Budget Travel Tips

We’re on vacation this week, so it’s perfect timing to feature this guest post by Matthew Kepnes. Matthew has been traveling on a budget for over three years. You can find out more at his website, Nomadic Matt. If you want more travel tips, photos, and stories from his upcoming 3 month trip to Europe, you can also subscribe to his RSS feed.

Budget Travel Tips

Flying and accommodation are two of the biggest travel expenses people have when they plan a trip. The cost of these two are the biggest financial barriers to going away. People look at the cost of these two and think “I can’t afford a trip this year.” However, there are many easy, simple, and convenient ways to cut the cost of flights and dramatically cut the cost of accommodations.

I’ve been traveling for over three years. I fly about 10 times per year and I spend a lot of time in hotels, hostels, and bed and breakfasts. If I traveled like how most Americans think they need to travel, I could never afford it.

Here are some big ways to save on flights and accommodations so your trip becomes more affordable and a closer reality.


Traveling is always a fun experience when you get your plane tickets at a discount and luckily, the global recession has made flying a lot cheaper than it used to be. Airlines need to fill seats and they are looking to do so through steep price cuts.

Book in Advance. When booking your flight, book about 6-8 weeks in advance. The best time to buy is around 8 weeks before you travel. If you book too close to your trip, airlines know they can charge you a lot because you need the flight. If you book too far in advance, airlines raise prices to hedge against rising costs.

Fly Round Trip. Tickets are always cheaper if you book round trip. The airlines give a “discount” to round trip tickets because they know they will have seats filled. Even if you are only going one way, always book a return portion to save money.

Travel Midweek. Avoid traveling on the weekends since this is when people have off work so are looking to fly the most. Airlines raise prices on the weekend because they know they can make more money. Therefore, the best time to fly is between Tuesday and Thursday when flights are at their lowest capacity and flights are the cheapest.


Accommodations are one of the biggest day to day expenses people have. No matter what your accommodation tastes may be, one thing we can all agree on is that we all want to save money on it. Most people stay in hotels but hotels are the most expensive option on the road.

Stay in Hostels. A good alternative to hotels is hostels. People often think of hostels as for young college students who want to share showers and sleep in 20 bed dorms. However, hostels are for all ages. All of them have private rooms with showers, free wi-fi, and breakfast cheaper than hotels. In New York City, that kind of room cost me $90 per night in Times Square, and the room was cleaner than any similar priced hotel and even came with TV!

Try Couchsurfing. If you are looking to pay nothing, consider using Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing connects travelers with people around the world who let them stay in their home. You get a bed or a couch to sleep on. It’s a very safe service too. People are scared to couchsurf but the people who use this service are usually very open minded people and nice people. The couchsurfing website take steps to provide security for their users. They provide various levels of verification and allow users to rate and leave comments on people’s profiles. There’s never been a problem with this service and you can see if people are worth staying with by their reviews.

Rent an Apartment. If you plan to stay in a city a long time, renting an apartment can be a good option. These furnished apartments are usually cheaper than hotels and give many more amenities like a kitchen, laundry, and TV room. You’ll get the comforts of home without spending a lot of money like you would at a hotel.

By using the above methods, you can save hundreds of dollars on your next vacation without much effort. There is a myth that travel is expensive but that is because the travel industry wants you to believe it is so you will spend a lot of money. But travel is not expensive and there are many ways to travel cheap and, as people who want to save money, we can all appreciate that.

4 thoughts on “Budget Travel Tips

  1. Maggie

    Some really great suggestions…
    Thank you for sharing them. Using your ideas, i hope to be able to save enough $ to extend my next vacation, or go somewhere I have only been dreaming of.


  2. Anderson Lee

    Great tips! Btw, if you plan on doing any real travelling in the next month or so, JetBlue is offering an all-you-can-fly deal that runs for about $500 or $600.

  3. Kerri

    Great article and tips! We follow a budget and do our best to minimize daily spending to afford travel. There’s no greater way to spend your money–the experience of seeing the world–and tips like yours help that dollar stretch. Thanks!

  4. pps

    Good tips! I also suggest to use a personal finance software with a cellphone or PDA phone. This makes recording and tracking expenses much easier. An Excel sheet on a PDA would do very well as a personal finance planner and it can be easily transferred to a PC for expenses tracking and archiving.

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