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Best tips for budget traveler? Best tips for traveling light?

I love to travel lite and often! What are your tips for saving money, and keeping packing to carry on only!

thanks this should be interesting!!

12 Answers

top answer by
Emily from Los Angeles

Well, it really depends who you are, where you're going, what you're doing, and for how long. But...

Travel in warm places!  Seriously. Traveling in winter requires a lot more clothes, bigger shoes, and more time inside ($$).

Travel slowly.  If you're flexible you can save money by traveling at off times, making your own meals, and waiting for free museum days.

Eat at the market or grocery store. Pick up some bread and your choice of meat, cheese, veggies, or fruits. Then just find a pretty place to sit!

Know what matters to you. As a girl traveler, my biggest packing issue is toiletries - specifically face stuff. Now don't roll your eyes. Taking care of my skin is important to me. It doesn't mean I'm crazy high-maintenance. (I've slept in train stations, eaten porcupine, and ripped leeches from my skin in the jungle.) But it does mean I have to make choices...and spend some time planning my carry-on liquids bag.

So here are a few general packing strategies:

- one option: buy what you need along the way (especially toiletries). depending on where you're going it might be cheaper. plus shopping can help you get to know a place....just veer away from the familiar.

- two pants and two not-pants (skirt or shorts) are probably all you need for a trip of any length.

- one thin scarf and one thicker scarf. they provide varying levels of warmth, a blanket, a pillow if rolled up together, a towel in a pinch, etc.

- roll your clothes. it really does save so much space.

- baby shampoo. if necessary, you can use baby shampoo for hair, face, and body washing -- and to wash out clothes too.

- take a small tupperware. that way you can actually eat leftovers or save that extra croissant from breakfast.

- take a thin but decent-sized canvas bag. you're allowed a personal item, so stuff all the things you can't fit in your pack in there.

9 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Daisy from California

I agree with another answer to go to a warm climate.  I always take just a carry-on to SE Asia (which I highly recommend).  Basically (other than what I wear on the plane)  I take 4 bottoms, 5 tops, 1 dress, 7 sets of underwear, a bathing suit, a light sweater, comfortable walking sandals and a sarong (buy more there).  I take a small Canon camera that fits in my pocket, minimal makeup, shampoo and meds and buy insect repellant, sunscreen and other needs there.  There are internet cafes virtually everywhere, so I never take my Ipad or phone, though many do.  I just don't want to have to worry about electronics being stolen. You might want to read up on required dress for going into temples and churches for the countries you visit if you wish to see them.  (It means I always take a long sleeved blouse for temple visits in Asia..a scarf over your shoulders is not acceptable there).  We don't ever prebook rooms except in large cities for the first night or two as so many budget places are available to travelers.  Try staying in a hostel to meet budget minded travelers like yourself as they'll give you many ideas of places to go and where to stay.  Buy a Lonely Planet guide (there are other good ones too) at a bookstore before you go for a list of cheap rooms. Enjoy!

4 thanks

answered by
Shannon from Helmsley

Wear your heaviest clothes/shoes on the flight. Pack loose-fitting light-fabric tops to reduce the likelihood of them becoming too sweaty to wear again! Try to bring only two pairs of shoes, and wear loose beach/swimming shorts for other activities/as underwear. Pop a spare drawstring bag in your luggage so you can use it for storing items you pick up on your travels/daily trips. It's likely that you'll read less than you expect to and you might discover cheap, interesting books whilst away, so pack a guide book at most rather than other fictional 'holiday reading'.

When travelling, visit grocery stores/markets and make your own breakfasts/pack-lunches rather than spending money in a café/restaurant etc. If staying in a hostel that offers breakfast, wrap up bits of bread to use for lunch. Bring your own washing liquid - you can get biodegradable products that can be used for washing hair, clothes and utensils. If you find yourself short on clothes, shop in a second-hand thrift store. Use maps and explore on your own rather than paying for a tour (unless it really is something you need a tour for).

Taking part in home-stays is also a great way to save money, whilst learning about an area from locals! I wrote about this extensively here:

3 thanks

answered by
Kristen from Bushwick

One of my tips is -- wear it!! The more you wear, the less you have to pack on your back. Whenever I fly, I always wear my hiking boots and jacket - no matter how hot, cold, or ridiculous I look. 

3 thanks

answered by
Ian from United Kingdom

Accept that you'll need to wash clothes along the way.  Anything over about a 7-day trip becomes unfeasible to pack clothes for, so pack enough for 3 or 4, remembering that you don't ^need^ to wash things like trousers every day; including what you wear to travel with, that gives you maybe 5 days to play with.  (My packed clothing usually consists of 3 short-sleeved shirts, one long-sleeved t-shirt, two pairs of trousers, four pairs of underwear, and one pair of socks in case it gets chilly one night).

Downsize.  Don't take books, rather take e-readers. Take smaller versions of things like toothbrushes and torches.  Try to ensure all your electronic equipment takes the same type of connections (so, my camera, my phone, and my e-reader all take the same USB lead.  This means I only need one power supply for all three).

Compromise.  Take powdered toothpaste; it may be awful but it frees up space in the liquids bag.  Don't take things because 'it would be nice' - you can come back home to your favourite fleece/t-shirt later. Only take bulky shoes if you absolutely need them, otherwise just a pair of sandals will do.

Emily's right too about warm places; it's far easier travelling light to Indonesia than it is to Scotland.  Also, try to avoid the wet seasons - if you don't need a coat don't take one; they're bulky and if it only rains once in two weeks you'd be better off getting wet and/or finding a museum to hide in for that one day.  (It's interesting that I've travelled 'heavier', tho not 'smaller', to visit my parents for a weekend than I've taken for two weeks backpacking in the Middle East).

