How To Travel Cheap (29 Easy Proven Ways)

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The number one problem that is holding most people around the world from traveling is money. A lot of people think that long-term travel must be extremely expensive and only possible if you have a tonne of money. However, this is most definitely not the case if you know how to travel cheap.

One of our key principles is to travel affordably as you do not have to spend big money to have an amazing time traveling. We have never traveled on a large budget and in doing so for many years we have picked up many different tips to help keep costs down.

This article contains all our different tips and tricks for traveling on a budget while having fun. So let’s dive in and find out how to travel cheap!

I think that the four main areas that you need to focus on to keep costs down are Transport, Accommodation, Food, and Activities. So in this article, I will go through each area one by one and give you our best tips to enable you to travel cheap and therefore stay on the road for longer.

Transport

1. Travel Slowly – Great Way To Really Get To Know A Country

It may seem obvious but the easiest way to travel on a budget is to travel slowly. Because if you aren’t moving then you obviously are not spending money on expensive flights, trains, and buses.

Most travelers come to the conclusion that it is better to travel slowly once they travel for an extended period of time.

It takes time to really get to know a country or city. In my opinion, spending a long time in an interesting country is much better than moving from place to place every few days.

A good way to do this is to find a low-budget travel country that has a lot to see and do. Then just spend as much time as possible really getting to know the country.

A picture of the palacio de bellas artes in Mexico city
Mexico City is a great place to base yourself for some slow travel

We spent almost a year working and moving around Mexico and found that we liked to spend one-month minimum in a destination. Not only did this allow us to really get to know a place and cut costs on transport.

But by staying for longer we also ended up saving a lot on accommodation. Because quite often you get weekly and monthly discounts on Airbnb if book and extended stay.

When you stay longer in a location you also get to know where the cheapest deals on food are. If you are only in a location for a few days it may be hard to find the cheapest restaurants and supermarkets. But after a month or two you will know all the cheapest deals like a local.

The pena de bernal which is an off the beaten track travel destination in Mexico that is great for traveling on a budget
This is Bernal in Mexico. Mexico is a great country to travel slowly. The tourist visa is 6 months long and there are so many affordable interesting cities and towns to visit.

2. Ride Sharing Apps

Depending on where you are in the world ride-sharing apps such as Bla Bla Car can be a great way to save money on transport.

With these apps if someone is driving somewhere and they have a spare seat they put an ad up. The ad will show the price they will charge for a seat and the departure time and pick-up point. You can then choose a driver and depending on the country pay straight away or at the pick-up point.

It can often be faster than taking a bus because you don’t have to stop to pick up and drop off passengers and can also be cheaper than public transport.

BlaBla car is as app that is widely used in Europe and also available in Latin America. We used it many times in Mexico and it was usually faster and more comfortable than the bus. You just have to be careful to make sure your driver is trustworthy and actually shows up.

3. Book In Advance

This is probably an obvious tip but generally, if you book in advance you can save huge amounts of money. Whether it’s booking flights, buses, or trains it is usually a lot cheaper if you book in advance.

Especially with trains and buses in developing countries. It is often worth it to go down to the station to book your tickets if they are not available online as it will be much cheaper.

4. Be Flexible With Your Dates

This is one of the biggest mistakes that I have seen people make when booking flights. If you are wanting to know how to get cheap flight tickets I think that ebing flexible with your date is one of the biggest money saving hacks there is.

A lot of people will decide that they are going to fly out on a particular date and only check flights for this date. This can be a big mistake because particularly on long-distance flights you can save hundreds if you are flexible and leave a few days before or after your desired travel date.

Of course, if you are on a tight time schedule this will not be possible but if you can be flexible it can make travel cheap.

For this reason, whenever I am searching for flights while using Skyscanner I search by month.

This way you get a calendar with the price for each date. Then I choose the date that works the best for me with the best price without being fixated on leaving at a certain date.

This is Playa Tecolote near La Paz. We got cheap flights to La Paz by being flexible with our flights

READ ALSO: LA PAZ MEXICO THE COMPLETE GUIDE

5. Be Flexible With Your Destination – How To Travel Cheap And Be Adventurous

Being flexible with your destination is one of the best ways to travel cheap. This is a tip that will allow you to save money by being adventurous and spontaneous.

On Skyscanner, Kayak, and a number of other sites you can search for flights and select your destination as Everywhere. If you do this for a particular date or month it will show you the cheapest flights leaving your departure city to any destination.

