17 Travel Hacks to See the World Without Breaking the Bank

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As the desire for remote work increases and digital nomads continue to live their best lives, people are realizing the value of world travel. It’s no longer for the rich or the nouveau riche. With the right resources and a few friendly tips from your fellow explorers, you can see the world without breaking the bank. Here are 17 tips to help you get started.

1. Only Bring a Carry-On

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One of the best ways to see the world on a budget is to train yourself to pack light. The comforts of home need to remain there until you return. Nowadays, more and more airlines are charging for checked bags — even if you don’t exceed the weight limit. Learn how to live on less, make use of your local resources once you’ve landed, and pack only what you can bring in your carry-on bag.

2. Travel During the Off-Season

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Paris in the springtime sure is splendid. Ireland in the summer is unforgettable. But, when you choose to travel during the off-season, you still reap many of the same benefits: you’re transported to another place (and sometimes another time); you get to take in new and different sights; you get to experience another culture.

In addition, you also reap new benefits: airfare is cheaper; Airbnbs are cheaper; the crowds are fewer and farther between. When you travel off-season, you get to enjoy the sights of a new city without getting pushed around and even enjoy more time with the friendly locals.

3. Research Your Credit Cards

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Did you know most credit card companies include a foreign transaction fee when traveling abroad? That means you’re potentially losing on an exchange rate, already upside down on the interest rates that come with credit cards, and paying a 3% surcharge on every purchase you make. See if you’re eligible for a credit card with no foreign transaction fees like Capital One’s Venture Card, Bank of America’s Travel Rewards Card, or Chase’s Sapphire Preferred Card.

4. Compare a Few Travel Sites

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With the world at our fingertips, lean into all your online resources when booking travel. If you live in New York and want to fly to London, be open to different flight paths to take you there. Use Google Travel to research flights, compare rates, and set alerts. Consider other apps, as well, like Kayak, Booking.com, Expedia, and Skyscanner. You don’t have to linger over all these apps for days. But, try to check all your resources before clicking Book Now.

5. Switch to Incognito Mode

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If you want to circle back on any of your findings from the above sites, do it in incognito mode. Some people even go so far as to do this with a VPN. Thanks to cookies and other sleuth-like tools out there on the web, once we search for a flight, the sites might catch onto us and push us into a higher rate. Meanwhile, if we circle back in incognito mode or even through a VPN, we might come upon some nice, new rates.

6. Compare Airbnb vs. Booking.com

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Sticking with the same theme, don’t book your accommodations based on the first deal you see, either. In some cities, Airbnbs tend to be cheaper than hotels. In other cities, the reverse is true. Different times of the year also impact these seesaw effects. Like your flights, you don’t have to labor over these sites for days. But, do take a moment to check and see which form of accommodation will offer you the best deal.

7. Check Out the Local Hostels

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Hostels are no longer for “kids” backpacking through Europe on their gap year after high school. Many of the major cities in the world have spectacular hostels for adult travelers seeking to travel on a budget. Sure, you’ll sleep in a bunk bed in a room full of strangers. But, you won’t be strangers after you’ve spent a night playing cards down in the lounge and swapped stories about all the places you’ve been, thanks to this means of affordable travel.

8. Don’t Eat Out

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Okay, that’s a little extreme. But, limit the number of meals you eat out. If you have a decadent brunch on a rooftop in Positano, don’t plan for a three-course meal at the local trattoria that evening. One of the benefits of staying in self-catering accommodations is that you can stock up at the local market, save a ton of money on dining out, and invest it in other areas of your trip.

9. Check Out Airbnb Experiences

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We all love to ride the Airbnb wave and stay in unique accommodations. But, don’t forget to check out Airbnb Experiences. These are often run by honest locals who are looking to share their knowledge and experience of the area. Often, you can save a bit of money by booking tours through these locals rather than large tour companies.

10. Get to Know Your Airbnb Host

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If you’re being hosted by someone who lives on the property, chat them up when you first arrive. Sure, most people host as a form of secondary income. But, they also do it because they love travelers and enjoy sharing their city with new people. Ask them about the best places to visit in the area. Ask them for tips and tricks. We’re all connected in some way and you never know who your host will link you up with throughout your stay.

11. Avoid Tourist Traps

the eiffel tower
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This ties into the last two points. Sure, when we go to Paris, we need a pic in front of the Eiffel Tower. The same goes for the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. And it’s not that you should avoid all tourist traps. One could hardly consider the Louvre a tourist trap. Just try to balance some of those world-renowned sights with a few things further off the beaten path. You’ll come home with better stories to tell and will also avoid those nasty pickpockets that target all the main sites.

12. Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

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As long as it’s empty, you can pack your favorite Stanley Cup, Owala Tumbler, or Hydroflask in your carry-on. It’s a smaller cost than that three-course meal, but saving $3 per bottle of water throughout each day adds up to a nice, tidy sum.

13. Travel Places With Great Mass Transit Systems

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Scotland, for example, is lauded for its efficient train system. You can hop aboard ScotRail and travel from Edinburgh to Oban in a breeze. You can also rely upon it to get you all the way down to Dorset with only a few, smooth transitions. Whenever you can forego the cost of a rental car, you’ll leave plenty of room for those little trinkets you find along the way.

14. Travel Overnight

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This ties into mass transit a bit. If you are traveling in a European country with a great train system, consider traveling overnight. It tends to be cheaper, can be safe, and will save you quite a bit if you’re able to sleep on the go. It doesn’t sound too shabby falling asleep in London and waking up in Paris, does it?

15. Don’t Exchange Money at the Airport

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Although paper money seems to be less and less common, it’s still helpful to have a little bit of cash on hand before you go. Stop by your local bank to handle the exchange before you go because doing this at the airport is one of the most expensive ways to go about it.

16. Consider Your Souvenirs

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Think about where we began — only bringing a carry-on. Do you really need to lug home that glass vase or that new pair of boots? Will they really make it all worthwhile? Consider more portable souvenirs like prints from local artists or a small pair of earrings to keep your luggage light, your costs low, and your expectations reasonable.

17. Remain Fluid

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If you’re a planner, that’s great! People who plan ahead often save money on travel. But, you have to step outside of your comfort zone and remain fluid when traveling. Plans will change; flights will change; hotels and Airbnbs won’t always be all they’re cracked up to be. Remain fluid and flexible because, sometimes, those last-minute changes can actually be more cost-effective.

Get Out There and See the World

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There’s a great, big world out there brimming with people who would love to meet you. While travel won’t help you save money, it doesn’t have to smash the bank. You can still live a little, savor experiences with new people, and see the world.

To help you get there, come on over and explore our destination guides. We post new tips and tricks every day to help you expand your horizons and spread your light wherever you go.

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