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10 Tips for Traveling Without a Budget3

By Rebecca Leib

10 Tips for Traveling Without a Budget

As Jack Kerouac said, “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” Of all people, Kerouac should know that traveling is no easy feat for the frugal. Lots of expenses start to add up: flights, food, drinks, souvenirs, Internet cafes, even cell phone fees and the occasional baguette. It’s pretty daunting – if you’re like me and live off of Ramen noodles half of the year.

But there IS hope! Proof of it is in Peter Bragiel’s series, In Transit, which highlights his adventurous journey from Los Angeles to the Panama Canal via public transportation. It’s 4,000 miles, 7 countries and daring as hell, but that’s what it takes to see the world on a budget. And often, trying something a little out of the ordinary usually adds to the adventure. I think Kerouac would agree with Bragiel: It’s about the journey… not the destination.

Here are some tips that might inspire you to bust open the piggy bank and travel the world without a real budget.

InTransit – Episode 1 – Leaving Los Angeles

1. Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun

Much of the time, transportation tickets are cheaper when purchased for two or more people. So travel with a buddy or find a stranger and buy tickets together (but don’t forget – stranger danger!). You can really find some savings over the course of your travels for things like trains, planes, sightseeing opportunities and hostels when doubling up.

2. Know When to Buy

Knowing when to buy the cheapest tickets can save you money – a lot of money. Everyone knows that airline tickets are cheapest when purchased months in advance; but did you know that ticket pricing is especially low on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for morning flights? Know why? There’s a lull in purchasing those days because people aren’t traveling into the weekend or fresh off of one. And generally, mornings are unpopular flight times. For more details, check out: air travel tips.

3. Use the Internets

Many people still fear paying for things via electronic transaction and prefer to buy directly from a person or over the phone. Crazy; right? Not really. The Internet generally offers the best deals and promotions, so you should skip calling and book via the web. If you don’t recognize the site you’re on, you can search dozens of travel forums and ask for advice. The best part of making your travel plans online, however, is the fact that you have millions of people available to give you the inside scoop… for free!

4. Try a Fixed-Cost Trip

Another way to save money is to book a fixed-cost trip, or a trip that is all-inclusive – buffet, anyone? All-inclusive programs that lump meals and activities together with the room price and airfare keep your costs down – way down. So check out resort packages, cruises and group tours for the many combinations of all-inclusive goodness. *Make sure to check whether or not alcohol is included – this can be a game-changer if you want to imbibe while away.

5. Think Globally, Eat Locally

The cost of meals can really add up while you’re travelling. Why not buy good, fresh, cheap foods at the local grocery store? Chances are your food will be just as good and wayyy cheaper than going to a restaurant. Grab a baguette, some cheese and a bottle of wine and sit in the park while laughing at the tourists who are paying $20 for spaghetti and meatballs.

6. Reconsider Driving

Going somewhere on the continent? If so, don’t rule out driving. For help figuring out whether your trip will be cheaper via plane or car, check out Costtodrive.com, which compares the cost of flying to the cost of driving to any given destination. You can also put in the make and model of your car to get extra-accurate results – if you’ve got a hybrid, it might mean the difference between airport delays or your favorite playlist in your own car. Plus, driving creates opportunities for spontaneous stops and additional scenery.

7. Be Flexible

Believe it or not, being flexible regarding your dates and times can save you boatloads of cash. Certain destinations, like the Carribbean, Ireland, and Aruba, offer special deals. For Fall travel, the Caribbean Islands offer deals during their hurricane season – often sporting some of the best weather of the year. In Ireland, the recession is hitting hard, so tickets are dirt-cheap. Think about it – you could experience a hurricane or an Irish recession! That’d be a story to tell the family when you get back! (Or you could just brag about the low cost of your trip.)

8. Know the Local Transportation

Travelers should investigate the best way to get from the airport to their hotel. The commute to and from the airport is one of the most common situations in which travelers get ripped off. People overpay for transportation because they don’t know where they are going and what the value of the local currency really is. Know your local currency, exchange rate, distances and available options (bus, train, cab). If in doubt, go to a travel forum like TripAdvisor.com and ask what you should be paying.

9. Know Your Rental Car Info

Most people don’t have much brand loyalty toward rental-car companies, which means travelers can save money by booking rental cars through sites like Hotwire or Priceline, which don’t tell travelers who they’re renting from until after a reservation is placed. At the same time, many people don’t realize that they can also wave collision damage coverage if they are already insured by their personal policy. Call your insurance provider and ask before the rental company scares you into an unnecessary cost.

10. Be Frugal but Don’t Be Stupid

Being frugal while traveling does not mean sacrificing the experience. There are many free museums around the world, but if you have to pay to see your all-time favorite painting, do it! Being cost-effective is about saving on the unimportant things – like airfare – so that you can splurge on rare opportunities. So, when you travel, get cost effective on most things, but treat yourself to those things that will create a life-long memory. You’re on vacation!

InTransit – Episode 2 – Tijuana Mexico

InTransit – Episode 1 – Caborca Mexico

Watch more episodes of the bare-bones globetrotting series InTransit

Rebecca Leib is an artist, writer and comedian living in Los Angeles. She has a BFA in Fine Arts and a MFA in Writing. When she’s not writing fascinating top ten lists, she is performing improv, making art, writing about pop culture, writing about art, riding horses, writing about literature, writing fiction, writing, writing, writing. Check her out at RebeccaLeib.com.

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Must Reads 4/18/2014