Welcome to week two of Carpe’s “Travel Series.” This week, I share my best tips on how to travel on a budget. Having just returned from a semester in Denmark, I had the opportunity to take several trips and learn some important lessons on how to cut down costs while on the road.
TRAVELING ON A BUDGET
1. Create a budget. Before you buy tickets, book accommodations, or reserve tickets, consider how much money you will also need for food, transportation, and purchasing appropriate clothing if you do not already own it. Take in all of these factors and shape your budget around what matters most to you. If you care about staying in a hotel that is centrally located, you might need to spend less on dining out or on event or sightseeing tickets. If you care more about excursions, plan your budget around those activities. Create a simple budget spreadsheet and email it to yourself or print out a small version for easy travel access!
2. Stick to your budget! It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of being somewhere new, but if you are careless about your spending then the end of the trip will feel more like a headache than a vacation. Keep a small notepad or note in your phone documenting how much money you spend each day so you can calculate how much you have per day going forward.
3. Consider a hostel. Hostels can be a great option for cutting costs, especially if you are traveling in a group. The key element to traveling safely while staying in hostels is to check the ratings from previous guests, and to make sure that there are lockers with locks that you can rent to store your valuables. This option also works well if you are traveling with a group of 5-10 people, as most hostels have community rooms that are filled on a guest-to-guest basis. And remember to bring shower shoes, as bathrooms are often co-ed and shared by an entire floor.
4. Split with a friend. You learned it when you were young, and you’re about to hear it again: sharing is caring! Splitting meals and accommodations is great way to cut down on cost. Also consider coordinating outfits so that you can both bring half the amount of clothes and share along the way. Agree specifically on what you are willing to share before you leave for the trip or you might find yourself in an awkward position, whether it be not wanting to lend a favorite sweater or not being able to wear a pair of shoes you were counting on wearing. Talking beforehand clears up most of these problems and helps you pack more appropriately.
5. Bring a water bottle. Rather than continually buying bottles of water, bring along your own durable water bottle that you can fill with safe/clean tap water. This trick not only saves you money but helps you help the environment! Remember: you are not allowed to have any liquid in the container while going through security at the airport.
6. Use Space Saver Bags for clothing. Tip: Avoid “vacuum-seal” brands. Using space saver bags allows you to bring more variety of clothing, meaning you are less likely to splurge on an essential item you forgot to pack because you didn’t have space. I love these bags because I can fit more into a smaller space, bring a smaller bag, and travel more simply and conveniently. I’m not as worried about whether or not I will be able to fit my bags into the overhead if I’m taking a train, and having less stuff to keep an eye on means that there there’s more time for fun and less time for stress!
How do you travel on a budget? We’d love to hear your tips!