Travel has always been a gateway for adventure and personal growth. However, since the world reopened following the Covid pandemic, there’s been a noticeable shift in the winds of travel economics. Once-affordable getaways have grown more expensive. Restaurants have too. While the pandemic itself isn’t the direct cause of rising to travel the world, its aftermath and the response have certainly contributed to the financial shifts in the way we explore the world. Luckily for you, there are plenty of ways you can learn how to travel the world cheap.
Let’s dive into those and the reasons why travel costs have increased.
How to Travel the World on a Budget
The Reasons Behind Increasing Costs
How to Travel the World ON A BUDGET in 2023:
Use a Vacation Budget Tracker
Using a vacation budget tracker is a smart and practical approach to ensure that your dream getaway remains within your financial boundaries. To make the most of these tools, follow these steps for effective utilization.
Set Clear Budget Goals: Start by outlining your vacation budget, factoring in expenses like transportation, accommodation, meals, activities, and souvenirs. Allocate funds to each category to avoid overspending.
Choose a User-Friendly Tracker: Opt for a vacation budget tracking app or template that suits your preferences. Whether it's a digital app or a printable spreadsheet, select a tool that aligns with your tracking style.
Record Every Expense: Track every expenditure, no matter how small (those under $5 purchases can really add up) ! Input details of purchases as they occur, ensuring accuracy in your budget calculations.
Categorize Expenses: Organize your spending into categories like transportation, lodging, dining, and entertainment. This segmentation offers a comprehensive view of where your money is going.
Update Regularly: Take pictures of your receipts and dedicate time each day or at the end of the day to input your expenses. Regular updates help you stay on top of your spending, prevent surprises, and make timely adjustments.
Monitor and Adjust: Continuously monitor your budget tracker to ensure you're staying on track. If you notice overspending in a particular category, consider reallocating funds from another category to balance it out.
Track Savings and Special Offers: If you find discounts or special deals, record them in your tracker. This way, you'll have an accurate representation of how much you're saving.
Use an Airline Price Tracker
Using an airline price tracker can be a game-changer when it comes to securing the best deals for your flights. It’s one of the best steps you can take to learn how to travel the world on a budget.
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to effectively utilize this tool:
Choose a Reliable Tracker: Opt for a reputable airline price tracking website or app that offers real-time updates on flight fares and trends. Look for features that allow you to set alerts for specific routes and travel dates.
Set Your Travel Parameters: Input your desired departure and arrival locations, along with flexible travel dates if possible. This allows the tracker to provide a range of options that fit your schedule.
Monitor Fare Trends: Keep an eye on the tracker's data to identify patterns in fare fluctuations. Some trackers provide historical price data, helping you determine the best time to book.
Set Price Alerts: Utilize the tracker's alert feature to receive notifications when fares for your chosen route drop to a certain level. This proactive approach helps you capitalize on price drops quickly.
Track Promo Codes and Discounts: Some trackers provide information on ongoing airline promotions and discount codes (sometimes it’s even as simple as signing up for their newsletter).
Book Strategically: Once you receive an alert for a favorable fare, act promptly. Prices can change rapidly, and the tracker's alert gives you an edge in securing the best deal.
Monitor Price Fluctuations (especially in the free 24-hour cancellation window): The Department of Transportation's 24-hour refund regulation states that all airlines flying in the U.S., even international carriers, must issue a full refund if the reservation is canceled within a one-day window of booking. So continue to monitor the tracker for any fluctuations in fares. Even after the 24-hour window, some airlines offer price drop guarantees and may refund the difference if the fare decreases after you book.
Consider Alternatives: Flexibility is often a key factor in finding travel deals and getting the most value for your money, as being open to different destinations and travel months can increase your chances of scoring a travel deal.
Deal Maps - Visually compare prices across multiple airports in the region, as they might offer better deals.
"Anywhere" Destination Search - Perfect for travelers who are looking for inspiration or open to exploring new places.
Flexible Dates Search - Allows you to see prices for an entire month or even multiple months, helping you identify the cheapest times to travel to your chosen destination.
Find the Best Days to Book a Flight
The quest for the optimal day to buy a flight ticket is a topic of perpetual intrigue among travelers seeking the ultimate bargain. While no universal "best day" exists, patterns and strategies can guide your booking decisions.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays have often been touted as prime days to find lower fares, as airlines may release new deals and adjust prices after the weekend rush. However, in the dynamic realm of airfare, flexibility is key and figuring out how to find cheap flights can be more complex. Monitoring fare trends over several weeks or using tools like fare prediction websites or flight tracking apps can help you pinpoint the sweet spot when prices are likely to dip so that you can travel the world for less.
