How To Travel Cheap: 16 Budget Travel Hacks You Need Now!

Pre-Trip Planning

1. Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates

Flexibility is key to traveling on a budget.

Do you know that travel is all about supply and demand? Popular times like weekends, holidays, and school breaks see a surge in travelers, pushing prices up like a runaway balloon. Flexibility allows you to travel during off-peak times and get cheaper flight tickets, hotel rooms, etc.

Weekend getaways can be convenient but often come with a hefty price tag. Fortunately, having a remote job means we can work from anywhere and have flexible schedules. To save money, we usually book flights on a Tuesday or Wednesday when the prices tend to be lower due to fewer passengers. Similarly, hotels often offer lower rates for mid-week stays, so it's best to consider booking during weekdays.

Let us tell you a secret! Hotels often charge higher rates for weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) to capitalize on peak travel times. This means the weekend rate applies to your entire stay, even if you check in on a Friday and stay through the week. You can significantly reduce your overall accommodation cost by choosing weekdays for arrival and departure.

2. Be Flexible With Your Destinations

Now that you're flexible with your travel dates, it's time to be flexible with your destinations. The world is full of hidden treasures with affordable experiences. Follow our tips to find the best place to travel without burning your wallet.

Tools like Skyscanner and Kiwi eliminate the guesswork of finding cheap flights. Set your destination to "everywhere" and let the magic happen! These websites offer a variety of affordable destinations based on your departure airport.

Pro tip: Flight price isn't the only budget travel factor.

Snagging a cheap flight can feel like a big win, but it's important to remember that airfare is just one piece of the budget travel puzzle. Other factors like accommodation, food, transportation, and activities can significantly impact your expenses. For instance, while a flight to Japan might seem like a great deal, the daily costs in Tokyo can add up quickly and catch you off guard. A more holistic approach to budgeting for your trip is essential to avoid unpleasant surprises. This means considering all aspects of daily living in your chosen destination. After all, travel is about enriching experiences, not just getting there!

If you want to save money and have a more authentic travel experience, explore off-the-beaten-path destinations instead of popular tourist spots. By researching up-and-coming destinations in lesser-known regions, you can find hidden gems that tourists haven't overrun. For example, you could explore the vibrant street food scene in Medellin, Colombia, instead of going to pricier restaurants in Paris, or hike the breathtaking landscapes of Albania instead of the crowded trails of Iceland.

Choosing less touristy destinations can also help you immerse yourself in a more authentic cultural experience. You can interact with locals, try unfamiliar cuisines, and discover hidden gems not commercialized for mass tourism. This will save you money and create a more meaningful and enriching travel experience.

3. Use Flight Search Sites To Find The Cheapest Ticket

Don't settle for the first flight offer you come across!

Flight search websites are your secret weapons for finding the cheapest flights. Two of our favorites are Skyscanner and Traveloka. These powerful tools save you tons of time by scouring the web and comparing flights from various airlines.

Imagine looking at various options and easily filtering them based on price, travel time, baggage allowance, and other preferences to find the perfect flight that suits your budget and needs. No more tedious comparisons – these websites do all the hard work to ensure you get the best possible deal for your next adventure.

After comparing prices on comparison websites, it's a good idea to check the airline's website directly to see if the price is even lower there.

Pro Tip: Don't waste time constantly monitoring prices. Set up price alerts for your desired routes or destinations on Skyscanner or Traveloka to get notified of any price changes. This way, you can quickly snag a great deal when it becomes available.

4. Pack Light (If Possible)

Picture yourself breezing through airports with ease, free from the burden of hefty baggage fees. Airlines are infamous for charging exorbitant sums for checked luggage, especially on budget airlines. The solution? Pack light and stick to a carry-on bag, and you can entirely avoid these fees, saving yourself a significant chunk of money. Think of it as a travel tax you can happily dodge!

But the benefits of packing light go beyond saving money. A lighter bag translates to a lighter you! With a lighter bag, you can easily navigate public transportation, explore new cities, and maneuver through crowded streets.

Pro Tip for Remote Worker: We understand that traveling light with just a carry-on might not be realistic for some remote workers. If you have essential work gear that necessitates checking a bag, don't despair! The key is to be strategic. Look for travel deals that include checked baggage allowance in the flight price. This bundled option can often be cheaper than paying a separate baggage fee at the airport.

5. Book Accommodation Strategically

When it comes to booking accommodation, there are usually two options available:

  • For Workcation: If you plan to work remotely while on a trip, it's worth considering spending a little more on your accommodation. Having a clean, quiet environment with dependable Wi-Fi is crucial for productivity. Invest in a comfy bed and a dedicated workspace to ensure you can recharge and focus on your tasks without any interruptions. Remember that a good night's sleep and a comfortable workspace are key to a successful workcation.
  • For Explorers: If you plan on spending your days sightseeing and exploring, a basic room with a comfortable bed and a decent shower should suffice. Since you'll be out and about most of the day, looking for a hotel in the city's heart with access to public transportation is best. This will allow you to maximize your time and explore the city fully.

