Over the years we’ve picked up lots of tips on how to travel cheap. I’m going to share our best ones with you now because I want everyone to realize that their dreams of travel are completely attainable.
You don’t need lots of money. You just need to be bold and resourceful. I’m giving you the resources. Now, it’s up to you to be your boldest self and start making moves.
If you’re wondering what you should take with you, look through all this cool travel gear and pick a few of your favorite items. One of my all time favorites is the Polaroid camera. It’s such an awesome thing to bring on your trip! Check out some of our Polaroid photos from our travels.
I have written a full article about Workaway which you can check out for lots more details and to hear about our personal experiences. But, here are the basic facts:
Workaway.info is a website that offers you the opportunity to work and travel by earning free accommodation (and usually food as well) by volunteering your time. You will live with your hosts and volunteer about 20 hours per week. A lot of it is farming, gardening or outside work so it’s a good idea to bring some bug spray with you! I particularly like this organic, DEET-free bug repellant.
Couchsurfing & Trustroots
Strangers will let you sleep in their house for free! It sounds scary to some, but I promise it isn’t. It’s just like meeting up with friends. The idea is that you get to bypass the generic tourist experience by meeting locals.
Hosts offer their houses to travelers and in return they get to learn about the visitors’ culture and travels.
Read my full article on Couchsurfing to get more details, read about the reference system and get my tips on how to use it!
Trustroots is the same concept, just a different site. It’s a little less formal than CS. It’s beneficial to be signed up on both sites so you have a better chance of finding a host.
Warmshowers.org is like Couchsurfing (CS for short) for cyclists, but it does work a little bit differently. Whereas with Couchsurfing you’re expected to hang out, Warmshowers hosts usually let you decide how much you want to interact. They understand you may have biked 100km that day and just want to come in and crash.
The details about the accommodation and expectations will be clear on their profile. This site is really awesome! Because hosts are fellow bikers, they can help out! They’ll give you assistance with gear and great advice.
When biking and using sites like Warmshowers & CS it’s best to bring as little luggage as possible. These space bags make a world of difference when it comes to keeping your pack small & efficient. I suggest you use them. Recycle them when you’re done.
Cycling is an awesome way to see the world! It’s great exercise, you’ll explore each place more thoroughly and you will save a ton of money on transportation.
You don’t have to commit to biking all across a continent, but if you bike some legs of your journey you can take busses or trains the rest of the way and still lower your costs. It also saves you a lot on intracity travel. Uber gets expensive. Plus, biking is fun!
This quick dry towel was a really helpful thing to have on our bike trip, by the way!
Cycle around using Warmshowers for accommodation and you will be able to see a lot with very little cash. It became a game to us to see how far we could go only paying for food.
Trains are lovely & fun, but depending on the country they can get painfully expensive. Busses can be the perfect solution! Just pack your Kindle and your Airpods and you’re ready for a long night on the bus.
Flixbus has great prices, especially if you book a little bit in advance. But, even last minute they are usually much more affordable than trains and planes. You can really cover some distance with these. Most busses have a bike rack too so you can buy a bike pass (usually very cheap, 5-10 euro) and bring your bike along!
Do not, however, fail to buy a bike pass and think you’re going to be able to just throw it on the rack and bring it along. It will not work. The driver will be angry and he will leave you at Rotterdam station at night where you will scramble to get a refund and find two midnight tickets to Munich. Does it seem like I’m speaking from experience?
Packing light not only makes your trip easier, it also saves you money. Don’t pay for checked luggage unless you absolutely have to because you’re moving to another country or you found a very fat cat you need to fly home with you. Read my article about backpacks & how to pack for a trip for my specific tips!
This 40L backpack is a great size. It will hold everything you need, but will limit you and help you pack efficiently. Believe me on this, few things are more liberating than traveling with just a backpack!
Skyscanner is pretty great, especially if you have a little bit of flexibility. You can search for flights “going anywhere” and find the cheapest destinations available.
You can also view the flights for the entire month on a calendar and pick the day with the cheapest fares.
Scott’s Cheap Flights
Scott’s Cheap Flights is a service that sends you an e-mail when an airline’s algorithm messes up and accidentally sets fares really low. You can get some amazing deals this way!
There is a free option and a paid version. Which one is best for you depends on how frequently you book flights. Either way, I definitely recommend you use the service.
I’ve written whole articles about my favorite travel items, but I’ll condense it here for you. If you’re wondering what you should take, here is a short list of things that have been helpful or enjoyable for me.
Get a Kindle! For a long time I pretentiously shunned them because I prefer to hold a real book in my hands. That was dumb. It’s a lifesaver for a traveling bookworm.
I also can’t recommend the Libby app enough! Sign in with your library card and get access to everything your library has available digitally! So many books to read anywhere in the world without weighing down your backpack!!
Kindle + Libby has saved me a lot of money and hassle.
Grab a bottle of probiotics to throw in your bag. This is especially relevant if you’re traveling in SE Asia. Traveling can wreak havoc on your digestive and immune system. Probiotics help.
Please take a journal with you and write! You’ll be so glad you did. We have used journals on all our trips and they are our most valued possessions.
Lightweight and small, this hammock folds out into an awesome afternoon relaxing somewhere or a place to sleep in order to save money!
All of these resources will not only help you save a ton of cash, they will enrich your travel as well. Don’t let money be the reason you don’t explore the world. There are incredible places and people to experience and you can do this. Now, go be bold.