Being on a budget when you’re travelling doesn’t mean you have to miss out on things. In fact, it means you can save more money to travel for longer and spend your cash where it matters most (like those more expensive excursions you just HAVE to do!).
But living on a budget is a bit of an art form, especially when you’re first starting out. But if you work at it, it’s something you can teach yourself to master. Here are our top tips for living on a budget, whilst still making the most of every experience:
Treat your taste buds for less
One of the biggest expenses you’re likely to face while you’re away is food and drink (especially if you’re a foodie who just has to try everything the country has to offer!). So here are some simple hacks that can help you to save money.
The most important step is going to be avoiding those expensive restaurants. Eating out every night would can be way too expensive, and restaurants should be viewed as a treat, not a necessity. If you aren’t at a place where you can cater for yourselves, choose smaller local cafes, and compare prices on the menu before settling down to eat. Not only will this save money, but you’ll often find great little places you might not have considered before!
Self-catering is your cheapest option, and shopping at the local supermarkets is your best bet here! Finding your local Lidl, Carrefour, Walmart or whatever it may be will help you to save money. Plus you’ll often get a better choice of the local food. Take the opportunity to try out new recipes where you can – this is only if you have self-catering facilities of course. And never underestimate the value of a packed lunch!
Get excited by street food! Some of the best (and least expensive) dinners come from street vendors – though this can depend on where you are in the world. If you want to eat out, or don’t want to cook for yourself, grab a bite on the move and try some amazing street food.
Take the free food where you can! Depending on where you are in the world, if you stop for a drink in some places (particularly in Europe) you might be offered free snacks – especially in bars. In Belgium for instance you are often given cheese and prosciutto ham with your drinks, so make the most of this while it’s there. In places like Spain you might even be able to get a whole dinners worth of free tapas if you’re savvy enough.
Think like the locals
There are some touristy places that you’re going to want to see (I mean who goes to Paris and doesn’t at least glance at the Eiffel Tower?!) but as a general rule, if you avoid eating and staying in tourist hot spots you’ll be able to save yourself some cash.
Staying on the outskirts of well-known towns and cities will often make the accommodation a lot more affordable. If you really insist on staying in the centre, use budget websites like booking.com to try and secure yourself an affordable last minute deal. You should also shop around, hostels will be cheaper than hotels – so if you’re not afraid to share a bunkbed, this can save you some serious cash.
Eating out in tourist spots will also blow a chunk in your wallet. Like we said, never underestimate the value of a homemade cheese sandwich and a bottle of water (SO BRITISH!). Taking a packed lunch during days out can save you a great deal of money.
Don’t be afraid to do a little walking
Walking is your best friend when you’re travelling on a budget! All the little things add up, a taxi here, the metro there – if it’s within walking distance, do it!
Walking is not only a great way to save money on transport, but you get to see so much more of the country that way. You might find hidden gems you would have missed as you flew by in the car, or sat on the train.
This is also a great way to find local haunts (which more often than not are cheaper!) and budget supermarkets. It also means you can stay on the outskirts of the more expensive towns and cities, and walk in to the centre. Not to mention it’s a great way to work off those cheese sandwiches and keep fit while you’re away!
Living on a budget doesn’t mean you always have to say no to things, and following these money saving tips means you can spend your cash when it really matters. So you can’t always eat out at fancy restaurants, but when you find one that you are dying to try, you can afford to do it! And when it comes to accommodation, you might have to stay in a few budget hotels or hostels, but every now and then you can treat yourself to a little bit of luxury.
If you practise keeping to a budget, eventually it becomes second nature. That way you can travel for longer, for less!