How to take the cheapest trip of your life

Budapest views, from a cruise on the Danube I took for $10

You’re broke and you want to travel. It seems impossible if you think about traveling traditionally and spending thousands of dollars in a few weeks…but there’s good news. You can have a week or longer vacation for under $1000. Ya, you read that right. And yes, this is for trips outside of the good ole U.S.A.

I’ve learned how to spend next to nothing to see the world. My last trip was 15 days and included 6 countries across Europe. I spent less than $1500, including air travel, hotels, food, and drinks….lots of drinks. Seems impossible, but when you know what you’re doing you can see the world on a tight budget.

1. Airfare

The most important part of a trip and usually expensive. There are a few ways, however, you can find the cheapest airfare available.

Either book long in advance or days in advance, if your schedule allows it. Start looking at flights months ahead, and track the prices. If you have an available schedule, or work remotely, you can find flights leaving in a few days for next to nothing. This is when airlines are scrambling to fill seats.

Use I have no affiliation with them but they are the best website I have ever found to get cheap flights. I booked my last trip to Europe for around $400, and even got a direct flight on the way back. They tell you the cheapest days to fly along with the cheapest prices. I’ve found round trip flights to Isreal, France, and Colombia, all for around $400. The airlines won’t be fancy and you definitely aren’t getting any free beverages, but the savings are worth it.

2. Hotels

Staying in hotels is generally expensive, and there are plenty of websites you can use to find cheaper places. The first and only time I’ve ever used couchsurfing, I stayed with a creepy old man on the outskirts of Oslo and ended up running away at 5 am in 36 degree weather. Never. Again. If you’re a dude and someone is willing to let you couchsurf, cool. If you’re a single lady, I’d advise against it.

That being said, I’ve had tremendous success with Airbnb, which is especially cheap if you’re booking months in advance. I’ve found places as low as $20 per night that fit 2 people, coming out to just $10 per person, per night. Compare hotels, hostels, and Airbnb to find out what the cheapest is for the number of people you have. If you’re traveling alone, a hostel is usually the most cost effective. For larger groups, an Airbnb should be relatively cheap per person.

Use the Hotel Tonight app. It’s great for last minute deals on hotels and you can book right on the app. It’s great for last minute planners like myself!

3. Sightseeing

Depending on where you go, you might want to take a walking tour or do some touristy things in a city. The best way I’ve gotten to do this cheaply is by taking free tours and using my very outdated student ID to get discounts on museums and other notable destinations in a city. Just search on google “free walking tours _____”

A lot of cities have these walking tours with local guides who will show you what you should do and where you should be. You should definitely tip them, though. If there are no free tours, Google will usually offer a map of the best things to do in a city and where to walk around.

Book excursions online. It will be much cheaper and faster than going to the kiosk. Often times, websites will have deals you can’t find in person.

4. food and drink

Surprisingly and lucky for me, most foreigners also believe in happy hour and ladies’ nights. As far away as Bangkok, I’ve sipped on free margaritas because of some investigative work on which bars had ladies night. Once again, Google is your friend here.

It’s a lot cheaper in most places to eat than in the U.S, so be glad. Many countries also have open liquor laws, so you can sip your champagne on the way to the club, instead of being overcharged inside. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars by stopping at a grocery to pick up some cheap drinks before heading out. If you’re lucky, you can even sneak it inside with you.

Some cities will have pub crawls, which are a great bang for your buck and where you can meet other travelers. I’ve paid between $15-$25 and gotten a lot in return.

Food wise, avoiding the most touristy streets should be good enough to save you a pretty penny when dining out. My rule of thumb is if everyone around you is speaking English, go somewhere else.

5. Transportation

You’ll need someway to get around once you’ve touched down in your country of choice and there are some very cheap options at your disposal. Unfortunately, LYFT is only in the US right now, but Uber is in a slew of countries and generally pretty cheap. There are some cheaper options, however, if you’re willing to put some effort into it.

In many countries, Google Maps will have a transportation option that you can use to find busses and trains to get around. A lot of places also don’t check your ticket when you get on, so if you’re willing to take a risk, you can even ride for free. I’ve been caught once so far, but only had a fine of $30, so it was definitely worth it to me.

Some large cities, like Vienna, have transportation apps where you type in where you are and where you want to go and can find the fastest or cheapest way to get there.

If you’re going on longer journeys and need a train or bus, there are also apps for that. In Europe, I always use to compare prices between the bus and train from city to city.

A few last tips:

· Don’t use I’ve tried them a few times and their customer service and refund policy are horrible. You can find better.

· Don’t forget to bring everything with you so you aren’t spending a lot to replace items you already have. Make a list before you go.

· If you’re using maps to walk somewhere, take screenshots if you lose internet or the app goes down. If you can follow street signs, you’ll make it to your destination.

· has the best all-inclusive packages I’ve been able to find to the area, many including food and drink at the resorts….aka limitless pińa coladas.

· If you’re booking a cruise, call to do it! You can ask for a lot more freebies and many times the agents are allotted a certain amount and can give out drink packages and other things you won’t find online.

Happy traveling!