Early-morning hours or late-night browsing sessions can also yield benefits. Airlines may release limited-time offers during these periods, catching the attention of savvy shoppers.
Remember, the best day to buy a flight can be influenced by multiple factors, including destination, season, demand, and airline policies. Being open to adjusting your travel dates and locations slightly can lead to significant savings, as can signing up for fare alerts from airlines or booking platforms. Consider using Going, which will email you alerts with low cost flights to amazing destinations.
In the end, while there may not be a universally "best" day, a well-informed and patient approach, coupled with the judicious use of tools, can empower you to secure a wallet-friendly ticket that maximizes your travel experience.
Explore Affordable Travel Destinations
Discovering budget-friendly travel destinations offers the thrill of exploration without breaking the bank. Some of our favorite trips head to amazing locations that allow you to immerse yourself in vibrant cultures while stretching your dollars further. Consider these locations when you're trying to figure out how to travel the world on a budget in 2023.
Medellín, Colombia's vibrant gem cradled in the Andes, fuses history and modernity. The year-round temperate climate in the City of Eternal Spring sets the stage for budget-friendly explorations. Navigate the city with its efficient metro. Diverse neighborhoods like El Poblado and Comuna 13 reflect Medellín's evolving spirit through street art and local projects.
Enjoy wallet-friendly experiences at Botero Plaza or Arví Park via cable car, and savor Colombian street food. Medellín's innovation shines in libraries like Biblioteca España. Embrace a city that rejuvenates while embracing its heritage, offering budget-conscious travelers an immersive Colombian journey.
Mexico City, a dynamic fusion of history and modernity, opens its doors to budget-conscious travelers with a plethora of affordable experiences. Devour mouth-watering street food for an authentic culinary adventure.
Unearth the city's vibrant cultural scene through free attractions like Chapultepec Park and the historic Zócalo Square. Navigate the extensive metro system to explore neighborhoods like Condesa and Roma, adorned with street art and local charm. From exploring ancient ruins at Teotihuacan to soaking in the energy of local markets, Mexico City offers a wallet-friendly journey filled with enriching discoveries.
Oaxaca, Mexico's cultural haven, beckons budget-conscious travelers with its rich heritage and colorful landscapes. Savor traditional Mexican cuisine at affordable street stalls. Immerse yourself in Oaxaca's artistic heart by exploring its indigenous markets and colorful crafts.
Budget-friendly attractions include Monte Albán's ancient ruins and the breathtaking Hierve El Agua petrified waterfalls. From wandering through charming cobblestone streets to partaking in mezcal tastings, Oaxaca offers a sensory feast without straining your finances. Experience Mexico's soul in this captivating region, where affordable adventures intertwine with cultural authenticity.
Portugal, a tapestry of Old World charm and breathtaking coastlines, invites budget-savvy travelers to explore its wonders affordably. Stroll through historic cities like Lisbon and Porto, where exploring picturesque neighborhoods and iconic landmarks comes at a nominal cost.
Attractions like Alfama's narrow streets and stunning beaches ensure memorable experiences without straining your wallet. Discover Portugal's wine culture with budget-friendly wine tastings. From castles to coastal treasures, Portugal offers an enriching adventure that won't compromise your finances.
Vietnam, a land of captivating contrasts, welcomes budget-conscious travelers with open arms making it one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia on a budget. Explore vibrant markets, bustling cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and idyllic landscapes without breaking the bank.
Wander through ancient temples, lush rice terraces, and pristine beaches that offer cost-effective or free experiences. Guided tours to the iconic Ha Long Bay and the Mekong Delta add value to your adventure. From bustling markets to sprawling landscapes, Vietnam's charm and affordability ensure an unforgettable journey for every budget.
The reasons behind increasing costs:
Inflation and Fluctuating Exchange Rates
One of the key culprits behind the increasing cost of travel is inflation, which affects not only the price of goods and services but also the cost of transportation, accommodation, and entertainment. Fluctuating exchange rates further compound this issue, making international travel more expensive for those whose currency weakens against others. These economic fluctuations directly impact the cost of flights, hotel stays, meals, and even souvenirs, causing a noticeable dent in travel budgets.
