Traveling is an exciting pastime, but it is also a luxury not everyone can afford. Below there are several tricks on how to travel a lot and keep within a budget.
Go in low season. If you are looking for a cultural vacation, rather than a week on the beach, pick a low season. Winter is the cheapest time to visit Europe. The hotel rates are much cheaper than the busy summer season and there are fewer tourists.
Invest time into research. Shopping around is mandatory when it comes to finding great deals on airlines and hotels. No single source always has the best prices. Check all possible resources, and make sure to look at different departure and return dates - the price difference can be huge. Traveling midweek is usually more economical, and moving your visit by a few weeks can also save you a lot.
Choose the cheapest transport
Traveling by bus in and around countries is cost effective and is more of a challenge than a guided tour or a taxi ride. Traveling by bus in poorer countries can indeed be quite an adventure. Always watch your luggage and do not store it in the racks above you. Have a safe pocket you can seal inside your clothes for your passport and money.
Renting a mobile home or a small bus/kombi could be an attractive option if you are with another family and you're sharing costs. Check on the prices and calculate fuel costs as well.
Traveling by rail is popular and some countries offer economical means of using their trains. The Eurail pass in Europe is a mega-saving way of getting around. Keep your passport handy when crossing country borders. Check in advance where you want to travel to and be on time, the trains can be very crowded. You can book a sleeper if you are traveling overnight. Food and beverage is served on some of the trains.
Using the Underground or Metrorail is fast and convenient, an excellent way to get to know big cities and locate places of interest. If you're planning on spending some time in a city then a multiple day travel ticket is a cheaper option. Use an underground rail map to plan your route and get all the info you need before starting your trip. Once you come out of the underground there are buses and taxis available for road travel.
Travel by ferry is quick and cheaper than most air flights and eliminates the hassle of getting to and fro from airports. Food and drink is served on the ferries, however it is cheaper to carry bottled water and take your own food if you're on a tight budget.
Travel light. Too much stuff means you'll have to take taxis instead of the cheap public transit. You also could be asked to pay for overweight if you exceed the weight limit. Packing light pays off.
Get a museum pass. Most major cities allow you to buy one-, three- or five-day passes that get you into major museums. Not only do these passes tend to pay for themselves with just a few visits, but they also allow you to skip the hours-long lines at popular museums like the Louvre in Paris and the Uffizi in Florence.
Eat like the natives. A popular piece of budget travel advice is to eat your largest meal at lunch, when prices are lower. In order to splurge, have light breakfasts and picnic lunches in local parks. In Europe you can alternate less expensive dinners in cheap university districts with fancier dinners recommended by city natives or travel guides.
Use the Internet to stay in touch. You can buy international phone cards and postcards at most tobacco shops, but the cheapest way to stay in touch is via free e-mail services like Hotmail or Yahoo, accessed through hotels, cruise ships, or local Internet cafes.