How to travel on a budget – 12 ways to save + Freebie!

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With careful planning, you can make your travel dreams come true. Budgeting is an essential step for 
any trip, long or short. It helps you:

  • know how much money you need to save for your vacations
  • know how to distribute your money in order to make it last throughout your trip
  • avoid surprise costs and expenses
I have traveled quite a few times and this method has always worked for me. Here are my tips to travel on a budget:

✈🏨 Flights and lodging

1. Be flexible with your dates and use Google Flights: I always use Google Flights to explore the cheapest days to travel. You could be surprised how much you can save just by moving your trip on or two days ahead. For example, I managed to flight from Barcelona to Italy for just €72. It could have been cheaper if I had arrived and departed from the same city (€45!). 
2. Consider Airbnb instead of a hotel: one of the best inventions has to be Airbnb. You can find central apartments for half the cost of a hotel. The best of it? Most hosts allow guests to access the kitchen, helping you save even more money in food.

🍕🍷 Eating & drinking

3. Shop at the supermarket: if you’re staying at a place with a kitchen, consider buying groceries at the supermarket. That way you save a ton versus eating out every day.
4. Carry a bottle of water: fill it up everyday, carry it with you and avoid having to buy drinks on the road. 
5. Avoid restaurants in front of landmarks: look for places a few streets away and you might save money.
6. Beware of the extra charges: some restaurants will charge a “patio” fee if you decide to eat at the tables outside of the local instead of inside. In some countries such as Italy, if you sit down (it doesn’t matter inside or outside) they will also charge you extra. If you bought a coffee, drink it standing by the bar.
7. Tipping – yes or no?: Educate yourself about the tip practice in the country you’ll visit. Tipping is not common in Europe and it’s not considered rude not to leave it. 

🚆 Moving around

8. Buy long-distance transport tickets beforehand: there are some train tickets at cheaper prices online that are limited. The earliest you buy it, usually the better.
9. Search online for transportation best options: don’t wait until you get to the country to find out how to move around. Look online for the ticket fares and options to save such as 1-day unlimited cards that allow you to move around in train, tram and buses for a fair price. 

🏰🎟 Entertainment

10. Take advantage of student discounts and free entrance to attractions: in many countries in Europe, a lot of museums are free to enter on Sundays, either after a certain hour or all day. For example, here in Barcelona, most museums are free after 3 PM every Sunday and free all day during the first Sunday of every month. Look it up online so you can plan your trip accordingly and take advantage of this.
11. Buy museum and tour tickets online: if you will be visiting a very important museum, it is better to book online. Tickets usually sell out fast at the door and if not, long lines will make you waste time.
12. Calculate your expenses: I always make spreadsheets to manage my budget and calculate my travel expenses. 

Freebie – Travel on a budget Spreadsheet

I’m not an Excel genius, but I created this sheet to stay on budget on all my trips. Here I calculate:

  • Flights and lodging
  • Food and beverage
  • Transportation
  • Activities and entertainment
  • Souvenirs
  • Insurance
  • Miscellaneous

The spreadsheet has two tables, one to estimate your expense and another one to update it with the real expense. It also helps you calculate the euro-to-USD rate. I have included comments inside the spreadsheet so you know how to adapt it to your own needs. You can download it here

I hope it helps! If you use it, let me know in the comments below or tweet me @krystel_k 😄


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