>  Advice   >  Best budget travel tips

Mention travelling on a budget and you will likely hear sorry tales involving dodgy dining and diabolical hotels. But not from me. After many years spent travelling with a wallet substantially smaller than my desire to see the world, I have discovered there are many ways to travel like a king while paying like a pauper. Here are my best budget travel tips for saving money while you are on the road. All it takes is a little planning and creativity and you too can enjoy a memorable holiday without breaking the bank.

Cook up a storm

Not many people think ‘cooking class’ when it comes to dining out but these provide a wonderful and surprisingly cost effective way to enjoy good food and learn about the local culture at the same time. Your new found cooking skills also make for a wonderful souvenir to take home.

Timing is everything

Sunday is often the cheapest night so for short breaks consider taking your extra day off on a Monday instead of a Friday. Another option is to stay at city hotels on weekends when the business travellers have gone home and visit weekend leisure getaways during the week. Not only is the rate substantially cheaper, you’ll also likely have the place to yourself. Taking a night flight on a full-service airline saves on food and accommodation and also has you arriving at your destination bright and early (albeit more red-eyed than bright-eyed).

Dine at the best places in town

Lunch is almost always cheaper than dinner especially at upmarket restaurants with a strong evening trade. Keep an eye out for specials designed to get people through the door for this traditionally quieter sitting.

Paper Crane
Dine at the best restaurants in town

Go coupon crazy

Many restaurants and local attractions offer online coupons that can knock hundreds off your next holiday. Start by checking the website of the place you want to visit. If you don’t have any luck there do a Google search for coupons online. When you arrive at your destination it’s also worth checking the local visitor guide for clip out offers, particularly in the States where coupons are king.

Shop at a local market

Self-catering is easy on the budget and helps travellers better appreciate a destination’s culinary landscape. A trip to the local farmers’ market makes for an enjoyable outing and provides all you need for a picnic.

Vietnam woman
Shop at a market

Stand up and save

Many European cafes charge extra to sit down, something the locals seldom do. Enjoy that espresso at the bar instead and you’ll soon save enough for a second cup.

Night owls and early birds get the cheapest airfares

Early morning and late night departures generally offer the best value anywhere in the world, particularly if you’re flying domestically.

Bunk down at a backpackers

The fact that backpackers are often called ‘youth hostels’ is a misnomer as they’re popular with travellers of all ages. Opt for a private room instead of the dorm and make the most of free extras like continental breakfast and wi-fi (no self-respecting backpacker is willing to pay for internet access).

Stay longer and save

Wherever you decide to sleep it is almost always cheaper to stay longer. Ask if there are discounts for week long bookings or complimentary upgrades to the next room category for longer stays.

Want some tips that save time, money and your sanity when you’re flying or at the airport? Check out our suggestions for how to pass the time at an airport with kids, how to access airline lounges (even if you’re not a member), and how to make the most of a stopover.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.