How To: Travel Without Breaking the Bank

Hello! We’re taking a bit of a break from the usual China posts today [only a few more days left to write about–so stay tuned for my pictures and musings on Shanghai, my favourite city from the tour!]

This is actually a bit of a life update as well. I mentioned this briefly in my first post about China, but I got into NYU! [and found out right when we landed back in the US.] I only applied to six schools and got into two, but I’m glad that NYU was one of them. I’ve committed, submitted my tuition deposit, and am pretty much ready to go!

…In about a year or so. Yep, the Big Bad Gap Year is finally taking place. Buuut that’s another matter entirely, and today we’re here to talk about every kid’s favourite time of year: summer!

My plans for this summer are pretty modest: I’m currently raising money to go with two of my friends to Seoul, South Korea! It’s nothing too radical–I’ve been there twice already, after all–but I’m incredibly excited because this will be my first truly independent trip. [Well, plus two of my friends.] I’ll be paying for my own ticket and accommodations, as well as everything else, and we’ll get to see the city at our own pace, instead of letting an adult drag us around! [Now I get to be the adult dragging everybody around–take that, mom and dad.]

The plans are still shaky, and I have a lot of money to raise without a ton of time, but we’re all determined to get to Korea this summer!

Now, that’s enough about me and my stuff. I figured I’d take some of what I’ve gathered from researching my own desperate scrabble for any coins I can find budgeting experience and share some tips and resources to help make your trip as easy on the wallet as possible. So, without further ado, let’s go!


1: Plane Tickets
Unfortunately, there’s no real way to go around this one. Unless you can walk across water, trans-Atlantic/Pacific flights are going to take a pretty big bite out of your funds. However, by trying to save as much as you can, you can still make your goal manageable!

-Use sites like SkyScanner and Expedia to find flights for the best price. There are a few other websites like these, so check all of them. Also, browse using Incognito mode when possible–sites like these will frequently remember your IP [or something computer-related] and raise their prices when you come back to book. I’m not sure if all of these sites do this, but it’s better to be safe.

Buy the flights that are inconvenient. [But not too inconvenient.] I mean, time zones are going to mess you up either way, so waking up at 2 AM isn’t that bad for you in the long run, right?? Either way, the reject flights–the ones with super early departure times and layovers and more–are worth the potential amount you can save.

If you’re going during the summer anyway, book a weekday. There are multiple articles that claim that flights on a Wednesday/Thursday are cheaper than other days of the week. It’s worth a shot?

Book early. The closer you get to the deadline, the higher the price, because the elasticity of your demand decreases as you get more desperate. [Thanks, AP Economics.]


2: Accommodations
This is more of a locational issue. You can absolutely stay in a nice hotel on a budget, if you’re in an area where hotels are cheap. However, there are some more reliably inexpensive options available, if you know where to look!

AirBNB: Always a crowd-pleaser, AirBNB allows users to rent out rooms/houses all over the world, usually at a heavily discounted price! I’ll be using it for my Seoul trip. Here’s $20 travel credit from me to start: every time you travel with AirBNB, I’l also get $20 in credit!

Hostels: I don’t know how much I can say about hostels, since I’ve never actually used a hostel service before, but I’ve heard both wonderful and awful things. The awfulness can probably be avoided if you do your research and keep your common sense about you, but they’re definitely a great option for those of you who don’t mind sleeping in a room full of strangers.

Research alternative options: Did you know that in South Korea, there are 24-hour public bathhouses, or jimjilbang, where you can sleep for a few nights for a couple won a day. Tons of unusual options like this exist–my dad actually spent about a month in Paris literally being homeless back in the nineties!


3: Food
COMMON. SENSE. If you’re budget traveling, don’t go to a fancy restaurant in Rome! Also, try to remember that the gastronomic culture of wherever you are is likely to be different from what you’re used to. Basically, don’t forget to keep an open mind and try new things! Instead, try:

Street food: I’ll never understand the stigma against street food. As long as you know where it’s coming from [try to keep an eye on the chef] it’s a cheap and delicious way to feed yourself, as well as a great way to get to know the country better! A general rule of thumb is to go where the locals go, and if anything seems particularly suspicious, a quick Google search won’t hurt, either!

Convenience stores/supermarkets: Unlock the starving college student within yourself and hit up some local marts. [Convenience stores are big in most of developed east Asia and have tons of cheap options.] Try to see what you can find! The food quality won’t be as great, but it’ll definitely be cheaper.

The freakin’ internet: Nowadays, it’s your greatest resource, especially when it comes to food. Just google ‘cheap food in [insert city here]’ and you’re bound to get some results that’ll keep your belly and your wallet happy and full!

And finally, I present to you a super neat and helpful graphic with some extra hacks to save while you roam! Huge thanks to Personal Capital for the great tips!


I’m always looking for new members for my travel blogging group, so if you’re a travel blogger, or want to get started and need some advice, check out the info here! 

Also, I now have an official email subscription list! If you subscribe, you’ll be updated every time I make a new post, and you’ll have access to fun things like virtual postcards, random weird stories, and ‘secret’ photography! Subscribe here!


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