Holidays don’t need to be extravagant to be enjoyable, and there’re plenty of creative ways to travel inexpensively – just takes some effort and planning! Here are 15 hacks to seeing the world on a budget.
1. Plan your travel for the off-peak seasons
Low-season trips can really help to bring flight and accommodation prices down, so be flexible and consider various options. And we don't just mean the non-school holiday months.
For example, you may be giving Sakura season a miss in Japan, but there’s so much more about the country to enjoy at other times of the year. The warmer months in some European countries are more popular because it’s perfect beach season and there are also more retail choices available, but that doesn’t mean the wintry months are all bleak and boring.
Off-peak seasons also mean shorter queues and less honeymooning couples to jostle with – another plus point.
2. Pick the unpopular flight days and timings. Or fly budget!
Again, it’s a supply and demand thing – so weekend flights, for one, are usually more popular, and hence more expensive. Be open to flying at a less convenient timing or day of the week. If you can do without perks like in-flight TV entertainment and more leg space, hop on a budget flight and you’re already saving quite a bit before even arriving at your destination.
3. Do your research on which airport is best to fly into
Many countries have more than one airport; the one(s) further from the city centre may be cheaper to fly into. Consider not just the flight ticket but also any ground transportation thereafter. Don’t be afraid to put up with a bit of inconvenience if that can save you a considerable amount of money, especially if you’re travelling with family and every little bit adds up.
4. Do day trips out
With day trips, you get to enjoy the sights and sounds of a local destination far enough for it to feel new and refreshing, yet near enough so you can complete the experience in a day, and not have to spend on additional transport or accommodation. Leave early in the day and make sure you have the means to return even if it gets late. Then you’ll have more than enough time to enjoy the day trip for what it’s worth, even if it’s a couple of hours away.
5. Book a serviced apartment – and share with lots of friends!
Serviced apartments are great as they give you room to relax, rest, cook, and even work. There’s ample space to kick back and chill. If you’re with friends, all the better – share the cost. In fact, if you’re in a big group, sharing everything naturally reaps economies of scale and everyone pays less. We’ve got serviced apartments across the globe, with great deals all year round. Get first dibs!
6. Or tap on the sharing economy
Consider yourself part of today’s millennial-minded generation? Then you might already be part of the growing global community of individuals open to social apartments, where coliving is the buzz word. Think social interaction with people from all walks of life, and communal living, a lifestyle concept that prioritises access over ownership. It's also an opportunity to pay less for 'more'.
7. Do cook outs, “cook-ins”, or hunt down street food
One of the most economical ways to dine is to cook your own food, and this doesn’t mean you’re missing out on the city’s must-try delicacies. Head to the supermarket or farmer’s market nearest to your serviced apartment and grab fresh produce you can easily use to whip up a meal. If you’re with friends, it will make for a fun and meaningful activity too. Or pack sandwiches and head out to a local park for a picnic while you people-watch.
Many countries around the world pride themselves on their street food, which isn’t just yummy but also representative of the local culture. Live like the locals do, and you might just find yourself falling in love with their lifestyles.
It’s a vacay after all – and sometimes you do want to indulge. There are ways to do that wisely, like choosing the meal of the day you splurge on. Many restaurants offer the same set meal for both lunch and dinner, but the price difference can be surprisingly substantial. Who says only dinners are romantic? Lunch with a view while the sun hasn’t set on the beautiful scenery outside can be equally unforgettable.
9. Take the bus, bike around, or just walk!
Hop on a trishaw, or a tuk tuk when in Bangkok? Rent a bike, or explore the area on foot? Taking these more affordable forms of public transport can be a great way to get around because you really get to see, hear and feel the things that give a city character and life. That’s kind of the point of travel, isn’t it?
You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that walking a lot isn't all that painful, and can be quite the enjoyable experience. You're closer to where all the action and chatter is; and if the weather is good, even more perfect. Walking isn't just cheap, it's free!
Granted, hitchhiking is only common in certain parts of the world, like some parts of Europe and America, and Australia. But if you’re travelling in these countries, it’s a relatively safe – and definitely free – way to get around. Just make sure you bring along a fair dose of common sense, worldly wisdom and patience with you when you attempt to hitch a ride.
11. Befriend the locals and poll them on the best and cheapest
The locals you meet on your travels can be the best people to show you where to eat, grab a beer or have fun – without the hefty price tags that accompany the more ‘touristy’ spots. You may be pleasantly surprised to find a humble hole-in-the-wall eatery that serves up unpretentious and hearty fare; or be led to things like local flea markets with some great vintage steals – for cheap.
12. Do your homework on free walking tours and discounted days for theatre and museum visits
Free walking tours are common in many western countries and some others in the Asia Pacific region. They also give a good introduction to the major sights of the city you’re in. For ticketed activities like plays and museum displays, some days of the week can be cheaper than others. Just check in at the concierge desk where you’re staying or tourist info booths to find out more; or consult Google.
13. Even when not travelling, monitor exchange rates
This one’s a no-brainer. It doesn’t hurt to stay abreast of world news and how that might potentially affect currency values in different countries. If the exchange rate is in favour of your local currency, swop some notes! Especially for the places you’ve already got penned in your travel wish list.
14. Rethink your travel style
You may be used to travelling in luxury – like dining only in restaurants with a 4-star and above rating – but how about adopting another perspective, that travelling cheaper doesn’t mean travelling worse? Often it just means travelling differently. So, go out on a limb and rekindle that spirit of adventure – you might just discover a new way to holiday that you enjoy.
15. Try your luck with travel contests and giveaways
This one’s dependent on whether Lady Luck chooses to shine in your corner, but it’s worth a shot! Some giveaways are really awesome, involving things like free flight tickets or fully guided tours. Since we’re on this point, we’re here with our own INSIDE giveaway too!