Traveling can be an expensive endeavor, but with some planning and savvy budgeting, you can explore the world without breaking the bank. This comprehensive guide provides tips and strategies for saving money on flights, accommodations, food, activities and more, so you can travel on a budget.


Budget travel, also known as cheap travel, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort or fun. With research and flexibility, you can save money on travel costs like flights, accommodations, food, and activities. The key is being strategic with planning and spending.

This guide will provide actionable tips to save money on every aspect of your next trip. You’ll learn how to find budget-friendly flights, score deals on rooms, eat affordably, and enjoy free or low-cost things to do. With these money-saving hacks, you can travel on a budget and make the most of your vacation funds.

How to Save Money on Flights

Flights are often the biggest expense associated with travel. Here are some ways to keep airfare costs down:

Book Early

One of the best ways to save money on flights is to book well in advance. Airlines release flight schedules and seats up to 10-11 months in advance. The earlier you book, the more likely you are to get a good price. Aim to book international flights 6-8 months ahead and domestic flights 2-3 months ahead.

Fly at Off-Peak Times

Flying during peak holiday times like Christmas, summer break, and major events will be expensive. For cheaper fares, travel during shoulder seasons like September-November and February-May. Flying mid-week is also cheaper than flying on Fridays and Sundays.

Use Budget Airlines

Look into budget carriers like Spirit, Frontier, and Allegiant for domestic flights and transatlantic carriers like WOW and Norwegian Air for international routes. Just be aware of added fees for checked bags, seat assignments, etc.

Be Flexible with Dates and Airports

If your schedule allows, consider flying on alternative dates that have cheaper fares. Expand your airport options to include nearby cities. Flying into a smaller regional airport can save money.

Use Flight Search Engines

Search engines like Kayak, Skyscanner, and Google Flights make it easy to quickly compare fares across multiple airlines and routes. Setting price alerts can help you jump on deals.

How to Save Money on Accommodations

Lodging is typically the second biggest travel expense. Use these tips to keep accommodation costs low:

Consider Hostels or Guesthouses

Hostels offer cheap dorm-style lodging and a social atmosphere. Guesthouses are essentially budget hotels. Both options can save you 50% or more compared to traditional hotels.

Look for Discounts and Deals

Many hotels offer sales and discounts, especially when booking directly through their website. Sign up for hotel loyalty programs and newsletter emails to receive exclusive promo codes and flash sale alerts.

Stay Outside the City Center

Lodging on the outskirts of a city is significantly cheaper than downtown hotels. Consider staying slightly farther out and using public transportation to get around.

Rent an Apartment

Booking a vacation rental apartment through Airbnb, VRBO, or a similar site can be much more affordable than getting multiple hotel rooms, especially for families or groups.

Avoid Peak Times

Just like flights, hotel rates soar during popular holidays and events. Visiting during the off-season or shoulder season can mean big savings on rates.

How to Save Money on Food

Food is an essential part of experiencing local culture. Use these strategies to keep your food budget under control:

Dine at Local Restaurants

Avoid expensive tourist trap restaurants! Do some research to find affordable local eateries and street food vendors. This is where you’ll find authentic cuisine.

Cook Your Own Meals

Preparing meals in your accommodation’s kitchen will stretch your budget further. Visit local markets to pick up fresh ingredients.

Take Advantage of Free Breakfast

Before booking a hotel, check if they offer free breakfast. Filling up in the morning can save you money later in the day.

Join Cafe Loyalty Programs

Coffee shops like Starbucks sometimes offer free food or drink rewards when you join their loyalty program. Download their app for easy digital access.

Avoid Tourist Areas

Steer clear of restaurants right near major tourist attractions, which will jack up prices. Walk a few blocks away for better deals.

How to Save Money on Activities

You don’t have to miss out on experiencing the top sites and attractions in a destination. Here are some tricks for saving on activities:

Take Free Walking Tours

Many cities offer complimentary walking tours, run solely by tips. These are a great way to see the highlights and get insider tips from a local guide.

Visit Free Museums and Attractions

Do research ahead of time to find museums and sites that offer free admission on certain days or times. For example, many museums are free the first Sunday of the month.

Look for Discounted Passes

City tourism boards often sell discounted passes that bundle together admission to multiple attractions. These can offer huge savings compared to purchasing individual tickets.

Take Public Transportation

Using the local metro, bus, or train system is drastically cheaper than relying on taxis or rideshares. Bonus – it’s an authentic cultural experience!

Enjoy Nature

Spend time outdoors enjoying free activities like hiking, walking, and beach days. Parks and natural sites offer entertainment without the cost.


With strategic planning and savvy spending, you can take incredible vacations without going over budget. Use the tips in this guide to save money on flights, accommodations, dining, and activities for your next trip. Focus on traveling during shoulder season, booking early, staying outside city centers, eating local cuisine, and taking advantage of free attractions.

Follow these budget travel tips to get the most from your vacation funds. The world is waiting – go explore on the cheap!