International Travel on a Budget

February 06, 2018

Have you dreamed of traveling around the world? You don’t need thousands of dollars to go overseas. There are several affordable international places you can visit without a high price tag.

Here are a number of tips on how to travel internationally on a budget without sacrificing comfort or feeling deprived. Follow this advice to enjoy the trip of a lifetime, for less.

CHEAP WAYS TO GET FROM HERE TO THERE

Flying won’t be your only transportation expense. You’ll also need to navigate your way around your destination and will likely want to plan a few day trips to other towns. Often, tourist attractions are located outside of town or far away from your lodging.

Buses, trains, and subways usually offer the most cost-effective and efficient means of transportation. Spend time before you leave on your trip studying the local public transportation system, familiarizing yourself with the payment structure, and planning out routes from your lodging to the places you want to visit.

In some cases, such as traveling as a family or with several friends, it may be cheaper to rent a car than to take public transportation. To help decide what’s best for you, look into gas prices and parking fees in addition to the cost of the rental itself.

You may be tempted to try a special local form of transportation, such as tuk-tuks, rickshaws or double-decker buses. While doing it once for the experience can be a reasonable expense, make sure you’re not falling into tourist traps and getting overcharged. Pay attention to how locals travel to see where you may be able to save the most.

Find more tips on how to be a thrifty traveler here.

FINDING AN AFFORDABLE PLACE TO STAY

Consider all your options before booking. In some instances, a big-name hotel may offer special pricing. In others, it might be cheaper to search for small mom-and-pop lodging that offers excellent accommodations at lower prices. Consider staying outside of the main town, too, if you can find a more reasonable price.

Hostels provide one of the most affordable options if you’re willing to look outside of traditional hotels. These are not available in every country, but you can find locations ahead of time by searching the web. Some may have age restrictions, but others are available to all backpackers or travelers.

Free rooming can also be a huge boon to your budget. Consider your personal network before you plan your trip. Do you have any friends or family in the country you’re visiting, or do you know someone who does? Would they be willing to take a lodger? You could also search for housesitting gigs in your destination country or check out sites offering discounted rooms or homes.

SAVING MONEY ON FOOD

Food will take up a large portion of your budget if you aren’t careful. You can keep costs down by:

  • Finding lodging that includes breakfast in overnight charges
  • Going to markets to purchase produce for lunch and snacks, rather than going to a restaurant
  • Trying food stalls on the street for the cheapest dinners (use your best judgment about the cleanliness and watch to see where locals frequent)
  • Cooking at the hostel or hotel where you stay
  • Saving restaurants for an occasional splurge instead of everyday eating
  • Getting fast food a few times (it’s cheap, and the choices at an international chain you can go to at home may be vastly different in a foreign country)

THE ART OF BARGAINING

When you travel abroad, part of the joy and challenge is abiding by the rules and traditions of another country. One major difference you may note in some other countries is a propensity for bargaining.

Here in the United States, we generally see prices as set values. You either can or can’t afford something.

But abroad, prices are often merely the first salvo in a drawn-out bidding process. You can bring down the price you’re being asked to pay by bargaining. Some refer to this as haggling. The aim of bargaining is to get the merchant or business owner to agree to a lower price through negotiation. Use these guidelines:

  • Watch someone else’s interaction with a merchant before trying yourself, to get an idea of what they respond to
  • Don’t pay the first price they offer — they expect to be talked down, so they start off high
  • Don’t try bargaining at a chain — those prices are usually set in stone
  • Be polite, but be willing to walk away if they won’t budge on price

FINDING THE RIGHT DESTINATION

Perhaps you’ve already booked your journey, in which case, kudos to you for taking the plunge. But if you’re still searching for a place to go, you may want to consider these factors to plan an international vacation on a budget.

  • Avoid popular international tourist locations, such as London and Paris. If you want to see big tourist attractions, go during the off-season.
  • Consider countries where the currency exchange rate is in your favor.
  • If you plan to hop from place to place, use tools like Google® Flights to see which destinations are most affordable.

ENJOY INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL ON THE CHEAP WITH THESE TIPS

Traveling outside the country doesn’t have to break the bank. By keeping these tips in mind, you can have a fantastic trip while also saving yourself money.

Having a PSECU account makes it easy to manage your money while traveling internationally, too. Using our digital banking tools, you can continue to manage your money anytime, anywhere. And with no foreign transaction fees and ATM rebates, you won’t get charged for using your account while you’re out of the country.

If you’re a PSECU member, your immediate family members are eligible for membership, as well. Whether they’re traveling or studying abroad, learn how PSECU membership can save them money at psecu.com/love.

By Christina Moreschi
Christina Moreschi Assistant Director of Career Development Christina Moreschi