Traveling on a Budget

Last year, three of my friends got married (not to each other, though that would be a really fun wedding), two of my friends had babies, one friend had a major life crisis, and another launched her own bakery. In other words, it was a typical year of travelling to celebrate, comfort and eat with friends and family. While I'm glad I made it to my niece's baptism, I wish I could have saved a little money during my journeys. So, although I didn't find the blueprint on how to make a teleporter. I did uncover some solid money-saving tips for travel.

1. Determine the Purpose

Financing a trip could look different depending upon why it's happening in the first place. Your employer probably doesn't want to send you to Disneyland for teamwork development. But, they might consider helping pay for a conference or seminar that would build skills for your job. 


Do some research and make a persuasive pitch to your boss: you could be exploring a new locale at that communication seminar before you know it.


If the vacation you desire has no specific event and date attached to it, be flexible with travel—you could snag a free flight voucher if one of your planes is overbooked. Tell the gate agent as soon as you arrive that you want to volunteer to give up your seat so you’ll be first in line for those sweet savings. Also, be willing to travel at weird times and days: late flights and off days (Tuesday-Thursday) are often noticeably less than those at prime times. 

2. Avoid Money Pits

Whatever the reason for travelling, there is no excuse for buying that $10 smoothie or $20 souvenir at the airport. Prepare for potential hunger pangs by packing some snacks. Stay simple with granola bars, or get fancy with home cooked to-go meals, but anticipate hunger! Flights and layovers are long and people are cranky, so keep that blood sugar up.

Your significant other isn’t going to remember that overpriced paperweight in the shape of Oregon, but will adore a thoughtful postcard with a quirky joke about a tattooed woodsman and your own special message. A postcard and stamp will set you back way less than any mass produced junk at airport gift shops.

The one caveat of this advice is the renowned airport beer: sanity sometimes comes at a cost.

3. Get Quirky

Anyone can book a hotel room in the Big Apple, but how many are fun (and brave) enough to milk goats for room and board in the Scottish countryside? Travel cheap with off the beaten pathways. You really can travel a ton of cool places by volunteering your time and muscle (but not money!) through organizations like Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF) and Moving Worlds. There are tons of organizations and opportunities to consider.

Another way to save money while seeing the world is to live a little dangerously and visit places that may have experienced some bad publicity from political and natural disaster-related issues. Greece and Venezuela offer bountiful opportunities at low cost.


Of course, there are always countries that you should steer clear of, so do your homework before embarking. 


The last idiosyncrasy that can save you cash is by trying second fiddle cities. Crave New York City? Try Pittsburgh! Savannah offers the same lushness as any other, pricier southern city. Boise...well, Boise serves up great potatoes. Whatever your hankering, look to the little, wilder sister city for good, cheap times.