Now, let us share our top tips to slash your accommodation costs and maximize your travel budget.

Use Booking Sites

Booking sites are your go-to option for getting the best deals on accommodation, just like when booking flights. Hotel booking websites such as, Expedia, and Agoda can help you find the best deals on hotels and accommodations.

We usually use Agoda when booking accommodation in Asia and for other destinations. We're unsure why, but it seems cheaper this way. These sites also offer a range of options, including apartments and private villas, making it super convenient for you to choose your preferred accommodation.

Or, Stay Free If You Can

Disclaim: Our top priority is comfort and privacy, so we prefer to stay in hotels for convenience and service. As a result, we don't have any personal experience with the following methods for finding a place to stay.

However, some of our friends who are frequent travelers have recommended these methods as a way to save money on travel expenses. We believe they are worth sharing with you, but please exercise caution and do your own research before trying them out.


Housesitting involves staying in someone's home for free in exchange for light housework such as watering plants or walking dogs.


  • Free accommodation
  • Live like a local


  • You don't pay by cash but by your energy and time
  • Staying in someone's house might feel weird

Home Exchange

Home exchange allows travelers to swap homes with others worldwide, offering free accommodation and local insider tips.


  • Again, free accommodation


  • You have to match your travel dates with someone to swap
  • You can't always find a match, which means no free accommodation at any time


Couchsurfing is a free accommodation option where locals offer their homes to travelers. It's a great way to meet new people, explore a new place, and get insider tips from a local.


  • Free accommodation
  • Insider tips from local
  • Meet new people


  • Sometimes, your bed is someone's spare couch
  • No privacy
  • New people can also mean not always safe

6. Plan Your Trip Carefully

We know that last-minute deals sound attractive. However, in most cases, we found that traveling spontaneously might cost you more than planning in advance.

Here's why.

  • The earlier you book, the more likely you are to snag those coveted deals. Airlines and hotels often release their best rates 2-3 months in advance, especially during shoulder seasons.
  • Planning ahead gives you more time to find good deals on tours.
  • You can craft a good itinerary to save time and money on transportation.
  • And, with more time in hand, You may find some free activities to do in your destination rather than falling for tourist traps.

7. Get Travel Insurance

We know that travel insurance sounds like an expense than helping to save money. In fact, it's your wallet's lifesaver (even though we never want to use it).

Insurance = Safety Nest.

Imagine this: You booked your dream vacation—flights, accommodation, the whole shebang. But then disaster strikes—you get sick before your trip, or your flight gets canceled due to bad weather. Suddenly, those non-refundable deposits and prepaid bookings are no longer just an inconvenience but a significant financial loss. This is where travel insurance comes in as a valuable safety net. It can help you recover unexpected expenses from trip cancellations, medical emergencies, or lost luggage.

Medical emergencies can happen anywhere, anytime. Getting sick or injured abroad can be a major financial burden, especially without proper insurance. By purchasing travel insurance, you can cover the costs of medical treatment and ensure that you receive the care you need without worrying about financial difficulties.

Therefore, think of travel insurance as an investment and a financial security for your trip.

8. Avoid Booking Organized Tours

We don't think organized tours are necessarily a bad choice. They offer a convenient and secure way to explore a new destination without concerns.

However, they can be quite expensive.

If you're a budget-conscious traveler, consider doing your own research and planning your own itinerary. You can enjoy the same experience for a more affordable price. But keep in mind that there may be hidden costs, such as having to drive yourself or preparing your own meals.

How To Travel Cheap During Your Trip

9. Use Public Transportation

Public transportation is your best friend when traveling cheaply. Buses, trains, and subways offer a super affordable way to get around. Many cities also offer day passes, allowing unlimited rides for a set price - perfect for exploring every nook and cranny without breaking the bank!

10. Night Buses / Trains Are The Secret

Traveling by night bus or train is a smart way to save on both accommodation and travel expenses. Instead of paying for a hotel room, you can board a night bus or train and get some sleep while traveling to your destination. This method saves you the cost of a night's stay and enables you to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to explore a new place, maximizing your sightseeing time.

Although the comfort levels might differ from a five-star luxury hotel, night travel can be surprisingly comfortable. Some buses and trains offer reclining seats, personal entertainment systems, and onboard amenities like blankets and pillows.

Pro Tip: Don't be too frugal on night buses, as a lack of sleep can ruin the following day.

[We find & book most of our transportation on 12go]

11. Rent A Vehicle To Explore Beyond

While public transportation is fantastic for city exploration, renting a vehicle can unlock a new level of freedom and budget-friendly travel.

