25 Ways to Travel Cheap

25 Ways to Travel Cheap
UPDATE: Check out my newer post, 25 More Ways to Travel Cheap

25 Ways to Travel CheapPeople always ask how I have the money to travel as much as I do. Well here are a few secrets, my friends! Hopefully you can learn from a few of my mistakes and benefit from some of my tips!

1.     The obvious way: travel on budget airlines. When I traveled around Southeast Asia, Air Asia, Jetstar and Tiger were insanely cheap – and I’m talking $65 flights from Bali to Phuket. I couldn’t express how much the phrase “you get what you pay for” applies to these, however, but they [usually] got us where we needed to go.

2.     TRIPADVISOR. TRIPADVISOR. TRIPADVISOR. We booked every single hotel after first reviewing them on tripadvisor.com. This website is absolutely essential to get the best value. From splurging on a 5 star hotel in Bangkok (Oriental Residence – best hotel I’ve EVER stayed at) to an amazingly clean and ideally located $20 hotel in Phuket (Simplitel Hotel) – Tripadvisor NEVER let us down. We also always booked through Agoda.com to get discounts and acquire points, instead of going through the actual website.

3.     HAGGLE. This obviously can only be done in some countries but it’s possible to pay $25 instead of the advertised $75 to spend the day white water rafting in Bali with transportation, all equipment and lunch included. Just see the advertised price as a suggestion and you’ll probably end up paying half that amount, at most. Don’t be afraid to be ballsy, they love taking advantage of foreigners.

4.     Get a little bit of exercise – since it’s usually free and it’s good for you, duh. Go on hikes and check out the natural beauty in every country. Walk places instead of taking cabs/buses and absorb your surroundings. Go jogging on the beach. Swim in the ocean. (Evidence below that the best things in life are free.)

5.     Do a little bit of research. A lot of cities will have free festivals (Melbourne had at least one a month) or free museums (the Te Papa museum in Wellington, New Zealand is AMAZING. The colossal squid is out of control.) Research how far your hotel is from the airport & the best way to get there – a quick Google search can turn your $80 cab ride into a [slightly-longer] $4 bus ride. Research if tipping is the custom so you don’t unnecessarily tip your servers in Australia who are already making $25/$30 an hour.

6.     Use public transportation. I come from California where the public transport system is essentially non-existent in most cities so everyone has a car. AKA walking down dark, shady subways to catch a train with creepy crackheads shouting obscenities at innocent passer byers did NOT seem appealing. However, how can you argue with $56 a MONTH for unlimited use of the bus, tram & train in Australia (MyKi is essential)– as opposed to $60 a week spent on gas. Public transport may not be the most convenient or the easiest alternative, but it definitely will save you ridiculous amounts of money. Or just get a bicycle and you’re being even more eco-friendly, along with gaining multiple perks (I go  on about this in another post).

7.     Don’t check luggage!! This is important for several reasons: First of all, you will save HUNDREDS of dollars. It’s anywhere from $25-$50 to check luggage so you can do the math if you’re catching a lot of flights. Learn what the essentials are so you also don’t need to drag around a ton of luggage when travelling.

25 Ways to Travel Cheap8.     Pay attention to exchange rates. Try to get good rates on different currencies and get it before you go to that country. Call banks and see if they have the currency you need. If the rate is good, get enough for the entire time you’ll be there. This will also help you budget your money because you’ll only have an allocated amount you’re supposed to spend in each country. (Don’t exchange money at airports, the rates are usually terrible.)

9.     Get a Charles Schwab bank account or one that will also let you withdraw money on any ATM with no fees. Charles Schwab is an example and you can use any ATM in the world. That means no $5 fees every time you run out of money at a bar and need to withdraw a little bit of cash.

10.     Groupons/Scoopons, Living Socials, etc. Superb way to find hidden gems while getting awesome deals. These were especially helpful in Australia where there are hundreds upon hundreds of dining/drinking options that are also twice as expensive as in America. Sign up and get a couple emails a day to get a 3 course meal for $15, a scuba certification class for $150 or a 5 night stay in Fiji for $200. Need I say more?

11.     Pregame. I know what you’re thinking and NO – you are not too old to pregame. As much fun as it is to spend $18 on every single cocktail while out each night, try drinking a bit before so you only need to buy a few social drinks at the bar (I’ve perfected this strategy during my college days). Unless, of course, you’re in the Philippines where beer is sometimes 80 cents.


