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Best Pre-Travel Tips When On A Budget


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Cherin Ng

saved travel money on a small job sitting atop a world map
©Photo by Marco Verch Professional on Flickr

For many people, travel plans were shelved over the last two years because of Covid restrictions and travel bans. Now that the world has opened up again, we just got to get that travel itch a good scratch! But, traveling is no longer the same. With the price of everything going up, taking a vacation may not fit into your budget. So how to not overspend?


While first class and five stars may not be choices on the plate, you can still have a memorable vacation. If we’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that the time to live your dreams is now! Life is short, and you don’t want to live with regrets, mainly if those regrets include missing out on something you can enjoy. Instead of putting off your travel dreams,  here are some pre-travel tips you can consider without breaking the bank.


Travel Off Peak

Boats docked on Lake Bled, Slovenia

Photo by Jack Rains on Unsplash


Supply and demand is a simple economic concept that impacts every industry. When something is popular or in demand, it automatically increases prices, and it’s also true for the travel industry. 


Peak seasons for travel are typically around the holidays like Christmas and New Year, school holidays, and during the warmer seasons. Other factors to consider when traveling are popular sporting events at the destination you’d like to visit, like the World Cup, as more people will be travelling to that destination during that time. Because more people visit a particular destination during peak season, it will be more expensive to go there. You will likely have to pay a higher price for accommodation, flights, and attractions than if you were to travel during the off-peak season.


Apart from holidays and significant world events, generally, off-peak in the northern hemisphere is between November to February and June to August in the southern hemisphere, as these are the winter months in each hemisphere.


An exception to this rule is usually between Christmas and New Year when most take their annual vacation. So, if you’re planning to travel to New York to watch the ball drop on new year’s eve at Times Square, for example, expect to pay a premium as this is a major tourist attraction and a bucket list item for many people which naturally drives the price of travel and accommodation during this time up.


Another advantage of traveling off-peak is that the destinations will be quieter since fewer people will be visiting. It means you won’t have to contend with crowds and can take in attractions without the noise and disturbances of other tourists.


Avoid Touristy Areas
Women traveling with brown mini travel purse

Popular tourist destinations and attractions are typically more expensive. Since so many tourists visit these places, it automatically increases prices. If you’re on a budget, consider looking for lesser-known destinations.


  For example, if you dream of visiting France, going to Paris will probably put a large dent in your budget. Choosing a lesser-known town or city in France that isn’t a major tourist attraction will likely be much more cost-effective. 


Besides saving money, you will likely get a more authentic feel for a country’s culture if you choose areas in that country that are not so famous because many touristy regions may be manipulated to cater to foreign guests. Also, being surrounded by a bunch of tourists can take away from the authentic experience of a culture.


If you must visit big cities or major tourist sites, avoid restaurants, bars, and other spots along the main strip and city centers. These are usually much more expensive. Search for restaurants and bars outside the main area that locals frequent; these are typically cheaper and more authentic. And to cut on travel costs, you can always walk. Most big cities like the U.S. have walkable cities that save you a lot more than you’d think. 


Get the Best Deal on Flights

If you’re not careful, a large chunk of your budget may be lost to airfares. The price of airplane tickets fluctuates, so it’s possible to get a good deal on flights. While some airlines may offer last-minute deals, in most cases, booking your flights in advance is cheaper than booking them at the last minute. Aim to book your flight tickets about three to six weeks before traveling. Flight prices tend to increase in the three weeks leading up to the departure date.


When booking your flight tickets, try to fly mid-week as it’s usually cheaper than flying between Friday and Monday. Lastly, use sites like NextVacay.com. These excellent tools help you find the cheapest flights in one place. 


Rethink Your Accommodation

Double bed inside of prison cell, with prison bars flung open

Photo from Hostel Celica’s website


The travel landscape has changed drastically over the last few years. One significant change that has made travel more accessible is the wide variety of accommodations available to suit every budget.


Before booking into that pricy hotel, have you considered other types of accommodation? From hostels to AirBNBs, to Couchsurfing, there are many more options that you must consider.


Each type of accommodation has pros and cons, so you must familiarize yourself with them before deciding. While you want to save money, you must also ensure that you’re comfortable. It would be a shame to have your vacation ruined because of a bad experience with your accommodation.


For example, in most cases, staying in a hostel will save you a lot of money. You may wonder, what is a hostel? They are similar to hotels but hostels require more co-sharing and independent chores. So, if you are comfortable with that, hostels may just work for you. 

Look for Free Attractions and Discounts

It’s easy to blow through your budget as you explore a new city – with the cost of food, entrance fees, souvenirs, and tips, you can easily spend more than you planned. An excellent way to combat this is to look for things you can do for free.  Depending on your destination, some attractions like parks and museums may be free every day while others may only be free on certain days like mid-week.