By Chana Budnitz
For me, the idea of travel was always an unattainable dream. As a student with only a part time job watching my student loans pile up, travel was never an option. This past Summer, I decided that despite my limited funds I was going to make this reality. At the time, I thought I was being reckless and irresponsible, but it turned out to be the best decision I ever made, and despite my fears I really was able to stay on a low budget. 👍💰
Getting the best airline deal! ✈️✈️✈️
- The most important part about traveling on a budget is being open minded! Instead of choosing a specific place you want to visit, choose what kind of travel you want to do. For example, do you want to do city touring or do you want to vacation of a beach? Skyscanner.com is a great website that allows you to choose dates for your potential travel and then set the destination to search for everywhere. This allows you to find the cheapest locations for the dates you want to travel. Whenever searching for tickets, make sure to search for one way tickets with possible layovers. These are usually significantly cheaper and opens your chances to potentially lower costs instead of confining yourself to one airline.
- Deals Deals Deals! Airline deals and flukes are common. Taking advantage of them? Not so common. It can be hard to drop everything and check to see if those dates work, but remember airline sites generally have a 24-hour free cancellation policy so that you can book and try to settle the dates after. Keeping a list of dates that you are available to travel is a good way to look out for deals. 📝
- Planning on travelling a lot? It may be a good idea to open a credit card with travel bonuses. 💳 A great card for this is Chase Sapphire Reserve but do your research and pick a card that works best for you. 😼
- It is so important to plan ahead and make an itinerary before you get to your destination. Researching your destinations and making some sort of plan not only lowers stress but can potentially save you loads of money. A great resource is Visitacity.com which allows you to build an itinerary. It’s also really helpful to use well established blogs like Tripadvisor.com. Facebook groups like Jewish Girls Travel Forum or Girls Love Travel also have great tips.
- Research online but do not book online. Instead head to the tourist office right away when you get there to find out the best deals for that day and to check out city/museum passes. On a similar note, some countries like Italy are notorious for tourist scams therefore pre-booking online isn’t always the cheapest/safest option. Instead, try calling when you get there.
- BE AWARE OF TOURIST TRAPS. A lot of hyped up things are not worth it. Instead, look for cheaper of even free stuff to do and travel slower! Try to experience the place organically by meeting new people and learning new things. Appreciate these smaller things!🌅🌆 You end up getting so much more out of the city and spending so much less.
Accommodations and transportation 🚗🚕
- It is usually worth it to get a day travel pass if you are doing heavy touring. The tourist center will give you a map and provide you will the different travel pass options. However, make sure to do your research before. Certain cities are mostly walkable like Florence and Amsterdam and it may make more sense to to skip the pass, and buy tickets as you go. 🗺️
- This should go without saying, but if you are going somewhere where you know people, stay with them, even if it’s a distant relative or the aunt of a friend’s friend. Hostelworld.com is a great resource for finding cheap hostels, but if you’re not comfortable with hostels you can still get really good deals on sites like booking.com or Airbnb, but again remember to use private tabs!
- If you have an early morning flight, staying by the airport which are not only generally cheaper, but because it is easier to find cheap early morning transport. In many (if not most) countries public transportation closes throughout the night. If you have to catch an early flight it will not be possible to take public transportation there and you will end up paying a lot on cabs. However, all other times, it’s actually worth it to spend extra to be in a better location. Many cities are divided up into zones so even if you have a daily pass, if you are too far out, transportation to and from your hotel or hostel may not be included. Staying closer to the city center can therefore save you valuable time, effort, and money on additional travel.
Food and Drink 🍝🌮🍔🍷
- Bring your own food! Food can be expensive and hard to come by, especially with keeping Kosher or other dietary restrictions. Trail mix and granola bars will be your best friend, give you energy, and save you money. Health conscious? No problem! Make your own granola bars at home and bring them along. Beef Jerky, couscous, and pot noodle soups are also great to bring along. If you’re budget is really tight, the only food you should be buying while traveling is fruits and vegetables.
- Bring a water bottle to refill. Many countries have safe and good tap water. Make sure to Google this beforehand and not spend unnecessarily on something that is otherwise free.
- You may want to budget in some restaurant money. Part of experiencing a new place is experiencing their food. However, be careful not to eat out at tourist traps. Rather follow the locals for more authentic local food at a lower cost. Also keep in mind that in many countries (especially in Europe) you do not need to tip. In fact, it can sometimes be considered rude! Make sure to do a quick google search before eating out.
- Learn to pack lightly to save on luggage costs. Budget airlines are notorious for high prices on luggage. Instead, try to pack only in a carry-on backpack. 30 to 50 liters is usually more than enough if you are packing only essentials. It will not only save you money, but will make traveling a lot lighter and more freeing, especially if you are planning on hitting up many cities/countries at once.
- Travel with friends!👯 According to a survey by the US Travel Association, sharing travel experiences can make your relationships stronger and of course traveling with friends is more fun and when traveling on a budget it allows you to save money by splitting costs. Download the app Splitwise to effectively keep track of splitting costs.
- Keep track of what you spend!💸I like to write down everything I spend (and I mean everything.) This allows you to make sure you are staying on budget and also makes future travel a lot easier to plan.
With all of these tips in mind, traveling should still be fun and stress-free! 💃If you’re worried you will go into debt by going a little over budget, it may be a good idea to wait a little bit. But if there’s anything you’ve taken away from these tips, its that even with a low budget, a lot is possible.