How to Travel for Cheap in an Economic Downturn

Did you know how to travel for cheap is searched 1,170 times a month on Google? That’s because the economic downturn has a lot of people searching for ways to travel cheap – I’m one of them! We all had to cut corners but one thing we like to spend on is a good vacation – God knows we need it!

Here are 18 ways to travel cheap that can help you see the world on a budget.

Where To Go?

Pick a Budget-Friendly Country

The starting point for anyone who wants to travel for cheap. There are hundreds of lists of cheap countries you can look but I suggest compare its currency value to the one you earn in. If you earn in Kuwaiti Dinars, Euros, or US Dollars you should be fine for most places, and if you don’t there are still many countries where you will find value for money

Follow Your Friends

Thanks to the advent of the internet and social media we all have friends across the globe. They may not be your best friends but staying with them can be a huge budget saver. It allows you to spend that saved cash on doing an activity while on vacation which otherwise would have been ruled out due to budget constraints.

Visit your friends

Go in the right season

If you are like me, our holiday travels are based around the school holidays – summer or Christmas time and that’s peak season and expense. So now we travel during the mid-term breaks, whether it’s one or two weeks we go. That quick break is enough to refresh the spirit.

Also, travel to popular destinations in the off-season as they are drastically cheaper. Think south-east Asia around the monsoon season or Southern Europe in winter. Plus the place will be less crowded and the “tourist tax” will be lower.

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How To Get There?

Fly on off-days

All airlines for international travel charge the highest rate on the weekend, so schedule your departure and arrivals mid-week i.e. Tuesday or Wednesday. It may seem trivial, but in this case, a couple of days can save you hundreds of dollars.

Consider alternate airports

If possible, try to pick an alternate airport close to your destination. The city may have two or 3 airports and the alternate airport more often than not, have cheaper rates as compared to the main big one.

For example, if you want to visit Dubai you could fly into Abu Dhabi and take the one-hour car ride into Dubai, or fly into Sharjah which is just 30 minutes away from Dubai. Flying to either of these two airports will save you some cash.

Fly in and out of smaller airports

Check multiple search engines

Don’t just stop at your favorite one – Expedia, Tripadvisor, etc. because even though not all search engines are created equal, it is possible to get vastly different deals if you spend enough time shopping around.

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Where To Stay?

Staying with Friends

Back to my earlier point of staying with friends, you sure don’t want them to feel like they are being taken advantage of so in return take them for one of the tourist attractions and pay for it. Most people tend not to do the tourist thingy in the city they stay in, just because they tell themselves they will do it later and never do. Also, you can offer your place to stay when they come to your side of the world. And, who knows you may end up being best friends by the end of the trip.

Rent a Service Apartment

Staying in a hotel is nice, you don’t have to clean up after yourself, you get pampered but it all comes at a cost. Week-long apartment rentals are usually cheaper than hotels and give you the option of cooking your own food, saving you even more money!

Rent a service apartment for a longer stay
Rent a service apartment for a longer stay

Stay in a Hostel

Most people think hostels are for the youth on a gap-year but families can stay there too. In addition to a unique atmosphere and great location, many hostels actually have facilities catering specifically for family travel. Private rooms with up to six beds (and increasingly with en suites) can be booked out for the group.

What To Eat?

Make your own meals

Most travelers eat out every meal, making food one of the biggest day-to-day expenses while traveling. You can cut your travel budget significantly if you’re willing to do your own cooking (at least sometimes). That’s not to say you should never splurge on the fine dining experience, but maybe not daily.

Have a picnic

Bring your own picnic to tourist attractions to avoid paying over-the-top prices for ordinary food.

Enjoy a meal outdoors

Avoid eating at tourist streets

In some places, if you walk a few blocks away from the main tourist area, you can buy the same exact meal for half the price.

Extras

Money Exchange

To get the best exchange rates, use an ATM to pull out local currency, or exchange your cash at one of the many money exchange centers in the city. Most cities have them. If you don’t want to do that, you could always pay with your credit card (use a card that gives rewards for international spend), just don’t exchange money at the airport.

