen to find them while on the road.

Travel With Hand-Luggage

Save a small fortune by travelling with airlines that are budget, but don’t bother with checking in baggage. Travelling with hand-luggage means you save those dollars and save time from avoiding the queues, not to mention you won’t have to lug around a huge bag.

Sure, it poses the struggle of packing all your necessities into a small bag, but that money saved means an extra day or two of travelling fun! See my posts on packing for a cold trip or a hot trip with hand luggage for some more tips.


Bring Travel-Sized Products

There are a few items you can pack that can save you some money whilst on the road. Look at your bathroom cabinet before you leave and take any necessities that may be more pricey on the road and make use of decanting into smaller bottles.

If you’re going for a long trip, pick up sun screen, shampoo, conditioner and body moisturiser when you’re out there, then dump it before heading home (or pass it onto another traveller!). These products are a pest to lug around and relatively cheap to buy around the world.

For a short trip, take as many travel sized bottles of your stuff from home to avoid paying extra when you get to your destination.

It’s useful to spread the load if you’re travelling with a friend as you don’t both need to carry the same products for the same purposes!


Reach Out To Travel Communities

Forums and social media can unveil a huge amount of insider tips from travellers and locals – don’t miss out on them! Head to communities, such as the Travelettes Facebook Group to ask questions and get tips.

You’ll be surprised by how much you could have missed out on without asking for help! Someone may be able to point out where the best cheap eats are or a way to tour the place for free. It pays (or saves!) to research and ask those questions.

Stay Close To The Action

When booking somewhere to sleep, bear in mind its location. It might the cheapest place around or it might be the most beautiful home you’ve ever seen, but it will suck if it’s far away from where you want to explore.

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Being able to walk home gives you freedom to stay out as long as you want. You don’t have to spend on taxis and you’re not restricted by timing with public transport that you have to pay for too. Staying somewhere close to the action is helpful in getting the most from your trip; just shop around for a well-priced pad!

Shop Around For Accommodation

Turning up somewhere without booking or researching ahead can mean you’ll be following whatever advice is given from the tourist office or wherever you find vacancies. This will mean you won’t be getting the best deal and might end up paying through the nose for a place that isn’t that rad.

Shop around on the internet through Yonderbound or Hostel World to see ratings and prices, and book a sweet bed for a good price.

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Alternative Accommodations

Don’t feel you have to go down the usual route of booking a place to sleep. The world has branched out to many alternative types of accommodation which are definitely worth a look! Why not try WWOOFing to get a bed in return for a few hours of work and some food? You’ll pick up some new skills and potentially see an alternative side to the location where you’re staying.

Have you tried Airbnb? This platform showcases hosts from around the world who rent out spare rooms in their houses or their holiday homes – you can sometimes pick up a bargain! You can find places to stay that will have more of a homely touch than a fancy hotel, plus many have free WiFi and the host can give you insider tips to the city.

I’m assuming you’ve also heard of Couch Surfing; a top way to sleep for free. But why not try out camping? You’ll have to lug the equipment around but it will be a lot cheaper than a hotel in some areas.


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Staying somewhere with a kitchen can do wonders for your budget. Try not to eat out for every meal of the day as it can quickly add up. Why not befriend others and cook a group meal to feed each other. The bigger the meal, the further it goes.

Hit up local food markets and whip up a great meal yourself when money is tight. Hostels usually have a kitchen attached, and although it can get pretty crowded you should make use of it to cook some meals.

Eat Like A Local

When you do venture out to taste delicious local cuisine and sample the foodie wonders of the world, try to eat like a local. Avoid the tourist areas that have shiny restaurants that pull in the crowds like lambs to the slaughter, and head to smaller independent joints that serve authentic and reasonably priced meals. Again, research is helpful to find these great spots but it will be worth the effort!

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Like I mentioned, food markets are top for those on a budget and a great way to taste mysterious things that you will never find out what they’re called. Take a walk on the wild side!

Sacrifice Cocktails For The Local Brew

How many times have you woken up from a big night and stared at dismay at your wallet? Whether you’re in your hometown or out travelling the world, alcohol is always a major drain on the resources.

I’m not going to tell you to go sober for your entire trip because that is quite extreme to those who like a bit of a party (although limiting your drinking will save major funds), but steer clear of the cocktails. They might be cheaper than at home, but they will quickly add up. Believe me. One mojito turns to two… three… four… and you may have a fabulous night, but it will be more depressing to wake up to an empty wallet.

Stick to the local brew on nights out as they’ll usually be cheaper and you’ll be tasting the local booze. Just be careful of Indonesian Rice Wine. Ouch.


Plan Your Route Wisely

I have definitely been guilty of not cleverly planning my route and splurging on bus/train rides to zigzagg the country. I get excited on large trips and want to go see/do/touch/explore all of the destinations, but then I have fallen prey to foolishly taking long expensive journeys when it could have been done efficiently.