12.     Work while you’re abroad. I know, I know – who wants to work while you’re on vacation. My philosophy: you’re life can be a vacation if you work even just a little bit the entire time. If you want to be somewhere a little bit more long term, then get a side job at a bar, café or wherever your calling may be. You’ll make friends, meet the locals and really get a taste of the culture from different perspectives. And you’ll obviously be making some money to fund for the next adventure. It’s a win-win situation.

13.     Use Craigslist or Gumtree or whatever site where people can buy & sell essentially anything. I used it to buy a used bicycle and enjoyed dozens of amazing bike rides around Melbourne. Before moving away, I posted it back on Gumtree and sold it for the same amount I bought it for. BOOM.

14.     Eat the local food. More often than not, those slightly dodgy-looking hole-in-the-wall places will be the most delicious, authentic food you can get. And also the cheapest. We did make the mistake of eating dog in Thailand (which I would never ever EVER recommend) but it’s all part of the experience, right?

15.     Negotiate with cab drivers BEFORE getting in the car (if they refuse to use a meter, which is almost always around Southeast Asia). They can spot tourists a mile away and would LOVE to up their normal fee by 300%. See Tip #3.

16.     Blog-stalk. I love reading people’s blogs but one of the more practical benefits is that you can get a first hand take on other people’s experiences traveling where you’re about to go. I blog-stalked like crazy before leaving for Korea and thankfully brought a sufficient amount of deodorant as I was advised since it’s a rare find in this country.

17.     If you’re like me and over pack and then also buy way too many clothes abroad, you’ll have to figure out how to get all of your stuff back home. We debated sending a package back but this can be pricey (we’re talking $200 for a 30 pound package from Australia – US). Instead, we packed everything in a giant box and checked an additional bag at the airport. It was still $100 but at least we wouldn’t have to wait weeks for it to arrive. The fun part is lugging around 4 carry-ons and 5 checked items between the two of us.


18.     Suspend your cell phone for the duration of your trip (AT&T will allow you to do this at $10/month. Other services let you do it for free).

19.     Cancel your gym membership (Tip #4 will negate this loss).

20.     Sell your car (it’s amazing what no car insurance or car payments will do for your wallet).

21.     Work out your housing situation to where you don’t have to pay rent while you’re away (this is where family members come in handy – you might spend some time crashing on their couches) & finish leases or sublet your place.

22.     Pay off credit cards before you leave – if you’re spending money to go on a long-term vacay, you probably shouldn’t have debt, anyway! (Easier said than done, right?)

23.     Before, in between, and after traveling: sell/give away/throw away your belongings you don’t need. Traveling really makes you realize what’s important in life. So give away that half of your closet that you never wear (if you survived without them for a year, you probably don’t need them). Sell the furniture that you’ve kept in storage for months. Yes, you’ll need stuff when you get back but it’s amazing how much you can minimize if you really try.



24.     Sleep at airports. Yes, I’m serious. Here’s my logic: if you have a flight early the next morning, what’s the point in paying for another night at a hotel you will barely spend any time in? PLUS – you don’t have to wake up early to get to the airport since you’ll already be there. Another win-win my friend. But please research and make sure the airports are open 24/7 because they WILL kick you out and force you to sleep on the beach, which isn’t as fun as it seems.

25.     If you exceed the weight limitation on your carry-on bags (which is a LOT easier than it seems, especially if you follow tip #7), wear the weight. Wear multiple layers and you can easily wear half the weight in your bag (this is actually pretty convenient if you’re sleeping on the beach & need to keep warm because Tip #24 didn’t work out so well). Or, you know, you could just pack light, but where’s the fun in that?

Now that you’ve saved literally hundreds and hundreds of dollars, you can loosen up the purse strings and splurge on the amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that would normally be out of your price range. Being frugal is always good, but even better when it allows you to spend $270 to go scuba diving in the great barrier reef or $600 to to go sky diving in New Zealand. BAM.

For tips on how to save money BEFORE traveling, check out How to Save Money to Travel the World :)

How to Save Money to Travel the World25 More Ways to Travel Cheap

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77 Comment

  1. Maria says: Reply

    I’m getting ready to study abroad in Australia and this post has been so helpful. Any other tips you may have for living in Melbourne? I will be there for 5 months!

