Guest Post // Tips for Traveling on a Budget

Welcome, friends! While I am off in Japan, I have collected a lovely team of bloggers to share a variety of guest posts about travel, fashion, and everything in between! I will be back from my adventuring soon, but in the mean time please enjoy these wonderful ladies :)

I am very happy to welcome Ella of Paper Umbrella today! I love all of the DIYs, recipes, style posts, and the little things about life that she blogs about. Her writing and content is just so authentic that I always leave her blog feeling like I actually know her in real life. Hope you enjoy her post!
Last summer I traveled around Europe for a few weeks with my boyfriend, and the process of planning – and the trip itself – was a huge learning experience. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have been given so many opportunities to travel, and I’ve learned a lot through my previous travels – how to hop on a moving river bus in Thailand, how to shower in a bucket in Tanzania, how to say “please” and “thank you” in many languages, the ins and outs of bartering in a language you don’t understand, how to not kill your little brother when sharing a hotel room for weeks on end…but traveling around Europe this summer was the first time I was planning my trip, traveling around, and being a true tourist completely on my own. I learned a lot and picked up a few helpful tips and tricks along the way, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share!

Depending on where you are traveling, what you should know beforehand will be different. If you’re unfamiliar with the culture you are about to go explore, be sure to do a bit of reading first! Learn about what is and isn’t appropriate in terms of dress, interactions, dining, etc. Try to memorize a few basic terms in the language. Knowing these things will make it so much easier to connect with locals, and hopefully help you have a much richer experience!

These tips apply more to an experience similar to the one I had in Europe, but I’ve also tried to include a few general tricks I’ve learned throughout my travels that apply almost anywhere!

Invest in (or borrow) a backpacking backpack. It’s way easier than lugging around a suitcase, and if you plan it out carefully, you should probably be able to check it on the plane so you don’t ever have to pay baggage fees.
Taylor usually had the honor of carrying our day bag as well ;)

Use packing cubes. This will save you from an explosion of clothes every time you try to find anything in your backpack. I didn’t want to buy cubes, so I used those plastic bags that sheets and comforters come in and they worked perfectly. Pack all your electronics/chargers in a separate little bag. Remember your plug converter!

Pack layers and neutral basics. Pack mostly neutrals, and a few pops of color that will go well with most of your basic pieces. Make sure all of your tops can go with whatever bottoms you bring. This is a time to read up on what is appropriate for you to wear! Also only bring one fancy outfit. You won’t end up wearing the second one, I promise. If you must, bring a few accessories to change it up.

Leave room for a couple souvenirs. But don’t leave too much room! Limiting your space is a good way to prevent over-shopping ;)

Wanna know a big money-saving secret? Don’t get your money/stuff stolen! Hey, that sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it! Get one of these locks for your bag for when you need to let it out of your sight/sleep on a bus/train/plane. Never carry your wallet in your back pocket, and always wear your purse across your body and in front of you.

Take a money belt. I know, I know, it’s dorky. But there will be times when you need to carry around a lot of money (and probably your passport), and you really don’t want to risk getting that stolen.

Make photocopies of your passport and other important documents, and put them somewhere separate from your actual passport. Just in case!

This wasn’t an issue in Europe, but many other places I’ve travelled don’t have toilet paper in their bathrooms (sometimes you can buy it outside). So bring your own toilet paper! I usually carry around those little packets of tissues.

Plan out your trip. When you’re on a budget, it is really important to plan out your trip beforehand. Leave some room for spur of the moment adventures, but try your best to do the bulk of the planning ahead of time so you don’t have to stress about money or time once you’re there. Things will be much more enjoyable that way!

Check out your travel options and buy as many tickets as you can before hand. Originally I was just going to buy a Eurail pass, but it turned out it was cheaper to just buy individual train, bus, and airplane tickets in my particular situation. There are some things that aren’t included in the original fee for a Eurail pass, so if you’re travelling in Europe, be sure to look into that.

Buy (or borrow from the library) guidebooks and tear out or make copies of the pages you’ll need and important maps! There’s rarely a need to bring the whole thing and you can throw the pages you’ll need for each day into your purse.

Use Airbnb. Doooo it! We found that Airbnbs were actually cheaper than most youth hostels, and were usually in better locations (that is, if you just rent a room, not the whole place). Also, you get to meet super cool people and can ask your hosts for advice on where to eat and what to do. I love getting the inside scoop from the locals (it will also save you a ton of money).
Sweet little details in the apartment we stayed at in Paris.

Don’t eat in touristy restaurants! If they have big plastic menus translated into five different languages and with pictures of each dish in the front, don’t eat there. Avoid the main touristy streets. You will save so much money and the food will be much better. Do a little spy work to see where the locals are going or, better yet, ask some locals!

In general, try not to be a tourist and find free entertainment. Find out what your Airbnb hosts like to do for fun! We often chose one (or two) expensive touristy thing that we felt we really couldn’t miss, and then spent the rest of our time exploring the city and trying out free/cheap sights. Don’t go see something just because you feel like you should (we didn’t go to the Louvre in Paris because we just really weren’t that into the art there – WHAT?!?!).
All the best views are usually free!

Have all the picnics. This was one of my favorite things about our trip. I loved the days when we would go to a little deli, grab sandwich makings and a bottle of beer, and find a little park to eat in. We made sandwiches for lunch most days, and had cereal at our Airbnb for breakfast. Since we were in Airbnbs we were also able to make our own dinner some nights - this way we could splurge a little when we went out!
A picnic in Rome.

Use a budgeting app. We really had to stick to a budget throughout our trip, so we tried to enter the money we spent into an app to keep track of everything. We used­­­­ Quick Budget and it was really helpful.

If you’re traveling somewhere where tap water is safe to drink, make sure you bring a reusable water bottle. Buying bottled water constantly can really add up.

Take notes! If you ever go back, you will want them…or maybe someone else will want them! My dad obsessively takes notes and keeps business cards/brochures/maps when he travels and those often came in handy for us.

Have so much fun!!! (oh, and maybe try to squeeze me into your suitcase if you can?)
If you’re planning on traveling around Europe (or if you’re just interested) and want to see what we did on our trip you can see the posts I wrote about it (and the little movies we made) by clicking these links!:

Laura @ Inspiration.Sparks said...

I love the budget app idea! When we went to mainland Japan i wrote everything down in my little travel notebook, but after day 3 i kind of gave up and regret not keeping tabs of everything we spent. It would've been so much easier to do with my phone.

robert hernandez said...

Thats a nice budget idea and tips provided by you during the trip and travels across the

country.. keep tring to provide some new traveling tips also that you have.

I love it... Thank you jess.

charles morris said...

My husband and I are considering a fall guided tour to China and have found a tour we like at jsa tour with a good itinerary at a decent price.