We’re always asked how we can afford to travel so much, so we decided to share a few of our best tips on how to travel inexpensively.
1. Research Where to Stay
We always book through either AirBnb or HostelWorld. Make sure to read all the reviews before booking. Take other travelers advise, but also consider how kind of traveler they are. You can tell in a review if you have similar interests. For example, if someone says a place is in a great location but they didn’t like it because it was too close to a loud bar or something, we wouldn’t mind because that just means we are in walking distance to a fun bar ;).
Always do your research to find best place for best price. This may take some time, but it will pay off it the end. We’ve learned the hard way a couple times that we could have found a place in a better location or for a better price once we arrived to a new city. It pays to do research.
Location is everything. Find a place that is in a central location so you don’t spend extra money on transportation. Think about the amount of money you would spend on a Uber, taxis, or bus ride back and further to our place rather just being able to walk for free.
2. Don’t Eat Out for Every Meal
We are total foodies, so sometimes we have to stop ourselves from blowing our entire budget on delicious food.
Make a quick trip to the grocery store when you first arrive and grab things to make sandwiches and snacks for on the go. Think easy to store and easy to travel with foods.
Our Travel Grocery List
Peanut or almond butter
Nuts or seed - usually almonds
Chips or crackers
*Bonus: None of these items need to be refrigerated!
If your hostel or hotel offers breakfast - jump on that! Even if you aren’t a big breakfast person, grab some fruit for a snack later. Breakfast usually cost anywhere from $5-$10 a day, that adds up quick to $70 for a week.
3. Look for Free Activities
Opt for the free stuff! There are tons of free ways to experience a new city while traveling. Instead of taking that guided tour, do a little research and wander through the city or hiking trail on your own.
Beaches and waterfalls are (almost) always free! When we first started traveling Costa Rica, we never did any tours, instead we just explored on our own. It takes a bit more researching and preparing, but it is well worth it. On our second trip to Costa Rica, we rented a car and we were able to see so much of Costa Rica on our own without any tours.
Save your money and choose the things you really want to do like a sailboat trip, renting paddle boards, snorkeling, etc. - think about the things you will remember when your trip is over and say “Wow, that experience was really worth it!”
4. Do Minimal Shopping
Some people are really into souvenir shopping while they are traveling, and that’s just not our thing. Don’t get me wrong, we love to treat ourselves to really unique treasures we find along the way sometimes, but souvenir shopping is never on the top of our list. We like to travel light and are always on a budget, so shopping doesn’t exactly fit into our travel itinerary.
Shopping immediately weighs down your suitcase that you just strategically packed. We usually hardly have any room to spare on our bags while we travel. If we do buy something, we usually have to leave something we like less behind so that sort of serves as a rule for us - do we like this enough to give up something we already have for it?
Shopping also spends unnecessary money that could be used for a once in a lifetime experience!
5. Hit the Happy Hour Specials
Happy hour is the key to life. Okay, maybe it’s not that serious, but it is amazing! Look for good happy hour deals while you are out and about during the day, so you already have a plan when 5 o’clock rolls around.
Look for places with food on happy hour as well. One of our money saving travel secrets is to share a couple cheap happy hour appetizers then later share an entree for dinner to fill us up. It comes out to be a lot cheaper than feeding ourselves two full dinner entrees, plus we get to enjoy happy hour (cheap cheap - snacks and wine!) at one spot then enjoy dinner somewhere different. As mentioned, we are total foodies so we love to experience as many dining experiences as possible while traveling.
6. Use Public Transportation
Sometimes taking a taxis is the easiest and quickest option, we won’t deny that, but it adds up quick. Using public transportation usually takes a minute to figure out in a new place, but once you have it down, it’s easy and cheap.
We used the EuroTrail to travel seven countries in Europe, and it truly added to the experience.
In Costa Rica and Central America, we use the buses a lot to travel. They can get you just about anywhere and they’re super affordable.
When we are in the states or somewhere that has Uber available, we always opt for the “shared ride” option – it’s usually much cheaper!