International travel has changed in more ways that you could ever imagine over the last few decades, and people are now able to enjoy all the benefits of immersing themselves completely in a foreign culture (sometimes for weeks at a time) on a minimal budget. Even people working minimum wage jobs are commonly seen planning and embarking on adventures into vast regions around the world, not just a city or town for the weekend; you might have seen plenty of articles about the wonders of budget traveling already, but do their tips and tricks work?
The experience can vary person to person, of course, but so many of the methods that make budget traveling work are called into question all the time for no other reason than misinformation, while other supposed techniques are not worth your time at all. We want to dispel the most common budget travel myths and bring you the truth behind them, both the positive and the negative, so you know how to sort them out when preparing for your next vacation!
Myth #1: Budget traveling is only for the young and childless
This myth goes so far as to sometimes imply that unless you’re a young, single, and childless hotshot, there’s no place for you on the budget travel gang, but nothing could be further from the truth! Budget travelers are not some secret club that only allows a certain type of person; married couples with children, older people both before and after retirement, and even seniors can backpack around the world to their heart’s content, it’s just a matter of planning around their particular circumstances. The part about children is especially untrue; traveling as a family is not impossible if you choose to visit places that are both cheap and child-friendly (they do exist) and program enough resting stops along your backpacking route. Don’t think of it as an obstacle, but as a new way to see and move about the world. The same goes for everyone!
Myth #2: Big cities are too expensive and should be avoided
This is a two-parter: Yes, big cities like New York, Paris, and Tokyo tend to be more expensive than other destinations, but that is no reason to stay away from all that they have to offer. You might not be staying at a 5-star hotel and eating at all the fancy restaurants, but these cities also have extensive and affordable public transportation. Public transit allows you to stay at cheaper places that are still within city limits, the street food in all of them is both legendary and affordable, and some light research beforehand will show you that there are more budget-friendly things to do in them than you’ll know how to fit in your schedule. If you have a hard time controlling your expenses on the fly, there are plenty of apps that will do it for you; the bottom line is that there’s no excuse not to visit them!
Myth #3: Book flights early and rooms at the last minute
Some people advocate for booking their flights as early as possible, sometimes even almost a year in advance. For most airlines, though, this won’t save you that much money, since they list their prices at a premium, and it only gets reduced until six or seven weeks before the flight—this makes it the perfect time to book it, and not before. Yes, you might get a lucky shot at a last-minute seat opening, but your plans (and group) should be pretty flexible for that to work.
On the other hand, booking rooms early depends entirely on the kind of place you want to stay in. Most hotels want to fill all their rooms, so a last-minute booking for a short stay might net you a good discount while doing the same for a smaller place can mean that you’ll be out of a room.
Myth #4: Skip travellers insurance
Budget traveling does mean a lot of positive attitudes and learning how to make the best out of any situation, but skipping travelers insurance is pushing it too far! We certainly hope that you will not need it any time soon, but it certainly helps once you do (and eases the mind when you don’t); from car rental insurance to health insurance while abroad, many plans are pretty affordable if you stick to the basics, and can save you more than a couple of thousand if disaster strikes. Consult your insurance provider about travelers’ packages or research some alternative options based on the country you’re planning to visit.
Myth #5: Budget travelling is only for poor people
This is a sadly common thought among those who have never looked beyond the surface of budget traveling, and it’s even sadder when you think about how much they’re missing out on! Knowing how to plan a trip on a budget means is that you will focus on spending your money wisely instead of pouring it all on short, luxurious trips that don’t show you much of whatever place you’re visiting. Budget travelers and backpackers are in direct constant with the people and their culture, get to know more places overall, and generally have a more genuine experience anywhere in the world; that’s something that everyone should be able to enjoy! A more traditional approach to traveling is usually more sheltered, and while that’s OK too, where’s the sense of adventure?
We hope that now you’ll understand what makes budget travelling such a good option for most people without resorting to hearsay or half-baked myths that only serve to confuse people. It’s all about spending where it matters and saving the rest for your regular life back home, and we’re pretty sure you’ll be glad to see a clean, well-decorated home waiting for you after staying in a couple of hostels.