As for saving money, again Emily seems to have said it all pretty much.  Go to local markets.  Stay in backpacker hostels.  Self-cater, or eat at places the locals do that don't cater for hordes of tourists.  Take advantage of any deals that the hostel has with local shops and restaurants.  Always take the 'free' (tips only) walking tours that cities offer, rather than any tour bus.  Get to know the local transport and take that rather than taxis.  For tours/taxis, find other travellers and arrange with them.  Be flexible; if it's cheaper but more inconvenient to do A, D, C, B rather than A, B, C, D, accept the inconvenience and change because in the long run it'll be worth it.  Set a daily budget (but realise it's an average/day not an absolute/day), and keep a budget sheet/spreadsheet (but don't do what I do - get too hung up on it and only eat once a day!).

Also, take time out to religiously compare things like flight prices - especially as that's likely to be your biggest expense.  It may be the most boring half an hour you spend, but if you find a flight doing an obscure routing at a weird time that's half the price of the regular flights, then it's worth it.


2 thanks

answered by
Amy from Florida

I just got back from a 5-month trip to South America, during which I carried only one carry-on bag. My BIGGEST tip for one-bag travel/traveling light is this: Get a bag that will fit within carry-on size regulations, and THEN start trying to pack it. What you'll find with packing (as with life in general) is that your needs will expand proportionate to your capacity. For example, if you make $1 million, you will spend like you have a million dollars (luxury cars, bigger houses, expensive clothing, etc.). But if you have $50,000, you won't spend as lavishly because you simply can't. The same goes for packing: If you start with a big bag, of course you'll have too much stuff--you're packing to fit that bag. But if you start with a small bag, you will learn to pack only what you need--because you have to.

Oh, and one more thing: Use packing cubes
. Yes, they make a huge difference. 

Hope this helps! 

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answered by
Alejandro from Singapore

The best way to stay on any budget for me is to PLAN ahead. Many times the most expensive parts of a trip can be unplanned situations. Also traveling in groups 2 or 4 can help spread some expenses.

To travel light my one rule is to take one pair of shoes (mine take a bit of space). I pack flip flops and a pair of minimal running shoes when needed. I also have specific traveling clothes: light fabrics that don't wrinkle easily, dry fast and that serve more than one purpose i.e. my shorts are either a swimming suit or cargo pants.


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answered by
Scott from Bakersfield

My favorite tip I just started doing was stuffing socks into shoes before packing.  It's a real space saver.  That and rolling t-shirts and other clothes that aren't prone to wrinkle.  They stack and stuff easily in a carry on bag.  

2 thanks

answered by
Jaleh from Baltimore

Well, as far as packing goes, I think the best way to travel light is to only take half of what you think you need! I never take anything larger than a backpack for a trip that lasts less than two weeks. I also think that for most places, budget traveling is very do-able during the fall/winter. There are less tourists and there tend to be more deals to find. If you're set on Europe, cities like Prague are more accessible on a budget, while other "odd" destinations also make it cheaper (ie. India, Ecuador, etc.)

2 thanks

answered by
Justin from Phoenix

Use compression sacks! I like this one. You can squeeze all the air out and then pull the straps down ... next thing you know, your clothes take up half the size they used to. Perfect!

Some sacks are also waterproof, which is very handy.

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answered by
Danielle from Toronto

Airbnb (or at least renting someone's apartment) is my answer to both! 

How it helps with lighter packing:

  • Rent a place with a washer (and either drying rack or dryer). Some may not like the idea of having to do laundry on vacation but to me its worth it to only pack 3 outfits! 
  • Most hosts will have essential toiletries in case you forgot something (so you don't have to pack everything 'just in case').
  • Some may even have a personal computer you can use, although I would usually bring my laptop anyway. 

How it helps with your budget: 

  • For the most part, I've found that you can find an Airbnb that is nicer and larger than a hotel room and costs less! 
  • Or, if you choose to rent a room rather than a whole apartment it can be as cheap as a hostel but you may have cozier accommodations
  • You can use the kitchen for cooking (or at least eating in) instead of eating out for every meal. 
  • If you have an awesome host, they'll have tips on how to save money (cheapest restaurants, best grocery stores in the area, what attractions are free, etc.)

1 thanks

answered by
JJ from New York City

Tips for traveling light:

Don't pack your laptop when your smart phone/iPad will do.

Unless you're on a photography assignment, try considering quality point-n-shoot cameras rather than full size DSLRs. Micro four thirds are also great alternatives to a big camera.

Only pack what you can't buy where you're going. 

Packing cubes! They're not cheap but worthy investment because it really helps you save on space.

Invest in a warm but light weight wind/water resistant jacket/parka. Buy the right one and it will be the only coat you'll need on your fall/winter trips.

Must have portable charger!

Tips for budget traveler:

I agree buying your own groceries will cheaper, to an extend. If you're traveling with a large group, then yes; but if you're rolling solo or with just one other person, finding the right eatery will actually be more economical than buying groceries and cooking yourself. Also let's remember this is assuming you're staying at a place with a kitchen, which most hotel rooms will not have this feature. 

Traveling during off-peak months, weekdays will be a lot cheaper if you are flexible. If you don't mind getting some promotional emails, sign up for different hotel/airline programs. They're free and almost always have some sort of promotions going on for their members.

Check websites of places you want to go to see if they're running any specials.

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