Here at Thrifty Traveler, we’re all about getting you the best flight deals possible. But of course, that’s just the “getting there” part of an adventure. It can be easy to “accidentally” rack up a huge cost while traveling abroad, with exchange rates and tourism traps sneaking in and breaking the budget. But never fear. Here’s a few thrifty tips on how to not just fly on a great deal, but keep costs low throughout your trip.
Find your connections
There’s no better inside knowledge than those who lived or grew up in the country you’re visiting. Reach out to the international students at your school, or international folks in your community who may know a thing or two about where you’re traveling. Ask about hidden gems, traditional dishes, or special experiences that you can enjoy on a budget. Don’t forget to write it all down before you go.
Visit the market
When you’re traveling, it’s tempting to take the easy route and eat out all the time. However, these meals can often be overpriced and touristy. Why not do as the locals do and shop local? At European markets, we recommend getting a fresh baguette, some sandwich meat, cheese, mustard and any other toppings to make absolutely phenomenal sandwiches. (You just can’t find the same quality of bread and cheese in the states!)
Ditch the hotel
Sometimes it seems the only option when traveling is pricey, luxurious hotels. Not true! (Thankfully!) Here’s a few options that we have used for lodging that are wonderful (if not, much cheaper) experiences:
- Airbnb: By now, Airbnb has become a familiar go-to when looking for places to stay; but it still deserves a shout out because it has truly revolutionized the traveling landscape. You can find a place that is more affordable, and a much more unique experience than a hotel. (Not to mention that your host may be able to give you some great traveling tips — see #1) Use our link to get $40 off your first Airbnb stay.
- Hostels: The hostel experience is certainly not as luxurious, but it can be a thoroughly memorable and enjoyable time. While some might feel concerned about sharing rooms with people you don’t know, the communal feeling of traveling together creates some of the best traveling stories. Especially when traveling alone, finding fellow solo travelers to adventure with can sometimes even lead to lasting friendships. We’ve linked Hostelworld.com, which is a good place to start when looking for a place to stay.
- Couchsurfing: If you’re a little more “edgy,” couchsurfing is the MOST affordable option — as in, it’s free. So of course, that comes with it’s own pros and cons. As with any “sharing economy” product, make sure to look for positive reviews before booking. And be sure to contact the host to get a feel for who they are ahead of time. With that in mind, this can be a great and affordable option for a place to crash for a night or two.
Try a Rideshare
Trains, planes, ferries, and bikes — all wonderful ways to get from place to place. But have you tried a rideshare? This is another affordable and memorable way to travel, and can save lots of money. Just like hostels, don’t be intimidated by sharing space. Often it’s with other travelers who are eager to talk about adventures with you, (or let you sleep, if that’s what you need). We’ve linked to blablacar.com, which is available across Europe and other countries.
Walking or biking tours
When it comes to sightseeing in Europe, there’s one experience that you can find almost anywhere: biking or walking tours. Often these are free/pay-what-you-can (we recommend a nice tip for your guide). A few that are available in multiple countries are Fat Tire Bike Tours, and Free Tours by Foot. Wherever you are, you can easily look up available walking tours in your area and meet the group at a starting point. It’s a great way to meet new people and see the city, all while keeping costs down.
Well there you have it Thrifty Travelers, a few tips on how to travel on a budget. Of course, the best way to start off on the right foot is to snatch up a stellar deal on airfare from one of our finds! Then, set a budget for your trip and find creative ways to make it fun-filled and affordable. Like we mentioned — the biggest overall tip is never to shy away from experiences just because they’re unfamiliar. Jumping headfirst into making new friends, embracing the camaraderie of hostels and rideshares, and soaking in the tastes, scents, sights and sounds of traveling, are all surefire ways to ensure your trip is one for the books.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.