Planning a trip involves counting the money you need. At least, in my case. I do not have a huge budget, but I still want to travel in style and for it to be comfortable. This involves spending your money on the right things and in the right way. A wellness afternoon? Is possible. A business class flight ticket? Definitely not.
Money can be quite important since it determines the level of comfort you want to pay for. But spending less does not necessarily mean you have to give in on comfort! This is what I call comfortable budget travel.
The costs of a trip can range from transportation to hotels and activities. All of them can be very expensive, but with these hacks, you might be able to cut a lot of your expenses.
Read on to find out my personnal smart budget travel tips!
Transportation for low budget travel
How do you prefer to travel? By car? Plane? Train? And which one is the best for low budget travel? Usually, travelling by car will be the least expensive option, depending on road taxes and fuel consumption.
Is it worth it taking the plane?
Ask yourself if it’s worthwhile to take a plane, sometimes a car drive can take the same amount of time. Travelling by plane namely requires you to be there 2 or 3 hours before departure, most of the time you don’t live nearby so extra travel time to the airport has to be included.
It takes me about 1.5h to get to the closest airport, thus I lose a lot of time. It might be faster, cheaper and better for the environment to just drive.
I personally consider the train a pleasant option, better than driving. This is because the train allows you to spend your time doing something useful or relaxing instead of stressing about traffic. Most of the time, this will be a more expensive option but way better for the environment!
If you really want to take the plane book early! This is very important for low budget travel if you want the cheapest tickets. Don’t think you can get a cheaper last-minute deal. These days airplane companies raise the prices with every other seat that is occupied. Therefore, the emptier the plane, the cheaper your ticket. Moreover, more comfortable seats will be taken!
Also, fly outside the touristic season and do not forget to think about the touristic season of your destination. It’s not because it’s winter in Europe that planes to South Africa won’t be full. Our winter is the summer season there!
These days, there are a lot of low-cost airlines offering very cheap flights. I recently took a plane from Brussels to Copenhague for as little as €24! Back and forth. To find those cheap tickets I usually search on price comparison sites such as Skyscanner and I book a few months in advance. This really makes the difference between a €24 and €100 flight!
But don’t fall in the trap low-cost airlines set for their customers. You pay a low price for basic service but they always try to upsell and offer you several extras you don’t actually need.
Transport to the airport
To save money travelling from and to airports consider taking a bus. Recently, a lot of low-cost busses have emerged. This means that you can take a bus from your home city to the airport for as little as €5! A real cost-saver! Of course, this depends on the country you live in, but for Europe, this will generally be cheap.
From my experience in Canada I can say that transportation is a lot more expensive there, but still cheaper than taking a train. Take into account that driving to the airport will involve expensive parking fees.
Another option is a carpooling service. For example, in Canada, Poparide is a popular platform to find a ride between two places. People simply rent out their empty seats.
When making short-distance transportations I prefer to use Uber. It can be slightly cheaper than a taxi and they have a carpool option if you really want to save money. For a lower price, it will combine several rides but it takes a little longer to get to your destination.
Another option for short distances is the electric step. These days a lot of shared step companies appear out of the blue to offer you a pleasant ride. However, it might not be the cheapest option depending on time and be sure to drive safely!
Accommodation for low budget travel
Usually, a lot of options are available here. The standard option is often a hotel, but others include hostels and Airbnb.
When you’re young and don’t have a lot of money, a hostel might be the cheapest option. For a little sum, you can get a bed in a shared room. Often, these are good places to get in touch with travellers from all over the world, thus perfect to make some new friends!
However, if you are like me and prefer a calmer place Airbnb is a great option. People from all over the world rent places ranging from whole houses to small rooms. This is a slightly more expensive option than hostels but you can enjoy more privacy and it is perfect for groups of friends travelling together or if you’re travelling alone. An Airbnb is generally perfect if you travel on a budget and if you want it to be more comfortable than a hostel.
When I travel on my own I prefer to book a private room in someone’s house to get some privacy but at the same time, you can have lovely conversations with great hosts. This is also perfect if you want to practise a foreign language.
Another option is a very cheap hotel (2-star hotels) but those are often of less quality and less charming than staying in an Airbnb while paying the same price!
Check out where I stayed before below!
Activities on a budget
Visiting a place can be cheap or expensive depending on the activities you plan to do. My usual activities include musea, walking through the city, visiting cultural heritage etc.
Most of the time this won’t be too expensive and they provide discounts for youth or students. Thus make sure you check this and take your student card with you!
Moreover, a lot of places can be visited without spending too much on activities, perfect for low budget travel. If you fancy walking there are guides available with the best walking tours through your city where you can see a lot of cultural heritage. This is often my kind of visit.
If you want a unique experience with a local I suggest Airbnb experiences. Local people can offer several fun activities you often won’t find anywhere else.
I once took a Poutine cooking class (which is a typical Québec dish) and it was a great experience because you meet a local and other visitors from all over the world! (If interested, check out the recipe for poutine I learned there!)
The most common offers are (culinary) walking tours through the city or photoshoots. Make sure to check the reviews of the host to ensure you have a qualitative experience.
If you plan to do a lot of musea and other things like this, a lot of cities make special offers for tourists visiting multiple attractions. You can buy a combined ticket for multiple activities with a discount.
Top budget travel tip: combine!
A lot of travel organizations will offer discounts when you book a flight and hotel at once. An example of this is Expedia, there might be a discount if you book multiple things with them. Ideal for low budget travel and if you want a more comfortable place for the price you pay!
Ready to save money on your next holiday?
While travelling on a budget it’s important to consider every possible option. Don’t also forget to take into account the environment, flights are polluting but some airlines offer the possibility to offset your flight by paying something extra and that won’t be a lot. Thus worthwhile considering it.
A big chunk of expenses goes to accommodation but it is fairly easy to pay way less without giving in on comfort. Also, make sure to take into account discounts for activities!
So, these were my top budget travel tips on the topic I call ‘comfortable budget travel’. Do you have travel tips on budget? Don’t hesitate to place a comment below!
Do you want to know more about saving money with low-cost airlines? Read my ‘ultimate guide for dealing with low-cost airlines‘!