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We often associate keeping costs down with sacrifice. We think that to spend less means to get less. But this is not always the case. Some of the ways in which you can keep costs down when traveling can actually lead to more wholesome and immersive experiences.

The key is to be able to keep your costs down so that you can do more of what you like, or stay on the road for longer. It’s a classic discussion, but in this article we want to show you how to keep costs down without assuming you want to stay in a two-man tent on the moors.

Be Flexible With Travel Times

If you’re planning a long term trip, it doesn’t take much effort to be flexible, and you can save literally hundreds by flying on certain dates.

Download the SkyScanner app, and scan for the cheapest dates.

Apple Store free download (iOS)  Google Store free download (Android)

And be prepared to fly at off-peak times. Travelling throughout low season will not only save you money on flights, but will mean you avoid the tourist crowds, and can have a more immersive, local experience.

This also applies to local travel within the country. There might be off-peak train and bus times to be aware of, which can save pennies without really affecting your experience overall.

This post has some fabulous insight on how you can save in 2017, making sure you’re always getting the best airfare!

Volunteer For Bed and Board

Here’s where you have the opportunity to try something new while saving your pennies. Ditch the hotel, ditch even the hostel bunk-bed, and take a look at some openings for volunteer programs.

There are different ways to go about this without paying for programs. Arriving in the country and looking for ways to help locals or further a humanitarian cause is never a bad idea.

You could also try out volunteering on organic farms or homesteads, as in Wwoofing or Workaway. Both offer bed, food and good company, in exchange for a few hours honest work per day. Not only is this inexpensive (sometimes free), but it is also an awesome way to experience local life, and to give back to local communities.

Choose Activities Wisely

Cash on the road works a lot like cash at home. It only disappears when you spend it. If you can afford your travel costs, and have your accommodation and food taken care of, the rest of your budget is likely to be spent on activities of some kind, be it hanging out at beach bars, or touring famous museums.

If you want to keep your travel costs down, choose your activities wisely. Hiking can cost next to nothing. Anything in nature requires no more spending than the occasional refreshment.

If you prefer the city life, why not reserve your spending for the iconic landmarks that you really want to see? Sighseeing is free.

Hiking Girl

Live Locally

Residents of popular tourist destinations tend to live for cheaper than travelers. One of the key ways you can save money then, and also enrich your travelling experience, is to aim to live like a local.

Ask people you meet along the way about their life, and try to eat and shop locally. Go out to local nights. This can be a really fun way to travel, and also benefits the local economy more directly.

The Sharing Economy

Anyone who has done a lot of travelling will start to understand that people in the world are generally pretty helpful. There are a lot of options for the open-minded adventurer who is willing to welcome the gesture of a kind stranger, or to connect with others using one of many social apps.

For example, you can try out bla-bla cars for lift sharing, couchsurfing for accommodation, and EatWith for meals. If you feel safe in the country that you are in you could always try hitchhiking too – another great way to get around and meet people.

Hitch-hiking for free transport

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

    26 Comments

  1. I’ve never dared to hitchhike although I did think we might have no other choice and our recent trip to Yangpyong ski resort. Great tips

    • My personal opinion is that hitchhiking is a lot safer than the hype, though it’s always something which requires common sense and trusting your gut instinct. Obviously there’ll always be risk, but I think people in general across the board are kind.

  2. Useful recommendations. We can definitely keep our travel costs down. We can search for free access days to museums, for instance. And also make a list with all the free things to see/do in a city – to include them on our itinerary :)

    • Thanks Lori … yes, we’ve found there are always free attractions and activities no matter where you go, and a lot of the time museums are a great way to dive into the history and culture before taking a self guided walking tour :)

  3. I always use skyscanner and try to be flexible with my dates to keep costs down. I’ve saved quite a bit so far which means more time on the road :)

    Thanks for tip on workaway, I’m yet to try it but hope to when I visit South America later this year. What types of workaway experiences would you recommend?

    • Skyscanner, and their app in particular is great :)

      Glad we could help with recommending Workaway – there’s really everything you could possibly imagine, so I would start by looking for something which suits your skills. Ie if you’re great at building websites, you can find gigs organizing an online presence for a family run business, or if you’re more suited to outdoor work, you can apply for maintenance around the grounds or house.

