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Have you ever found yourself scrolling through Instagram or browsing travel websites and seeing people from all over the world enjoying amazing travel experiences and wondered to yourself, “How on earth do they afford that?”

It’s true, traveling can be expensive, but there are many ways to make travel more affordable and accessible. I’ve been on a mission to travel the world without paying full price so I’ve done a lot of research so you don’t have to!

Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or a first-time adventurer, there’s never been a better time to start exploring the world. So get ready to learn what it means to be a budget traveler.

Choose affordable destinations

Choosing affordable destinations is one of the best ways to afford to travel the world. Many destinations offer great experiences and adventures that don’t have to cost an arm and a leg!

Research your options: Start by researching different destinations and their costs. Consider the cost of flights, accommodation, food, and activities when comparing destinations.

Look for off-the-beaten-path destinations: Popular tourist destinations tend to be more expensive. Think about visiting the lesser well-known places that offer unique experiences without crowds and high prices.

Travel to countries with a favorable exchange rate: Consider visiting countries where your home currency is strong. This can help you get more for your money, making your trip more affordable.

Consider destinations closer to home: Traveling closer to home can be more affordable since you’ll likely save money on flights and other travel expenses. You never know, there may be hidden gems in your own backyard that you haven’t yet explored.

Use Google Flights Explore Feature

If you’re stuck on how to find affordable destinations, try the Google Flights Explore feature. “Explore” lets you enter your departure airport, travel date range, and other filters to see a map of all the potential destinations that fit your criteria.

This makes it easier to find affordable destinations, plus just like Google Flights, it’s free!

A screenshot of Google Travel showing a map with budget flight deals to various cities, emphasizing affordable travel planning
Google Explore Feature

What I like about Google Flights Explore is that you can play around with your search to see how prices change based on different criteria. For example, you can adjust your travel dates or search for flights from a different airport to see if that helps you save money.

In addition to helping you find affordable destinations, Google Flights Explore also gives you info on things to do, places to stay, the weather, and when to visit each location. This can help you get a better sense of what to expect and decide whether a particular destination is right for you.

There are plenty of other sites and apps you can use as well, like Skyscanner, Kayak, or Hopper. But if you’re looking for a simple and easy-to-use option, Google Flights Explore is definitely worth checking out.

You should also check out my blog posts on planning a weekend getaway and ways to save money on holiday travel. These ideas also work for travel any time of year!

Travel during off peak seasons

Traveling during off-peak seasons is a great way to save money and avoid crowds. Off-peak travel seasons will vary by destination and are when there are fewer tourists and lower demand.

The shoulder season is the time between peak and off-peak travel seasons, and it can also be the perfect time to travel. Not only will you have fewer crowds and better prices (some destinations offer shoulder season-specific discounts), but usually great weather too!

Utilize public transportation

Public transportation is often much cheaper than renting a car, ridesharing, or taking taxis. Depending on the city, you may be able to purchase a daily or weekly pass that allows you to use all forms of public transportation at a discounted rate.

Transportation can be a considerable expense so by using public transportation you’ll save money on things like gas, parking fees, and car rental fees. This means you’ll have more money to spend on souvenirs, food, and activities.

A TGV high-speed train at a station, showcasing the modern and efficient train travel option for budget-friendly European tours

Use travel rewards programs

Travel rewards programs are my favorite way to save money on travel expenses. You can save a lot of money on flights, hotels, and other travel expenses. By accumulating points or miles on everyday purchases, you can earn enough to redeem for free or discounted travel!

Access to exclusive perks: Many travel rewards programs offer exclusive perks such as lounge access, priority boarding, and free checked bags. These perks can enhance your travel experience and save you money.

Flexibility: Travel rewards programs are flexible and can be tailored to your travel needs. You can choose the program that best fits your preferences and redeem your rewards when it’s convenient for you.

Earn rewards for everyday spending: Many travel credit cards will allow you to earn travel rewards points or miles for everyday spending such as groceries, gas, and dining. This means you can earn valuable rewards and maximize your normal spending habits.

Easy to join: Most travel rewards programs are free to join and easy to sign up for. You can start earning rewards immediately after signing up.

Variety of programs: There are many travel rewards programs available, so you can choose the one that works best for you. Some programs are affiliated with airlines, hotels, or credit cards, making them easy to redeem for travel.

