How to Travel the World While on a Strict Budget


World travel is the aspiration of many individuals, particularly 20-somethings who are eager to discover life and see where they belong in it, and retired individuals who want to experience adventure now that the kids are gone and the pension checks are rolling in. Though the benefits of world travel are too numerous to count, the downside is quite obvious: Cost.

Though your budget will influence your world travels, it doesn’t have to hinder them. In fact, the absence of unlimited funds could enable you to experience a part of countries you otherwise would never see, making your trip all-the-more special. Still, it is important to plan ahead and understand how to get the most from each dollar, otherwise you might find your bank account depleted before you’re ready to head home.

1. Make dining out a treat, not a habit.

Eating out, even at the cheapest restaurants, is always more expensive than making your own food or purchasing items from a grocery store. If you’re in a country where the exchange rate is in your favor and prices are low, it may be tempting to eat out for every meal, especially if those meals only cost $2 – $3 each. Remember, however, that you can likely purchase rolls of bread, sliced/cured/smoked meats, fresh fruit and vegetables, and nuts from stores or road-side sellers for pennies, and that when combined, they will make just as tasty of a meal.


2. Don’t be picky about where you sleep.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that you want to sleep somewhere unsafe, but it does mean that you shouldn’t seek out the hotels with all the luxuries of home. These hotels will often jack the price up extremely high, knowing that tourists are willing to pay those prices in exchange for Western-style amenities. Instead, seek out a hotel where the locals stay; though it might not be a mirror image of a Best Western, you’ll likely find that the rooms are perfectly fine, the food tasty, and, of course, the price tag sufficiently low.

3. Haggle.

Some people, particularly those from the U.S. and other countries where haggling is rarely performed, usually balk at the thought of having to negotiate prices. Still, this is one of the best money-saving things you can do. Try to get a merchant or seller to come down on their price, which is often elevated due to your tourist status anyway. Offer to pay for something with a good other than cash (offer something of equal value, of course). If you’re in a poor country or remote location where goods are scarce, and offer payment in the form of jewelry, for example. If you know where you’re going before heading out, research the kind of items people in that location find valuable, and bring some with you for the sole purpose of haggling.

4. Avoid scams.

You can’t change the way you look, and in many places, you’ll stand out from the crowd as a foreigner. Tourist are the fodder of scammers, who make money by tricking them into purchasing counterfeit or stolen items, or by offering a service that they have no intention of completing. Use common sense. Avoid purchasing too-good-to-be-true items from roadside stands or individuals with watches up their arms. In addition, don’t flaunt your money, and keep it split up into several different locations (pocket, bag, shoe, etc.) to ensure you don’t lose it all in the event of a pick-pocket.