If you do this you may find some extremely cheap travel options that you may not have considered going to. The first time I tried this I was in Copenhagen and the cheapest buses or trains to somewhere I wanted to visit were around 80 dollars.

But then I found a flight to Belgrade, Serbia for 15 dollars! So I went to Belgrade and had a great time. If it wasn’t for the super cheap flight I never would have gone there.

So being flexible and adventurous can also help learn how to travel cheap.

6. Avoid Peak Season

The peak travel season for any destination will usually mean that prices for accommodation and travel will be increased quite dramatically.

I have always found that by traveling to beach destinations when it is not peak season. Not only is it cheaper but the experience is much better. There are usually far fewer people and a more relaxed atmosphere and it is also a cheap way to travel!

Particularly if you are living as a digital nomad there is no reason to be somewhere in peak season as you can move where and when you want.

A man standing on the beach in Playa Del Carmen during the off season a good time to travel cheaply
Playa Del Carmen is a great destination to travel off-season, much cheaper, and far fewer peoplel

READ ALSO: EVERYTHING PLAYA DEL CARMEN – COMPLETE TRAVEL GUIDE 2023

7. Pack Light. Try To Take Carry On Luggage Only

This is a tip that will not be possible for most people who are on long-term trips. However medium-length trips of at least a couple of months can still be done with carry-on if you get creative.

Airlines can charge as much as 50 dollars per trip on flights in Europe and charges are similar for flights in other areas of the world. So if you take multiple trips in a year saving 50 dollars per trip will be a big help to travel cheaply.

Also as a bonus, if you do not have to check in any luggage you save time in the airport before and after departure because you don’t have to drop off and pick up your luggage.

8. Change Home Country on Skyscanner

This is a tip that I discovered by accident while using Skyscanner.

While in Mexico the home country of my Skyscanner account was set to The United Kingdom for some reason. I then decided to change it to Germany randomly to see what happened and the prices all became cheaper.

After this happened I tried it out again and found that it worked again. You will have to just guess and try different countries but it can quite often lead to you saving a bit of money.

I never found huge savings but sometimes around 50 dollars. But if you save a bit from all areas of your expenses it all adds up and all you to travel cheap.

9. Use Incognito Mode When Booking Flights

You may have noticed that when you check for flights on a booking flight such as Skyscanner. You do some research and then go back to check the prices a short time later and the prices have already gone up!

This is quite often because websites keep cookies when you visit the site and if you return they raise the prices. This is to try and make you worry that the prices will go up even further and you will panic and buy the tickets straight away.

However, if you switch to incognito mode on google chrome you will quite often find that the prices go down and you will be able to get your cheap travel tickets.

10. Take Cheap Public Transport

When you are in a new city it can be quite daunting to figure out the public transport system. Especially if you can’t speak the language and it is much easier to take a taxi or Uber. But taking taxis everywhere will definitely get expensive very quickly in most countries.

I would always recommend to try and take public transport in a city at least once (if it is safe). It is often cheaper and you also get a better idea of how the city is and what the people are like.

In areas such as Latin America and Asia the local public transport can often be dirt cheap. But in some areas such as Cape Town Uber is so cheap it is by far the best option, plus their public transport is terrible!

So you will just have to learn as you go but give public transport a go whenever possible.

A blue bus with some rocky mountains in the background near la paz mexico a beautiful travel destination in mexico
Local buses are usually the cheapest travel method in many countries. This is the bus that takes you from La Paz to Playa Tecolote a beautiful and cheap ride

11. Check Taxi Prices Ahead Of Time

If you are in a new country and there are no Ubers or you can’t book one as you don’t have a sim. It is always a good idea to know how much a taxi should cost. Taxis at airports are one of the most likely places around the world for you to be ripped off.

So before getting in one, it is a good idea to ask a local how much a ride should be or google ahead of time. This will save you money but also a lot of stress if the driver tries to rip you off.

It is always an awful feeling if someone tries to rip you off immediately upon arriving in a new country. So just be prepared and you can avoid an unhappy arrival.

Accommodation

12. Stay In Hostels – How To Travel Cheap And Meet People

My number one tip to save money particularly if you are traveling solo is to stay in a hostel. Not only do you save a lot of money but you have the chance to meet fellow travelers and make friends along the way.

Some people do not like the idea of sharing a room with strangers and I won’t lie you will have to sacrifice some comforts. It is also highly likely you will have some annoying roommates at some point.

But especially when you as a younger backpacker some of my greatest travel memories came about because of friends I met in hostels and the experiences I had with them.

