How to Travel the World on a Budget

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Do you love the idea of traveling internationally, but hate the high price tags that come with your globetrotting goals? This guide shows you the tips, tricks and tools to book a flight, nab accommodations and see the world — all on the cheap.

Choosing When to Travel

When it comes to picking the best times to travel, the shoulder season is definitely your friend here. The shoulder season is typically April through June and September and October, just between the low and peak travel seasons. You’ll still enjoy good weather, fewer crowds and less expensive accommodations, plus you won’t be in a hotel filled with families, because kids are in school. During shoulder season you can often avoid the solo supplement as well, a premium charged to single travelers who take a room alone (most often, on a cruise, but some hotels do it too).

And if you are traveling long distances, make sure you check when the holidays are in your destination city (Chinese New Year, for example). This can affect when you’ll find higher prices, because the travel operators in your destination are busy.

The Benefits of Staying in Hostels

Hotels get expensive, so think about staying in a hostel. Hostels endured a reputation of being run-down in years past, but there is a new breed of hostel emerging that caters to travelers looking for a more boutique experience. Hostels keep your accommodation costs down, and they are very social places to stay — you’ll easily find like-minded travelers to share a few experiences with. Plus, you will hear about interesting attractions that are off the main tourist track. There are great accommodations on reputable sites like HostelBookers.com.

And if hostels are not your thing, you’ll find alternative budget accommodations and short-term rentals from sites such as Airbnb.

Finding Great Travel Deals

When it comes to finding the best deals, look at different providers that are competing against each other to offer the lowest prices. Search SkyScannerHipmunk and Expedia to see what deals are being offered. It’s also worth looking at discount coupon sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial to see if there are any travel and hotel deals that you can take advantage of. Many times you can find discounted travel packages, but they do change daily, and it is important to read the fine print. There are always discount flight and hotel comparisons available, so it is also worth comparing those with package deals to see which one offers the best deal.

An Organized Tour vs. a Self-Guided Trip

Which one you go with depends on your budget and your goals for your trip. On an organized tour, you’ll get a thorough and guided introduction to the biggest attractions of your destination city; a self-guided trip, however, will be significantly cheaper. If you choose to explore yourself, save money by using public transportation and picking out your own sightseeing excursions, rather than depending on a tour guide’s recommendation.

Last-Minute Flights & Package Deals

If you are traveling in the shoulder season, try leaving your decision until the last minute to see what sort of deals become available. You will often find package holidays including flights and accommodations for a fraction of the regular price, and it can also offer an interesting surprise in terms of where you are visiting.

It is also worth being flexible about what days you travel. Being able to flex a day or two may save you money when it comes to booking flights. If you are traveling in the main season, last minute deals are few and far between, so it is best to book ahead to avoid disappointment.