Having a trip with no precise itinerary is pretty fun and means you can adjust your route if you so happen to meet some great new travel partners on the way, but if you’re trying to look after you bank account it might be best to come up with some kind of strategic route.

If you find that you HAVE to go back up north or need another mooch down south, do your own price comparisons on bus, coach and train prices by shopping around at various tourist offices. Try to avoid massively traversing the country in one go, unless you happen to find a great priced internal flight. Flying may save you both time and money, although it won’t be as fun as a night bus where only God knows what adventure will await you…

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Explore On The Cheap

When you touch down into a new city or town, you’ll be desperate to get out to explore. But what’s the best way?

Of course walking is the cheapest and most environmentally friendly, but sometimes it can be too darn slow. Hire a bicycle or buy one if you plan on staying in a cycle-friendly spot for a while. You can sell it on when you have to leave!

Learn the public transport system as it will be wise to utilise what the city has to offer and can help you really get far quickly (got to love those trams and tubes!). Look into tickets that last more than one journey or a single day to get your money’s worth. If you’re in a big group, some countries offer discounted group public transport tickets which is great for spreading the cost.


If you have a driver’s license, perhaps hire a car with friends to zip around faster and have the freedom of not having to depend on a schedule. Cost to Drive is a great website that will work out how much it will cost you to get from one place to another – a useful tool to keep track of those pennies.

Free Walking Tours

I’ve never been too keen on seeing a city on a tour, but this opinion of mine changed when I went to Prague earlier this year. When the word ‘free’ was used with ‘walking tour’, I was immediately interested, being the budget conscious lady that I am.


We were picked up from our hostel and joined a small group of tourists on a cold sunny morning with James, our enthusiastic and passionate tour guide. His knowledge and obvious love for the city was infectious and really warming, plus his knowledge was just incredible.

At the end, you paid what you thought it was worth and I just couldn’t undercharge him just to be thrifty. It felt good to have the option to not be locked into a ridiculous price which may leave you feeling ripped off if you feel it isn’t worth it.

So… Be sure to look up free tours in your area and see what’s on offer if you fancy sightseeing on the cheap.

Do Your Own Tours

Sometimes tours can be overpriced for what you get. Someone takes you around a few attractions, speaks for a bit then whisks you off to the next destination to stick to a schedule. It can be frustrating if you want to spend more time in one place or less place in another. It’s easy to look into tours available and see what they have to offer, and just do it yourself!

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See where they take you, what transport they use (although they may have discounts due to the large group) and what’s on their itinerary. You can see what you fancy from the tour and just create your own bespoke tour yourself. You’ll have the freedom to tailor your day with inspiration from the tours.

However, if you find it’s impossible to recreate on the cheap, it may be worth it to spend a little on a tour.

Avoid Vintage Markets

Eugh. Shopping. I sometimes hate to love it as it’s a serious drain on my finances and it’s something I cannot not do! The only way I can get around this is either avoiding markets and shops, or exploring with minimal cash on me.


Buy Postcards, Not Presents

Buying souvenirs or little travel gifts for friends and family are a lovely caring thought, but spending that little bit extra can affect your budget, not to mention getting them home is really annoying. I always buy momentos for myself and others, but now I’ve downsized to comedy fridge magnets or the most beautiful postcards I can get my hands on.

Not only do they pack up small, but they’re also not hugely expensive. However, if you feel like a bit of a cheap skate than perhaps this is one expense you can account for.


Make use of Free WiFi

It literally blew me away when I went to Vietnam the other year and discovered that nearly every place we stayed in had WiFi – no matter how cheap the guesthouse was! It’s amazing how far technology has come since my first backpacking trip where piling into an internet cafe was the only way to reach home!

Cafes, restaurants, pubs and hostels all around the world now have WiFi available so make the most of it. Take a tablet or smartphone so you can do the odd Skype or emailing while using the free internet. At least you’ll save a few bucks when you need to let your family know that you’re alive!


Hopefully there’s a few gems here that can aid you in curbing your spending when travelling! It’s quite a long list, but it shows that when you really think about it, there are numerous ways to save with your trip.

What’s your top tip for travelling on a budget?

All photographs by Sophie Saint, apart from the last post via Death To The Stock

Sophie Saint was one of the original travelettes, from 2009 – 2017. After fleeing the UK with ink barely dry on her graduation certificate, she traversed the world with a backpack and spent a few years living in Melbourne – one of her favourite cities in the world.

She finally returned to the UK after a few years where she now whiles time away zipping off for European escapes, crocheting and daydreaming of owning her own hostel somewhere hot to live out eternal summers. See what she’s up to over on her blog saintsonaplane.com and instagram: @saintsonaplane