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How to Travel on a Budget

We all know that saving money while traveling isn’t easy, especially for college students who are already struggling with school fees, debt, and more. But the season for traveling is coming up and with spring break around the corner, trip-planning is even more essential! If you want a relaxing and cost-effective trip, then look no further. The following tips and tricks will help you save money and have fun.

1. Plan ahead of time

Perhaps you know where you want to go, but there are some things you need to know before you book a flight and leave. Planning in advance and making a checklist will help account for future funds and avoid unnecessary spending. Both TripAdvisor and have a website and app to help you find the best places to visit at the price you want. For example, you can look at flights compared with other sites for the cheapest option available. If you want to keep your travel itinerary on your phone, use apps like TripIt for easy planning. The earlier you book your trip, the cheaper it will be.

2. Find budget-friendly accommodations

No matter where you go, you’ll need somewhere to stay the night and there are plenty of alternatives besides expensive hotels. Sharing a room in a hostel is less pricey, often giving shared amenities like kitchens and letting you meet new people- Hostelworld has affordable options. You can also find discounts for private rooms, homes, and hostels on Airbnb. Or if you enjoy camping, use to find various campsites and cabins all over the country.

3. Consider public transportation

Once you’ve decided where you’re staying, make sure to look into how to get around. If public transport is available, then this will be your best option as trains and buses tend to be cheaper than taxis. Renting a car is another option if you don’t want to worry about buying fares and tickets in an unfamiliar place. Kayak is a beginner-friendly site that showcases rental cars and train deals, while Rome2Rio shows the exact methods of transportation to your desired location at different price points.

4. Explore food options

Food is essential and therefore easy to splurge on whenever hunger hits. You may be tempted by the overpriced restaurants and cafés and before you know it, you just spent $30 on a sandwich in a foreign country. But wherever you go, there’s bound to be local grocery stores nearby. Apps like Yelp can help you find farmers’ markets or restaurants at lower prices in your area. If you have a tight budget, you can cook that sandwich with ingredients from a market for half the restaurant price.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

One of the simplest ways to save money on your trip is to ask for help wherever you stay. According to Nina Ruggiero, Deputy Digital Editor of the magazine Travel + Leisure, asking is most beneficial at hotels where you can call the front desk and ask for the lowest nonrefundable rate before booking as “they will likely beat the prices on booking sites.” You can ask for a corner room for no extra cost, possibly getting the largest room available. Free amenities can also be provided, ranging from simple items like feminine products and toothbrushes to free rides within certain distances. All you need to do is respectfully ask and you may save some money where you least expect it.

Bonus mini tips:

Try to travel out of season, trips will be cheaper if you can avoid holidays.

Travel on weekdays and overnight to avoid traffic and higher prices.

Bring a reusable thermal for water and coffee to fill up at fountains and get discounts at coffee shops.

Ask locals for their favorite spots to avoid tourist traps.



Image Sources

  • Travel on a Budget: Photo courtesy of Nick Ng | Used With Permission
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