  2. Sherlynn says: Reply

    Great post! I am starting to plan my travel. These are useful and practical tips. Thanks! ?

  3. Good tips, yes deals or coupons is also the best way to travel cheap. Thanks for sharing this tips. Happy traveling everyone. You only live once so enjoy life and travel a lot. Keep updated with the great deals so that you can save money while traveling. :)

  4. Hey Kirsten, thanks for great post. And I love photos. Keep it up

  5. Tod says: Reply

    Thanks for the great list! Went to Melbourne 2 years ago and their public transportation is awesome, Myki definitely saved me a lot. I also suggest walking around to find hidden gems.

    1. Kirsten Joelle says: Reply

      Thanks Tod! Glad you enjoyed Melbourne too, such a great city!

  6. Tammy says: Reply

    Great list! The only thing I can think of to add would be couch surfing. Most hosts will also spend one afternoon or evening giving you a tour of the best spots in the area.

    1. Kirsten Joelle says: Reply

      Definitely! Couchsurfing is the best! Unfortunately, it’s a bit harder for me to find a place to crash because I come with a boyfriend 😛 but we’ve hosted before and love it, it’s a great way to meet people!

  7. Lauren says: Reply

    Absolutely great list! Pretty much compiled every piece of traveling advice I have haha and I definitely budget in certain places so I can ball out on others (like you and your scuba diving). Definitely pinning <3

  8. anne says: Reply

    How old are you? I like to save money, but my god, I’m not poor. Sleep at an airport? Don’ t check my bag? and no savvy traveler gets money before they arrive – everyone knows to withdraw money from the ATM in that country saves money on exchange rates; the atm fee never costs more than it would if you change the money at home. That rate is always BAD. This may be fine if you are 17 and backpacking Europe for the first time, but not for gainfully employed adults.

    1. Kirsten Joelle says: Reply

      BUDGET traveler, Anne (I even mentioned “super poor man’s tips”). But regardless, you have brought to my attention that I really should update this list! And just an FYI, withdrawing money from ATMs all the time will result in a ton of fees from both that ATM and your bank.

  9. Jenny says: Reply

    Definitely agree with #15! Or just don’t get in a cab that haggles with you. Insist on using the meter and sometimes the driver would agree.

  10. Jess says: Reply

    If you do need to take a cab for whatever reason, try using Uber or Lyft. They are carpooling services which pay the drivers. Kind of hard to explain but look them up. Much cheaper then cabs. We used this a lot in California where transit sucks and we didn’t want to rent a car. Uber ended up being cheaper than renting most days. Some countries and cities have band these services but if they haven’t you’re in luck! Wonderful and useful tips!

    1. Kirsten Joelle says: Reply

      Thanks Jess! I’ve been in California for the last month and a half and always use Uber or Lyft here! Usually about half the cabs, which is great!

  11. I agree that it’s good to save on airline tickets. Sure, it won’t be the most comfortable trip, but I’ll be enjoying the destination much more than a few cramped hours in a plane. I’ve got a few relatives that work in travel agencies that say taxis and other companies will take advantage of foreigners, so you gave good advice to be ballsy. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Great travel tips, especially about severing ties before going away on a long trip. Luckily last time I went away on a long trip, I could store stuff at my parent’s house!

    I’ve recently started a blog on travelling on the cheap which you might find interesting: Travelnuity (http://travelnuity.com) Enjoy!

  13. I love the post! Great overview of all aspects of travelling cheap. Before I did my around the world trip, I was on the look out for mistake fare and flash sales. I found a couple on Daily Trip Hack (www.dailytriphack.com). The deals are usually out of Toronto or JFK but they had one that was $130 (mistake fare) which flew me from New York – Milan -Prague – Tokyo – Toronto. Some other good deals are on there as well.

  14. Lexy says: Reply

    Hey great post! And I love your accompanying photos. Good job :)

  15. Has anyone heard of manyship.com & have tried them. Heard that they pay for carrying goods while travelling and their delivery charges are lesser than Fedex & other transport services

  16. Great tips! I definitely had a few “aha” moments. (o;

  17. Frank says: Reply

    great list and ideas. i summed up a list of the 11-most-expensive-travel-mistakes,
    check it out if ou want to http://how-to-travel-cheap.com/the-11-most-expensive-travel-mistakes/

  18. Brilliant!

  19. I would also like to add that buying snacks and water at a grocery store instead of the little stands or at the restaurant is great too.

