Upon popular request, I’ve put together some of the budget travel resources and tips I personally use for saving money and making budget travel planning easier. I will keep this post updated as I learn about new resources!
Accommodation for Budget Travel
When it comes to budget travel, finding the best deal for the same offering is key. I like to compare pricing on different platforms. I recommend trying the following:
- Study Abroad Apartments – for one month or longer accommodation in Europe. Use promo code LHAbroad to save 5%.
- Feeling adventurous? Consider Couchsurfing. I’ve personally only had positive experiences. However, I always read my hosts’ endorsements from other travelers. I look for multiple positive reviews. As a female traveling solo, I look for female, families or couples as hosts.
- TripIt will help you keep all your travel plans organized in one spot. There is a free version and a paid pro version. I started with and loved the free version! I found the pro version to be worth it given my frequent travel; however, the free version suffices for most.
- Looking for the best way to get from Point A to Point B? Do a quick search on the Rome2Rio site. You will be able to compare all options by approximate cost and time including buses, trains, flights, ferries, driving, etc.
No matter where you book, be sure you read the baggage policies. The least expensive way to fly is to avoid having to check a bag! Take a look at the maximum weight and dimensions for the included carry-on baggage and aim to pack light. Allowed dimensions vary by airline and fare purchased so look into that prior to booking.
- StudentUniverse: You don’t have to be a student for all fares. Some fares however are only for students.
- SkyScanner: This resource is open to all and often also compares budget travel airlines.
Packing light will not only make you a happier traveler; but, it will also save you money on paying for checked baggage. Sometimes the cost of checking a bag is more than the ticket itself! So, I put together a short series of how to pack light. It’s amazing what you can fit in a maximum size carry-on.
Attempt to pack light round one:
Sometimes you don’t get it right on the first try and you need a round 2:
And the final result:
Other miscellaneous must have apps/resources:
- XE Currency: Currency Calculator – quickly convert prices in the local currency to your home currency.
- SendMyBag: Paying for checked bags can get expensive. If you’re planning to stay abroad for a long time and need to send extra bags, check out SendMyBag‘s rates. You’ll get 5% off your first use.
- Wise: Convert and hold foreign currencies, get a digital bank account and a debit card to use abroad with minimal fees.
- Google maps (the public transportation works well in many cities around the world)
- Travel discount card: Get the International Student ID Card (ISIC), International Teacher ID Card (ITIC), or the International Youth Travel Card (IYTC) for significant discounts globally.
- Uber is not only in the US! I’ve succesfully used Uber in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.
- Google translate: If you won’t have data on your phone, be sure to download the necessary languages when you have wifi.
- Before you go abroad, I highly recommend buying Pimsleur audio language lessons for the language of your destination country. This is the most effective method, other than immersion abroad, that I have found to help improve speaking and listening comprehension. Use promo code SAVENOW to save 25%.
I often earn free flights and hotel stays from using my credit cards to pay for daily expenses. Free is a great word in when aiming for budget travel! The key to getting the benefit from these cards is to ensure you pay off the full balance each month on time to avoid interest charges. Some of my favorite travel credit cards, with no foreign transaction fees, and great opening offers:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: This card has no annual fee in the first year, then a $95 annual fee. They have an initial offer of 50,000 points when you sign up which is enough for a round-trip ticket to many destinations. You’ll earn points as you use the card.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: This one has high return of points, a free lounge pass in airports across the world. The lounge pass saves you money as there is usually free food, avoiding spending money in airports, and gives you a place to be during long layovers. This is my favorite card but it does have a high annual fee. The annual fee more than pays for itself if you are a frequent traveler.
- Chase Ink: Do you own a business? Want to keep your business expenses separate from personal? Check out the Chase Ink card. This one has the best opening offer of 80,000 points to start.
Credit Card, Transaction Fees, ATMs
Using ATMs abroad often offer the best exchange rate to get cash in local currecny. However, your bank back home likely will charge you for using a foreign ATM and may charge you a percentage on each withdraw. Check with your bank on what these fees may entail before you go abroad. Personally, I enjoy Aspiration and Charles Schwab bank accounts because they reimburse ATM fees all over the world! They have no fees. Use these links as Asiration will give you $25 to donate to a charity of your choice and Charles Schwab will give you $100 to open an account. Schwab requires you to open a brokerage account in order to get the checking account.
Check with your credit card companies what they will charge you to use your credit card(s) abroad. Standard is about 3%. I use credit cards that have no foreign transaction fees AND when given the option to choose the currency I want to pay in at the time of transaction, I choose the local currency. If you choose USD, the rate is usually marked up.
Helpful Resources by Continent
- Renfe for trains in Spain and Portugal
- BlaBlaCar: ridesharing
- FlixBus: Bus tickets around Europe. ISIC cardholders get additional discounts.
- AirAsia for cheap flights around Asia
- Agoda tends to be the cheapest option for booking accommodation in Asia.
About the Author
Nicole Berry is the founder of Linguistic Horizons. Linguistic Horizons is a US based international education company offering studying abroad and international internship programs in Europe, South America and New Zealand. Originally from California, Nicole is now living in A Coruña, Spain. She has traveled to over 50 countries on 5 continents. She is passionate about language learning, holistic health, travel, environmental and humanitarian issues, and education.