Raise your hand you’re one of those people whose travel bucket list just keeps getting bigger and bigger with each passing day. In fact, chances are you may also be caught staring at the pictures of exotic destinations in between work. You may daydream about hiking through the valleys or soaking in the sun at a beach.
As fascinating as your travel bucket list is, you can’t really ignore the fact that fulfilling your wanderlust comes at a price. Does that mean your travel bucket list will never be checked off? Well, you can still travel your heart’s content without going broke. For that, you need to learn the art of budgeting.
But before you get too excited, let me break it you that budgeting can be the hardest process to get through. You wouldn’t want to think about the hole you’ll be digging into your pockets when you’re out to have fun. But fret not, because I will guide you how to check off all the destinations on your travel bucket list without coughing up an exorbitant amount of money.
Table of Contents
1. Everything needs to be planned
What? You thought you only need to research for your academic papers. Well, you may not require as much research for your homework help, as you would do for traveling cheap. Carry out some research on the places you’re eager to visit with regard to the visa requirements, accommodation, transportation, local language and culture, currency, etc.
Create a checklist and have all your travel documentation (passport, visa, tickets, hotel bookings, currency, credit cards, and driving license) in one place. It’s wise to have soft copies of these documents on your email or on a pen drive in case your belongings are stolen.
Also, check the roaming rates of your phone service provider, cost of an international SIM, and a local SIM. Keep a separate list of contact details with you at all times. These could be of the credit card helpline, hotel, airline, the embassy/consulate, and any other numbers you think you may require urgently.
2. Get the right accommodations
Finding affordable accommodation can be easier than you think. You can check out some apps and tools if saving money is your goal when it comes to finding accommodation abroad. Apps like Airbnb, Hostelworld or Couchsurfing will help you find suitable places to stay, that too on a budget.
Put a limit to your accommodation expenses by choosing options like guesthouses or hostels, which offer basic shared rooms for a low cost. In many cases, you may have to lower your expectations if you choose either of these accommodations. Moreover, cheap prices could mean compromising on the cleanliness, or atmosphere.
The advantages of these establishments are that you can meet other budget travelers, and get the lowdown on the best activities in the area, and of course, make traveling on a budget more convenient.
3. Go local with your food choices
You can save boatloads of money by cutting your food prices down. This is why you should try out the local delicacies and avoid the fancy fine dining restaurants. In this case, many hostels come with a kitchen which guests can use, so take advantage of it by gathering the raw materials and cook for yourself. Also, when shopping for food items, go to local markets instead of the departmental stores.
If your culinary skills aren’t all that impressive, you can also save money by buying food from the street vendors. Look for the restaurants where locals like to eat (hint: look for the serpentine lines; these places will be worth the wait).
Normally, simple restaurants that serve lunch or dinner will be the cheapest and will serve up huge helpings to boot. In Western Europe, for instance, many restaurants offer a menu of the day, which packs together a three-course meal at a reasonable price, so keep an eye out for these.
Now here’s the cardinal food rule of budget travelers? Stay away from the overpriced tourist restaurants in the main sightseeing areas!
4. Take care of the transportation
Finding cheap flights to particular destinations can be quite cumbersome, but there are plenty of apps and tools that give you the cheapest deal easily. These apps generally include a notification system which sends you an email when flight prices drop for your chosen travel destination. Talk about a budget traveler’s dream apps! Some of the apps for finding cheap flights are SkyScanner, EasyJets, Kayak, etc.
Flexibility is a factor to consider while grabbing the best airfares, so you need to maintain spontaneity or alter your plans in order to take advantage of cheap deals. Try to book flights in advance, but it has to be perfectly timed. Fares are generally cheaper during the departure date if the airline needs to fill the seats. However, you shouldn’t expect a rock-bottom price the day before you fly.
One of the downsides of flying in a budget airline is that they find ways to sneak in extra fees and charges though. If you’re ignorant, you may end up paying through the nose to print your boarding pass at the airport or for something as simple as a glass of water.
Once you’ve reached your location, using public transportation, walking, or renting a bike for the day can be the most convenient way to get around town.
5. Make the most of the free activities
Depending on your interests, finding free activities may not be as difficult as you think. You’ll be surprised by all that you can see and do in different cities just by walking around.
Those with the penchant for adventures may actually love wandering around, soaking up the local ambiance even more so than participating in organized activities or attending scheduled events. This way, you’ll get a chance to explore less touristy areas and meet the locals more freely. Also, wandering around doesn’t cost a bomb, making it the perfect way to travel on a shoestring budget!
If you’re inclined towards a more structured schedule, ask around or seek recommendations from the locals to learn about free activities in the area. In some parts of the world, visiting churches or museums is absolutely free. Some countries may offer free entry on holidays, or on particular dates (like the first Sunday of every month). You may even opt for free walking tours (but you mustn’t forget to tip the tour guide at the end of your tour).
Wrapping it up,
When you dream of exploring the world around you, things like budget constraints shouldn’t ruin it. However, traveling on a budget requires you to know things. Now that you’ve learned quite a bit; go check your travel bucket list off one destination at a time.
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