How to travel on a budget

how to travel on a budget

Travelling is such an enjoyable experience and helps you recharge your batteries, enjoy amazing experiences with friends or loved ones and create new memories. However, the truth is travelling is not cheap. To travel on a budget doesn’t sound fun now, does it? Well, I’m here to let you know you can have an amazing vacation on any budget, believe me, I’ve done it a couple of times and boy am I glad I did!


There are a few things to consider when planning your amazing getaway, in this article, we are going to unpack more and hopefully, by the end you will be ready to start planning your cost-efficient holiday. Who says you need to pay an arm and leg for some time away? Luxury travel sounds like a dream, but it is not realistic for everyone, especially given the current economic climate. Just because you are on a tight budget doesn’t mean you cannot live a full life and enjoy yourself. So, would you like to know how to travel on a budget? Let me show you how!



To get you started, I’ve listed a few free travel apps that will make planning a lot easier, from booking your accommodation and flights to activity planners and a lot more. You can be your own travel guide, planning is part of the fun after all, how does the saying go? The journey is better than the destination, hahaha I don’t know if that is true but hey if you have to do it, you may as well enjoy it.


Travelstart is a one-stop online travel shop. You can compare and book flights from all major airlines, book accommodation, get travel insurance, rent a car for your trip, book bus tickets, and even book holiday activities. What’s more, Travelstart offers a range of travel packages from around the world meaning you can definitely save some valuable cash by booking an all-inclusive package. They offer travel guides, group bookings, and if you don’t feel confident doing all your bookings online, you can book with one of their travel experts. I have personally used this service when I was travelling abroad and it was quick, affordable and painless. That’s why they get the number one spot on my list! is a free online travel agency where you can book all sorts of accommodation including hotels, resorts, apartments, villas, bed & breakfast, and guest houses. What’s more awesome is you can also find car rentals, check flights, and make restaurant reservations.


Airbnb is an online platform where homeowners put up their homes up for short term rentals. You can find anything from luxury homes, villas, cabins, apartments, even camping sites. You can find lakeside accommodation, beach front properties, mountain cabins, city apartments, country home, and so much more. What’s amazing is you can choose a place anywhere you wish to travel, at a price that fits your budget.


Trivago is where you want to go to compare deals across over three hundred booking sites, once you have selected where you want to visit, checking if there is a different booking site that offers the same accommodation at a lower rate is definitely the way the way to go to protect your budget and ensure you don’t pay a cent more than you should. Trivago’s hotel search allows users to compare hotel prices in just a few clicks from more than 300 booking sites for more than 5.0 million hotels and other types of accommodation in over 190 countries.


Tripadvisor is another reliable site and super handy too. Here you can book accommodation, plan and book activities, and check out places to eat with over 4.3 million restaurants to choose from globally from street food to fine dining. They even have travel forums so you can read reviews and recommendations from other travellers that have been where you are planning to go and you can even post what you are looking for and the community will respond with their recommendations, how is that for peace of mind? Travellers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to browse more than 859 million reviews and opinions of 8.6 million accommodations, restaurants, experiences, airlines and cruises.



When you travel on a budget little things make all the difference, location is one of those things. Once you have selected your destination, look at the cost of accommodation and dining, for example, you could be going to the Maldives (not that the Maldives is the first place you’d think of when you travel on a budget 🙂 there are several islands in the Maldives all offering similar type experience but at different price brackets, so even though the Maldives is the destination, you still have the option to choose one of the cheaper islands. Another example, accommodation around Durban South Beach is a lot cheaper than accommodation around Umhlanga beach just a few kilometers north.


This one is a no brainer, it is of cause cheaper to travel during the of- peak season will be a lot cheaper than travelling during the holiday or peak season. This one is great for single people or couples without kids but does get very tricky for families that have school-aged children as they normally plan their vacations around the school calendar. This goes for flights too, have you seen how Monday, Thursday and Friday flights seem to be more expensive than mid-week flights? Well, that is because the airlines are very busy on these days with people travelling for business.


Types of Accommodation

So many choices such little cash, lol! If you don’t have a couple of thousands a day to spend on accommodation don’t fret, there are plenty of other options to fit just about any budget. Who doesn’t love a 5-star hotel with those Egyptian cotton sheets and superb concierge staff, or how about an exclusive safari lodge, dreamy! Someday, so since right now we are learning how to travel on a budget, let us look at some realistic options, don’t worry, these are great too.

  • Resorts – Self catering resorts offer lovely accommodation and everything you need to have a fabulous vacation all in one venue. Most resorts will offer different types of accommodation to cater for different budgets and you can save so much by taking your own groceries and enjoying braais and breakfast at “home” to save you from exorbitant restaurant bills.

  • Motels – Motels may not be nearly as luxurious and hotels, but they are a good option for humble budgets. I recommend you pack your bug spray and clean sheets just to be on the safe side but there a lot of well-kept motels.

  • Short Term Rentals – There are so many apartments, holiday homes, villas, and cabins one can rent for a few days for your holiday stay. The prices range from super affordable to oh no, does it come with a butler and a pool boy? Nonetheless, if you use the online booking sites I mentioned earlier, you are sure to find something that fits your budget.

  • Bed and Breakfast – If you want some peace and quite as well as a personalised service then you should definitely consider a bed & breakfast. The food and aesthetics of a bed and breakfast will give you that warm, home away from home feeling. And of cause, it is cheaper than staying in a hotel.

  • Caravan Parks & Camping – If you own a caravan then you’ve probably been on a number of amazing vacations at the most beautiful destinations. The good news is, you don’t need to own a caravan to go on these very cost effective holidays, you can rent one from places such as CaravanSA. Camping can be such a memorable experience especially for families with children but can really be enjoyed by pretty much anyone and you only need to buy your camping gear once.

  • Backpacking – This form of travelling great for the young and the young at heart. Backpack, a few essentials, minimal clothing, and off you go. Backpackers often spend their days exploring and nights sleeping at inexpensive places. When it comes to cost, this is the most affordable way to travel on a budget.

Daily expenditure

Most people who travel on a budget make the mistake of accounting for travel costs and accommodation, and then completely forgetting to budget for daily expenditure. While on holiday you will spend money on food, petrol if you are taking a car, entry fees for activities and attractions. Things like choosing delicious hotdogs as opposed to eating lunch at a restaurant will save you a pretty penny. You also need to have an emergency fund because you might incur medical costs or other emergencies while you are away.

I remember once booking a hotel online that looked beyond amazing and was shocked on arrival to find the opposite of what was advertised. The staff was so hostile, and the place had an unpleasant odour, it was unclean and I noticed some health concerns. I had a choice of staying there and being miserable or looking for something else, I chose the latter, but I can only imagine the predicament I would be in if I did not budget for unseen circumstances. Even though some places may offer a partial refund, chances are you won’t get it on the spot.

A holiday is good way to destress and reset and I highly recommend you try taking at least two vacations in a year. Now that you know how to travel on a budget, go and spoil your self and your loved ones, you deserve it.