Explore on Foot

I know with small ones in strollers this is not an ideal option but it will save you money on transportation and help burn off all that local food you have been devouring. Walking from place to place may be the best way to discover local hot spots and hidden gems.

Explore the destination on foot to a get a more intimate connection
Explore the destination on foot to a get a more intimate connection

Get a City Pass

In most major cities, you can buy a city pass that covers the admissions for all the top attractions and some include travel within the city. It can potentially save you a ton of cash assuming the pass actually includes the attractions you want to see and that it’s not limited to certain days & times.

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Talk to the Locals

The first thing I do once we have settled into our accommodations is, speak to the locals about the best & cheapest options for restaurants, entertainment, and even lodging. They may know a cheaper place to stay at your stop. Plus they are the ideal source to find out the best spots and hacks to enjoying them on the cheap!

Knowing the local language will take you a long way! We went to Tbilisi in Georgia and it was a nightmare communicating with the locals as most of them only spoke either Georgian or Russian. English speakers were at a premium. If you prefer to learn a new language before you travel, my recommendation would be Rocket Languages.

Speak to the locals to discover the hidden gems

Travel with Other People

Traveling with more families or splitting the cost with close friends can help you travel on a budget. When you split the cost of something, it works out better for everyone. The burden of finding a cheap place to stay isn’t there, and you can spend more time enjoying life.

Travel Insurance

As someone who spent close to 20 years working in insurance, I strongly recommend buying travel insurance if you are going on holiday. It costs a fraction of your holiday but covers the potential risk of the entire holiday. You can read my post owhy you need travel insurance.

Now that you know how to travel on a budget, check out The Top 20 Budget Destinations for 2020

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18 thoughts on “How to Travel for Cheap in an Economic Downturn”

  1. This is an informative and educative article. You have thoroughly put everything in perspective for anyone reading this post to understand the points.I have always been looking for a great opportunity like this before now which would make me travel cheap because i am a seasoned traveller and I do incure much funds into travelling. Thanks for this financial changing sensitization. I learnt alot

    Reply
  2. I very much enjoyed reading your post. I love travelling myself and their were a few thing in your post, I was not aware of.

    Among them, the fact that travelling in the middle of the week or to an airport a bit outside the city you want to go too, might get you cheaper ticket. 

    As I usually, book my ticket online, I am always looking for travel insurance, unfortunately, the travel insurance you recommended is not available where I live. Do you have any other suggestions?

    Martine

    Reply
    • Hi Martine,

      Im sorry to hear world nomads doesnt cover the country you live in? May I ask which country is that?

      In the meantime try finding a local insurer, most insurers now provide travel insurance at very affordable costs.

      Reply
  3. This is a very powerful article that must be appreciated. Honestly, this is one of the top inquiries on the internet. Finding countries where you have good and advantageous value for your money is a true first step. Travelling a popular destination in offseason has truly proven to be cheap. Wow! I just learnt about scheduling my departure and arrival for midweek. Staying with friends or staying school hostel is also proven to be cheap over staying in a hotel. Making your own meal is cheap too. Talking to the local on arrival to inquire, travelling with others and having travel insurance is really a good way to cut cost and save yourself from vacation hazards. Thank you for this priceless article. I learnt a lot.

    Reply
  4. Ahhhh…I can’t wait to go back to exploring the world, can’t wait!!! I love budget travel, i feel it is a lot more authentic and real you know.

    Reply
  5. When we travel I still cook to save money on the trip. We also like to do the self walking tours of the area. We find so many interesting places that way and all you need is a map of the area.

    Reply
  6. I guess this applies more to longer travels, but another way to save money is to travel overland.
    We can also look for other ways to get to places besides flying. For example, I got from Hong Kong to Morocco for less than US$200 by taking a budget airline to Spain then getting the ferry over to Africa.

    Reply

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