Do you actually need to spend a ton of money on a trip in order to make it enjoyable? NO! I’m pretty sure that it’s a guarantee that you’re gonna have more of an adventure the second you decide you want to budget travel on a trip.
It immediately opens you up to doing crazy things just to save a few bucks! Those are the memories that are worth way more than the money you would’ve spent.
Here are a few pictures and examples of things you can do to have a more adventurous and enjoyable trip, all while saving money!
This island is a digital nomad paradise! You might like it so much that you actually decide to move there after your trip!
Look for free things to do
There are plenty of FREE things to do in every place you visit. Just going out and searching for waterfalls and beaches will lead you to some of the most beautiful places you’ve ever been, without having to spend a penny.
Rent a MotorBike
You don’t need a guide, either! Just rent a motorbike (if you’re worried about safety, read these rules first!) and mark a few beaches on your phone! Once you get there you can beach hop and find even better beaches than the ones already discovered.
Go a different route
You get to break a few rules! Sometimes just because everyone is going one way doesn’t mean you have to follow that same route! Usually, if you’re trying, you can find a much more adventurous way that will save you money!
For example, during the winter at the Neuschwanstein Castle, you can’t get to the famous bridge that lets you get this awesome view and sometimes the gates are closed.
However, you can mark it on your phone and then follow random snowy paths until you are rewarded with one of the best views in Europe, FOR FREE!
As you go up the road to get to the Neuschwanstein castle, there are little paths that go off to the right. Keep track on your phone so you don’t get lost!
There are multiple ways to get there: either on one of these paths, a gate about halfway up to the castle (they have a little hotel and restaurant there) and then again at the castle itself. However, if it is snowing the only one that will be open is the path. They close the other ones for safety reasons.
Skip the Inside
You don’t have to go inside a place if you don’t want to! Jake and I love learning about a place but have found that going inside doesn’t always add to the experience. It just adds money.
Do your research beforehand, but if you aren’t feeling it, don’t feel pressured! Not everyone needs to see the inside of that museum or castle in order to have a good experience there.
Don’t take the train
This applies to travel all over Europe and Asia! Usually taking a bus will be cheaper AND faster. Jake and I made a HUGE $1,000 mistake when we thought we would “budget travel” to Europe for the first time by buying the Eurail pass.
Try out this website instead to compare all the different ways to get from point A to point B in Europe! We have used it to travel all over the continent and it has saved us THOUSANDS! Seriously!
Get Some Exercise!
Some of the best ways to really enjoy a place are to go on a hike or a walk. You not only save money but you also get to experience a place way better than if you spent a ton of money on a boat tour/guide or ferry.
Here you start in Camogli, Italy:
From there, follow this map until you get to San Rocco. The beginning can be a little tricky, but after you get to San Rocco, the trail is well-marked.
From there you walk to San Fruttuoso. There are two ways to go, by the coast or more inland. I definitely recommend going by the coast since the views are just incredible. However, some of the trail can get a little technical and dangerous.
After San Fruttuoso you can continue to walk to Portofino or choose to take a ferry! The walk is an all-day endeavor but definitely worth it! I am not someone who just walks around for fun. However, this was one of the best travel days I’ve ever had!
Agra & New Delhi, India
STREET FOOD & LOCAL RESTAURANTS
This goes for every place we have listed so far. If you want to save money, eat where you see a lot of locals eating! The food will be better and you will get an authentic experience.
Jake and I used to look at TripAdvisor and go to the place with the most reviews. More often than not those places are overpriced and built for tourists.
What we do now is mark a few on our phone to make sure we are in an area with restaurants, and then walk around until we find a place with a lot of locals.
They won’t always speak English and the menu might not be in English either, but you are abroad! Isn’t that what you traveled here for?
Don’t be scared to use it. It pushes you out of your comfort zone and you are able to better see what daily life is like in the country you are visiting. If you are taking an Uber from one spot to the next, you are missing a huge part of the place that you are visiting!
Not to mention you will be spending way more money, which means fewer trips!
If you’re needing a bit of a break from the sensory overload of India, don’t worry. After the Holi Festival, we decided to take an Uber from Vrindavan to Agra instead of the train and it only cost us about $15 for the hour and a half long ride.
While in Agra, we would look up the cost of a trip on Uber to get an idea of what it should cost and then go outside and ask a Tuk Tuk to take us there for about 75% of what the Uber was asking.
If you don’t have a number in mind, it can be hard to know what the fair amount is. We didn’t want the locals to rip us off, but we also didn’t want to haggle too much.
They are trying to earn a living too! We used this trick throughout India. Just start walking away if they say no to your price, there are millions of drivers and usually, they will say yes.
Everest Base CAmp Trek, Nepal
Go without a guide
Hike without a guide or someone who carries all your stuff (a porter). Some argue that you should have one in order to give back to the economy.
I argue that you being there and eating there and staying at those hotels (called teahouses) is definitely giving back as well.
Plus, I saw some groups that had 10 or more people and one guide. Although they mean well, the faster you go the more money they are going to make. Everyone needs to go at their own pace especially when you factor in altitude sickness.
We were able to go as slow as we needed to as well as taking extra rest days without having to stress about keeping up with a group or a guide that could do this trek in their sleep.
Our packs weighed about 10-12 pounds each and as you get higher they will weigh less because you are wearing more clothing.
This definitely helps if you are already used to not bringing a lot with you. If you are going on a backpacking trip or going to budget travel and plan to travel to more than one country, I highly advise that you bring one 35L backpack.
That is the biggest size allowed on a carry-on (it should weigh 14 pounds or less as well!)
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Don’t rent a car
I know I already listed public transport, but things are a bit different in Mexico! A lot of Americans are scared of this area of the world and tend to spend more money than they need to in order to avoid something dangerous.
My advice would be to skip the rental car and avoid taxis at ALL costs. (We’ve been scammed in Mexico and Indonesia) and stick with buses and colectivos!
To book a bus in Mexico, use Ado. Check the route that you want and see if they have the “Compra Anticipada” option. If it does, that means that this ticket is available to buy in advance!
From there, head over to the ClickBus website to buy your tickets since the Ado website does not accept American credit cards.
We used this site as well as buying directly from the bus stations to get from Tulum to Valladolid and then onto Merida. Valladolid ended up being one of our favorite cities! It was a great base for visiting Chichen Itza and this insta-famous cenote:
The rest of the time we relied on colectivos.
For colectivos, these are little vans that follow a route back and forth and are incredibly cheap. You can budget travel from Cancun to Playa del Carmen to Tulum without any issues. There are tons of resorts, beaches, and cenotes along the way!
Just make sure that you are close to your accommodation at least an hour before it gets dark if you are worried about staying safe.
Don’t buy the souvenir
At places like Chichen Itza, you want to get there as early as possible not only to get pictures by yourself and experience the place with a little bit of peace (and less sun). You also want to avoid the hundreds of people trying to sell you things.
Just decide that you aren’t going to buy any souvenirs and your life will become 1000% happier and budget travel-friendly.
Think of all the tacos you could buy instead! Those souvenirs will either break on the way home anyway, or the person you bought it for will put it away in their closet never to be seen again.
let’s freaking budget travel!
Plain and simple. Travel when you have little and it will teach you so many valuable things: budgeting, finding adventure instead of buying the easiest way, minimalism.
You will find more adventure and you will go home with stories to tell and pictures that will bring you more happiness than expensive souvenirs or steak dinners.
Aim for a good story and you’ll be surprised how much more fulfilling your trips will become and how much more full your wallet will be. Now go and budget travel!
Pin these tips for later! (:
Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.