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Anyone with a real love for travel knows the importance of budgeting on the road. The price of a trip can be the difference between a dream vacation and a week-long nightmare. And while we may know how to save money, how do we travel smarter?

While it’s important to think outside the box, and people are constantly innovating with new apps, tricks, and budget hacks, sometimes the best methods are the simplest and most common!

So, today we’re getting back to basics; the following are five simple ways to make sure your vacation keeps your bank account out of the red.

5 Simple Ways to Travel the World on a Budget

#1 Eat Right

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Don’t feel required to go out to eat for every meal! Grocery shopping on vacation is a move that can save you lots of hard-earned cash.

This may take the glamour out of vacation, yet grocery shopping will save you money that can spend on future trips and more unique experiences, and you’ll also have the opportunity to interact with genuine locals.

Eating out can drain your wallet, so take a quick trip to a new grocery store and treat it like a fun day trip! Navigating store aisles in a foreign language, or buying fresh produce like a local would, can be both an immersive and memorable experience and save you money.

Airbnb has been the answer to so many budget travellers’ dreams. You get cheap, high-quality accommodation and more often than not, a kitchen.

Visit the local market and grab everything you need for breakfast and making packed lunches. You can eat out for dinner if you like, but it’s also quite fun to shop around and try your hand at cooking the local food.

#2 Don’t Over-Shop

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While on vacation, shopping often becomes a primary activity, and in fact there are many cities people visit purely for the shopping! Between buying souvenirs and gifts for everyone back home, we often spend more than we planned.

Before reaching for your wallet, ask yourself if this purchase is necessary. In each country, there is a whole market dedicated to targeting travels with marked-up prices. Don’t let yourself pay more than you need.

It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of travel, but don’t let yourself overspend!

#3 Smart Lodging

Do you know anyone in the place you are visiting? You’ll be surprised by how small the world is!

There is always a chance you have a mutual friend in a new city willing to host you, and this affordable accommodation saves an incredible amount of money and provides a unique travel experience.

It’s also a particularly good option for families traveling with young kids, because you’ll have more space and access to a kitchen. Be aware, however, you’ll need to bring your own baby gear, such as a travel crib.

If this is not an option, there are many more approaches, from short term rentals to even the sharing economy. For example, in Canada, there are options such as short term rentals in Toronto and hostels across the country. Keep your eyes open, and don’t just settle for the first hotel you find.

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.

#4 Working Vacation

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There’s no way around it – traveling is expensive. On top of the cost of being on the road, we also end up paying for the time spent out of the office or off the clock.

A smart traveler knows how to keep money coming in while they are out of town. For many, this strategy will mean combining work with pleasure.

Next time you have an out of town meeting, try to combine it with some travel for pleasure. Although this is not ideal, it is one of the most economical ways to go about traveling.

#5 Prioritize Free Activities

Many tourist attractions like museums or parks have one day a week when they’re free. Do your homework and find out how to take advantage of this.

On top of this, there are also the many, many free or cheap attractions in every city. Beaches, national parks, public squares, religious sites, and even zoos can be cheap or free.

Walking tours too are a fabulous way to experience a new destination for free, and the majority of cities around the world excel at being pedestrian friendly. It’s a great way to orientate yourself with a new location while taking in the most popular tourist attractions, and seeing a city’s top landmarks is absolutely free.

While on the topic of walking – packing a good pair of shoes and walking everywhere at your destination is a great tip for saving on ground / public transportation too. It’s tiring, but will save you money!

Bottom Line

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Traveling right and on a budget is an art form. You have to do it right if you want to have meaningful experiences on the road. Luckily, we can learn from tips from the pros and the mistakes of amateurs.

How smart you travel will determine how often you get to do so. After following these tips, you should be well on your way to becoming a smart budget traveler!

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; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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