Exploring with a budget- how to make those pennies travel further!

By Maddy Burrows

So, it’s time to pack & head abroad! Here 's how every savvy traveller can make their money go further (no pun intended)

Travelling is something that most people aspire to do at some point in their lives, but, with the average holiday now costing over £1400 per person they can be pricey! One of the main purposes of travelling abroad should be to enjoy yourself, and watching the pennies a little bit too closely could detract from that; but with all the expenses of flights, hotels, food, entertainment quickly mounting up- the thought of all that money being spent can seem a little daunting.

However, if you plan your holiday carefully, you might find that you have a little bit more money to spend doing what you love!


Travel agencies

Some travel agencies are actually set up to help you save money. Companies like Thompson, and STA Travel can be invaluable in helping you get more bang for your buck. STA stands for the Student Travel Association, which was originally founded in 1979 to help not just students, but young people, explore the world on a budget. Which travel agency you end up using will depend greatly on your needs, age, and purpose of the trip that you wish to take- so before you dive in, you should check them out!


Depending on where you are planning to travel, really cheap budget flights may or may not be an option. For example, if you are travelling to France, you can undoubtedly make the round trip cheap as chips with airlines like RyanAir; however, if perusing around Asia is more your cup of tea, then you won’t have these options.

Booking flights at awkward and unpopular times can also save you a bit of cash- consider staying at a cheap airport hotel over-night, and getting a 5am flight out the next morning. There are some more great tips here on this blog by Skyscanner.

Tools to help you beat the sky high prices:

Yapta helps you compare prices & tells you when your fare has fallen in price. 

Airfarewatchdog helps you set up alerts to watch when deals come up for certain holiday destinations. 


Where to stay

Accommodation can be a tough one to get around, as you probably don’t want to be uncomfortable during your journeys.  Striking the balance between budget and comfort can be hard, but having a travel agency look at the options that your destination offers is a good idea. Websites like TripAdvisor will help you get a feel for potential hotels and their value for money.

Alternatively, why not stay in a hostel? They tend to be cheaper, and, if the amenities include a kitchen, you could also save a bundle on having to eat out, and cook your own meals instead!

Helpful links when searching for the perfect hostel:

Hostel World

Hostel Times

The Backpacker

Dining out

A lot of the time when you travel, you have no choice but to spend the extra money and go out to eat almost every night. However, as previously mentioned, if you’re in a hostel and are fortunate enough to have access to a kitchen, you can negate this and cook for yourself.

If you don’t mind being a little unhealthy, sampling the street food can be a cost effective way to eat out. And (as I have learnt from planning my trip to Japan in February) Buddhist temples can be a reasonably priced way to obtain a decent vegetarian meal (although some can be pricey). The website HappyCow also enables you to search for affordable local veggie-friendly restaurants wherever you end up.

Travel packages

Depending on what you want to do on your journey, travel packages can be a good way to book an all inclusive trip. You should enquire at your travel agency before you make any solid plans. Thompson Holidays, for example, offer affordable packages around the world, STA often offer discounted bundles, and newspapers like the Guardian frequently advertise all-inclusive holidays.


In an effort to promote tourism, some countries offer week, fortnight, and month long travel passes to foreigners, like Japan, which offers something called a JR pass. A JR pass will get you a week’s unlimited travel around Japan via bus, ferry and it’s famous ‘Shinkansen’ high-speed railway for just £199 for 7 days. However, as these are not available to locals, you have to order them online in advance.


Know what sites and shows you want to see on your trip, for the best deals you should book your tickets in advance. There’s a fairly new app that you can download for free called WingIt, which helps you find ‘offbeat’ things to do in the city that you’re in (however, as it’s currently in its infancy, not all cities are available yet).  Sick of getting stuck in the classic ‘tourist traps’ like every other visiting foreigner? The app Like a Local helps you to find some lesser known bars and attractions, and the app is collated by local people who have lived in the area for years and know all the best tricks.

A lot of cultural sites like shrines, temples, and famous streets are also usually free to enter.

Top Takeaway

There’s no getting away from it, travelling is going to cost you a bit of money. But, if you do your research, you may find yourself easily able to shave hundreds of pounds off your trip. It is a wise idea to note to yourself the purpose of your trip- is it about sightseeing, or simply getting away from the many stresses of life? Once you’ve understood this, then it will be easier to assess your expenditure.  Also, don’t dismiss the possibility of a relaxing break in Britain!

By Maddy Burrows

Maddy is a freelance illustrator and writer. She love travelling, attending cat shows, and writing short stories. Maddy also run a micro business selling her designs online.

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