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How to travel on a budget: Insider tips


Travelling, solo or not, is still a luxury, between travel expenses, accommodations, foods and so on, you soon find yourself spending all your monthly salary for a week's holiday in a sunny destination totally disconnected from the rest of the world.

So why do so many people continue to get away from daily routines and how does Chloe, the new intern with the salary that goes with it, manage to take advantage of her break in amazing places so often?

It's quite simple, she is flexible and stays on the lookout for good deals. When you think about it, if you want to travel for cheap it’s not that complicated. Here are a few tips that could help you avoid ending up with holes in your pockets.

So let's start with the first step:

Travel for cheap by choosing your destination(s) well

When I say choose your destination(s) well, I mean above all, be flexible. On the dates, to start with, we all agree that a plane or train ticket in the middle of August does not cost the same as in February. So yes, I understand that the weather is not the same, but on the contrary, it is an opportunity to discover more authentic activities and a little less touristy. Discovering a big city will also be more expensive than exploring the surrounding villages. Either way, there's enough to make you a real adventurer. 

The advice: think of off-season and unusual and less popular destinations, to discover (or rediscover) the region differently.

Save money on transport

If there's one thing I've learned from my travels, it's that transport is expensive. So to travel for cheap, the priority is to find good deals and compare prices. There are many flight comparison websites if you are travelling by plane, but if you want to travel in a more eco-friendly way, I also have some tips.

Get your tickets well in advance and compare prices on different modes of transport. A bus that goes to the same place as your train for half the price? That's a good deal! It may take you an extra hour to get to your destination, but it's also a great way to meet people and see beautiful landscapes.

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Speaking of meeting people, you can also take advantage of hitchhiking or carpooling. Here, count on the kindness of people to help you on your journey. You will be sure to meet genuine people. In another article, you will find safety tips for hitchhiking.

And for the more sporty ones, why not try the adventure on foot or by bike, a few stretches of road combined with other transport will save you money (and keep your legs toned)!

My tip: Pack a small, lightweight backpack that won't go into the cabin if you take the plane. This will save you time and money. If you are walking or cycling, it will be even more convenient. In her article, Sylvie gives you her secrets for a 7 kg backpack.

Once I arrive, where do I sleep?

For the pre-trip, we're not bad, but what about during the trip? One thing is for sure, whatever the season, hotel prices rise quickly. But how can you travel for cheap and still have a roof over your head?

Here you have different options, we already had an article that gives the different solutions for a free accommodation, so if you are interested I strongly invite you to read it. 

For my part, I believe in wild camping (in authorized places of course and in the respect of nature). Sleeping under the stars or in a tent in an idyllic setting is much more adventurous than staying in a hotel or an Airbnb. 

My advice: For the other nights, if I can find someone available, I also like to sleep at a local's house. Like with La Voyageuse, where women volunteers offer to host travellers for free. A kind welcome and lively exchanges with the simple aim of helping a solo traveller to live her dream. Now that's a genuine and inexpensive meetup!

In either case, I’ll surely leave with amazing encounters and souvenirs.

But my tips don't stop there! I'm starting to feel a little hungry, aren't you? So, let's go for the following tip on travelling for cheap.

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Eating, necessity and a financial drain...

The empty stomach rumbling, a terrible feeling... For me, if I'm hungry, it's impossible to enjoy my trip. But when you leave for hours of hiking in the wilderness or days of hitchhiking without knowing where you'll end up and especially when you'll find an open mini-market, it quickly becomes complicated. 

However, there is no question of ordering Uber Eats or eating out every night without seeing your budget explode.

The first tips to avoid this are to collect discount coupons and to adapt your consumption to the place where you are, as well as to the season. If you eat strawberries in France in the middle of winter, don't be surprised if they cost you a fortune. 

Also pack canned meals and non-perishable food that can last a few days in your bag and be eaten cold wherever you are. Of course, you don't have to load up your back with twelve tins of ravioli and anchovies, but simply plan as much as possible for those days when you may not have time. Energy bars and instant noodle packs are also a good compromise.

Restaurant tip: If you want to treat yourself to a good meal without selling a kidney, avoid the tourist areas and choose restaurants appreciated by the locals. If you are offered a simple pasta dish for €20 in Italy, you’re surely in a tourist trap (or a gourmet restaurant). 

With a little common sense, you'll be able to enjoy it while treating yourself!

But after this gourmet escapade, why not go and do some activities? Too expensive you say? Wait until you read my tips!

What about discovering the city?

A stroll through the historic centre is beautiful and costs nothing. But as soon as you want to try activities or visit museums, you are quickly caught up by reality...Yes, everything has a cost, so how can you travel for cheap while discovering new activities?

First of all, go to the tourist office, in terms of good plans you will not find more information!

You will discover all the monuments that you can visit for free or where you can benefit from discounts. Depending on the day, some cultural places will even be free, so it's up to you to make sure you can take advantage of them!

Also, if you come across other travellers who want to visit the same places as you, suggest that you get together. Small groups usually get good deals on tickets. If you're a student, don't hesitate to let people know - in France, in particular, most tourist and cultural venues offer great discounts for students!

The tip: prefer to sleep in the homes of local people to discover unusual, less touristy places and all their must-sees and recommendations on the city.

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After all the tips, it's time to stop, don't you think? 

Well, I'm not going to leave you like that, so here's a tiny last one for the road which can, for some, be of great help!

Work pays off

We don't necessarily think about it, especially when we think about travel, we generally prefer it not to rhyme with work. That said, it can also be a great experience. Whether you find a small job that allows you to discover the city while covering your expenses, or whether you try Woofing or volunteering in NGOs or associations to exchange your help for room and board, work pays.

If you are not yet thirty, there are also many grants that can help you go abroad. Erasmus grants, working holiday permits and other types of travel funding are all available!

Above all, my last piece of advice is: be kind and you will be rewarded! 

Throughout your journey, you will meet many people who will reach out to you, so take it, more than getting help, you will meet some incredibly enriching people that you will remember for the rest of your life. So whether it's a person on the street, in a restaurant or the hostess who welcomes you for the night, accept their help and thank them!

There are no more excuses to go on a solo trip, and if you're still hesitating to take the plunge, here are 10 tips to help you organise your first solo trip.


The editorial team:

Whether you are an avid traveller or a first-time adventurer, all NomadSister editors are passionate about travel. They share their advice and experiences with the desire to give you wings!

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