Traveling on a Budget
Traveling can be costly and seem unfeasible to many, but it’s completely doable if you budget yourself and go about making your travel plans with the right mindset. You don’t need to be a trust fund baby or have a ton of free income to afford to travel, as long as you prioritize traveling you’ll be able to make it work on any budget.
For my eight weeks in Europe I spent about $100 per day. This includes the cost of the flights, train costs, accommodation, attractions, food, miscellaneous costs, souvenirs shopping and some splurges. I did not originally budget for miscellaneous costs such as luggage storage or buying a new lock when mine broke and so on. I stuck as close as I could to my original budget estimate, but ended up going over a bit because I had decided to splurge on certain attractions and spontaneously added another city to my itinerary.
You’ll need to prioritize what you want out of the trip and designate your budget to reflect that. For example, I knew I was in Europe to see and experience the different cultures and sites. I was less interested in nice hotels or bread and breakfasts, instead I chose to save money by staying in hostels, Airbnb’s, and other cheap options. I chose to spend the money I saved by staying in cheaper accommodations on some of the costlier attractions. As I previously wrote in my post about creating an estimate budget, it’s important to be realistic with the costs and try your best to stick to your budget.
Every person is different when it comes to their preferences and their approach to cutting travel costs, there are tons of articles out on the Internet on how to save money while traveling so I wanted to round up my favorites and tell you what worked for me.
What Worked For Me
Tourist Cards or City Passes: check if the city you’re in has a good card or pass that gives you discounted admission to top attractions. Often they can be combined with a metro or travel pass which makes it even more of a smart move.
Always Ask for a Discount: I always asked if there was any discounts available that I qualified for whenever I bought anything. No matter if it was for a bus ticket to take me to the airport or one that was for entrance to a museum, I always asked. I missed out on a couple discounts early on because I didn’t ask and the cashier didn’t volunteer the information Ask if they give a discount based on age or if you’re a student (I used my old college card to save a few euros even though I wasn’t a student anymore). They may know of some coupons that you can use or of free admission days. It never hurts anyone to ask and the worst that could happen is that they say no.
Go on Free Days: many attractions have certain days that they give free entry or discounted entry. The information is easy to find on their websites, so make sure to check before you go. I saved 15 euros by going on a free day to the Louvre, I was able to spend that money on delicious pastries instead!
Go on Free Walking Tours: I found the best way to orient myself to a new city was to go on a free walking tour (check Tripadvisor for good ones in the city). The tour is tips based so it’s highly encouraged to tip the tour guide at the end, but pay what you think it’s worth and pay what you can afford. The tours were especially helpful because often you’ll be guided to the major attractions around the city (that you wanted to see!) and be told history and context about it so you are just looking at it think “what a beautiful building” because it gets old fast to look at things and not know any of the history behind it.
If you want to be even cheaper about it, download free tours onto your smartphone. I used Rick Steve’s audio guide app to listen to many of his tours, travel tips and guide interviews to help me orient myself to each city and figure out which places I wanted to see for the rest of the day or in the days to come.
Go to Free Attractions: the tried and true way to save money while traveling is to go to attractions that are free no matter what. Maybe have a picnic near the Eiffel Tower and enjoy the surrounding park instead of paying to go up the tower. A stroll around the red light district in Amsterdam is completely free. There are tons and tons of lists out there of free things you can do in cities around the world (this is especially true of cities in Europe because it’s such a popular tourist destination).
Traveling on a Budget Article Roundup