55 Genius Travel Hacks For When You’re Broke AF

55 Genius Travel Hacks For When You’re Broke AF

Often find yourself scrolling through your social feed, daydreaming about faraway lands, inspiring photography and life-changing adventure? Then you wake up and check your bank balance…dammit. To travel on a budget is a daunting thing to many people, and unfortunately can deter some would-be wanderers from experiencing this incredible planet. To help you get the most out of your journey, here are 55 genius travel hacks for when you’re broke AF:

1. Book using a private browsing window

Book using a private browser window to save money on travel

Always make sure you clear your browser cookies, and even use a private/incognito window while searching for flights. Websites have a tricky way of tracking what prices you’ve been quoted in the past, so in order to make things competitive and cheap, make sure you’re browsing on the hush!

2. Stay in hostels

Hostels are one of the best ways to travel on a budget

This one is pretty obvious but it cannot be overstated just how much more wallet-friendly budget accommodation options like hostels are compared with hotels, resorts and rental homes. Not only are you getting lower prices (some hostel beds are literally just a couple of dollars per night), but you’re getting the authentic backpacker atmosphere, and memories to last a lifetime.

3. Take free classes

Save money while travelling with free classes

So many hostels around the world offer free classes for guests. You can sooth your soul with some yoga, learn how to whip up some local cuisine, or even flex your creative muscles with some art. With a little research it’s pretty easy to find out which hostels offer the best free classes for backpackers.

4. Hostels often have free food

Look for hostels that offer free food to save money

It may seem obvious, but SO many hostels offer free food. Yeah of course breakfast is often a given, but there are hostels all over the world that provide baked goods, BBQ, pizza nights and loads more. Stock up on free eats to take with you while you’re off adventuring for the day!

5. Venture off-the-beaten-path to save money

Avoid expensive tourist attractions to make your money last longer

Tourist traps can be an absolute nightmare for your wallet. Sure, the they are usually popular for a reason, but literally anywhere you choose to visit will have so many incredible things to see, people to meet and food to try that you won’t have to spend loads or queue for hours just to get close! Even some destinations that appear to be a little off-the-beaten-path are becoming more and more popular with backpackers as their hidden gems are slowly discovered.

📸: @TeeJayHughes

6. Treasure experiences over material things

Travel on a budget is all about embracing the experiences in life

Souvenirs are overrated. Seriously! Instead of bringing back a suitcase full of touristy paraphernalia, why not focus on collecting memories and experiences instead of material things. It makes your travel so much happier, your bags so much lighter, and your wallet so much fatter.


7. Work in a hostel

Working in a hostel in a great way to get free accommodation

“Save even more money on accommodation by working in hostels too. Most hostels need cleaners and reception workers and many offer work exchange programmes where you work a few hours per day in exchange for free accommodation.” – @BudgetTraveller

📸 by:@lola.photography

8. Do you know how much a visa costs?

Look for countries that offer cheap visas

Some countries don’t require visas for entry as a short term traveller, and others charge for the privilege of entering. Be aware what you’re getting into, as you can plan your journey around destinations with cheap visa processes.

9. Book in advance

Travelling on a budget means planning ahead to get the best deals

Another simple thing to remember, but often prices will go up as time gets closer to your trip. Booking train journeys, hostel beds and of course air travel ahead of time guarantees you won’t get stuck having to spring for a flashier room or a last minute price gouged flight.

📸 by:@lola.photography

10. Plan around off-peak travel times

Planning your trip during off-peak times means more cheap travel

Be aware of the seasonality of travel. What is considered to be “off-peak” in one country might not be in another. Various destinations have different tourist seasons so make sure to do your research. With a little planning you can ensure you plan around the price hikes and tourist swarms!

11. Use a VPN to find the cheapest deals

Prices can vary depending on where you are booking from. Using a simple VPN on your computer can make it look like you’re booking from another place. Definitely worth trying and shopping around the get the best deals!

12. Save up frequent flyer miles

Chances are, at some point your adventures will take you far enough away that you’ll need to fly. It’s definitely worth joining a frequent flyer program and racking up those miles/points. Over time they really add up and can get you discounted flights and upgrades!

13. Shop around

Another simple one, but it’s so important! Don’t just settle for the first few flight or hostel prices you see. Shop around! Check Skyscanner, and the Hostelworld app. Ask travel buddies for their site recommendations. Don’t settle just to save time!

14. Make the most of sales events

While people are loading up on new TVs and tablets during Black Friday and the Boxing Day Sales, skip straight to the flight sites and Hostelworld. Your wallet will thank you!

