Many people think that travelling a lot is a privilege belonging to the rich and famous. In fact, you just need to know how to tweak the system. Saving a bit of cash here and there will allow you take a couple of extra trips each year, or splurge on the things you really want to do. Learn how to travel cheap by following these seven easy steps.

1. Go in the off season

It may be tempting to go to Greece in August, especially when you see all those photos of pristine beaches and clear water. But the prices for accommodation, food transport and tourist attractions almost triple during the summer months. Just by going in the off season, you could make your budget stretch to a much fancier hotel or restaurant. If sunbathing on a European beach in November doesn’t seem that appealing to you (we get it), shoulder season might be the one for you. For southern Europe, for example, try visiting in May – June and September – October. Prices still allow for cheap travel, but it’s also warm enough for a dip in the sea. Besides, the tourist attractions aren’t so overcrowded. You’ll be able to enjoy the Acropolis without large tour groups shouting into megaphones.

2. Stay outside the main tourist area

You can save a fair bit of cash by staying outside of the main tourist area. This doesn’t mean that you need to sleep fifty miles away from Rome. Just pick accommodation that’s in a part of the city where locals live, instead of where the biggest hotels are. It’s likely that the further out you go, the cheaper nice accommodation will be. You might find that restaurants are less pricy round there as well, because they’re frequented by locals rather than tourists. However, this is a hack that you need to be careful with. If you’re staying somewhere which has an expensive public transport system or where car rental isn’t advisable, like London, it may actually be cheaper to make sure that you’re within easy distance of the attractions you want to see. But if your holiday destination is somewhere that public transport is dirt cheap, it’s definitely worth looking further afield.

3. Eat out for lunch instead of dinner

Another simple travel hacking tip is to eat out at restaurants for lunch and cook or buy snacks for dinner. The reason that this helps you save money is because lunch menus at restaurant are typically a lot cheaper than the same food served at dinner time. Plus, there are often special lunchtime offers which you can take advantage of. People also often drink a lot more alcohol in the evening, which can dramatically increase the price of your bill. Dale and I have a few friends back in the UK who don’t drink, and we are always amazed at how inexpensive their nights out are. If you eat out for lunch, you’ll probably be less tempted to order that second beer. For maximum travel hacker points, order a soft drink and lunch and, if you want to drink alcohol in the evening, get a bottle of wine from the local shop. Restaurants mark up prices on alcohol, so you’ll get the same quality of wine for a lot less.

4. Take home photos instead of souvenirs

We rarely take home souvenirs anymore – unless it’s as presents for people. This isn’t just because we have very little room in our backpacks, although that helps! It’s also because of money. When you do long or frequent trips, that £5 you spent at the market quickly becomes £100 at 10 different markets. There is always somewhere you can buy something pretty, but promising yourself not to buy anything will add a whole extra month onto a six month trip. Another option is to make a resolution to only buy something in the last place you visit. That way, you’re less likely to spend as much and you don’t have to carry it round for ages.

Photos and videos are great souvenirs that don’t cost anything. We started filming our travels because we thought we could watch them all back – a great way to remember our trip! If filming isn’t your thing, you could always try taking photos. Phone cameras are getting so good these days that you don’t even need to splurge on expensive kit to get some good shots.

5. Learn how to travel cheap using transport

What the cheapest form of transport is differs dramatically between countries. When we travelled around Croatia, we found that buses between the popular tourist places were pretty expensive, and that outside of these main hubs, public transport was few and far between. In hindsight, we should’ve hired a car. It would have been easier to get to more out-of-the-way places that we wanted to see, plus we would’ve spent less than we did taking the bus everywhere. It’s not super easy to find out what the best way of getting around a country is. You’ll have to do some Googling to find out. Try searching phrases like:

  • Cheapest form of transport in [country]
  • Best way to get around [country]
  • Is there a bus/train network in [country]
  • Cost of hiring a car in [country]

However, it’s definitely worth doing this research on how to travel cheap through transport. Otherwise, you may find yourself stuck having to pay inflated bus prices or doing a 10 kilometre walk to the village you’re staying in (yes, a real story – see the video here).

6. Use a finance tracking app

The best way to lose sight of how much you are spending is to not track it. The problem is that keeping count in multiple currencies and knowing exactly how much cash you’ve spent versus how much you’ll need for the next place is difficult for even the savviest traveller. We’ve been able to travel for cheaper by using a finance tracking application to keep us in budget. We’ve done a whole blog post on our top picks for finance tracking apps. But essentially there are ones which are designed to help you stay in budget, ones for income and expenses reporting and ones for converting different currencies. Just add what you’ve paid when you spend it to keep an eye on your finances.

7. Live like a local

Our final tip on how to travel cheap is to live like a local as much as you possibly can while you are there. This means living outside of the main tourist hubs, using the local transport and eating at cheap restaurants… It also means you get to see the typical way of life in that place. My best memories from trips always seem to be hanging out with local people. It’s a great way to spend a little less, alongside creating amazing memories.