  20. I was wondering if you had any websites you could offer for tip #12, I thought most places to get a job you’re supposed to have a work visa? or do you mean under the table money?

    1. If you’re interested in teaching English, Footprints Recruiting is a good agency to use (more details on the Teaching English Abroad page at the very top). When I worked in Australia, I had a work and holiday visa which allowed me to work for one employer for 6 months for a year (so ideally, you could work at 2 different places). I also worked at different cafes under the table. There’s a website in Australia called seek.com.au, which was super helpful as well!

  21. Great info! Thanks! :)

  22. Reblogged this on FXHQ.

  23. Reblogged this on The Penguin and The Machine and commented:
    This is a brilliant read and a possible hint at my future plans 😉

  24. Bella says: Reply

    I have searched high and low for old traveling tips as I’m about to spend five months in Melbourne, and this is the first article that has actually given me some amazing tips so thank you for writing and sharing!

    1. Thanks Bella! I lived in Melbourne a couple years ago so if you have any questions, feel free to ask :) It’s a beautiful city, you’ll love it!

  25. Paige Rose says: Reply

    Great Post! But I have a Question As a 20 year old women is it safe to travel alone? or with another girl out and about? I never really think about it but every one around me has kind of started to freak me out about it..

    1. I think as long as you’re smart, use common sense and are relatively cautious, anybody can travel alone! It’s always important to research the places you are going and learn about the culture and how safe it is. Traveling alone can be scary but as long as you’re smart, you’ll be fine!

  26. Great post, Kirsten. Thanks for the good tips… about everything!

  27. […] another article on “25 Ways to Travel […]

  28. Linda says: Reply

    A great tip is to buy currency at home, when the exchange rate is high & keep it on a travel x card, until your ready to go.

  29. Reblogged this on cultureofwanderlust and commented:
    25 great ways to travel cheap

  30. Reblogged this on Inspirations for Free Spirits and commented:
    How To Travel Cheap

  31. […] Very useful tips on how to see the world without burning a hole in your pocket from Kirsten over at First for Everything. […]

  32. […] Tips for Travelling on a Budget, Kirsten Joelle […]

  33. Em says: Reply

    Reblogged this on Trip(le) Trotters and commented:
    Some new , and so seemingly basic, tips to keep in mind on our trip through Asia:

  34. Danielle says: Reply

    You must have been in Oz AGES ago – you’d be lucky to get by on $56 for a week of travel in Melbs now, let alone a month!

    1. I was there just last year! :) I got the student (concession) pass and would “top up” online in advance. If you pay for 4 weeks beforehand, it was only about $56. My boyfriend paid the normal price which was about double that if I remember correctly. Take advantage! (This is all in Melbourne, btw!)

      1. Danielle says: Reply

        Ahh a concession pass. Yes, that helps! I’m a Canadian living over here (in Melbourne – I assumed you were because we’re the only place that uses Myki) and public transit prices are INSANE. It can sometimes cost me about $11.50 to get to and from work per day if I’m working in zone two. The only deal (which wouldn’t be that much of a deal in a city like Toronto) is that you can ride anywhere on the network for $3.50 per day on the weekends.

        1. Just go on the website and pay for a month in advance, my boyfriend said that you can do a zone 1 + zone 2 pass also (not positive about that though!) Just zone 1 was around $4.50/day ($120ish/month) and he said 1+2 is around $6/day!

  35. Gina says: Reply

    i’m starting to plan my travelling adventures and this has been the most helpful thing i have read so far! great tips that i wouldn’t have thought of, thank you so much for sharing! :)

    1. So glad I could help :) Thanks for reading, Gina! Where are you off to?

      1. Gina says: Reply

        :) i’m not 100% sure on how i’m going to go about it yet, but Australia and America are at the top of the list! and then Europe! Would love to go to certain parts of Asia as well, such as Thailand!

