Traveler at airport in Istanbul, Turkey
Traveler in Istanbul © Thomas Leuthard

Travelling on a Limited Budget: Useful Tips for Saving Cash

If you feel exhausted and eager to get away from your hometown, but you have very limited budget, you shouldn’t get depressed. There are many options for you to choose from without having to rob a bank – the secret is flexibility and a little research.

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Check out some of our favorite down-and-dirty tips for budget travelers …

Choose the Mode of Transport

Determine how to get around in a way that’s suitable both for your budget and your personal preferences. The following list goes from the cheapest to the most expensive – pick up the most convenient for you and go ahead!

Hitchhiking is pretty safe if you do this during the day and with care. Seasoned hitchhikers say they cross the entire territory of US in four-five days.

Train hopping is pretty dangerous and stressful at the first point. You will have to look back all the time for train yard workers and be ready to jump out of the moving train if something goes wrong. Moreover, it is illegal, so you will have to pay if you are caught.

Canoe camping can be cool if you know how to swim (just in case), and if the weather is nice.

Bicycle ride wouldn’t take you as fast as a car, but it is definitely faster that walking. The same as hiking, you will see the landscape and meet people, and no pays for gas required.

Motorbike or scooter. If you already have one, why aren’t you on it driving to the sunset? It is convenient due to low fuel costs. If you don’t own one, think about renting, but compare it to following options.

Buses and trains are safer than most of the above methods, but you’ll be dependent on fares, so check if it is really low-cost for your trip.

Driving is comparable to buses and trains in terms of costs, but if you don’t have a car, renting would be quite expensive depending on the duration of your trip.

Plan Where You’re Going to Sleep

Here are several options that you can choose depending on your budget and personal travel preferences.

Ask everyone you know and everyone you talk to every day whether they know anyone in the place you are going to so that you can stay on their couch. Ask in the social networks like Twitter or Facebook (or any other where you communicate).

House-sitting is a nice way to get a comfy place for you to stay, but it goes together with responsibilities. Check out the websites that offer house-sitting options (you may be charged for this).

If you live in a region that attracts tourists, you can consider a temporary house-swap with people from the area you are interested in. Such swap is usually coordinated by tried-and-true websites in order to avoid any felony.

Sleep in your car. There are many interstate areas that allow overnight parking, and even a small hatchback with rear seats folded down can be a great sleeping place for couple of nights.

Go camping – in state and national parks campsites are cheap, and sometimes even free. Of course, it depends on the area, so check before you get in.

Look for hostels – these are cheaper than motels yet convenient for several nights.

Rent from locals. Many people offer affordable accommodation for rent. You can find a nice place to live on local websites and choose something suitable.

Plan What You’re Going to Eat

The tip is that the less cooked the food you buy, the better it would be for you. And again, several options to choose.

If you can get a camp stove somewhere, you will surely enjoy cooking something simple yet delicious, like pasta, somewhere in a parking lot.

A jar of jam or peanut butter and crackers will prevent the occasional temptation to buy snacks at the local gas station.

Find edible wild plants – berries and other fruits might be a great sustenance for you. But keep in mind that you can only do this if you are sure in what you’ve found, as some plants and berries look similar with those which are very lethal.

Bring energy bars with you – this might be quite expensive, but they will help you avoid the temptation of going to the restaurant for a dinner, and help you get to the nearest grocery to buy something a lot cheaper.

Make Money Along the Way (… If You Need to)

Can you play any instrument? An evening of busking on some busy street can provide some cash for a meal or gas to go to your next destination.

Farm labor can be an option – if there are any farms in the area you are going to, call in advance and ask if you can work for them for some time. You are most likely to be provided with money, lodging and even food.

Bring Tools + Useful Supplies

Comfortable bag is a must if you will have to do a long walking. The straps of your backpack should be padded and providing maximum support for your posture.

Folding bike would be great if you do not travel by car. Having such bike you will be able to get from your camping to local store much faster, and explore areas. When you don’t use it, you can just fold it and carry with you.

Baby wipes are great when you have no bathing options.

Look through freebie sites before you hit the road. There you can free coupons for your trip, information about free clinics and tourists attractions that don’t charge any fees.

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