Our subtitle on Instagram is “No Money No Time Still Travel” and many of you keep asking us in private messages how to do that. That’s why we decided to write this note. And we have some good and bad news about no money traveling.
The good news about no money traveling is that it’s actually possible and we will write later how. And the bad news is that in our case we didn’t mean that literally. You always have to spend some. Of course, you don’t want to cover all distances on foot and you need to eat every day. And all of these things cost money. You can live as a nomad with a tent in your backpack and hitchhike all the time but it’s an option only for those, who have plenty of free time e.g. long student holidays or remote job with very flexible working hours.
However, for average people with a regular job or business it’s usually not an option. As we are students and don’t work, the truth is our budget is limited and we cannot travel nonstop. We manage to travel and don’t spend much money. For example a 4-day-trip to Paris hurt our wallets by €152/person (approx. $182). Sounds good, right? Here you are our 9 tips on how we are able to do it cheaply and what no money traveling means to us.
1 Do the proper research before your trip
The key to spend little is precise planning. Do the research about the destination you’re going to visit. Look on the internet where you can eat and sleep at the cheapest. There are many websites and forums with up to date info. You will find most of these places out of the city centers and touristic spots. Little effort before the trip will allow you to cut costs when you know where you will spend less.
On the other hand, try to omit the most popular and trendy cafes, restaurants and hotels even if they are known to be inexpensive. It involves especially those mentioned in guidebooks of top publishers. Some people who were able to advertise their businesses in new editions of these travel guides later decide to increase the prices or go down the quality.
Also don’t forget to check prices of public transport. Find the type of ticket that suites you the most. Sometimes it’s better to buy single tickets, another time it’s worth to invest in an unlimited pass for the whole stay. Not to mention about the situation that someone would likely try to rip you off, if you are not aware of current prices.
If you are a student, look for student discounts of entrance fees. Many times in lots of countries we entered popular attractions for free or with big discounts showing our student cards. Another asset of being a student is a possibility to apply for an international student card like ISIC which confirms student status abroad and provides cheap annual travel insurance that covers almost the whole world.
During your preparations download offline maps on your smartphone. If you get lost, you may find it difficult to catch free Wi-Fi, so having your maps installed will make your trip easier. We recommend the app called MapsMe, whose maps you can always rely on. Just download the map of the country you’re going to visit and that’s it. Google Maps, which is the best-known online map, allows to download small pieces of their maps to use them offline. However, the area of one file is very limited and it’s not comfortable to organize it one by one. Especially it counts when other applications require just one click. In addition, Google Maps failed us a couple of times as it didn’t work right with GPS signal. With MapsMe such a situation has never occurred to us. Maybe it’s not so well designed like Google Maps but surely it’s more efficient.
2 Look at the price of flight tickets, not at the destination
When it comes to booking our flights, we always wait for occasions. We say that we don’t choose a destination but the destination chooses us. We want to see everything or at least as much as possible, so we’re not picky. When we see a good deal, we just take it. A good fare for your dream destination may not happen soon and you will lose great opportunities to see other fascinating parts of the world for peanuts. Our favorite search engines through which we look for good options are:
- Google Flights: it has a nice and easy to use world map with marked cities you can arrive from the destination you choose. It displays current prices for next months and offer many filters to adjust the results to your needs. However, it doesn’t show the prices of many OTA (online travel agencies) that sometimes sell tickets a bit cheaper than carriers.
- Skyscanner: it shows the OTA’s prices, but misses the map. It’s equipped with the useful option that allows you to look for the flights from a chosen city to “Everywhere”. Moreover, it can sort the results by the lowest price in a month.
- Kayak: the biggest plus of this website is “Explore” option. It searches for return flights from a chosen city to every place in the world that cost less than your settled budget limit. Also it includes the wide range of dates. Everything it’s easier there with an elegant and interactive map.
- Momondo: it’s a website with similar functionalities to those we mentioned above and you can consider it as a good alternative for them.
- Official websites of airlines: It’s worth to have a look at these website to get first-hand information about all details you need to know. It works especially for low-cost carriers where you will find the cheapest tickets on the official source. Agencies are more helpful when you fly with traditional airlines.
3 Take only hand luggage
Believe us! You don’t need to carry a suitcase with you. A small backpack is enough, especially if you are going to warm countries. When it comes to chilly places, you need to bring heavy clothes that take up a lot of space, so in this case it works only for shorter trips. However, when you can expect high temperatures think only about taking a small schoolbag. It’s easy to get around the city with a small hand luggage. Also if you arrive in a new city, it may be time-consuming to go to the hotel at first, check-in and leave your hold baggage there. We always reach our hotel in the late evenings to maximize the time we spend on sightseeing during the day. Personally, we can’t imagine dragging the big case for the whole day too.
You don’t have to bring many clothes with you. Plenty of budget hotels offer cheap laundry service. Just leave them your dirty stuff in the evening and you will get fresh one next morning. Pack necessary cosmetics (up to 100ml / 3.4 ounces containers) in clear, sealed plastic bags (usually you are allowed to take more than one) and buy some more toiletries after arrival.
Traveling only with hand luggage has one more advantage – cutting expenses. Low-cost carriers usually offer cheap tickets, but charge a lot for additional services like checked baggage. Sometimes it turns out to be more than a ticket itself. It applies mostly among cheap airlines, but many traditional ones tend to slowly follow this direction as well.
