Planning a trip can be both overwhelming and exciting. It requires a thorough search, time, and commitment. The hardest part when you plan a trip is where to start, how to find a cheap airline ticket, and the desire to see it ALL. Therefore, here are my tried and tested tips to plan a trip on a budget.
Tips plan a trip on a budget
Usually, when I travel, I like to wander the streets, find hidden gems, and experience the country like a local. I am not a big museum fan, so I eliminate museum hunt most of the time. However, there are some types I like to go to, like the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, or the Chernobyl Museum in Kyiv.
And I plan all my trips, without the help of a travel agency or anyone, I have developed some hacks I want to share with you. So let’s get into this!
Find your destination
First and for most, decide where you want to go. Skyscanner has this great feature, where you put your location and chose “flexible” in the “To” section. It gives you all the possibilities where you can go from your area. After you decide your destination, this is where the fun part – planning – starts. Well, at least that’s quite fun for me :)
Google your destination
Ask our very old, good friend Google to show you the top things to do in your destination and look at the best season to go there. It will be cheaper if you plan a trip in the low season when the price of accommodation drops.
For instance, when I planned my trip to Croatia, I searched for top cities in the country. I wrote down every town I wanted to visit. My first destination had to be Dubrovnik, so I had to figure out the route accordingly.
Find out if you need a visa
We all have a privilege to travel to some countries visa-free, but there are others we do require to file documents with the nearest embassy. One of the tips to plan a trip on a budget is to look up the visa requirements of the country you plan to visit. I usually search on Wikipedia and then double-check the webpage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Counselor Department. In case I need one, I use iVisa to apply for an e-visa or visa on arrival ahead of time.
Pin destinations on the map
Once I wrote down all the places to visit in Croatia, I looked them up on Google Maps. I knew I wanted to island-hop and go along the coast of the country. I knew I had to end my trip to Zagreb, so I created a perfect trip, that included most of the destinations I had listed before.
Buy tickets as early as possible
Airline tickets can be the most expansive aspect of your trip. Therefore, buy it at least four months ahead is a great idea. I bought my tickets for almost seven months before, and I paid the lowest price I have ever spent
Read posts of travel bloggers
This is one of my favorite tips to plan a trip on a budget – reading other posts on the destination and getting the idea of what to expect. Pinterest is an excellent way to find interesting spots and places in your destination. Thanks to it, I found a small town Trogir in Croatia that I haven’t seen in other articles I searched on Google.
Besides, you can find posts on pretty much anything, such as where to eat, how to get to a particular place, what are free things you can do, etc.
Search for public transportation
Looking up the internal transportation system is another essential part of your planning. As you identify which places you want to see, search how to get there. If necessary purchase tickets in advance to avoid sold out tickets on trains and buses or paying overpriced for last-minute purchases.
As neither I nor Oto drive, I looked for buses and ferries that would take us to the islands and cities. Moreover, this will help you identify the budget for transportation.
Find the accommodation
If you are traveling alone, the best and cheapest for you would be hostels. I love staying at hostels where I can meet like-minded people. Sometimes I even get tips from fellow travelers on particular spots I am planning to visit.
When traveling with a group of friends, Airbnb is the best option. And if you don’t have an account yet, you can get up to $34 off your first stay from me.
I also tend to search for my accommodation at Booking.com when I am short on money and can’t pay reservation or total fees right away. Many lodgings listed at Booking.com have free cancellation and pay at the property rule; this comes handy quite often.
Moreover, once you book five accommodation options, you become a Genius member and instantly get a 10% discount along with other perks like late check-in or check-out, welcome drink, etc.
Buy travel insurance ahead of time
Travel insurance is not only a necessity to have but a requirement when visiting some countries. Depending on where do you live, buying travel insurance from your local company might get expensive. I find SafetyWing travel insurance to be very affordable, flexible, and easy to purchase. Created by digital nomads, you can adjust their travel insurance to particular days of your travels.
Read a detailed guide to the SafetyWing insurance compared to other travel insurance providers.
Estimate travel budget
When planning a trip, I write down prices of everything including airplane tickets, public transportation, attraction entrance fees, tour fees if I plan on taking any, etc. I try to determine prices for groceries by asking Google the cost of living at the destination I plan on visiting. This gives me a rough idea of the travel budget I would need. Then I add everything up and see how much it would be in total. If it exceeds the amount I was aiming for, I start to eliminate things or try to come up with ideas on how to save more money.
Start the preparation process
I like to spread out my expenses so I don’t have to pay all at once. First, I buy airline tickets, as they could be the most expensive thing when planning a trip. Afterward, I book the accommodation, either via Airbnb or Booking.com depending on where I am going and how much difference is there between an apartment and a room in a medium-range hotel. Then, I purchase all the other tickets or tours if needed.
I also think of items I will need for my trip to purchase in advance. For example for my last big trip, I needed a new backpack, travel insurance, several essential travel items, and some GoPro accessories.
Don’t put everything to the last minute. Start buying those things as early as possible. This way you will be able to save some money for the trip as well.