How to Travel on a Shoestring Budget: 7 Practical Tips

Written by Contributor

There are plenty of ways through which you can cut down on your trip expenses or even make it all free. Here are 7 practical tips on how to travel on a shoestring budget and all the while, make the trip potentially even more memorable. Do you want to travel but your bank account doesn’t agree with you?  With money being a roadblock, you might be discouraged from even dreaming of taking a vacation to a distant part of the world. 

Fortunately, nowadays, there are plenty of ways to cut down on your trip expenses or even make it all free. Here are seven practical tips on how to travel on a shoestring budget and all the while, make the trip potentially even more memorable. 

1. Use CouchSurfing  

Use CouchSurfing 

Amount saved per month – $500 – $2000

The majority of the expenses we bear on a trip are related to our lounging and food. Very few of us might have family or friends living at places we want to visit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a place to stay for free on your travels. 

CouchSurfing is a global online service that connects travelers with hosts offering homestay; often, you even get free meals included in the deal. With that said, if you are new to the website, it might be difficult to get responses. You will need to build up your network and get good reviews on your profile. 

One easy way to quickly do so is to first attend a local Couchsurfing meet-up, connect with people there, and be added to their profiles.

2. Opt for a Travel Reward Program  

Opt for a Travel Reward Program  

Amount saved per month – $50 – ~$1000

What could be better than paying no charges for an airline ticket or a hotel stay? Many best national banks and even travel agencies offer their own travel reward credit cards. Each dollar that you spend with the card earns you a certain amount of points that can be cashed into avail of a service or product for free. 

If you are the type to be responsible with your credit card repayments, that essentially means you are earning free money through the use of the card. Many major banks don’t carry annual or foreign transfer fees with their cards, so that’s another saving benefit.  

3. Minimize the Cost of Your Airfare 

Minimize the Cost of Your Airfare 

Amount saved per month – $50 – $300

Airfare has certainly come a long way when it comes to affordability, but it can still be expensive if you’re traveling to certain countries. Nonetheless, there are a few ways to minimize the cost you will have to pay for your airfare. 

Aside from opting to travel off-season, the timing of your ticket purchase is also important. Buy too early, and you’ll end up paying too much but buy too late, and you’ll end up paying way too much. The sweet spot, according to research, is to book a flight 3 weeks to 4 months in advance

Another way you can save on airfare is by checking out budget airlines individually. Many of these don’t allow their tickets to be quoted on comparison website sites, so if you are serious about saving, you will have to take up a little bit more research homework.  

4. List Your House on Airbnb

List Your House on Airbnb

Amount saved per month – $800 – ~$2500

If you have no one else around in your house while you travel, why not put it up on Airbnb? Likely, there could be hundreds or even thousands of travelers to your city looking for a cheap or convenient place to stay. Especially if you live in a particularly touristy area, you can expect people willing to pay a premium for a stay at your residence.   

Get connected with them through the platform and use the money earned to fund part or even all of your trips. It’s a great way to make money while you travel. It could even be relied upon as a steady source of almost passive income if you intend to do some extra long travel.

5.  Travel with Someone

Travel with Someone

Amount saved per month – $200 – ~$2000

Sure, you and your travel partner will have to pay for your air tickets separately, but much of the rest of the trip expenses, such as hotel stay, booking a cab, or car rental could be split between you two. 

The potential savings are even more if you are traveling in a group of four, which is considered the optimal party size for budget travel. Add any more members, and the potential savings greatly diminish. 

6. Learn to Cook 

Learn to Cook 

Amount saved per month – $100 – $1000

Regardless of at which stage of life you are, cooking is not a skill you should neglect. Not only can it tremendously help you save for travel but also while you travel. 

Restaurant and hotel meals are expensive. Opting to cook your meals yourself while traveling means spending 10-20 times less on food than you would have otherwise. But, in case you can’t really cook for yourself, be more adventurous and try out some street food instead of going to a posh eatery.   

7. Travel By Bus or Train  

Travel By Bus or Train

Amount saved per month – $100 – $600

Unless your trip destination is really far or across an ocean, traveling by road or rail instead of air might actually be more advantageous. This is not only because of the potential savings since buses and trains are generally cheaper but because it might actually be faster. 

Sure, a plane itself offers way more speed, but, in a flight, you also have to consider such factors as airport locations and stopovers. Furthermore, traveling by road or rail is an opportunity to experience the beauty of the countryside.   


For any person serious about traveling, the question shouldn’t be whether they can afford it but rather how they can afford it. 

Travel can be extremely affordable, but only if you are willing to make it so. Take note of these tips and afford the much-anticipated holiday to your dream destination.

© 2020 – 2022, Contributor. All rights reserved.

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