how to travel cheap


Having been ‘on the road’, as they say, with my three children since 2010, I know a thing or two about doing it cheaply. And no matter how experienced a traveler you become, there’s always more you can learn. So, without further ado, here are my top 10 budget-friendly essential tips when traveling with children:

1. Plan Sensibly

When planning a trip to multiple destinations, always begin budgeting for the cheapest place.This allows you to manage your budget, spend as much as you need in the cheap places and know exactly how much you have left to spend on the expensive ones. Include in your budget planning the ‘invisible’ extras, such as renting a safety car seat for your little ones or an extra bed at the hotel. If you plan for those in advance they cease to be ‘additional costs’, instead becoming a budgeted expense.

2. Limit Luggage

If the kids are old enough, you should limit them to a bag or suitcase each, and tell them that’s all they’re allowed to bring back. Not only will this help save money on the holiday itself, as it will mean you can’t shop for unnecessary items, it will also prevent confusion at the airport and on every other form of transportation.

One piece of luggage per person

3. Embrace the Flight

Contrary to popular belief, there’s actually no need to bring special games for the kids as most planes have a “children’s kit” which includes things like a coloring book and games that can keep them entertained for hours.

4. Location, Location, Location

Book a hotel that is close to public transportation, grocery shops and small restaurants. Many big hotels and resorts are very isolated, so you have no choice but to eat in their overpriced restaurant and take an expensive taxi if you ever want to go somewhere else in the area. A few months ago, when we went to Bangkok (which is considered to be one of the more expensive destinations in Southeast Asia), we found a homestay in a local neighborhood. With easy access to all the local restaurants, market, grocery stores, sky train station and even a laundromat (not to mention the cheap traditional Thai massage!), we managed to spend $50 a day for all four of us.

5. Handy Hotel Essentials

We always carry some basic kitchen equipment with us, such as a knife, peeler and chopping board so we can buy our own fruits and vegetables in the market and not pay the ridiculous restaurant prices for a fruit salad.

Cut your own fruit salad

Tip: If you are a coffee lover (like me :-)), I strongly recommend you to pack your own coffee maker. It will make your life sooo much better, and even save you few bucks every day. I like my French Press Coffee Maker, because all you need for a great coffee break is hot water. But this Portable Espresso Maker looks very good, too. 

6. SIM City

Always buy local SIM cards. It saves a fortune on communications as you can always call each other cheaply. It is also advisable to get the local data pack to save on internet, too.

7. Attractions and Local Information

Always go to the local Tourist Information Center before deciding which attractions you’re going to partake in, as they’re always well-informed and can tell you which ones, are worth the visit and which are not. The free maps are always a plus, and you might even get lucky with a discount ticket or package deal! Let each family member choose one attraction that they really want to go to, and after that see if you have the budget for more. Anything left after that is a bonus.

Choose the attractions with your head

8. Fun with Food

Ignite the kids’ curiosity about the local cuisine and snacks as it will always be cheaper and, in most cases, much healthier and tastier. It is, after all, what the locals know how to make best! Mix and match between eating at cheap, local places most of the time and treating yourself to more expensive, “fun” restaurants every couple of days. You could even take the main course to go from the more expensive restaurant, and all the drinks and side dishes from much cheaper places, and eat it all in your room. A top-notch meal for half the cost and in your pajamas? What could be better?!

try the local cuisine

9. Save on Souvenirs

It’s always nice to bring gifts of local products back home, but never buy them at the tourist gift shops as they are extremely overpriced. Instead, go to the local market for gifts and, if at all possible, take a local friend with you to help barter down the price!

Tip: I don’t know anyone who is not worried about losing his valuables during his vacation. It can be your camera, your cell phone, your wallet/passports or even your whole suitcase. If you want to make sure that this doesn’t happen, just attach these stickers to anything of value, and you will be able to locate it in minutes.

10. Say Cheese

Ok, now for the cheesy bit. In my personal experience, the best budget essential for family travel is just having the kids! You’ll find that everyone is much friendlier, more welcoming and will even let your kids try a bit of everything for free. Teach your kids a few words in the local language (hello, thank you, goodbye), and you’ll be amazed at the doors they open which both lower the cost of your trip and enrich it tenfold.

Bring your kids

Need more ideas regarding how to travel on a budget with your family? Check out my eBook available for download on Amazon here!

This article originally appeared on Skyscanner

For cheap flights try also this link

The short guide: Bangkok on $50 a day, Singapore on a lot less, and every other destination you dream of.

Croissant in Paris, ice-cream in Florence, sushi In Tokyo, padthai in Bangkok. Yes, India is nice, but sometimes we want to go overboard. Relax in those places whose tempting pictures just pop out whenever we open Facebook… even though we really don’t have enough money to go there.

