How to Travel on a Small Budget

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This is a guest blog by Melica Bokaie from Iran who has been traveling and volunteering around Latin America for 2.5 years. She enjoys writing and sharing her experiences, challenges and the new skills and lessons she learns everyday while traveling with other people.
You can learn more about her on Instagram: @melliiic

Many people still think we need to have a lot of money to be able to travel the world. However, I must say that if travel is your priority, there are so many ways you can travel the world on a tight budget or even for free.

Here are some tips on how to travel on a very low budget:

1. Volunteering

Most of the money you need for traveling goes into accommodation and food. The good news is that you can work part time in exchange for that.

There are thousands of volunteering opportunities all around the world. You can volunteer at farms, schools and hostels. You can live with local families, do some animal care or house sitting. You can share your time, energy and skills in exchange for accommodation and food.

Volunteering is not just a way to save money while traveling but a wonderful way to learn new skills and improve your knowledge about everything. I learned Spanish just because I was living with local families for more than 2 years during my time in Latin America. I also learned a lot about gardening and growing food in different climates. I learned a lot more than I would have ever learned in any university! Volunteering around the world is like studying in the University of Life!

You can find hosts and volunteering programs through many platforms. I mostly use workaway.

Volunteer websites: Workaway – WWOOF – World Packers – Helpx

2. Couchsurfing

You learn a lot more about a culture by living with locals rather than staying at hostels or hotels.

There are many people in the world who want to travel but they are so busy with work and responsibilities, that they decide to host travelers and learn about different cultures in their own house. Some offer their couch others offer a private room.

If you want to stay in a city for a few days and you don’t want to go to a hotel or a hostel or don’t have the budget for it, I highly recommend making a profile on Couchsurfing and finding a suitable host. I have met some truly amazing and inspiring people through Couchsurfing. Some of them I stayed with more than two years ago but am still in touch with today and have built a strong relationship. There is another thing about Couchsurfing that I love and that is the ability to meet and hang out with locals anywhere you go.

You don’t need to pay for a tour guide to show you the city, there are so many locals that would love to show you their hometowns, take you to their favourite restaurant to try a local dish and show you non-touristic parts of their country. It’s a wonderful way to dive into the culture. And it’s free!

3. Slow travel

Some people might think you need more money if you are traveling for a longer period of time. But in my experience you spend more money, if you only have a two week vacation per year and want to visit 3 countries in that period of time.

Because of the lack of time, you will have to fly from one city to another or you simply will not have the time to volunteer or Couchsurf. Whereas if you have time, you won’t be rushing to get to places you want to visit. You are going to be able to walk or use public transport instead of taxis or uber and you will have the time to take a long bus ride instead of a 2 hour flight which is not only budget friendly but more sustainable.

4. Traveling out of season

Everything is more expensive in high season. Do some research before visiting a country and if you can, visit in the low season. It might not be the perfect weather but you still get to visit all the places you want to on a cheaper price and with fewer tourists.

5. Hostels are cheaper than hotels

What if you don’t have enough time to volunteer or don’t want to stay with locals?

As I said before, most of your travel budget is spent on accommodation. If you don’t mind sharing a room with other people, staying at hostels is a budget-friendly and wonderful option especially for the ones who travel alone. You might not have the privacy or luxury you have in a hotel but instead you have the ability to meet other travelers from all around the world, make new friends which you can travel in group with and use their equipped kitchens and fun activities!

6. Cook instead of eating out

Cook your own food instead of going out and go to local restaurants instead of the typical chains.

If you stay at a hostel or in someone’s house, you definitely have the option to cook your own food which is not just cheaper but also healthier!

7. Work while traveling

There are innumerous ways to make some money while traveling. Some hosts offer payment if you work overtime. I know many travelers who sell cookies, sandwiches, bread or whatever they can make while traveling and earn enough money to continue their trip. Some use their skills and perform, dance, sing or play instruments on the streets. Some make tattoos or sell their paintings or photos. Some like me work online. From translating to travel planning and blogging. There are so many ways to make money online!

In the end, it all depends on your priorities. If you really want to travel, you can definitely find a way to do it even with a very low budget.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. I am happy to help you if you have any questions or need to talk to someone about your future trip. 🙂

More reading:

Safety Tips and Stories from 23 Solo Women Travelers 

How to Reduce your Impact from Traveling

Guide to Sustainable Transportation

How to Travel the USA For Free (without mooching)

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