15. Travel light

“Save more money while flying by taking carry-on luggage only, and avoid checked luggage fees.” – @BudgetTraveller

16. Rent a bicycle

“When you need to travel that bit further, rent a bicycle. Not only does it allow you to get around on the cheap but it also keeps you fit!”- @BudgetTraveller

17. Mix and match using different airports

It’s all about changing it up! Sure a flight from London to New York might seem expensive, but if the outbound and return flights leave from different airports in the two cities, you could end up saving a bunch. Plus, sometimes other countries and airlines will offer discounts just for stopping for a layover in their country. If you stop in Iceland for example, that NYC to LDN journey becomes a lot more doable (plus you get a free mini trip within a trip).

18. Be flexible

This might be one of the most important qualities for a budget savvy backpacker to have. Being able to drop plans and switch things up at the last minute will help you take advantage of deals and opportunities that arise on your travels. Don’t be tied to your plans.

📸: @PatchinPixels

19. Be strong

Of course no journey is without its little problems, but when an airline or accommodation actually messes up your journey in a preventable way, stand up for yourself. Calmly work with customer service reps to make sure you’re compensated. Don’t waste money on poor service!

📸 by: @JohannaW

20. Do your research

A no brainer really. One of the biggest mistakes a money-conscious traveller can make is to rush into plans. It might be tempting, and sometimes taking your time can be a hassle, but take a moment to read some inspiring and helpful blog posts, shop around, talk with other travellers, read reviews etc.

📸 by: Jennifer Lachs

21. Talk with other travellers

Perhaps the best source of money saving knowledge is experience, and who better to ask than real travellers themselves. Talk with everyone you know who’s been out backpacking, read authentic forums and articles by those who have gone before. You know, and articles like this one 😉

📸 by:@ic.theworld

22. Start your digital detox

Travelling the world is an amazing time to break away from the addiction of electronics. You’ll save on batteries, chargers, travel adaptors, Wi-Fi charges, roaming fees, electronics insurance etc. Life is cheaper when you’re not worried about gadgets.

📸 by:@ic.theworld

23. Get to know the locals

Take it from our expert Australian local: “Don’t pay $350 to climb it when you can walk across the Sydney Harbor Bridge pedestrian footpath for free. Want the best views in Sydney? The Coogee to Bondi coastal walk is free and will take a couple of hours. Why not pack a picnic lunch? Surfers Paradise too crowded? Escape the crowds and enjoy a more relaxed vibe on the Southern Gold Coast without the bling and expense of Surfers. Give Kirra, Burleigh or Coolangatta a try. Also, over 2 weeks in January, Sydney Festival holds over 450 performances and 150 events performed by over 1000 artists in 46 venues. Most are FREE or less than $30!!” – @KristyDoesStuff

📸 by:@ic.theworld

24. Shop at local markets

“Temple Bar in Dublin is home to 3 different types of markets all held over the weekend. They offer cheaper and more unique souvenirs than what you will find in the shops.” – @KristyDoesStuff

📸 by: @raquelalmeida_

25. Turn on notifications

“Often sites like Skyscanner will give you an option to set up some alerts so you’re the first to know when new deals come in. Travel Pirates, Thrifty Traveler and also good bets. I even regularly check Fares Error on twitter. They post erroneous fares so you can book before they’re corrected. You have to buy the ticket and wait 24 hours before planning your trip. If they catch the error within 24 hours they can cancel the trip but afterwards you’re good to go!” – @wordswithfran

📸 by:@ic.theworld

26. Be open to new places

We all have lengthy bucket lists but don’t be married to them! Sometimes some of the most amazing destinations in the world aren’t on your radar yet but are totally worth the trip. Often they’ll even been cheaper too. This year a whole batch of previously under the radar destinations are emerging as backpacker havens, partly because they just aren’t as expensive as the traditional hot spots but still pack a hell of a punch.

📸 by: Emily Mulligan

27. Travel Tuesdays

“When booking flights, Tuesday is almost always the cheapest priced day of the week to travel, due to the low demand for flights on this day. If you’re willing and able to travel out and/or back on a Tuesday, this will save you some money.” – @BudgetTraveller

28. Bring food with you

Stuff your pockets for the road! Bring food from home, shop at grocery stores instead of restaurants etc. It might not be as glamorous as dining at fancy cafes and eateries, but financially it’s a live-saver.

29. Travel at night

“Save a night’s money on accommodation and take the night bus or train. Particularly in Europe, you’ll find the night trains can be quite comfortable. In countries like Argentina, the night buses often offer 180 degree reclining seats.” – @BudgetTraveller

30. Get your walking tour on

Walking tours of one of the best ways to explore a new city. Often they’re free and led by experienced locals.

“Jerusalem is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Go on a free old city walking tour with SANDEMAN Tour Company at 11am & 2pm. Ahhh-mazing!” – @KristyDoesStuff

📸 by:@lola.photography

31. Discover street art

I believe one of the best ways to truly know a city is to explore its street art. You’ll discover the cultural nuances, colours, themes, styles and stories that make the city what it is. Best of all, it doesn’t cost a thing!

