Dossier: Young adults

Travel on a budget

You can still discover the world on a small budget. All it takes is a little flexibility and creativity. Eight tips for holidaying without breaking the bank.

Text: Julie Freudiger; photos: Sanitas

Travelling to far-away countries, beach holidays and city trips may all sound expensive, but with the right tips and addresses and a bit of clever planning, you can still see a lot even if you don’t have much money. Before doing anything else, you need to decide how much you want to – and can – spend. A daily budget will help you keep your finances under control when you’ve been bitten by the travel bug. And it’ll save you from any nasty money-related surprises when you get home. Choosing low-cost destinations, such as Riga instead of Amsterdam or Budapest instead of Vienna, isn’t the only way to travel more cheaply. 

Tip 1: Be flexible

The more tightly you plan your dates, destination and duration of your travel, the more expensive your trip will be. So, if you’re flexible you’re more likely to find a bargain. And unexpected destinations. Most online booking platforms, such as Skyscanner, have an “Explore” function. You enter your airport of departure and rough dates, and the system will display the cheapest destinations.

Off-season travel is also a great way to save. The weather is often not as bad as you think. In Asia, for example, even in the rainy season it only rains for two to three hours a day, not the whole time. On the plus side, there are fewer tourists, the locals are more relaxed and everything is cheaper.  

Tip 2: Save on equipment

You need a rucksack, outdoor equipment or an e-reader? You’ll often find good quality second-hand items online or in specialised second-hand shops. Or ask friends and family if they can lend you what you need.

Tip 3: Take advantage of tourist offers

Cities are expensive. So, if they have tourist cards with discounted offers and cheaper fares for public transport, take advantage of them! Many cities also offer free or low-cost bike hire. And maybe they have a calendar of events where you can find free activities. Free walking tours are also offered in many cities worldwide. These are basically free city tours where you just pay a tip at the end. However, some companies are now charging for these.  

Tip 4: Cook for yourself

Most hotels offer a kitchen for shared use. Use it! At local markets and in the supermarket you can find local products that will allow you to discover the flavours of the country even when you cook for yourself. And remember that drinking water can be expensive. Big 5 or 10 litre canisters are often much cheaper than litre bottles. Or, better still: take a water filter with you (available in outdoor shops and online) This not only saves you money but also cuts down on plastic.

Tip 5: Get your accommodation for free

Couchsurfing is no longer an insider tip. Locals use the online platform to offer places to sleep free of charge. It’s an exciting opportunity for both sides to come into contact with other cultures and people.

Another way of living for free is house sitting. You look after the house and sometimes the pets, and in return you get to live for free while the owners are away. One of the most renowned platforms with a worldwide offering is Trusted Housesitters.

What’s more, it’s often cheaper if you book directly with hostels and hotels instead of using booking platforms.  

Tip 6: For sporty people – bikepacking

If you like cycling and have a bit of stamina, you’re sure to like bikepacking. Travel on two wheels is certainly cheap and adventurous. You usually sleep in a tent and cook on a camping stove. Or you can use the «Warm Showers» community website to find free accommodation with private individuals.  

Tip 7: WWOOF

WWOOF stands for worldwide opportunities on organic farms. The principle is that you work four to six hours a day on an organic farm in one of the 120 countries worldwide where the organisation operates, and in return receive free board and lodging. This is a great opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills.  

Tip 8: Work Away

Work Away offers all kinds of worldwide jobs and volunteer positions. As with WWOOF, in most places – hostels, tourism projects, farms, NGO – you get accommodation and food in exchange for work. You’ll find opportunities lasting from a few days to several months. If you don’t want to travel alone, you can also register as a couple and find a job together.