Also if you are traveling as a couple, a lot of hostels have private rooms and they are generally cheaper than hotels. So depending on the hostel they can be quite good quality and a cheap way to travel.

13. Check Multiple Booking Sites

I have always found that when booking hostels prices can vary quite drastically between booking sites. The two main sites I use for hostels are Booking.com and Hostelworld. Sometimes it is cheaper on booking.com and sometimes on Hostelworld.

I also use the same tip when trying to book a cheap hotel or a guest room, always check multiple sites because prices can always vary.

Another tip is that sometimes booking.com will have private rooms to rent in people’s homes, similar to Airbnb but often even cheaper.

14. Airbnb Tips

Of course, Airbnb does not have to be explained to anyone but there are tips you can use to save money on rooms you book there.

The biggest tip is that if you book longer stays you get a discount in return. A lot of properties give a two-week discount or a monthly discount. Quite often these discounts can be quite large and can mean a monthly stay could end up costing slightly more than a two-week stay at full price.

Another small tip that I have noticed, particularly in cities with a lot of Airbnbs. Is if you are searching by looking on the map and want the cheapest places. Make sure you filter for the price. I have found that if you do not filter the results the cheaper properties are quite often hidden on the map by the more expensive ones.

One last tip is to make sure you book and Airbnb with a kitchen so you can cook your own food.

Preparing some bean tacos in our makeshift kitchen in an Airbnb in Uruapan. Always a way to make healthy food when you want to.

14. Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a great option to get free accommodation if you are interested in meeting locals and don’t mind sharing a space with another person.

On this platform hosts will offer somewhere to sleep at their place for free. As the name infers this will often be a couch but if you are lucky they may have a spare bed.

There is no payment but it is considered good manners to maybe do something nice in return to the host like cook them some food but this is totally optional.

I used couch surfing in Norway as the prices of all accommodation were super expensive and it ended up being a great experience so I can highly recommend it.

Hiking in Norway while on a couch surfing trip.

15. Workaway

Workaway is an online platform in which you can get free accommodation for work. Hosts can post a range of volunteer jobs such as farm work, animal care, hostel work, gardening etc.

In return for doing the volunteer work advertised by the host, you will be given accommodation in return. The accommodation can vary quite dramatically and can range from a simple hostel bed in a dorm room to your own studio with its own kitchen.

We used this platform to travel around Mexico for several months and not pay for accommodation once. We would spend a minimum of one month with each host.

Workaway is one of the best cheap ways to travel. You get to meet new interesting people and experience new parts of the country at the same time.

A man sitting on the beach next to a dog while he is taking it for a walk while volunteering with workaway a great way how to travel cheap
Me walking Mona one of the dogs we looked after in La Cruz, Mexico

16. Pet sitting – Our Favorite Way How To Travel Cheap

If you love pets then pet sitting is a great way to get free accommodation. In return for looking after an owner’s pets, you will get to stay at their house while they are away.

Of course, it must be emphasized that you should only do this if you really love pets. The hosts are really putting their trust in you so you should only apply if you truly like spending time with animals. Plus it is quite a lot of work but is also so fun and rewarding.

There are a number of sites where owners post ads for pet sitters. We use a site called Trustedhousesitters to find a few house sits and we love the site.

If you are a digital nomad couple looking to travel on a low budget then Trusted House Sitters is amazing.

There are so many amazing houses around the world and we have had the chance to stay in some beautiful houses while taking care of the cutest pets so we definitely recommend it.

If you would like to sign up with Trusted House Sitters use our link and enter HAPPYHEALTHYNOMADS at checkout for a 25% discount

READ ALSO: TRUSTED HOUSE SITTERS REVIEW (ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW)

17. Facebook Marketplace

In a number of countries around the world looking into Facebook groups can be a good place to find cheap accommodation, particularly for long-term rentals.

While in Mexico we found that many people listed their properties for rent on Facebook marketplace. They were much cheaper than Airbnb as long as you were willing to stay long-term.

Facebook groups are also a great place to look for tips and advice when moving to a new city. If you are a digital nomad looking up the local Facebook page of a city is an awesome place to find advice. People in the groups can tell you the best places to live, the best restaurants and people even organize activities.

Overall Facebook groups can be a great way to enrich your travel experience and allow you to travel cheaper if you use them in the right way.

Food

18. Cook On The Road

Enjoying the local cuisines is one of the best parts of going traveling. However, in most parts of the world, you are going to save a lot of money by cooking a lot of your meals at home rather than going out to eat.

When we are looking for accommodation even if it is just for a few days we always make sure there is a kitchen. Then once we arrive we ask around and find out what the cheapest supermarket or local market is and load up on groceries.

