My sister, Emma, lives in Madrid, Spain where she teaches a bunch of loco Spanish kids English. She spends her weekends gallivanting around Europe on a tight budget. I somehow convinced her to take a beat from all said gallivanting to enlighten us on how she is able to pull this off.
Want to travel but think you don’t have the means? Luckily traveling has never been cheaper. Here are some tips to explore and experience outside of your realm on a budget.
If you are flying to your destination, always, always, always attach your frequent flyer miles to your flight reservation.
Even if you don’t travel a lot, you can still take advantage of frequent flyer programs, especially if you stick with one airline. The miles you earn are generally based on the miles you travel. Redeeming the miles isn’t so straightforward, and basically the airline makes up how much your miles are actually worth. However, trust me, you can earn a free flight (plus taxes and fees) if you just stick with it and fly at least every 18 months to keep your account active (the time interval depends on the terms of the particular airline). My amazing sister, Tess, rarely travels for work and sometimes travels for fun but was able to get a free flight to Nicaragua and only had to pay about $75 for taxes and fees.
If you are in the planning phase and haven't decided on your destination, use Google Flight
Google Flights is AMAZING. You can use it to look up the cheapest flights from the airport you are flying out of.
Always take public transportation
When figuring out how to get to your place to stay or just traveling around a city, take a look at how to travel there via public transportation. Don’t rely on taxis! In big cities, especially in Europe, the public transportation systems are reliable, efficient, and typically very cheap. If you’re not experienced with public transportation, don’t fret. Part of experiencing new places is becoming familiar with the way people get around. If you get lost (which you probably will, not matter how seasoned of a traveler you are)- treat it as a learning experience and good story!
Walking everywhere is a perfect way to see a new city. Not only is it fo free, it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with an area.
3 words: Hostels. Are. Fun. Some of my best memories while traveling have been in hostels. They’re a great way to meet interesting and fun people and also don’t break the bank. Yes, you have to become comfortable with sharing rooms with strangers, but meeting new people can make a trip even more unforgettable. Also, if your only knowledge of hostels is the movie “Hostel,” this is a misconception. There are many, many hostels now that are comfortable, clean, accommodating, trendy, and most importantly safe.
Air bnb or (similar companies). This type of accommodation is also sometimes a cheaper alternative to hotels. You’ll hear about my tips for saving money by going to the grocery store and most apartments you can rent have kitchens- perfecto.
Go to the grocery store
One of the best ways to experience new cultures is through your stomach. Trying new and local food is important. However, buying food adds up and if you’re not careful, eating could be your most expensive activity. Frequenting the grocery store to buy bread, cheese, meats, pasta, rice, raw veggies, fruit for picnics and/or cooking quickly in the hostel or apartment kitchen is a smart way to save dough. Like I said, eating is one of the reasons for traveling, so I’d recommend going to a restaurant for a big meal about once a day.
Eat like a local & avoid touristy areas
Per my recommendation, your one meal at a restaurant needs to be a good one. Avoiding touristy areas to eat gives you cheaper restaurants and also just better food. Finding hole in the wall local joints away from the Eiffel Tower or Puerta del Sol will provide delicious meals at a steal.
Bring/reuse water bottles
Not only is this trick good for the environment, it can seriously save you money. A lot of places outside of the U.S. charge you for water, even if its from the tap! No gracias.
If youre not stay in a hostel or airbnb, find a hotel that offers a free breakfast
Lots of hotels offer a free continental breakfast. Take advantage of this offering and load up! Also, a lot of times these spreads will include fruit and things you can take with you to eat as a snack later in the day.