But maybe we do?

I travel on a very low budget. $60 a day is a lot for me. And usually it doesn’t even get that high.
But sometimes I feel like I had enough of remote villages, local busses and pictures of Gali milking a buffalo with her little hands. No matter how much I love it.
So how do I manage to sneak the padthai in there, without going overboard?

Not a problem.

Here is the short guide on how to travel in places we simply can’t afford:

1. Those destinations aren’t in the plan. They come in when possible. When it fits. Not on purpose.

2. Flight: the best way to sneak them in “without meaning to” is to squeeze them between two cheap destinations. Either coming or going.
For example:

A. A flight from Vietnam to the Philippines costs the same whether it’s direct, or with a layover in Singapore. And three days in Singapore are a must. Here is an example:

A flight from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam, to Cebu, Philippines:


On the other hand, a flight from Saigon to Singapore:


And from Singapore to Cebu:


Meaning a direct flight costs $142 (and it’s not a good flight, meaning we’re likely to choose a better one that costs $231). Compared with a great flight, with a layover in Singapore, the whole way, Vietnam-Singapore-Cebu, costing a grand total of $123.

B. A flight from the Philippines to Hong-Kong or Japan, round trip, is sometimes so cheap that it hurts missing the opportunity. Keep your finger on the trigger, because for every destination there is one ‘best friend’ destination, and the flights there are very cheap.

C. Bangkok, for example, is a central destination, where a lot of flights stop anyway, you can split the flight to your comfort, book a flight to Bangkok, spend 3-4 days there and continue to your final destination, with a local ‘lowcost’ airliner. There’s even a chance the whole thing will cost less than a direct flight. .

D. Another example- from Israel to Vienna, three sweet days in Vienna, and from there a train to Italy. I’ve done it. It was wonderful. Even brought my dog.

Always check what might be on your way. What can happen if you looked, without raising the costs of the flight and in the most practical, efficient, and adventurous way. Be creative.

3. The amount of time in that destination we can’t afford needs to be very limited. 3-4 days max.

4. Accommodation: after neutralizing the cost of flights, we need to take care of accommodation costs. Example:

A. here is what I do. I never pay for accommodation in an expensive destination. Zero is the new sum total.

B. hospitality clubs- search now in google: write down the name of your specific destination followed by hospitality club. These are clubs that offer free hosting, even for families. Here is one such website.

C. Homestay- same principle, only for a symbolic payment. And it’s not just a place to sleep, you also get guidance and advice from a local (read below what fun we had in Bangkok). Here is one website, and here is another (there’s tons).

D. frequent traveler points- many of the clubs have not only flights but also discounts and packages on hotels. That is the time to use them.

5. Food: easiest and cheapest solution is to not eat for a few days.

But if you really have to, or if the kids insist…

I always eat at the most local places I can find. With the host’s help I can find the most authentic restaurants in the local prices. Don’t let the eye popping lists confuse you “10 best restaurants in Barcelona” don’t interest me, in fact, I don’t look for or waste my time on those lists.

You don’t have to visit the expensive restaurants just to fill a checklist of the destination. The opposite. Go eat with the locals, and see what ‘check’ you’ll feel you did…

and when you come back home and they’ll ask you if you ate at the famous ‘Sultana’, you’ll have a fascinating story about the small restaurant you found where they greeted you so nicely because they’re not used to tourists and they let you taste from this and from that and showed you how that red drink turns purple when you add lemon and when they saw you excited that made you they gave you a taste from that drink whose name, despite every good intention, you just can’t remember but they make it on the spot from some really pretty flower and in the end they didn’t even want to take any money for the meal because Gali is so sweet and reminds them of their daughter when she was her age but of course you paid… and they asked you come tomorrow also and they’ll make something really special, and bring the older kids too, so we can get to know them… 🙂 ~true story

In addition, because I often stay in fully furnished apartments, I prefer to cook at home something tasty and nutritious, and buying the ingredients at the local supermarket is for me an experience into itself.

6. Attractions and luxuries:

Alright, since we managed to eliminate the costs of flight, accommodation, and half of food expenses- you can treat yourself to some attractions, that good ice-cream, and maybe even some shopping.

Also- it’s always worth your time to google your destination together with “free” and “things to do for free” you’ll be surprised how many results you’ll get.

And to close, a recent example:

The plan was to get from Nepal to Vietnam. We split that in two: Nepal-Bangkok, stay three days in Bangkok, and then fly Bangkok-Vietnam.

Accommodation: I booked homestay rooms through Airbnb with the Thai man O. the price was $40 a night for two rooms, but as I said, I didn’t pay for them at all.