A bowl of oats with fruit and almonds on top that is a great way how to travel cheap
A breakfast of oats with almonds and fruit on top. A cheap, healthy, and tasty breakfast that is easy to make while traveling

Not only does this save you money but it ensures that you are able to cook some healthy meals at home. Whereas if you are eating out it can be a bit harder to find healthy meals in some parts of the world.

Of course, the problem with that is trying to figure out what to cook when you arrive at a new destination. My advice is to master a few dishes using ingredients that are found everywhere in the world and don’t take too long.

We always travel with a bag of spices, salt, nuts, oats etc by doing this we know we can cook a tasty meal no matter where we are.

A plate on a table with split peas, bananas, lettuce and cucumber a healthy great way how to travel cheap
Split peas and cooking bananas we made in Grenada. All with locals ingredients which is another way to keep costs down

READ ALSO: HOW TO EAT HEALTHY AND CHEAP WHILE TRAVELING

19. Make Coffee At Home

When I first started traveling I would always go out and grab a couple of coffees throughout the day. However, I started to realize that in a lot of countries I was visiting the coffee wasn’t even that good and the cost of buying them every day adds up.

Now I always make coffee wherever I am staying every morning. I only head out for a cafe on special occasions or if I hear there is a really, really good cafe I need to check out. This way I enjoy it much more when I head out to a cafe and I save money on the coffee.

Another tip I feel needs to be said is to stay away from Starbucks! Their coffees are so expensive and not that great. If you are going out for coffee while traveling at least head to a local cafe.

A homemade coffee on a wooden table with a bowl of mango in beetroot juice
Making a cup of coffee at home is a great way to save money

20. Always Travel With A Water Bottle

This tip is both a sustainability tip and a money-saving tip. So often when I am traveling I see people buying multiple bottles of plastic water a day. Not only is this adding insane amounts of plastic waste into landfills but the cost also adds up over time.

We always travel with reusable bottles that we fill up at our accommodation and carry with us. This is a cheap way to travel and you are being environmentally friendly at the same time.

Water bottle good for traveling
A Nalgene water bottle helps you with traveling cheaply and being sustainable at the same time

21. Stay Away From Restaurants In Touristy Areas

The areas of any city that have the most tourists generally have by far the most expensive food. Also, the food in those areas is generally not that good and you will be surrounded by other tourists.

You will find that by walking a couple of blocks away from where all the tourists are that the food prices drop dramatically. Just have a look for restaurants that are full of locals they generally know where the best food is.

Also do not be afraid of street food! Sometimes when people first go traveling they stay away from street food because they are afraid of getting sick.

Street food is super cheap and delcious! Also in my experience you are more likely to get sick in restaurants than from street food.

If you eat street food you can at least have a close up look at the food storage and preperation method. So you can see them preparing the food and

A plate of affordable vegan food in mexico great for people traveling on a budget
Super tasty Vegan Mexican food in Guanajuato away from the touristy areas
A delicious bowl of Pozole in Playa Del Carmen in a traditional Mexican restaurant for only 4 dollars

22. Look For Free Breakfasts

When booking hostels it can often work out cheaper to book a hostel that is slightly more expensive if it comes with a free breakfast. The breakfast would often cost you more if you bought it on the street.

Another bonus is that you save time by not having to make breakfast or look for it in the morning. But probably the biggest bonus of a free breakfast is the opportunity to meet other travelers. If you are traveling alone it can be hard to meet people sometimes.

But breakfast is a great place to meet new people as everyone sits together while they eat.

23. Buy Fruit As Snacks For Long Trips

One of the hardest things to do on a long bus trip or while waiting at the airport. Is resist the urge to go and buy some unhealthy snacks.

Not only are these snacks unhealthy but generally crazy expensive at a lot of airports. I find a good solution to this is to buy some fruit like an apple at a supermarket and bring it with you while you travel.

Not only is it a cheap way to travel it is far better for your health. Eating healthy while traveling can definitely be a struggle but adding fruit for snacks will make a big difference.

A hand holding two prickly pear fruit one is pink and the other is green. They are a tasty affordable fruit that is a great way how to travel cheap
A green and pink tuna or prickly pear was one of our favorite road trip fruits in Mexico. Easy to travel with and super tasty.

Activities

24. Google Free Things To Do

When I visit a new city I will nearly always google free things to do in the city. Someone will have written a blog post about free things to do in nearly every major city around the world. They can have some awesome ideas that are totally free.

