Budget traveling is the best way to travel if you are in your 20s and do not have enough money to indulge yourself. I regularly travel on a budget and will share a few things that I chant like a mantra each time I start a new journey.
- Find cheap tickets.
I live in Munich, Germany. Unless I’m taking a flight, I never plan my trips in advance. If you are like me, the best way to ensure that your tickets are cheap is by taking a bus. Now, there are some bus companies which are more expensive than the others. I use ‘goeuro’ (for travel in and around Europe) to do a preliminary search. Once I get a rough idea of the prices, I cross-check with other sites.
For instance, a few weeks ago, I went to Slovenia. When I checked in euro, the tickets for the timeframe I wanted were listed at 35€ for the onward journey. Since I know that Slovenia is not so far from Germany, I was sure that I could definitely find cheaper tickets. I googled for local bus companies in Slovenia and found tickets for 18€ which was not listed in goeuro.
Never forget to cross-check and compare ticket prices with those companies operating in your destination area.
If you want to fly, you can always opt for budget airlines. They are cheap. Really cheap. But, sometimes they are not very reliable. Last week, I flew from Toulouse to Frankfurt for 15€ in Ryanair. The train back home cost me more than the flight fare. The trick is to always book in advance. Always. Or when they have flash fares 🙂
- Find budget-friendly hostels
This is a no-brainer. If you want to save up on accommodation, find hostels. They are cheap, tidy, and mostly clean. Sometimes, you can even get free breakfast and walking tours. Moreover, hostels always provide free maps of the city. Grab one of those. It usually has all the important landmarks marked clearly. Hostelworld can help you find good hostels. Just keep in mind that rating matters. Do not book a hostel that costs 10€ per night but is rated only 5/10.
Airbnb is frugal if you are traveling in a group.
- Use free wifi provided by restaurants.
I always check up on messages when I’m in the hostel or eating somewhere. Most restaurants have free wifi. You just have to ask them. Load offline maps of the area you are visiting either using this wifi or before you arrive. Trust me. It really helps.
- Enquire with the locals and find out where to eat/shop
Locals usually know the best places away from the tourist centers. Usually, their suggestions will be very budget-friendly as opposed to the tourist traps in the city center. Also, you get a chance to imbibe the culture.
- Use public transport/walk if the landmarks are close by!
Many times, I have been pleasantly surprised at how close all the places have been. It’s a budget-friendly option to walk around and an added advantage would be to explore all the hidden alleys/streets on the way.
I haven’t tried this yet but a lot of my friends swear by these. Since, it’s completely free and a good way to interact with locals, it is definitely recommendable!
All continents ranked by the Average Travel Expenditure (Highest to Lowest)
Here is a Traveler’s Guide to Eating Healthy on a Budget (This approach applies EVERYWHERE irrespective of where you travel)
I have learnt through mistakes and experiences over the years, and here is a simple yet useful compilation of things to do and remember while eating on the move.
1. Eat outside the tourist zone – While this is not always possible, it is often doable if you’ve planned your day well. Food is always at least twice as expensive in restaurants situated within or close to tourist highlights of the town. Moving out of the tourist zone doesn’t necessarily mean you need to venture outside the city limits. A smart Google search will show you places that are in less crowded parts of town and eating in such places is a good money-saving tactic.
2. Find food at supermarkets – This is the most fool-proof way of saving some bucks while still managing to keep your stomach fairly happy. Most supermarkets across the world have freshly made (albeit cold), cheap food on their shelves. The larger ones even have hot food counters and salad bars. So, if you don’t want a proper meal with plates and cutlery, the easiest thing to do is to pop into a supermarket, grab a sandwich or salad and eat on the go.
3. Pack your own meal – For those who would much rather pack something wholesome, this would be the best option. You can always buy supplies from the market and whip up a delicious meal, pack it up (the idea of a nice picnic basket is so comforting) and eat when you find the ideal spot to relax or on the go. Of course, this is only possible if you are staying in an accommodation with a kitchen like an Airbnb or hostels. The great thing about hostels is that people vacating their rooms often leave behind food such as jars of pasta sauce, fruit preserves and spreads etc. for the rest of the guests to use. You don’t necessarily have to buy new supplies, and nothing goes to waste. It’s a win-win!
4. Cafes rather than restaurants – If something advertises itself as a “restaurant”, it tends to be pricey. If you’re not particular about having a meal that looks like a painting on your plate and are just interested in getting something quick that fills you up, stick to cafés instead. You’d be pleasantly surprised to see that some cafés are quaint, have a great ambiance, have “specials of the day” and a lot more than staple sandwich fare. Most cafés offer free WiFi as well, which is a bonus.
