Getting the Most out of Traveling on a Budget

Beach on Grand Cayman by Poco a poco (Creative Commons)
Beach on Grand Cayman by Poco a poco (Creative Commons)

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just spend whatever you wanted on a trip, without a thought? How different would that type of travel experience be? But, alas, this is not the case for many of us. We have to carefully watch what we spend, and that’s okay. You can still have a great time with some careful planning and smart choices. Here are just a few helpful tips to get the most out of your trip. 

Only Do Things You Want to Do! 

This may seem like a strange tip…you’re not going to do a bunch of stuff you don’t want to do on vacation right? The point is to have fun. But, often times, people do exactly this. There can be a lot of pressure to get the most out of your location, and fill your day with tours, activities and sightseeing. You may feel compelled to hit every recommendation in your guidebook. When you are traveling on a budget, you may want to rethink this strategy. But, while you certainly don’t want to spend all your time in the hotel, or just wandering aimlessly through the streets, you also don’t want to force a bunch of activities in which you truly have no interest. Think how much money you can save by just doing the things you really want to do?

Think how great it would be to have some extra wiggle room to spend on things that you really love to do,, like go out to eat at a nicer place or get a spa treatment. So, if the idea of spending three hours to get to a waterfall, or see a temple that looks exactly like a dozen you have already seen, holds minimal appeal, skip it.

Choosing Accommodations 

Accommodation is clearly one of the major expenses when it comes to your trip, and choosing it carefully can make all the difference in your budget. First off, you might consider renting a house or apartment rather than a hotel. If you are traveling with several people, the costs can really be minimized. Also, you can prepare your own food, which can be a HUGE boon to your budget—yes, vacation is a time for indulging, but if you really don’t mind eating at home sometimes, even on vacation, that’s a huge chunk of change saved. When it comes to hotel booking, there are a few things you want to keep in mind. A place outside the center of a given area can be cheaper, but consider how you are getting around. If you need to take any sort of transportation, that could end up costing you more.

Suitcases by Phineas H. Creative Commons

Don’t jump on a place with a free breakfast right away if food is relatively cheap where you are, as you might save more by choosing a room without this option. Is internet free? Are you paying for amenities that you would probably not use anyway, like a gym or a pool? And while you want to save money, don’t go so below your travel ‘comfort level’ if it means you will not enjoy your trip fully. Booking a bed in a shared hostel room of eight people for a few bucks sounds tempting for those looking to save money, but if the idea of sharing a room with strangers holds little appeal, don’t do it just to get the cheapest room possible.

Spend Money Where It’s Warranted and Don’t Obsess over Minimizing Spending 

When it is necessary to keep an eye on spending, it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to save as much as possible. It can become like a game of sorts, a game you feel very compelled to win. And, this can really end up spoiling your trip.

Sure, you are on a tight budget, so that means no 300 dollar hotel rooms. But, if you are tired and cranky after a long flight in a less expensive area of the world for example, spend that 15 bucks on the cab that will bring you right to your hotel rather than subjecting yourself to two hours of multiple transfers on public transportation simply because that will only cost you five. Don’t shun the five dollar meal that would hit the spot right now because you know you can get something for just two from a street stall. Follow these three tips to get the most out of traveling on a budget. Happy travels!