      Have a scan of what’s on offer and aim for something you think you could do well :)

  4. I hitchhiked in France in my younger years! Met some sweet people that way.

    Totally agree that often the ways of saving money can also help you find a more interesting experience, and connect with locals more too.

    I do a little of this but want to do more actually.

    • I find hitch hiking has a lot worse of a reputation than it probably should do. We’ve also met some very kind people on the road this way. Obviously risk involved, but I think that’s with anything in life.

      Happy travels – here’s to incorporating more local experiences in 2017!

  5. Great tips, I always try to do as much as I can to keep costs low especially when it is on my dime. One of my favorites are the free tours with locals done in various cities for free – well maybe just a tip to the guide.

    • Thanks Noel :) Totally agree – there are some great ways to explore and still have a great time without spending too much – we love the free tours with locals too, and usually leave a small tip :)

  6. I know in Australia, you don’t have the same credit card opportunities, but the way we keep our travel costs down (cough: free, minus taxes and fees) is travel hacking via points and miles. I just love that no matter where you live, if you WANT to travel, you just have to find ways to make it happen. $$$ Shouldn’t be an excuse

    • Yep, sadly we’re a bit gypped here in Aus when compared to places like the United States! But if you are from a country which offers fabulous rewards programs, that’s definitely an opportunity to take. You can travel far for cheap if you know how to play the game!

  7. Sharing economy certainly help push costs down during a trip. These are some great tips everyone should use. I think many people dont even think they can save so much money this way.

    • Absolutely Barbara :) I think people assume that travel is cut and dry, you book your flights, you pay for a hotel, but if you’re willing to get creative and think outside the box you can always cut those costs :)

  8. Travelers always look out to ways and means to optimize on the costs of travel. This in turn helps them to travel more. These are practical and sensible suggestions to keep the costs down. The one about being selective when it comes to activities is very important. Many a time we may ignorantly end u[ shelling out a lot of money for something which later turns out into a damp squib.

    • Yes, absolutely agree with you Sandy. Very important to properly research activities before we jump in, especially if cost saving if something you’re aiming for. Can waste a lot of money on disappointing experiences otherwise.

  9. Love this My hubby and I always try to keep costs down, especially since we area family of 5! We love to live local and for sure a great idea to watch the tours you take and pic wisely. Great advice!

    • Glad to hear that Stacey! Living local is fantastic, and I bet the kids love having the chance to immerse themselves in different versions of local life :)

  10. We always try to keep our costs down, but I draw the line at hitchhiking and I’ve never really liked the idea of couch surfing. There are ways and means to keep costs down though, and I’m always on the lookout for a bargain! Skyscanner has been my go-to flight tool for years!

    • It’s always based on what you’re personally comfortable with – personally I think the dangers with hitch hiking are a little bit over hyped, but that’s not to say there arent risks involved, and if it’s not your thing, you can save in other areas instead :)

      Skyscanner is a great tool! We swear by it for cheap flights :) Happy travels Vicki! Thanks for stopping by :)

    • @Vicki Louise
      Did you even tried Couchsurfing? CS is not about sleeping for free but about meeting locals and experience things you would NEVER experience by yourself …
      People show you the cool places, they introduce you to their family and friends, they teach you how to cook their food, they share their culture with you.
      That’s just awesome :D (I did it roughly 25 times)

    • Hi Mael, so glad you’ve had awesome experiences with couchsurfing!! I think there’s naturally a hesitation among some people at the thought of staying in a strangers home, but now that couchsurfing has become more mainstream and people recognize that it’s about much more than staying for free, I think that people who potentially wouldn’t have given it a go in the past are becoming more open to the idea :)

      Happy travels!

  11. Some really great tips here for keeping costs down! I think living locally is not only cost-effective but super fun and you get more of a ‘real’ experience while travelling.

    • Thanks Anita :) Totally agree – living locally is the best of both worlds!

  12. I use Skyscanner all the time! It’s so much easier to plan the dates. And I’m currently volunteering in exchange for food and bed. This is my first and I’m just loving it. And you are so right about mingling with the locals. This not only helps you save money but you get to travel like a local, which I love the most!

    • So glad to hear you’re having an amazing time on your travels Reshma! Volunteering for food and bed is a great way to travel, and immerse yourself in local life too. And save money! Best of all worlds!

      Happy travels :)

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