Travelling can be SUPER expensive. With so many exciting things to do, see, eat and try, one can easily be forgiven for blowing the budget without even trying. Finding cheap ways to travel is critical, so today it’s time for me to share some tips on how to travel cheap – what do we do to get more bang for our buck?
For us, we plan on being away long term, and to make that sustainable we HAVE to find cheap ways to travel while sticking to a budget (learn more about our travel budget HERE). So does that mean we sit at home every day, curled up in front of the tv, avoiding anything that may cost us money? HELL NO! It just means we have to get smart about how we save money and figure out how to travel cheap!
Whether you are travelling long or short term, saving money along the way can completely change the way you travel!
How to travel cheap: become a bargain hunter!
We are constantly asking ourselves how to travel cheap – what can we do to get more out of every dollar we have. For me personally, part of budget travel is bargain hunting. Realising that scoring a bargain is not only incredibly rewarding, but also allows your family to do more, is all part of the game.
In the past, we’ve travelled in style – 4 and 5-star resorts, eating at fancy restaurants, spending every day doing a myriad of expensive activities. But for many, that isn’t achievable, and be it long term travel or just a few weeks away, finding cheap ways to travel can be the difference between going on the adventure of a lifetime and not going at all!
I am a huge bargain hunter – there is an incredible rush in finding an awesome flight, tour or accommodation deal at a fraction of normal price. And if you can learn to get enjoyment out of a bargain, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve! I’ll admit that sometimes it doesn’t quite work as you plan (aka our Bali Hotel disaster), but learning how to travel cheap makes travel fun!
Cheap ways to travel: find free tours and activities!
Our best friend when it comes to saving money on family activities is GOOGLE.
Within each city that we visit there are loads of free activities for families to do – numerous walking tours, activities and adventures that can show you around the city, without costing a fortune! You just need to know how to find them, and that is where Google comes in!
Our trip to London is a great example of this. London is frightfully expensive for a family travelling on a budget – but we have never been and want to visit the city we’ve heard so much about, over the course of our lives.
So we jumped on Google with the following phrases – “free walking tours in London” and “free things to do in London”. Of course, you could add any number of other phrases but these two work a treat!
What we found was a crazy number of sites offering free, or extremely low-cost activities that will allow us to explore the city, AND stick to our budget! Surely that constitutes finding cheap ways to travel! 🙂
How to travel cheap: use discount sites!
Why pay full price for adventures when there are sites out there literally BEGGING to give you a 50-80% discount? Since leaving home, we have spent a crazy amount of time on sites like Groupon, hunting for fun, family activities, at a huge discount!
What I do love is that these sites also act as a search tool to help us find activities that we may otherwise not have known about. Plus we get a huge discount! As an example, our recent Desert Safari in the UAE was advertised at a total of 700AED ($USD190/$AUD268) – but with a bit of searching through the Groupon website we managed to get the same safari at only 250AED ($USD68/$AUD95) – that’s a massive 64.5% off!
The variety of services and experiences available on these sites is just brilliant – need some down time with a great massage? Groupon has you covered! Love to have a yummy family dinner at a fraction of the price? Groupon has you covered!
Cheap ways to travel: go slow!
I have spoken before about the advantages of slow travel on the health of your budget (click HERE to read more). But when it comes to tours and activities that you’d love to do, slow travel is a big part of how we afford some little luxuries.
As I’ve said before – our travel is long term – this means that we do not have the means to be flat out every day trying new things. BUT with a little planning and a few quiet days, we can do most things!
Our daily budget is $USD100/$AUD140. Having a day or two at home equals less money spent. This means, (and I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this) that a couple of days off gives us more to spend on days that we venture out.
Our time in the UAE is a great example. Our average daily spend has been $USD51.34/$AUD72.23, which means every day we’ve saved $USD48.66/$AUD67.77. When we hit London at the end of the month, though, our average daily spend is going to be FAR more, plus we have the additional cost of flights and accommodation (couldn’t find a housesit that fitted with our dates!). But, with over $USD1100/$AUD1500 extra in our account, saved from the start of the month, our time in London will be achievable, while sticking to our budget!
How to travel cheap: know it’s ok to travel on a budget!
It’s taken me a while to get used to this one! Learning how to travel cheap means learning it’s ok to stick to a budget. It does not mean you are poor, it does not mean you have no money, it simply means that you prioritise things differently!
It’s not that we don’t have the money, it’s just that it’s not a priority!
When we started traveling, I constantly found myself telling the kids “no, we don’t have the money”. It felt horrible. It felt very restrictive and just wasn’t fun. I constantly felt like the bad guy having to say no all of the time, but, if we wanted to keep travelling long term, we simply had to stick to the budget.
So, I shared the budget with the kids. They know exactly how much we have each day. They see how much accommodation costs when I book it, they see how much flights cost when I book them. And, they see me work the budget each day, recording what we have spent. By doing this, at the end of each day we can see exactly where we are at, and we can see exactly when we have some extra money. And what does that mean? It’s time for a treat!!! Woo Hoo!
So, instead of being this horrible restrictive thing, hanging over our heads at all times, our budget is now our vehicle to keep travelling. Do we need to eat expensive American takeaway foods when getting lunch at a mall? Or could we try some new local foods at half of the cost? Now that the kids know that saving when we can means having fun later, (like our Desert Safari in Dubai), they are bargain hunters in their own rights!
So, when all is said and done, travelling on a budget does not need to mean missing out! Learning just a few cheap ways to travel to help save money when you can, means you can stretch your travel dollars further!
Until next time…