📸 by:@ic.theworld

32. Visit free art galleries and museums

Some cities like London are full of free things to do, including numerous collections of art and history that are free to the viewing public. Other cities charge a small fee for entrance into their museums, but even those places frequently offer discounts and even free days. Google it!

33. Bring a hammock

“In my experience, some overbooked hostels will let you set up a hammock (and for a cheaper fee than a dorm bed).” – @BudgetTraveller


34. Cook in hostel kitchens

“Most hostels have hostel kitchens. By eating in, you can save an absolute fortune on meals.” – @BudgetTraveller Remember what we said earlier about taking food with you? Same applies here! If you have access to a usable hostel kitchen, cooking and sharing a meal with other travellers will be soooo much cheaper than a night on the town.

35. Learn to haggle

“In many cultures it’s the norm to bargain a price down from the asking price. It may not feel comfortable but it’s normal. But, also know when to stop and pay a decent price. ” – @JohannaW

📸 by:@ic.theworld

36. Focus on lunch

“If you do decide to eat out in more expensive restaurants, eat out at lunch instead of dinner. In most places a lunch deal is a lot cheaper than the full price they charge at dinner.” – @BudgetTraveller

37. Choose local beer/wine

“When drinking in or out, be sure to buy local brands of beer and wine. It’s usually a lot cheaper than the more well-known international brands.” – @BudgetTraveller

38. Take a bottle with you

Save the environment and your money at the same time! Taking a sturdy water bottle with you while you’re out and about will save so much money often shed on drinking water throughout the day. Especially when you’re travelling in a place that would require you buying bottled water to stay safe, BYOBottle!

39. Make friends

“Share. Even, when travelling solo it’s possible to share. Often when a dorm-buddy is heading home after a trip they’ll offer their shampoo, bug-spray etc. Make sure you do the same as it’s such a treat when you get new products for your journey” – @JohannaW

40. Walk as much as possible

Travel will turn you into a walker. It’s amazing to explore large swathes of countryside on a moped or by bus, but whenever you can (and especially if you’re in a city), stretch those legs and stroll! You’ll burn those pesky calories, save some pennies, and definitely get to know the nooks and crannies of your chosen city in far more detail.

📸 by: @nataliaanjaphotography

41. Learn the language

“If you can converse in the local language – make sure you do! In some destinations such as Tenerife and Delhi, there’s a locals rate in the shops and a tourists rate. Sometimes just by speaking the local language when you go into the shop, they charge you the local rate.” – @BudgetTraveller

📸 by: @nataliaanjaphotography

42. Get a student ID

“Just like you can get student discounts at home, you can get student discounts abroad too! So if you have a student ID card – make sure you bring it! You’d be surprised how many attractions offer a discounted rate for students…” – @BudgetTraveller

43. Also get an ISIC card

“Get an official International Student Identity Card and you could get thousands of extra discounts in up to 45 different countries. There is also a youth card available for those under 30 but not in full-time education.” – @BudgetTraveller

44. Work and Travel

If you’re able to, work! Some countries (like New Zealand) can issue a working holiday visa, which will allow you to work certain types of jobs for a limited time. If your passport or visa allows, earn that cash!

45. Claim tax back

Not only do some countries let you work while you’re travelling, but often there’s a way to claim tax back from your working holiday. Every country has a different process, but it’s definitely worth looking into.

📸 by: @karynleigh89

46. Get with the right phone provider

Plan now to be on a phone provider that provides a travel friendly service. This isn’t always possible, but the UK’s 3 Mobile for example offers free international roaming in certain countries. Check traveller forums and facebook pages for the best country by country phone tips. No brainer.

47. Free Wi-Fi y’all

“Wi-Fi in some countries is expensive (and slow) so try a coffee shop or hostel (check first) to get connected for free.” – @KristyDoesStuff

If you’re looking to stay connected on the go, know what you’re getting into. Obviously some countries will only have very limited access, whereas in Japan or the USA you’ll be just fine. Gotta get those bars!

📸 by: Chris Oakley

48. Street food is cheap food

“Eating street food tends to be the cheapest way to feed yourself on a budget. There’s a lot of unnecessary fear around this. You can actually watch the food being prepared and cooked, so it’s better than being hidden away in a kitchen. Go for the stands that have a steady queue and freshly prepared food.” – @JohannaW

49. Let each city come to life

“Can’t afford to go clubbing? Grab a take away bottle of beer and enjoy the many street musicians. Guaranteed amazing entertainment till the wee hours!” – @KristyDoesStuff

50. Avoid taxis

“Always try and use public transport, over taxis, even when you arrive in a new country. Often the local metro or bus service is a fraction of the price of a taxi and is a great way of getting to grips with a new city straight away.” – @JohannaW

📸 by: @raquelalmeida_

51. Look for quirky transport

You don’t always have to take a bus or a train. Try local fishing boats, kayaks, trams, scooters, rickshaws etc. There’s certainly no good reason not to do a little exploring to find a way of getting around that you wouldn’t find back home, and often it’ll be a lot cheaper. Cable car anyone…?

