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Budget travel guidelines will vary based on the length and nature of the trip, as well as the destination. There are a few general tips for budget travel, however, that will benefit most people who plan to travel on a budget. These include outlining a preliminary budget, finding cheap airfare, and finding cheap living arrangements.
The simplest and most necessary step for budget travel is planning a preliminary budget. Decide ahead of time how much you intend to spend on airfare, hotels or hostels, food, and daily activities such as tourist attractions, cab fare, and museums. This will help you plan the length of your trip and notice any potential inconsistencies in how you’ve allocated your money. For example, in certain cities it might make sense to cut back on transportation costs and walk between sites. Additionally, it is crucial to add in extra money for each day as a buffer to account for unanticipated expenses include cab rides, luggage fees, or missed flights.
Finding inexpensive airfare is also an essential part of traveling on a budget. To find the cheapest flights, plan your trip as far in advance as possible to get the earliest, and often best, air travel deals. Consider comparing prices from various airlines and travel websites, and look for potential savings with package deals if you plan on plane hopping between countries. Private travel agents might also be a wise choice, as they have access to a wider range of budget travel resources that might lower the cost of your trip. If you plan on checking a bag, be sure to look for ways to avoid unwanted fees by keeping your bag under the specified weight or checking in online the night before.
Another budget travel tip is to find the cheapest available living arrangements, which are generally either hotels to hostels or, in some areas, vacation rentals or bed and breakfast stays. Hostels generally tend to be the cheapest option per night, and most feature shared bathrooms and dormitory-like sleeping arrangements. Safety is a concern in some hostels, along with potential theft and bed bugs. Bed and breakfasts offer greater safety and cultural exposure than hostels, but usually cost more. Vacation rentals are generally considered a good option for travelers who intend to stay in one location for weeks or months, and although they might cost more than a hostel or bed and breakfast, rentals that have a kitchen allows the traveler to save on food expenses by preparing their own meals.
Don't always assume that tours are going to be bad for your budget. Especially if you manage to add them on, or get them on sale.
I've traveled on both bus tours and cruises which have been cheaper per day than they could have been if I was paying for transport, food and accommodation separately. Not to mention, on the bus trip I saw places I might not otherwise have been able to see.
If you are on a cruise, or you've got a hotel with a buffet breakfast included, don't be afraid to stock up for lunch as well as breakfast.
They might frown on you for doing it, but if you don't make it too obvious you can make some excellent sandwiches out of a buffet breakfast, and then just have a light dinner on the town.
If you have to, sneak those apples out in your shirt!
@bythewell - I would add that you should pay close attention to where each night is going to be spent. If you are going to be travelling by train or bus somewhere is there any way to do it overnight? That way you won't be spending a day in travel and extra money for a night in a hotel as well.
Don't do that too often though. I tried spending half my nights on Greyhound buses when I was travelling across the States and I was burned out by the third week.
You want to have energy to enjoy your trip, or what's the point?
My best budget tip is to research as much as you possibly can. Don't just rely on a single ticket searcher online, try several. Sign up for different airlines and travel agencies to get sent deals. Sometimes they have one day budget travel flight deals and you have to be quick to get in them.
See about adding destinations on through stopovers. I managed to get a stopover added on to my trip recently for only $30 extra, which was basically the airport fee.
Start your research as early as possible too, so you can try to get the early bird rates. This is particularly true when you have to fly during a peak time.
And my final tip is, never fly during a peak time if you can help it (usually peak times coincide with school holidays). The ticket will be twice or triple the cost of other fares.
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