5. Snacking – As important as having three proper meals a day is snacking while on the go. Always remember to keep something light in your bag to munch on while you are out exploring or even when you can’t find a restaurant or café to have a proper lunch/dinner. My favorite snack to carry in my bag are granola bars or energy bars. They are wholesome and easy to carry around. You can also pack a box of mixed dried nuts such as almonds and walnuts or fruits such as apple.
6. Drinking Water – If there’s anything more important than eating well during travel, it is keeping yourself hydrated by drinking lots of water. Bottled mineral water can be very expensive but safe drinking water need not always come at a cost. The first thing to do is carry a water bottle with a filter attached. These bottles are lifesavers as they let you fill up water from public taps and filter out any sediments making them safe to drink. However, this is a good option only in countries where tap water is even otherwise potable. If you’re in parts of the world where water is not consumed directly from the tap, even a filter bottle is not a great option. In such cases, the next option is to buy water bottles from supermarkets. If you pick up large bottles, it works out to be very cost-effective. But since large bottles are impossible to carry around, you should buy these on your first day and leave it in your room. You can fill up smaller bottles from these large bottles and carry the small ones with you.
7. Coffee/Tea – When you’re a tourist, there aren’t many “coffee hacks”. I’m always looking for ways and places to get reasonably priced coffee. Most tourist towns will have the staple Starbucks and Costa Coffee, but we all know that these places don’t offer cheap beverages. Mc Café of McDonald’s, on the other hand, is a relatively cheaper option for beverages and is easily available in larger tourist towns. While this may not be always practical, you can also carry a small thermos with coffee that you’ve made using the sachets available in your hotel room or fill the thermos up with coffee from the breakfast dining area of your hotel.
8. Lunch Menus – Sometimes you just desperately want to visit a restaurant that’s rated as a “must-visit” for the fantastic food, décor or simply to look fancy on Instagram, but don’t want to burn a major hole in your pocket while living out this fantasy. At times like these, it’s best to do two things – a. Find out if they have “Lunch Menus”, which tend to be priced lesser than their regular menus; b. Reserve your visit towards the end of your trip so that you only spend the money that you don’t need for any other activity.
9. Apps and websites such as Traveling Spoon or BonAppetour – This is an absolutely fantastic way of sampling the local cuisine and hospitality. These apps connect you with local hosts who invite the guests who have purchased a “meal” to their homes. Not only do you get to eat authentic local cuisine, most times the hosts will also involve the guests in the cooking process. Total fun!
10. Other Points to Remember –
· Eating safe – Trying out the local cuisine from street vendors is usually on many of our travel bucket lists. However, if you’re not careful, you could end up being sick during your trip and there is nothing worse than that. Always ensure that you have a complete understanding of the ingredients used in the dish you want to eat so that you don’t eat something that would cause an allergic reaction. Another important thing to remember is to always eat from crowded street stalls. This way you can be sure that the food is constantly getting made and sold, hence isn’t stale. If you’re someone who does not have a stomach for experiments (no pun intended) like me, but would still love to sample local cuisine, it’s best to avoid street stalls overall and sample the local cuisine from recommended restaurants instead.
· Ask the hotel staff – Hotel staff can often be very insightful and helpful. Therefore, you should definitely ask them for recommendations on places to eat. They often recommend great places that are reasonably priced as well. Also, don’t ask the staff at the reception, it’s their job to direct you to the hotel’s restaurant. You should ask others such as the housekeeping staff or the concierge.
· Take tourism brochures – Always pick up the free tourism brochures available at hotel lounges, train stations, etc. It carries a lot of discount coupons from various restaurants and is just an overall handy thing to have with oneself. You should also check for Groupon discounts.
· Discounts for Students, Senior Citizens & Disabled – If you’re a student, senior citizen or differently-abled always carry your ID / Card with you, and don’t forget to ask the restaurant staff if they offer student discounts. Of course, it is best to avoid asking this question at super-fancy places, unless being greeted with a look of total disgust doesn’t really upset you.
So there you have it – my tips to eat well on a budget while traveling.
At the moment? NOWHERE.
Normally? Philippines is great for that, if you avoid the big touristic places.
In Europe? Chechia. In South America? Ecuador (Again: Avoid touristic centers. Example: Room at beach hotel at a famous beach? 80 dollars a night. One beach further, but nobody speaks English: 8 dollars a night)
There are more places
Nestled amidst the mighty Himalayas, Nepal is a beautiful country of snow peaks and streams, yaks and yetis, monasteries, and magic. Nepal offers a calm and serene atmosphere for anyone who wants to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, and for the adventure junkies it is the perfect location to experience an adrenaline rush – and all without burning a hole in the pocket. It is one of the cheapest countries to visit from India!