By Yanhong Liao

Planning

Plan your trip ahead of time is the key to travel on a budget. Do research ahead of time, can save you a lot of money from flight ticket, accommodation, transportation and so much more. During holidays like the fourth of July, Thanksgiving or Christmas, everything will be more expensive, if you want to travel on holiday, you really need to book your ticket in advance. If you want to travel on a budget, travel in low season and skip the crowds is the best option for you. You might spend twice or triple the amount of money on your budget, because the food that you want to order, or the souvenir that you want to purchase, so always give yourself a gap, and set a limit on the amount of the money you could spend every day.

Flights

Flight tickets are usually the one of the most expensive things in travel, it might take up to a quarter of your budget. Buying your flight ticket ahead of time, can save you a lot of money. There is website online, like Hooper and other application, they provide the time and price. And they will give you notification when the lowest air ticket come out, and you can make a purchase with a fair price. Sometimes you can get cheaper flight ticket after midnight. If anyone who is cancel their ticket, and the website will refresh their price after midnight, and you could get a ticket with a lower price. 

Accommodation

Accommodation is also another big cost that can really affect your trip. The longer the journey is, the more it costs. But thanks to the internet, we are having more reliable options and choices online. Hotel and motel are no longer the only options, now we have B&B, Airbnb, hostels or even Couchsurfing. Just because you are traveling, it doesn’t mean you need to stay in a fancy hotel. Airbnb can be a very affordable option, and some of the Airbnb has kitchen where you can make your own breakfast to save money. Airbnb sometimes have washer and dryer; it is a great way to save money and is common among budget travelers. Hostel is another is a budget friendly option for people who likes to meet other travelers. Hostel is also known as “youth hostel”. When a traveler books a hostel, it means you book a bed for the night instead of a room. Usually hostel have 4 to 8 people share a room together, sometimes it even gets up to 20 people in a room, it depends on your preference. And it’s perfect for people who travel in groups. 

Transportation

Transportation can be a very tricky, because it really depends on the city you are going and the place you stay. If the place you are traveling is like Utah or Yellow stone doesn’t have public transportation, it’s a better idea if you just drive your own car to keep your budget low or get rental car. Otherwise, you can travel to big city like New York, Hong Kong, London and other places that have a good public transportation. 

  • Tip 1 Pick the accommodation near a bus stop or a metric station, and it will be easier for you to travel.
  • Tip 2 To avoid traffic and train transfer, you can stay in place where they offer direct service from the airport to your accommodation. 
  • Tip 3 Uber is one of the best options for travelers, if you need to get to a place fast without public transportation. 
  • Tip 4 Get a city tourist cards can take you to multiple sights in a city, and sometimes they will offer you free public transportation. They might offer discount or free access to attractions and museums. 

Network and connections

The colleague who is an exchange student from Japan, or your dorm mate has relatives from Argentina might be able to offer you a place to stay. By using your network, find out people who are living aboard and get to reconnect with them, and what you get might far beyond than a free accommodation. You get to interact with the locals, and you get to live the way they live, and find out the hidden good restaurant that only locals know and receive an in-deep experience. Ask your coworkers and friends if they know anyone at the place that you are going. You might find out you have a distant cousin who works in South Africa, or your childhood friends who lives in Europe. You get to expand your network and knowing people who across the globe. 


Currency

Currency is a big thing while you travel abroad. Know the currency rate and exchange currency at its low rate can save you a lot of money while you are traveling. Also, if you exchange currency at the airport or on the street, they might change you for extra service fee. Exchange your money early in a bank can result in a higher return. 

Thanks to exchange rate, people in the states can travel to a lot of other places with a lower cost. 1 United States Dollar equals 19 Mexican Peso, or 1 United States Dollar equals 7 Chinese Yuan. with that being said, you might spend only 1 dollar for a full meal in china, or 25-59 for a snorkel/boat trip for 1/2 day in Mexico. Especially, when you are in a country with lower exchange rate, the things you purchase or the food you ate will be much cheaper that in your homeland. And That’s a steal. And when you are shopping in street markets, souvenir shops, or small stores, you should haggle as hard as you can, because store vendors usually ask for a very high prices from foreigners. When you are getting a product back home around $20, but you can get it for 25%- 50% of the cost in China. If you are a person that is 6 feet 10 and want to customize a suit for yourself, you can get it with a lower cost in China, and they will get you the finish product in 3 days. If you want to customize your own dress or suit, you are at the right place.