How To Travel Cheap And Free: 30 Ultimate Tips To Travel On A Budget

Aren't you just sick of living vicariously through the dreamy Instagram posts of your favorite travellers? Reality check: You could easily be that traveller!


We're here to change how you're trip-ping your way through life.


Believe it or not, you CAN travel across the globe without having a treasure chest in your closet. You just need to be crafty with your research work and have the guts to step out of your comfort zone. This post will help you learn where to get started, and the basic tricks you must keep in mind while planning your trip.


So, without any further ado, let's dive into the ultimate guide of tips and hacks for broke travellers!


The ultimate guide of tips and hacks for broke travellers

The guide has been divided into the three key areas that are the main culprits of killing your wanderlust. Here's a list of contents that are covered in the article.

  • Accommodation

# How to get affordable accommodation (5 Tips)

# How to get a free place to stay (5 Hacks)

  • Meals

# How to eat on a budget (5 Tips)

  • Transport

# How to cut expenses in transportation (5 Tips)

# How to get cheap flights (10 Hacks)

# How to get a free ride: Hitchhiking



ACCOMMODATION

As if finding a decent place to spend the night wasn't a herculean task in itself, finding a cheap, or better, free accommodation can be a real head-scratcher.


Follow these banger tips, and we assure you, all forces in the universe will come forth to get you the warmest and cheapest bed to crash on.


Tips to get cheaper room rates

How to get affordable accommodation?

1. TRAVEL DURING OFF-SEASON


Weather conditions determine the peak season of a destination. Do you want breezy pleasant weather? Great! So does everyone else, which leads to a hike in prices of not only accommodation but transport modes and other leisure activities for tourists.


As a rule of thumb, you should always travel during the lean season. You will escape crowds and save big bucks.



2. DON'T OPT FOR HOTELS


If you're restricting yourself to hotels for accommodation, you're writing the eulogy of your budget yourself. There are many other cheaper, and frankly, more interesting alternatives you can choose from.


  • Homestays: Sharing home with a local is not only inexpensive but a culturally immersive experience. Take our word, you'll leave with heartwarming memories, lasting lessons, and new family-like relationships.

  • Rental homes: *Enter AirBnB* Rental apartments and homes are usually cheaper, more practical and spacious than a hotel.

  • Hostels: Dormitories + Bunk Beds + Stories = WHOLESOME. The overall aesthetic and the common room of hostel chains are to die for! Hostels are the best place to meet and bond with other backpackers and travellers with amazing stories. Use sites like Hostelbookers, Hostelworld, etc., to get the details of hostels and then book directly with the hostel you like. If you are under 25 (or 30 in some cases), you can join the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) and gain access to numerous cheap stays worldwide.

  • Religious housing: If nothing works out, you can always knock on God's door, literally. Many religious sites offer free or cheap temporary housing in return for a small donation. It could be at a Catholic Church, an Islamic Mosque, Jewish Synagogue, Buddhist Monastery, a Sikh Temple, a Hindu Temple's Ashram or Dharamshala, etc.


Some accommodation search engines you should know are Booking.com, Tripadvisor, Agoda, Trivago.




3. TAKE OVERNIGHT JOURNEYS


If you're a heavy sleeper, you can make significant savings by taking overnight journeys in trains, buses, and planes. For the one's who prioritise comfort, you can always go for recliner seats or semi-sleeper rides. It saves accommodation costs and many precious daylight hours that could go into exploring!



4. CHECK DISCOUNT SITES


Various sites like CouponDunia, FreeKaaMaal, Travelguru, etc., have special discount codes, vouchers, and deals you can avail for booking your tickets at knock-off prices.



5. TRAVEL IN GROUPS


Why not consider group travel? It's more fun, and cheaper as the expenses get distributed and per-head cost comes down. Accommodation lodgings often give a good margin of discounts and promotions if you book in bulk.



How to get a free place to stay?

In all honesty, if you're brave enough, any solid surface on the face of the earth can be your bed for the night. Benches on the sidewalk, gardens, hostel yards and terrace, take your pick! If you're not a fan of the open night sky and mosquitoes feasting on your blood, camping is always an option, provided you carry a tent with you.


