For any freelancer, budget travel tips come as a blessing. After all, we freelancers aren’t entitled to a fixed salary or other benefits like business employees are. *sigh*
But, but, but_ we wouldn’t trade our freedom for anything in the world. And that includes our freedom to travel!
Travelling on a budget requires an “I-won’t-spend-silly-money” kind of mindset (hear, hear!). Maybe it’s a good thing that I’m a miser, then (oops!).
No wonder these tips have been compiled for freelancers, by a freelancer (that’s me!)
Going on a trip at cheap rates means that you’ll have to sacrifice convenience and comfort several times. But you’ll be doing that at the cost of a whole new experience that livens up your memories forever!
So, are you ready to start saving money on your travels? *the whistle blows*
17 budget travel tips for a freelancer
1. Start planning
If you want to travel on a budget, you can’t afford to travel spontaneously. So, you need to come up with a plan that’s tailored to your cheap travelling needs.
You don’t have to prepare a serious itinerary, though. Just get a vague idea about the route and how long you’re going to spend in each city or country.
That way, you won’t face any unexpected expenses at the last minute.
2. Take advantage of the sharing economy
Considering the expensiveness of the traditional travel industry, sharing economy websites are now on the rise.
Through these websites, you can come in direct contact with the locals.
Get them to spill all the secrets about the place_ where you can get the cheapest food that satisfies your taste buds, which supermarkets offer the best deals, and so on.
Sharing economy websites like Airbnb (for accommodation) and Eatwith (for meals) have made it easier for everyone to travel, giving you access to home-cooked meals, cheaper accommodation, and even options for sharing rides.
3. Travel off-season
Travelling in season leads to higher travel expenses, as the travel industry takes advantage of the people only flocking to places during this time.
Find out what’s the best time to go on a trip to your desired destination. Once you’re done researching, plan your trip a little before or after these best weeks.
Travelling off-season doesn’t mean that you’ll have a bad trip. Rather, you can experience everything from the eyes of a local, and if you ask me, that’s more fun!
At this time, airlines and hotels try luring customers by lowering their prices.
4. Pack smartly
Make sure you’ve packed everything you need, from your passport (if you’re travelling internationally) to your medications (in case you take any).
Like, I have to take a tiny bottle of Eltroxin tablets wherever I go (meet my hypothyroidism).
Packing smartly will ensure that you don’t have to buy something you forgot to take with you.
Take proper clothes that are suitable for the weather of the place you’re going to. If you need to take a lot of things with you, use packing cubes to save space inside your luggage.
Don’t forget to pack a waterproof jacket, along with a warm hoodie, in case the weather takes an unforeseen turn. You never know when it might start raining, or there might be a hailstorm.
5. Book your flights well in advance
If you think one way flight and hotel are cheaper, you can think again. What if you run out of money on a trip, and you don’t have a flight ticket for returning home?
Not everyone can be Robinson Crusoe, you know.
Book return flights in advance, but instead of one-way flights, go for round-trip flights. This is because you can get round-trip flight tickets at discounted prices.
Flight tickets booked months before your departure date are also cheaper_ the closer your departure date gets, the higher the flight prices are.
6. Fly economy class
I know, I know. Business Class looks like it’s made for a queen, but hey, as a freelancer budget travel tips are what you’re looking for, right?
So, why upgrade to Business Class when you can fly economy at a dirt-cheap price?
Think of it this way_ you’ll be saving money on those cheap seats, and you can use that money to get food and accommodation after landing at your destination.
And if you want to book a flight on a budget airline, check back from time to time to see if they’ve got cheap offers.
7. Know the cheapest day of the week to buy flights
Choose to travel on a Tuesday or a Wednesday_ either of these is the cheapest day of the week to buy flights.
Most people opt for travelling during weekends, so the prices tend to be high at that time. Midweek travel prices, on the other hand, are much lower.
But if you still think weekend travel is what you want, pack light in a piece of hand luggage. This will help you save on extra luggage prices.
8. Find free accommodation
A nice place to start looking for free accommodation is a sharing economy website called Couchsurfing. It lets you book a room at no cost at all.
Sometimes, you might have to go with a couch, or just an air mattress, but you’ll at least have a place to sleep for free!
9. Learn how to adjust
If you’re a freelancer who’s looking for budget travel tips other than Couchsurfing, you can save your money by sleeping in large dormitories.
The larger the dorm, the more people you can share the costs with!