Another good idea is to google free events in the city you are in. There can often be free festivals or cultural events that are awesome and totally free.

25. Museums – Visit Cheap Or For Free

In a lot of countries around the world, museums will often have certain days when they are totally free. A lot of the time they may be free on Sunday or the first Sunday of the month. The entry fees for some museums can be quite high so it is good to be able to go for free where possible.

In larger more expensive cities it can often be worth it to get city passes. Often large cities such as Chicago, London, New York etc will have tourist passes that give you discounts on a variety of attractions.

If you are really interested in visiting museums this can be a great way to save money while travelling. Sometimes you may get as much as 50% off admission which really adds up.

The interior of the British Museum in London with groups of tourists walking around, there is free entrance so it is a great way how to travel cheap
The British Museum is totally free to visit! Same with a whole range of other museums in London and around the world.

26. Free Walking Tours

Free walking tours are available in most major cities around the world. Generally, a local guide will wait at a meeting point in the city and at a certain time will take those who turn up on a tour around the city. Giving a brief history of the city with some interesting facts.

I have done these tours in many cities around the world and have nearly always found them to be very interesting and worthwhile.

While they are not really free as the guides work for tips it is up to you how much you tip. So those on a bigger budget can choose to tip more and if you are strapped for cash you can choose to tip less.

You can also usually find some affordable walking tours on Get Your Guide if you would like a more in-depth tour.

27. Self-Guided Walking Tours

One of my favorite things to do when I arrive in a new city is to just go for a walk without any big destination in mind. A good idea is to google a couple of nice areas and then just pick your own route on google maps and start walking. I find that you will often discover interesting parts of the city you never would have seen if you just stick to the main tourist attractions.

A woman with sunglasses a grey sweater, jeans and sunglasses on going for a walk in London underneath a tree covered in pink flowers
Strolling through a pretty area of London we decided to explore from google maps.

27. Avoid Tours

Try to avoid tours when going to major tourist attractions. There are many tourist attractions where tours are offered that cost a lot of money. But the tours offer little more than transport to the attraction.

So often it is better just to take public transport to the attraction yourself. Not only will this allow you to travel cheaply but you can take your time at the sites you visit and not have to rush and stick to the schedule of the tour group.

Of course in some situations, tours can work out to be cheaper. But it always pays to compare the price of a tour vs doing it on your own.

28. Hiking

Going for a hike is an activity that is totally free or at least quite cheap and also has the added benefit of being good for your health. It is easy to get stuck in big cities and towns while traveling.

Especially as a digital nomad you may be living in these exotic locations but being glued to your laptop all day.

Hiking is a good way to escape the city, your laptop and see more of the natural beauty of a country. If you are in city or country and are not sure if there are hikes nearby. Then a good site to check out is All Trails.

All Trails is a website where users can upload hikes and trails and people can review them. It is a great place to find trails and hikes that are not well known.

A woman in a black jacket and black leggings standing on the top of lions head at sunset a great way how to travel cheap
Sunset hike to the top of Lions Head in Cape Town.

READ ALSO: 7 BEST HIKES AROUND CAPE TOWN

A couple with the arms around each other while on a hike in the mountains of andorra
The awesome Estanys De Tristaina hike in Andorra

29. Working Out

While traveling it is very easy to slip out of your workout routine and become unfit. Also in many countries around the world day passes to gyms can be very expensive.

That’s why the best idea is to learn workout routines that require no equipment and can be done anywhere. There are thousands of videos on youtube with routines that you can follow anywhere.

My personal favorite way to workout is to do calisthenics as there are calisthenics parks in almost any city in the world. It can also be a great idea to buy some cheap workout equipment you can travel with.

For example I travel with some gymnastic rings and push up bars that you can get a great workout with and easily fit inside your luggage.

READ ALSO: WORKING OUT ON THE ROAD (EASY CHEAP AND FUN)

A man with a blue hat and boardshorts on doing pull ups at a calisthenics park next to the beach in Mexico a great way how to travel cheap
The calisthenics park I used in La Paz, Mexico

That Brings Us To The End Of My Tips For How To Travel Cheap

Every individual has different wants and needs. So not every tip on this list will be useful for everybody. But as long as you incorporate a few of the tips you should be able to learn how to travel cheap. So much of travel is learning by doing so you just have to learn by doing.

I hope this list helps you save a bit of money and enable you to extend your travels so you can spend more time doing what you love.

If you have any more tips on how to travel on a budget let us know in the comments below.

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Travel, health and fitness fanatic. Co-founder of happyhealthynomads.

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