To proof it’s possible to travel for a long with just hand luggage we’ll give an example from our experience. We went on a trip to 5 countries (Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine) for a month and took only two small backpacks, 3 kg/ 7 lbs each.
4 Be a couchsurfer!
Traveling with little money became also possible for us thanks to couchsurfing. It’s a site where members of the community host at their houses other travelers for free. Using this site is combining business with pleasure. We save money and meet fantastic people at the same time. Couchsurfing has much more advantages than just free accommodation. Saving money shouldn’t be the only reason for using it. Meeting each other, sharing travel experience and having fun together is the key to be a good couchsurfer. You meet strangers who become your friends, hang out, exchange your travel stories and opinions. It’s possible to build lifetime relationships. To this day we stay in touch with many people we met due to Couchsurfing.
But again! – keep in mind that using this site only for getting a place to stay for free is not a good idea. In general couchsurfers are very optimistic about getting to know new people and don’t want to be treated as a free hostel.
5 Give a chance to Airbnb
Another appealing option is Airbnb. It’s a website where private people rent their rooms, flats, houses for tourists. Booking accommodation through this site is not free of course, but it’s possible to find something at very low prices, often much cheaper than in regular hotels. The plus of Airbnb is that you don’t pay anything in cash to the owner, but the payment goes via the system of this company in advance. This way you can be sure that you will pay the price you agreed. We can help you to start your journey with Airbnb by a discount of $27 on your first trip! Sign up to the website with the following link to apply for the discount. Only by clicking this link you will get $27 off for your first booking: CLICK HERE TO GET THE DISCOUNT
If you are still not so open to sleep in the house of total stranger, we have the solution for you as well. With our link (and only with it) you will get $15 on your card when you make your first reservation on Booking.com It’s the most popular website for finding hotels and we have used it endless times: CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR $15
6 Say no to taxi – use public transport instead
Don’t be lazy! Find a bus or other mean of public transport that take you to the place you wish. It’s always cheaper and enable you to feel more like a local. This way can also turn out to be more adventurous than boring taxi ride. Taxi drivers often try to scam tourists all over the world and in many countries, where cabs are not equipped with taximeters, you need to use your strong bargain skills and have loads of patience.
7 Board overnight train
If you need to cover long distances on your route, consider taking overnight train. In the price of the ticket, you will get a transport and lodging. We took them numerous times in different countries on both domestic and international connections and enjoyed that. Every time had pretty good sleep on reasonably-comfortable beds, spent little, saved money on the hotel, met locals and their culture, improved language skills and even tried national food! Always buy your bunk in cheaper carriages where you spend time with others. Maybe first class seats/beds are more comfortable, but will separate you from surrounding and of course increase your expenses.
8 Buy food in supermarkets
Of course, you don’t want to spend time on cooking while you travel, so eating your dinners in restaurants on the town is definitely a good idea. However, for breakfasts, lunches and suppers you shouldn’t eat out as it’s an unnecessary expense. Dining out a few times a day is pricey, so one big meal away is enough. Smaller meals you can easily make in a few minutes with products from nearby supermarkets and save money. When we are on a trip, we go to supermarkets and buy food in the evenings for the supper and next morning’s breakfast. Also don’t buy breakfast for extra charge in your budget hotel/hostel. They are often overpriced and not the best in terms of quality. Sometimes if you are lucky, you will have your breakfast included in the price of the room :)
9 Ask local people for help
Locals know where to eat and which hotel is a good value for money. They are the most trusted source of information. Some of these places are not listed anywhere on the internet or in guides. When it comes to restaurants, always pick these which are full of local people. They are usually cheaper and tastier. It’s more probable for you not to get upset stomach there (excluding the case of different bacterial flora). Always skip the restaurants (even the cleanest and the most elegant ones with well-groomed waiter) which lack of local people. Neat interior doesn’t mean that the kitchen won’t be horrifying.
And this is our way to travel on a budget. If we manage to do that, you can do it too!
No money traveling
No money AT ALL? Yes, it’s possible to travel as well!
We haven’t experienced traveling without any money ourselves but we know it’s possible. We know that not many people decide to do this because it means changing the whole mode of life. One time we hosted a couchsurfer at our place who traveled without money. His mean of transport was his legs :)
He was traversing countries on foot. 25 miles a day and thousands of miles for months. At first it may seem crazy but it’s really admirable and we have to admit that he’s a real traveler. He showed us that it’s possible to travel under all conditions and had tons of interesting stories to tell. He was picking fruits in Japan and asked bakeries for unsold bread. Before the closing time, bakeries don’t need those breads anymore so workers may agree to exchange them for something like mentioned fruits. Sometimes he didn’t have anything to eat for two or three days. He slept in his tent or on couchsurfing.
His couchsurfing profile was so fascinating that we didn’t hesitate to host him. He came to us (to Gdańsk) from Budapest (with stops in Slovakia, Austria, the Czech Republic) but when it was raining he also hitchhiked. The way he traveled was a big adventure and it required much time. He wanted to prove that traveling with no money is possible and he needed only politeness of strangers to do that. It’s a kind of extreme traveling and it’s probably not for everybody but he’s just an evidence that impossible is nothing.
We hope that our advices was useful for you and you’ll be able to travel on a budget as well. Write us if you would be able to travel with no money :)