Everyone wants to create great memories from their travels – to some people great memories involve 5-star hotels, guided tours and Michelin restaurants. To me, traveling is about the unexpected experiences, the people I meet and the cheap, delicious food I spend copious amounts of time looking for.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m always broke, usually from spending all my money on before-mentioned culinary experiences and transportation to interesting places. When I do get to my travel destination, I want to stretch my money as far as I can, while still having lots of fun and good experiences. Here is my guide to budget travel
1Spend less on accommodation
You are probably going to spend most of your time out and about anyway, so why spend money on a fancy hotel, when you could be spending those money on more important stuff, such as delicious food and fun activities? I like to stay in hostels, when I’m solo travelling. It’s affordable, it’s a great way to meet new people to explore with and some of them even have a kitchen, so you can cook all those delicious foods you found at the local market. I’m also a fan of Couchsurfing. It’s an opportunity to explore your location from a locals’ point of view and if you’re lucky, they’ll give you some great tips or show you around. And it’s free!
If you’ve read some of my stories from the road , you’ll know that I’m all in favor of crashing in unusual places. Staying in a rural area? Find a place to pitch your tent, or if it’s warm, roll out a sleeping bag and enjoy the view. Have an early morning flight and don’t want to splurge on a hotel bed, that you’ll only use for a few hours? Stay in the airport, they’re usually open all night. Just remember to keep an eye on your belongings!
2Use alternative forms of transportation – or find a way to save money on the traditional ways
Got some time to spend and a desire for adventure? Grab a friend and hitchhike! It’s free, you get to meet a lot of interesting people and you’ll probably end up in places you would have never explored if you were using public transportation. Of course, it is necessary that you have a few days/weeks off work and responsibilities, depending on how far you want to travel.
If you don’t like the uncertainty of hitchhiking, there are many other ways to get where you want to be, without spending all your hard earned money. A lot of people offer a ride for cheap on sites such as BlaBlaCar. Even if you decide to travel by plane or train, you can still get some pretty good deals – a lot of airlines have memberships that are free and let’s you earn points when traveling, that you can use later on. The Danish airline SAS offer cheaper tickets for young people from 18-25.
3Use your network
You probably know someone (who knows someone) that studies abroad, spent a year as an Au Pair or traveled in that particular area you’ve always wanted to visit. Send them a message, they’ll probably be happy to share some tips on where to get the cheap food and which sights are free. I personally love it when my friends from Denmark visit me here in Paris and I also love to visit friends and family abroad. If you’re on Couchsurfing, chat up former hosts or guests who live in the area you’re visiting. Most people will be happy to lend out a mattress or show you their city in exchange of some good times.
4Eat where the locals eat
If a restaurant has a display out front with menus in 5 different languages, chances are that their target audience are tourists and the food will more often than not, be more expensive and of worse quality than restaurants that have locals as their audience.
Don’t eat near big tourist attractions, but walk a bit further away in order to find cheaper, better food. If there’s a line of locals out front, chances are that the place is good – remember to check if it’s affordable too, before you line up though! Consult Tripadvisor, Yelp and blogs for inspiration.
5Seek out the free attractions
In London, most museums are free for everyone and in Paris, permanent exhibitions are usually free for Europeans under the age of 26. It’s free to look at monuments from the outside, so enjoy the view without spending a penny, and save your money for the attractions that you really want to explore.
Remember to check out the free magazines that can often be found in a city’s train stations or underground system, such as Time Out London or A Nous Paris. There’s usually a lot of inspiration to be found on where the free concerts, exhibtions and great markets are.
6Walk, walk, walk
One of the best ways to stick to your budget is to walk everywhere you can. Most cities are great to explore by foot. It’s good exercise, you have a better look at things than you do from a bus or a taxi and on top of that, it’s free! I love exploring a new place by foot and whenever I have the time I always opt for walking around Paris. Another cheap solution is renting a bike or if you don’t have the time to walk around, get a travel card or a day pass.
7Ask the locals
Whether a tourist asks me for directions or where to find the nearest café, I’m always up for helping them out and I never hesitate to ask locals for advice when I travel. Locals and expats know all the good places to eat, drink and party, so don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re couchsurfing or staying in an Airbnb, chances are your host has a lot of tips, but you can always chat up someone who looks local if you need help or advice.