The not-so-nomadic spirits can also score a bed within 4 walls with a solid roof without having to spend a single penny. Options are plenty! Are you ready to have your socks knocked off?

How to get free accommodation

1. COUCHSURFING


With Couchsurfing, you can stay with locals in their homes completely free of charge and experience the world in a way money can't buy. There's a well-knitted community of Couchsurfers, and many cities even have weekly language exchanges, dance classes, hikes, and dinners.


The most popular site to find hosts is Couchsurfing, but you can also check out other good competitors like BeWelcome, GlobalFreeloaders, HospitalityClub, etc.



2. WORK EXCHANGE


Have you considered volunteering or working in exchange for accommodation and food?


There are many websites where you can find such cultural exchange programmes.

WWOOF gives opportunities to live on organic farms, in Workaway you're expected to help around 5 hours, HelpX connects outdoorsy volunteers with organic farmers, Worldpackers gives you a chance to develop skills and learn new languages, Hippo Help and Help Stay give an array of volunteer opportunities worldwide.


You can also research about the volunteer programs available in the place you want to visit specifically on the net.


Hostels often offer free accommodation in exchange for a few hours' work. You can simply e-mail or ask them about the same on arrival.


Consider taking part in work exchange programs


3. HOUSE SITTING


It a practice in which the homeowner who is leaving his/her house for an extended period of time entrusts it to a sitter (you) in exchange for handling certain responsibilities, such as taking care of the owner's pets, performing general house maintenance, keeping trespassers off the property, etc.

In general, you just need to make sure that everything runs smoothly and the house doesn't burn to the ground, just as if the owner was at home.


This is suitable for travellers who are responsible and want to stay put in a destination for a while to get an intimate cultural experience. You can spends days on end in a foreign country without going broke.


Some popular international sites for house sitting are TrustedHousesitters, MindMyHouse, Housecarers.


4. HOUSE SWAPPING


Remember the movie The Holiday starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz? Yep, the romance may have been fictional but the concept wasn't.


If you're an adult with a house to self, house swapping is thy holy saviour. It involves exchanging houses with someone who lives in the location that you want to visit. Websites like HomeExchange, HomeLink, LoveHomeSwap connect homeowners looking to house swap after giving a small membership fee.



5. CALL FOR HOSTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA


If you have a strong social media presence, put out a post asking if anyone in your network is willing to host you. In case you don't have a wide each, there are many Facebook groups you can join for the purpose.


You can also simply ask a friend or get in touch with a mutual who lives in the place you want to visit. You'll be surprised to know how small the world is and how connected we are.



MEALS

No, you don't have to starve yourself. In fact, being a foodie is an essential characteristic of a true explorer. Imagine going to southern India and not stuffing your belly with idlis and dosas. The horror!


But is there any way you can keep your belly full along with your wallet? Of course, there is. Not one, but many!


How to eat on a budget?

1. BOOK MEAL-INCLUDED HOTELS


What better way to save money than to hoard on the free buffet or breakfast meal included in the hotel price and filling yourself up for the whole day?


While looking for accommodation online, check the 'meal included' option in the search filter section.



2. FIND OUT WHERE THE LOCALS EAT


Let's be honest, almost no fancy restaurant meal can beat the finger-licking good flavour of street food. Roadside stalls serve hands down the cheapest, yet most traditional and authentic platters.


Instead of going to high priced eateries packed with tourists, mingle with the locals and find out where they flock to dine out, or better, tag along with them. The spoken word will definitely lead you to some real hidden gems!




3. COOK YOUR OWN MEAL


Shop some fresh groceries from a local store or the street market and make your own meal. If this is something you wish to do often, consider booking accommodation with a kitchen facility.


If you aren't exactly Chef de cuisine in the kitchen, you can always buy ready to eat meal packets which cost only a few bucks compared to the conventionally cooked meal.



4. CARRY A SNACK PACK


While packing for your journey, make a snack pack to grab some quick bites in case your stomach starts growling. It could be anything, such as protein bars, tea bags and milk powder sachets, a delightful packet of Khakhra and Theplas, nuts, fruits, candies, etc.


You can munch on these to satiate your hunger between long meal gaps.