Out of the Box Ways to Travel on a Budget

Longing to get away, but far less excited about the prospect of dropping a boatload of cash during your journey? With a creative spending strategy, you can have a fabulous trip that doesn’t take your budget off course. Here are a few out of the box ways to travel on a budget.

1. Skip the lodging costs entirely.

Susan Caba, a writer, editor and founder of Resale Evangelista,1 spends about six weeks every summer in a Santa Barbara, CA home with a pool that overlooks the foothills and the ocean free of charge — all in exchange for house sitting services. “My duties include feeding three cats and a tankful of fish, watering the plants and chatting with the pool boy. It’s a wonderful life,” says Caba. Though she found that particular gig through word of mouth, she recommends a site like TrustedHousesitters.com to find legitimate house sitting opportunities.

She adds that the same arrangement can be a big money-saver for travelers leaving pets at home. “I recently spent six months housesitting for a family that visited India. Their dog and cats were able to remain at home, and there was no cost to them,” says Caba.

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2. Dine strategically.

Packing snacks and staying in a place that equips you to prepare your own meals will likely cost less than buying food at a restaurant — but you don’t have to dine in every day to stay on budget. Swap dinner for lunch at a restaurant for smaller portions — and lower price tags. If you want to dine later in the day, order an appetizer instead of a full-sized entrée; inquire about stipulations that may be associated with promotions to make sure you don’t face unexpected charges when the bill arrives. (Some happy hour specials, for example, may require that you sit at the bar).

3. Take the road less traveled.

Anna Rice, a fashion publicist, frequent traveler and founder of travel site The Blonde Banana2 suggests downloading the apps for the ride-sharing services that are available in your destination instead of hailing a cab — especially if you’re willing to buddy up to save on fare.

“For example, in San Francisco a Lyft Line ride (which means you might be sharing with another passenger) to and from the airport is significantly cheaper than a cab,” says Rice.

If you’re using a ride sharing service for the first time, she says it pays to search for online coupons, which may offer your first ride free. If you’re traveling abroad across several cities or countries, Winowiecki says to consider taking the night trains: “You can avoid the expense of a hotel, and the fare is cheaper.”

4. Don’t be a typical tourist.

Steer clear of the heavily promoted excursions, and opt to see your destination through the eyes of those who know it best.

“Talk to the locals and find out what they do for fun,” says Winowiecki. “They are not spending hundreds of dollars a day to live there — so why should you?” If you’re traveling in the United States, state park passes can be purchased for a nominal fee, and may include access to beaches, mountains, lakes, oceans and local wildlife.

5. Avoid unnecessary charges.

If you travel abroad, Rice says to purchase a local SIM card soon after you arrive. “Sometimes these are sold in the airport, or at mobile phone stores or convenience stores. A local SIM card will save you a great deal of money versus an international data plan so you can update social media, send messages to family and friends, and use apps.” When you’re right on the cusp of carry-on luggage size limits, she also suggests trying to avoid checking the bag before you board. “If the airline deems it too big, they’ll usually check it for you at the gate for free. You’ll save on the checked bag fee — and the time you’d have spent waiting in line to check it.”

1. Email interview

2. Email interview

Legal Disclaimer: The articles and information provided herein are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice. 

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