  36. […] This lovely woman named Kirsten has no less than 25 tips for you on how to travel on a budget. She even has “some extra (super-)poor man’s tips” on there, and oh, her photos are lovely. Find this blog post at First for Everything. […]

  37. Awesome post, funny and I love that you have some tips that I’ve not even thought of! Like Groupons… consider this shared on FB!

    1. Thanks, I’m honored :)! I often peruse your site and find tons of useful tips as well! Great site, you have some awesome stuff on there!

  38. Carla says: Reply

    Don’t forget the hostels. All so fun and $10-$30 a night. They’re worldwide and filled with interesting travelers. Check out the “Not so hostel” in Charleston, SC.

  39. These are very useful and practical tips, thank you! =D
    I’ll start my one-month European adventure in two days and tumbled across your blog. =)

    1. Thanks Sanguine! I’ll hopefully be venturing to Europe next year, hope you enjoy your trip!

  40. You have got astonishing info right here.

  41. […] 25 Ways to Travel Cheap | First for Everything […]

  42. Cristy says: Reply

    We may be paid what seems well to everyone else in the world here in Australia, but when you consider that everything is far more expensive here in comparison, the higher pay rate becomes null. The waitress or bar tender you just jipped a tip is more than likely paying very high rent and food costs and is doing it rougher than you think. Aussies are not at all rich or well to do as the world believes we are.
    If nothing else, put a few bucks in the tip jar so the staff can share it out at the end of the week, if the service is good that is.

    1. Thanks Cristy, that’s a good point! When I lived in Australia last year, I heard that tipping was starting to become a “thing” there. Unfortunately, it wasn’t at either of the restaurants I worked at, although I heard it was more prevalent in bars. I definitely wasn’t assuming every Aussie was rich but coming from a big tipping culture (US!) and working in hospitality since I was 16, I would say it isn’t necessary for Americans to tip as much as they normally do, since 18% is the norm. I hope that tipping becomes more of a regular custom in Australia and that the wages will stay high as well! It’s nice to have a steady pay, unlike the US where it can be completely dead and we don’t make anything since the hourly wage for some servers is almost non-existent. It would be lovely to get the best of both worlds! :)

  43. Emi says: Reply

    Love this! I can tell we are kindred spirits, because I just barely did a post on this topic and then saw yours on Pinterest! Happy travels! Xo

    1. :) would love to see yours, send me a link!

  44. these tips were amazing and helpful , Thank you :)

  45. Have less, live more. Very useful tips!

  46. Anna says: Reply

    take overnight buses, did this in Turkey and saved a few nights in hotels. Also It’s a little cheaper than flying

    1. Thanks for the addition Anna! I completely agree – overnight buses are an amazing way to save money! I took one when traveling from Singapore to Malaysia and the best part (like you said) is that it saves you a night in a hotel!

    2. Steve says: Reply

      I have taken overnight buses multiple times but no more. I remember one overnight through the Andes where we were so wrecked in the AM that the following day was a write-off and we couldn’t wait to check into an hotel and get some sleep. It may work for some but for me it is false economy.

      1. Kirsten Joelle says: Reply

        I have the advantage of being able to fall asleep ANYWHERE. So I actually don’t mind overnight buses at all. I actually kind of enjoy them a bit. But they are exhausting, I agree. I usually need a very relaxing day the next day!

  47. I found this post extremely useful. Thanks for the advice!

  48. Thanks for sharing useful travel tips

  49. Reblogged this on Life: A Nelipot Perspective and commented:
    Love it! Absolutely love it!

  50. denise says: Reply

    I tell everyone I know to get a Charles Schwab account. (and no I don’t work for them) Friendliest customer service ever, and no fees for exchange rates or ATM withdrawals. It saved us at least 100$ in ATM fees in Thailand.

  51. Good tips, but I still won’t sleep in an airport if I can avoid it. Brrr. I already use hotel comparison sites like http://www.trivago.ie and think that they are a first good way to save money – in case you do not want to stay in a B&B or hostel or do couch surfing. Thanks!

    1. Haha it’s not as bad as you think – especially if you have good company :)

      I’ll have to check out trivago.ie next time I go on a trip, thanks for the tip!

  52. Ceri says: Reply

    Brilliant tips, hun. I wish I’d had tip #22 in mind when I went travelling but you live and learn. 😉

    1. Yeah like I said, definitely easier said than done :)

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