So whether you’re a frequent traveler or just starting out, travel rewards programs can be a great way to save money on travel. By choosing the right program and maximizing your rewards, you can make travel more affordable and accessible.

Need ideas on how to get started? Read my post on 7 points and miles apps that you should download today.

Take advantage of free activities and attractions

A big travel expense is activities and attractions, but there are plenty of free options in almost every destination. Just Google things like “free activities in (insert destination)” or research museums and local parks.

Many museums have reciprocal memberships with other museums around the country so you may find that you can get discounted or free admission. Local parks will sometimes have free events or festivals that you can check out during your visit.

This is also a great way to discover hidden gems at your destination and lead you to some unique and unexpected experiences that you might not have found otherwise.

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Consider working or volunteering abroad

Working or volunteering abroad can be a great way to travel without spending a ton on accommodations and other travel expenses. Some organizations offer programs that provide free or low-cost accommodation and meals in exchange for volunteer work.

This can make travel more affordable and accessible, especially if you’re on a tight budget. I have more details in my post about creative ways to save money on travel.

Remember, you must always comply with local laws. You should do your own research and due diligence when considering working or volunteering abroad.

Look for travel deals and discounts

Travel sites such as Travelzoo, Vacations To Go, Expedia, Kayak, and Priceline offer discounted travel packages, including flights, hotels, and rental cars. These websites often have last-minute deals and flash sales that can save you money.

While third-party travel sites can offer great deals on travel, it’s important to be cautious when booking through these sites. While you may be able to find cheaper prices, it can sometimes be more convenient to book directly with the airline, hotel, or tour company.

You may not have as much control over your booking with a third party as you would booking direct. For example, if you need to make changes to your itinerary or cancel your trip, it can be more complicated to do so when you’ve booked through a third party.

That being said, there are times when booking through a third party site makes sense. If you’re looking for a package deal that includes flights, accommodations, and activities then it can be a convenient option.

Just be sure to do your research and read reviews before making a decision.

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Plan your itinerary strategically

Make a list of the top attractions and destinations you want to visit on your trip. This will help you focus your planning and be realistic about your time.

Don’t try to pack too much into one day or you’ll end up feeling rushed and exhausted. Build in downtime for relaxation or unexpected delays, and be realistic about how much you can accomplish in one day. Group activities that are located close to each other so you can save time and money on transportation.

A couple enjoying a walk by a stream leaning against a railing

Travel with a group or find a travel buddy

Traveling with a group or finding a travel buddy can be a great way to save money, have fun, and make new friends! It can save you money because of splitting the costs of accommodations, transportation, and activities.

Even if you prefer solo travel or cannot find a travel buddy, there are sites like Contiki that can bring solo travelers together on a group trip. You can still have the freedom to explore on your own but also have the support of others when you need it.

There are many ways to find travel groups or travel buddies, including social media groups, travel forums, and meet-up websites. Some travel companies also offer group travel packages that cater to specific interests or destinations.

A smiling woman in a black beret and purple vest sitting inside a train, symbolizing the joy of budget-friendly travel
Traveling like a local in France

Learn to travel like a local

Learning to travel like a local can not only enhance your travel experience but also help you save money. When you travel like a local, you get to experience a destination’s culture, food, and lifestyle in a more authentic way.

Stay in local neighborhoods: Instead of staying in touristy areas, try to find accommodations in local neighborhoods. This can help you experience the local lifestyle and culture, and can also be more affordable than staying in touristy areas.

Eat like a local: Instead of eating at touristy restaurants, try to find local restaurants that serve authentic cuisine. Ask locals where they are going for breakfast, lunch or dinner or wander around to find locations that are busy with locals.

Ready to travel the world?

Now that you have these tips for how to afford to travel the world, it’s time to take the leap and embark on your own adventure! Whether you’re traveling to a nearby city or exploring a far-off destination, you can make your travel dreams a reality without hurting your wallet.

If you’re interested in more ways to save money for travel check out this blog post on ways to make passive income while traveling.

Want to Travel More for Less?

Become a Budget Traveler! Head over to my start here page and grab my free budget travel cheat sheet  – it’s packed with valuable tips to help you create your own winning budget travel strategy.

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