Whether you’re on a gap year or a weekend getaway, there’s no doubt about it: travel can be expensive! If you’re on a tight budget, your instinct might be to limit your travel options, stay close to home, and keep the trip short.
You’d be surprised how far you can get on how little. Just keeping in mind a few tips can make your journey cheaper. Here are my favourite ways to keep travelling without breaking the bank:
- Cheap Flights
Keeping your flights as cheap as possible will get your budget trip off to a good start. Make sure you book your flight 6-12 weeks in advance of your travel date for the lowest prices. Some airlines also charge you to reserve a specific seat in advance, so let them assign it for you.
For journeys including layovers, it can sometimes be cheaper to buy the tickets for each leg separately. It’s not always the case, but it’s worth checking as you can sometimes save £100 or more this way.
- Free Accommodation
Universities are multicultural places, so many students have friends who live all over the world. Ask around to see if any of your international friends can provide you with a couch to sleep on when you visit their city. Perhaps you can offer to cook dinner or buy groceries in return.
Alternatively, there are networking sites like Couchsurfing that allow you to find people willing to put you up for a few nights for free in your destination city. Just chip in with housework and contribute to the food shopping.
It may seem counterintuitive to work on holiday, but if you want to stay for longer than a few weeks finding a part-time job is worth it. You’ll still have free time to explore and socialise, and you’ll have extra money in your pocket to make it possible. Consider bartending, English tutoring, or being an au pair.
Another option is working for room and board. You can make arrangements with a hostel or local family to work a few hours a day for a free bed and a couple of hot meals. Use sites like Workaway or reach out directly to find an opportunity in your destination country.
Volunteering allows you to see a side to the destination country you’d probably never experience otherwise, and volunteer trips come with a lot of perks – even if they’re not the cheapest option.
With a volunteer-sending organisation your accommodation is taken care of, and while you might have to arrange your own flight, most will have someone pick you up from the airport. You also have the advantage of friendly faces to settle you in and give you tips about what to do in your free time.
Choose a student-friendly volunteer-sending organisation like Original Volunteers for a lower-cost program or consider a longer trip to make it more cost-effective.
- Common Sense
When planning your trips, there are plenty of money-saving things you can do that boil down to just using your common sense. Travelling during off-peak months will get you cheaper flights and accommodation. Ask if there’s a student discount available at every possible opportunity to do so; it won’t always be offered even if it’s there.
Consider staying at hostels that have kitchens, so you can cook for yourself. Eating out, even in the cheapest countries, can turn out pricey compared with cooking at home. And if you’re staying in one place for more than a few days, remember that buying food in bulk is cheaper than buying one days’ worth at a time.