Of course, sharing your room with more than 2-3 people means compromising with your privacy, so you need to learn to adjust with other people. If you want to get something cheap or for free, you have to work hard for it.
On the bright side, you might get to share your dorm with people who are exploring the city just like you are, so cheer up!
10. Public transport is the way to go
Public transport like trains and buses are way cheaper than flights.
If it’s possible to travel via public transport instead of planes, try opting for the first option. A journey on an overnight bus or train is not only more fun, but it’s also much cheaper than you can imagine.
The only downside is that it’ll take more time, but that’s okay. You’re going on a trip for relaxing and having fun_ it’s not a business trip, where you need to be on a tight schedule.
11. Know the cheapest way to travel by train
Buying a rail pass is the cheapest way to travel by train, no matter which continent you’re journeying to.
There used to be an Indrail Pass, too, for visitors who wanted to travel by train in India. But that was discontinued in 2017. Now, foreign tourists need to book their train tickets in India a year in advance_ if you don’t want to stand in a queue.
Instead of booking individual train trips, opt for rail passes, so that you can traverse a larger area by train at a cheaper rate.
These also allow you to be flexible with your schedule_ you can travel with a rail pass whenever you want to!
12. Earn while travelling
This is one of the coolest freelancer budget travel tips. We freelancers work from home, but what’s to stop us from working on the go?
Whether you’re a freelance writer or a freelance graphic designer, earning while on a trip is something you can do in a wink.
If you’re travelling abroad, you can also freelance for a foreign company. Payment methods will vary, depending on where you’re working from and the place where the company is based.
13. Cook for yourself
Instead of eating out every day while you’re away, the best way to save more on your travel expenses is to cook your own meals.
When you’re wandering around, you can go to the nearest supermarket and get groceries that’ll last for a week or so (in case you want to stay that long).
But if your room doesn’t come with a kitchen, pack a couple of food containers, just in case you need to make some sandwiches or salads while roaming around.
That way, you’ll be hitting two birds with one stone_ you won’t be hungry for long, and you can lower your food expenses!
14. Cut down on unnecessary expenses
After reaching your destination, roam around and try to find out about the prices at local eateries and restaurants. Don’t just head straight for the first restaurant you see_ what if it’s overpriced?
Local fresh food markets and street food can provide much cheaper meals than restaurants. They’re much tastier and they let you try the local flavours, too.
Don’t spend your money on things you can go without, like beer. Drinking a mug of beer after every meal will add up your travel expenses till they touch the sky. Try water instead_ it’s life, you know.
Apart from buying a few souvenirs, spending your cash on new clothes or other unnecessary things isn’t really a smart option if you want freelancer budget travel tips.
15. Go on free walking tours
First of all, what is a free walking tour?
It basically refers to a tour, accompanied by a local guide, where you walk around to get your bearings and explore the most popular attractions.
This tour lasts for 2-4 hours, during which you feel like a local yourself. But it might go on for a longer time, depending on how many major sights there are to see.
At the end of this tour, don’t forget to tip your guide. The advantage of going on free walking tours is that you can pay the guide whatever you want to.
To find such a tour, the easiest way is to enter the words ‘free walking tours (the name of the city)’ on Google.
16. Become a hitchhiker
In many parts of the world, like New Zealand, the Scandinavian countries, Australia, Central America, and Eastern Europe, hitchhiking is one of the most common ways of wandering around.
And it’s totally free!
This activity is also becoming an integral part of the Indian travel industry.
So, if you’re a freelancer looking for budget travel tips, consider becoming a hitchhiker for a part of your journey.
17. Use city tourist cards where applicable
A city tourist card will not only let you access public transportation for free. It will also allow you to visit the major attractions in the city at discounted prices.
Many countries offer city tourist cards to people who plan on visiting a lot of local places and staying for a day or two.
For example, when I went on a solo trip to New Delhi, India, last year, I bought a Delhi Metro Tourist Card. And guess what_ I travelled the entire Delhi Metro Rail route by train, with a tourist card that cost me only 100 INR for a day!
If you want to get a city tourist card, pay a visit to the local tourism office, or just use Google.
To sum up
If you’re a freelancer, combining these budget travel tips will help you save a huge sum of money.
You don’t always need a one-way flight and a luxurious hotel to get those travel feels.
It doesn’t even matter if you’re going on a three-week vacation or just a weekly trip. You can pile up your savings if you think of these and other out-of-the-box ways to travel.
All you need is a bit of creativity, along with a whole lot of patience, if you dream of travelling really cheap.
Bon voyage, freelancers!