📸 by: @mochilerostv

52. Check out the side streets

“When eating out, always explore the side-streets. It sounds obvious but if you’re in the main tourist drag expect to pay tourist prices. Check whether there’s an additional charge for sitting outside on a terrace, before you start eating.” – @JohannaW

📸 by:@ic.theworld

53. Pool hop

“Sometimes it pays to be a little sneaky. Like when staying in budget accommodation in SE Asia, the 5 star resorts will often let you use their pool for free so long as you buy a drink.” – @KristyDoesStuff

📸 by:@lola.photography

54. Sell as you go

Check local listings and hostel notice boards for all the latest classifieds. You might find it’s cheaper to buy a used vehicle, and then sell it when you’re done. “For example, if you’re done travelling Australia and need to sell your van, check out the backpacker car market in Kings Cross undercover car park.” – @KristyDoesStuff

55. Instagram tips

A less obvious source of budget travel tips is Instagram. Searching through hashtags like #budgettravel and following your favourite inspirational travellers will be invaluable to your planning.


Banner 📸 by:@TeeJayHughes

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9 Responses to “55 Genius Travel Hacks For When You’re Broke AF”

  1. So true. The world is an amazing place. Even in very hot destinations like Las Vegas, many nice casoinos, that cost a fortune, will let you use the pool while buying a drink. Be sure to properly rinse off afterwards.

    Other than this avoid casinos, as they a re designed to sucks almost every penny from you. “The house always wins,” is an understatement, plus many undesirable things happen within and around the casino areas.

    Just my personal thoughts. Traveling will give you that natural instinct, that sets the hair on the back of your neck, when a situation or area seems to be getting dodgy( not safe). Hostels and travelers can also provide some much needed recommendations, but realize that hostel owners in many places set you towards certain places, to get a cut of the profits.

    However, in some dingy places, it may well be the safest alternative. Example paying a referred taxi, along Central America, to catch a late night/early morning flight out of MGA/San Salvador/Liberia C.R. or Tegucigalpa.
    Only if you must travel solo at very late hours, like returning after medical or dental emergencies.

    Plus learn at least basic first aid. Carry a small zip locked bag with small rounded scissors, polysporin cream, a few different sized bandages or a rolled wrap, antiseptic wipes, a small tube of superglue, a small bag of petroleum jelly, and a small packet of MSG/white our meat tenderizer, which when mixed with water into a small paste, breaks down venom from insect bites, like ants. Hopefully you will not need it, but I have arched up many injured travelers. It’s such a small gram of prevention and invaluable.

    Buy any small kitchen knife at a market, maybe a dollar or two US.

    A few people will find that these items are great for garter, when you need to be flying out, and you are not checking luggage. Excelkent gift to another traveler who might be staying longer. Buying fruit, vegetables and cutting cheese, depending upon the country and region. Never have it concealed to avoid legal problems and keep it small inexpensive and secure.

    I stopped using flashlights/torches, as much as possible, but bringing a new one in, with a few extra batteries, could make a very nice sale to somebody who has lost one and is very dependent on artificial light. These are about $12US. Batteries $3-4US at a bulk hardware or dollar shop, Wal-mart, or eBay/Amazon.

    These items are very hard to find for newer travelers who will gladly pay $20. Every few dollars you save can go toward food or a museum/concert…

    I eat, seasonally and locally. Bananas, when in that region, yogurt as often as I can find it. Even in C.A., a package of 2, under $1US for locally made or international brands. Usually I opt for in-country. That along with my own filtered reusable water bottle and hot street food, has kept my system intact.

    Great responses. Sorry for the length.

  2. Awesome!
    We normally go to bars with happy hours; before happy hour ends we ask the bartender if we can order a couple more drinks and bring them up as happy hour price but get them afterwards; usually they agree and we stay longer but pay less 🍻

  3. Check the fridges in your hostel. There’s often a shelf for food donated by previous hostellers who didn’t want to take it with them. At one hostel I also saw a box of hosteller-donated clothing that anyone could take.

  4. I once used a VPN and also enabled incognito browsing just as recommended in this article, to buy a plane ticket when I intended to travel sometime back. I saved a good amount. What I actually did was, I simply checked where the ticket was cheapest by changing my IP and then opening the website with a different location. The very idea of this trick lies in making the website think that you are actually from another place although you are not. If you intend to repeat the same process again by changing to a different location, don’t forget to clear your cookies before browsing the same website. These websites use dynamic pricing so they increase prices everytime you visit.

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