Here's why:

  • Beyond the Tourist Trail: Renting a bike, motorbike, or car lets you explore beyond tourist hotspots. We rented a motorbike in Chiang Mai and discovered the city's hidden treasures more authentically.
  • Optimize Your Itinerary: Design your own travel plan with the flexibility to explore attractions and routes without a fixed schedule.
  • Affordable: Renting a vehicle may require an upfront cost, but renting might be more cost-effective if you calculate the total cost of public transportation**.**

12. Save On Entrance Fees & Attractions

Entrance fees and attraction costs can quickly drain your travel budget. But don't worry—after years of traveling, we have some tips for saving on attractions.

  • Embrace Free Hours: Some places have a policy for free entrance at a specific time. Do your research and plan your itinerary to score those freebies.
  • Buy Tickets Online: We usually use Klook to buy tickets beforehand as it's cheaper, and we can skip the queue.
  • Buy In Combo: Buy combo tickets for discounted entry to multiple attractions if possible.
  • Seek Out City Passes: Many cities offer tourist passes with discounts on attractions, public transportation, and shops. Compare them to your itinerary for savings.
  • Find Free Attractions: In any city, there are numerous free walking tours, exhibitions, and galleries waiting to be explored. Do your research, and you might spot some hidden gems.

13. Save On Food & Drink

We love food. Eating out and trying local cuisine is always the best part of any trip. However, it can add up quickly.

But don't worry! We've been traveling cheaply for years and know the tricks to saving on food and drink.

  • Stay Local: Avoid touristy restaurants and eat where locals dine. It helps you save money and have the most authentic food experience. Local places usually serve better food in our opinion.
  • DIY: Cooking your own meals is a great way to save on food expenses. Airbnb apartments usually have a kitchen. Go to local markets, find fresh ingredients, and unleash your inner chef.
  • Pack a Water Bottle: We need to be hydrated when exploring. Packing and refilling a reusable water bottle will help you save money on drinks.
  • Breakfast At Your Hotel: Choose a hotel with breakfast to save money. Some hotels offer free breakfast, but others charge, so double-check before booking.

14. Save On Buying Stuff

When we travel, we often need to purchase items, whether it be for personal use or as souvenirs. These expenses can quickly accumulate, particularly when we are in a foreign country and are unaware of the local prices.

Here are some of our methods to save money on stuff:

  • Don't be afraid to haggle. If you shop at local markets or street vendors, don't hesitate to bargain and negotiate the price.
  • Don't buy near tourist attractions. Usually, those places are overpriced. Skip them and find local stores to get better deals.

Pro Hacks To Travel Cheap

15. Use Travel Credit Cards To Avoid Fees

When traveling, we prefer paying by credit card instead of cash. They offer not only security but also valuable rewards for travelers like us.

To supercharge these benefits, consider a travel credit card. It's your key to unlocking serious savings and travel perks that can elevate every trip.

Here is why.

  • No Exchange Fee: Traditional credit cards charge high foreign transaction fees when used abroad. Travel credit cards waive these fees, saving you money on international purchases.
  • Earn Rewards: Travel credit cards earn points or miles for every dollar spent. These can be redeemed for free travel, including flights, hotels, upgrades, and statement credits. We've booked free flights using these programs.
  • Travel Insurance: Travel credit cards offer free travel insurance benefits, such as trip cancellation/interruption, baggage delay, and rental car insurance. These benefits save money and provide peace of mind in case of unexpected events.
  • Lounge Access: We love this benefit. As remote workers, airport lounges are our go-to for relaxation before a long-haul flight. We can have food, use high-speed Wi-Fi, and even enjoy showers and massages. It's a great way to unwind or work while on the go.

16. Get A Travel SIM Card

Stay connected while traveling without breaking the bank! Use a travel SIM card or eSIM instead of your home phone's data roaming charges.

Avoid expensive roaming charges by using travel SIM cards and eSIMs that offer local data plans at a fraction of the cost. With a local data plan, you can enjoy seamless connectivity, research destinations on the go, and connect with locals using messaging apps.

Travel SIM cards and eSIMs come in various data packages to suit different needs and budgets. You can conveniently find them at airports, stores, and retailers in your destination country. They provide predictable costs and peace of mind, allowing you to focus on creating fantastic travel memories without worrying about hidden data costs.

We suggest utilizing AirAlo's eSim for a hassle-free and really good data experience.

We hope that the tips provided above can help you realize that you don't need to be wealthy to travel. With some smart planning, creativity, and budgeting, you can save a lot of money on your next trip. Follow these tips and embark on an unforgettable adventure without breaking the bank. So, start planning your dream trip on a budget and make the most of your travels!