12 Creative Ways to Travel on a Tight Budget

travel on a tight budget

Wanderlust > purse strings

Travel is fun, but it certainly isn’t cheap! We get it, you guys. But you don’t have to let your wallet dictate your vacations—or lack thereof. There are plenty of ways to travel on a tight budget.

Ready to have some fun without overspending? Check out our favorite ways to play tourist without emptying your pockets.

  • Use incognito windows

    Even before you begin traveling, you want to be sure that you’re getting the best deals. And chances are, you’ll visit web pages multiple times when you’re comparing prices.

    Websites can track what prices you’ve been offered. Search using incognito windows and clear your cookies to encourage them to offer their lowest prices whether it’s your first or 50th time checking that flight to L.A.

  • Fly into smaller airports

    Big cities might seem cheaper, since you’re flying right into where you want to be. But before you buy a flight, check out nearby airports.

    An alternative airport in a neighboring city might be just as convenient to your final destination, and a whole lot cheaper. Just make sure you compare the price of a ride to your final destination to make sure you’re really saving money.

  • Travel out of season

    When you’re traveling with kids, you’re pretty much forced into vacationing when they’re out of school. But if your travel dates are flexible, you’ll be able to save a few bucks by traveling during the off-season.

    When is the off-season? Well, it varies by locale. But for most places, the off-season is from November to March, with the exception of the Christmas holidays.

  • Don’t overpack

    When you travel on a tight budget, try to travel as lightly as possible. Airlines charge per bag, so you’ll pay for each suitcase you bring.

    And trying to cram everything into one bag isn’t the solution. Overweight bag fees can be even more than a second suitcase!

  • Ship your luggage

    Baggage fees will jack up the price of your discount airfare. But for less than the cost of the average checked bag, you can ship your stuff to your hotel or Airbnb with LugLess.

    We’ll get your bags where they need to be, and you’ll stay on budget.

  • Use public transport

    Once you’ve arrived to your final destination, try to use public transportation as much as possible. City buses, trams, and subways can help you move around, without paying exorbitant taxi or ride-sharing prices.

  • Be spontaneous

    Last-minute activities can often be quite a bit cheaper. Tours that don’t sell out, for example, might be discounted on the “day of.”

    Depending on the city, you can also check with last-minute booking sites. New York’s famed TKTS sells same-day Broadway tickets for 50% off.

  • Eat like a local

    Restaurants for locals and restaurants for tourists have very little in common… especially the price. If you want to eat the most delicious food for free, skip chains or restaurants in the “tourist-y” part of town.

    Instead, wander off the beaten track and check out some of the mom-n-pop eateries. Your taste buds will thank you!

  • DIY your tours

    Tours, especially walking tours, are a great way to see a new city. But they can be pricey, too.

    Stick to your tight travel budget and DIY your own tours. A little internet research, a good maps app, and bam! You’re all set with a free tour.

  • Ask locals for suggestions

    Want to know the best places to eat, drink, and have fun when you travel on a tight budget? Ask the locals! They’ll let you know where you can go to stretch your dollars, instead of paying the exorbitant prices that the tourist spots demand.

  • Stock up on snacks

    If you’re going to be spending an entire day playing tourist, stock up on snacks before you go. Bring a small backpack filled with water bottles, protein bars, fresh fruit, and even a PB&J.

    You’ll have extra energy for exploring, without having to spend higher prices at cafes or restaurants.

  • Get city passes

    If you’re going to be in town for a few days, and plan to see plenty of the sites, look into city passes. They bundle several of the top tourist destinations into one pass.

    City passes might seem expensive, but they can save you quite a bit of money… if you’re using them. Check which attractions are covered and be sure they’re on your to-do list before buying a pass.

You don’t have to save for years to be able to afford a quick trip or a weekend getaway. Use our tips and you’ll be able to travel, even on a tight budget. Happy travels, you guys!