Food: we only ate in local restaurants that our host took us to. The food was amazing, the price was about 150-200 baht a meal ($5-6)

We did laundry in the neighborhood for 20 baht per load, $0.5.

Transportation: we took taxis or the sky train (42 baht for the most expensive ticket). The taxis in Bangkok aren’t expensive, especially for a family.

Experiences: we went with our charming host to tours in the city, including Chinatown, the floating market, the palace, and more. In the evening he took the teenager with him to the local pub, to watch the season finale of a popular that gameshow, meet his friends and see the real lives of the locals.

I and my older daughter went on a shopping journey…

Of course we went to have real Thai massage, every evening, in the small neighborhood parlor. I paid 450 baht for me and my two daughters for an hour ($13 altogether)

We got 3 amazing days that left us with new friends, exciting experiences, and lots of new knowledge, great stories, and a good taste.

I paid less than $50 a day, on average.

As you can see, it is possible to travel large on a small budget, even as a family. Please click and download my new ebook “How to travel with kids for 1400$ a month (or less)”.

And you can always try this airline which I usually find very cheap.

“it’s not your salary that makes you rich, it’s your spending habits” –Charles A. Jeffe

Money is a drug, that is something everyone knows. But unlike other drugs, it’s not enough to have it. You have to know what to do with it before it does you any good.

Most commercials know this very well and hence work on exactly that point. If you buy me, you’ll be happy. Your life will be better. And we usually believe them. And buy. And there’s a momentary high. And then you have to buy something else to get another high and so on and so on.

When dreaming of journeys, travels, experiences not of this world, there’s no choice but to set free of that way of thinking. Rehabilitate. Blog after blog written by experienced travelers from all over the world talk about a basic understanding of money as a tool for buying experiences, nothing more.

Rolf Potts writes about it in his book Vagabonding :

.“Of all the outrageous throughaway lines one hears in movies there is one that stands out for me. It doesn’t come from a madcap comedy, an esoteric science-fiction flick, or a special effect-laden action thriller. It comes from Oliver Stone’s ‘Wall Street’ when the Charlie Sheen character- a promising bigshot in the stock market- is telling his girlfriend about his dreams ‘I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I’m thirty and get out of this racket’, he says, ‘I’ll be able to ride my motorcycle across China’.

“When I first saw this scene on video a few years ago, I nearly fell out of my seat in astonishment. After all, Charlie Sheen or anyone else could work for eight months as a toilet cleaner and have enough money to ride a motorcycle across china. Even if they didn’t yet have their own motorcycle, another couple of scrubbing toilets would earn them enough to buy one when they get to china.

The thing is, most Americans probably wouldn’t find this movie scene odd. For some reason, we see long-term travel to faraway lands as a recurring dream or an exotic temptation, but not something that applies to the here and now. Instead- out of our insane duty to fear, fashion, and monthly payment on things we don’t really need- we quarantine our travels to short, frenzied bursts. In this way, we throw our wealth at an abstract notion called “lifestyle,” travels become just another accessory- a smooth edged, encapsulated experience that we purchase the same way we buy clothing and furniture”.

How much money is really needed to travel?

In order to look at this question from the right perspective we first need to ask a few more questions.

How much money does our routine maintenance cost? Bills, taxes, mortgage, insurance, cables, vehicle (including fixes, fuel, and parking), college/school fee and expenses/babysitter, housemaid (including cleaning materials), lawn. All those ‘invisible’ expenses we don’t even see.

How much money do we spend for nothing, supposedly, on gathering things that 95% of the time we don’t use, or things we bought only because they were ‘on sale’?

How much money do we spend on things we don’t really need, but the very act of buying makes us feel good (how many bugs do you need? How many shoes? Coats? Jeans? Wine glasses? Silverware? Vases? Decorative pillows? Types of lipstick? Smelly nothings for the bathroom? And more and more…)

And the most important question: what of all these things really makes us happy? On our deathbed, when we look back in nostalgia, what of all these things will make us smile? Laugh? Get excited?

If we go back to the original question, how much money is really needed to travel, the answers are many. Just for example, there is a family of three that has been travelling the world for a few years on 23$ a person a day. Another family, Israeli, of four, is travelling for 15 years on an average of 850$ a month. Us, we’re travelling on an average of 15$ a person a day.

The most important thing about the money issue is the decision that it is possible. You can basically travel, even with kids, on almost any budget. 

Just recently we were interviewed for a TV show and the reporter asked us about it. My 15 year old daughter answered- ‘it’s not about WHAT you have, it’s about HOW MANY of them you have. I have everything I need, inside my own private mochilla bag, but I don’t have tens of the same stuff. I have one or two”.

If you want to learn how to do it, download my Ebook and read all about it.