Lisa Owen

Wanting to travel on a tight budget so you can discover as many overseas destinations as possible? It really is possible to travel on a budget. In some popular tourist destinations across the world, such as South East Asia, it’s way cheaper for me to travel than to live in my home country of Australia, and I can get away with seeing the world for less than £90 a week!

Check out my top travel tips to help you travel on a budget during your next globetrotting adventure.

Stay in hostels or use AirBnB

If you’re a budget traveller, this is an easy one. Hostels not only offer a place to sleep but provide you with a kitchen to prepare meals, WiFi, a chance to meet like-minded travellers from all over the world, and sometimes activities such as free walking tours or movie nights.

It depends where in the world you are, but it’s possible to get a bed in a hostel dorm for under £7 across South East Asia and even Eastern Europe. You just have to share a room with a bunch of other travellers.

If you don’t like the idea of sharing, many hostels also offer private rooms for a budget price – you may just have to share a bathroom. Or you can go one up and get a place in a homestay or guesthouse.

There are many top rate hostels and other low cost accommodation options out there and or HostelWorld are great resources. Check out the reviews before booking to check out the cleanliness, atmosphere, location and security. Avoid anywhere that has a mention of bedbugs, and if sleep is a priority, you can also usually tell in the reviews if it’s a party place or has a more chilled vibe.

hostel in turkey


If you really want to save some money, Couchsurfing is a good option. Couchsurfing is another great way to meet like-minded people and you stay for free. The idea behind couchsurfing is not just for travellers to have a cheap place to stay, but connect with locals and share your travel stories. So sit down with your host for a meal or a drink – they’re generally happy to have a chat if they’re free and you’ll probably get some great travel tips about the place you’re visiting.

Find a couch to stay on (or often you might even get a private room) at Couchsurfing works on references – I usually look for people with at least a handful of recent references.

Check the free food shelf at hostels

It’s your first night in a new hostel, you’re hungry, on a budget, and you’re about to head to the supermarket. Before you go, make sure you check the free food shelf at your hostel to see if there’s anything you need.

Travellers often leave behind staples such as milk, bread, butter and pasta – rebuying all this stuff every time you get into a new city can get expensive, so stop food wastage and see if there’s anything you can take before you head to the supermarket. If you need to buy food, pick it up from a supermarket rather than the local convenience store – prices are much cheaper at the supermarket.


Use the app is one of my favourite travel apps – and fits in with the money saving theme because you don’t need data to use it once the country map is downloaded. Also because you might find you can easily walk to where you want to go rather than using a taxi or public transport.

Use WiFi at your accommodation to download the country map to your phone or tablet. It’s really easy to use, you just type in where you want to go and it will find the best driving or walking route based on your location to your accommodation, the supermarket or top sightseeing sites.

street buildings

Take advantage of free WiFi

You’ll find WiFi at your hostel – it’s basically unheard of these days for accommodation not to have some sort of WiFi. Most times it works brilliantly – not always in your room but it’s not hard to hang out in the hostel foyer to check your Facebook and then get back to exploring.

But if you’re out and about, you’ll usually find free WiFi at McDonalds, Starbucks and often shopping centres. Some countries also have free WiFi in their city centre areas – and many restaurants also have WiFi for customers. And 9 times out of 10, airports have free WiFi.

If you do want to be connected more than WiFi allows, buy a SIM card in the country you’re visiting - you can usually pick one up at airports as you come into arrivals area.


Explore on foot

It’s an obvious one, but you can save a lot of money by walking and not always taking public transport. If it’s a city on the small side especially – hit the footpath and explore. Some of the most interesting sights I’ve found are because I hit the streets! Plus exercise means you can indulge more on the local food.

I walked everywhere in Vietnam – I remember clocking up 20km in one day walking around Hanoi. It meant that I ate all those yummy banh mi sandwiches guilt free – and I got to see some interesting cultural sites along the way.

Take public transport 

Many major cities in the western world offer efficient metro/subway services. They’re a great way to get around the city quickly and usually it’s only a pound or two for a ride.

If you’re staying in a big city for a few days, then before you buy that single metro ticket make sure you look if there’s an option to buy multiple tickets. Generally buying multiple tickets at the one time is cheaper than buying a single ticket every trip.

For example, in Budapest you can buy a 24, 48 or 72 hour travel card giving your unlimited trips on the city’s metro and bus network within the city boundaries over the selected time period.

Trains and buses are also a great way to get around. I love taking the trains through Europe. To get through the Balkan states of Eastern Europe, I took local buses from country to country and it was less than £4 a trip.

In South East Asia, buses or trains are a great way to get around. I travelled on local buses and trains through Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Indonesia and had no problems – and it was always an adventure!

A lot of people opt to take taxis and shuttles to and from the airport but in many countries metros or buses go straight to and from the airport.

In some places in Asia, you may even be able to take tuk tuks to and from the airport if you’re staying nearby. On the topic of tuk tuks, learn to haggle. Tuk tuk prices are very negotiable.

public transport

Take advantage of free activities

Many cities offer free walking tours to give you a chance to see the best sights and also hear about the city’s history.  Ask at your accommodation to find out what’s on offer. Don’t forget that some of the best views are free.

Carry a first aid kit and medicine

This one can save you money, hassle and even discomfort. And it weighs almost nothing. The last thing you want to do is go see a doctor on your travels and if you don’t speak the language – it can be a difficult process.  

These are the items I carry with me every time I travel to try and avoid a trip to the doctor or pharmacy.

  • Antiseptic cream
  • Something like Stingose to deal with insect bites
  • Lots of bandaids
  • A packet of antibiotics
  • Cold and flu tablets
  • Items such as Gastrostop, Imodium and Buscopan to deal with stomach complaints. I recommend going to a travel doctor before you leave the country to get some prescription medicines to battle stomach issues.

Don’t forget hand sanitiser. It may help you avoid getting sick in the first place!

hilltop views

Sample the street food

I know, I know, there’s so many people telling you not to eat the street food because you’ll get sick. It’s possible you could but travel is all about trying new things! Street food is a great way to eat on a budget and taste local food.

You want to eat street food that’s piping hot and cooked in front of you. Steer clear of food that may have been washed in water containing bacteria – that means don’t be tempted by the cut fruit.

Hopefully these tips will help you travel the world while sticking to a tight budget!

street food

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 60 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer. Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.

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