The relentless march of inflation has extended its grip beyond our daily expenses, seeping into the heart of our travel budgets. The cost of living, wages, and goods all experience upward pressure, and the travel industry is no exception. Flights that once seemed reasonably priced now carry heftier tags, accommodations demand more from our wallets, and local experiences come at a steeper cost. The dollars we once stretched further seem to shrink, leaving us to reevaluate our travel dreams.
Adding to this financial challenge are the unpredictable fluctuations in exchange rates. Traveling internationally, once a way to stretch our funds, now demands a strategic currency analysis. The value of your currency against that of your destination can swing dramatically, converting your meticulously planned budget into an unpredictable variable. What was an affordable adventure last year might now demand a larger chunk of your savings due to the whims of economic dynamics.
Fortunately, inflation rates around the world look like they’re finally beginning to cool and should continue to do so: global numbers hit 8.8% in 2023; the IMF predicts a slowdown to sub-5% numbers in 2024.
And lastly, while inflation has had an effect on global travel, it’s important to note that travelers are not slowing down as the interest in travel continues to match pace. According to Expedia, 43% of people are expected to increase their travel budgets in 2023.
After the world was locked inside, the allure of escape to exotic destinations (hello Belize!) and the ease of modern transportation created a surge in travel demand. As more people seek unique experiences, popular destinations witness overcrowding, pushing prices upward due to limited resources and accommodations. The imbalance between the growing demand and limited supply of available accommodations and services allows businesses to charge premium rates, driving up the overall cost of travel. That’s one of the reasons FTLO travels to farther corners of the globe each year.
According to the International Air Transport Association, international travel has already reached 90% of pre-pandemic numbers. Furthermore, analysts with Moody’s have clocked the uptick in global passenger demand at 22% in 2023. It’s predicted to grow another 6% in 2024.
Rising Fuel and Transportation Costs
The backbone of travel, transportation, is deeply intertwined with the price of fuel. Fluctuations in global oil prices directly affect airline ticket prices and car rental fees. Moreover, environmental concerns and sustainability efforts have led to increased taxes on aviation fuel, causing airlines to pass on these costs to travelers. As transportation expenses rise, they have a cascading effect on other aspects of travel, contributing to the overall increase in expenses.
The very essence of travel, the ability to transport ourselves across continents, is closely tied to the cost of fuel. Oil prices, like a roller coaster, surge and dip, and their impact ripples through the travel industry. Airlines, once known for enticing travelers with budget-friendly fares, are now caught in a delicate dance between profitability and affordability. As the price of jet fuel climbs, airlines are left with no choice but to transfer a portion of the burden to passengers in the form of higher ticket prices.
On the ground, the road trip aficionados are not immune either. Car rentals, often seen as a flexible and cost-effective means of exploration, are susceptible to the same fuel price volatility. Additionally, the ecological concerns surrounding fuel consumption have led to environmental taxes and levies, further compounding the financial pressure on travelers. As fuel costs spiral upward, public transportation and rideshare services also feel the squeeze, indirectly impacting the cost of moving around within a destination.
In the face of these challenges, travelers find themselves at a crossroads, where the allure of distant horizons contends with the reality of shifting economic tides. While the costs of inflation and fuel rise, the intrinsic value of travel—the chance to immerse ourselves in different cultures, forge lasting memories, and broaden our perspectives—remains unwavering. As explorers, we adapt, we plan, and we find creative ways (hey there, quick getaways) to make our travel aspirations a reality, all while navigating the ever-changing currents of the travel industry.
Fluctuating Airfare and Dynamic Pricing
The pandemic's aftermath has led to an increase in the volatility of airfares. Airlines, faced with the challenge of predicting demand in an unpredictable environment, have resorted to dynamic pricing. This practice means that ticket prices can change rapidly based on demand, availability, and external factors like government regulations. The result is that travelers may find themselves paying significantly more for flights than they would have in a more stable travel landscape.
While the pandemic's impact on the rising cost of travel is undeniable, it's important to note that its effects are not permanent. As the world rebounds, the travel industry is likely to find equilibrium once again. In the meantime, travelers may need to navigate the current landscape with flexibility, planning, and an awareness of the changing financial dynamics of the journey.
What’s All This Mean?
As the world becomes more interconnected, the cost of exploration continues to evolve. While the rising cost of travel might seem discouraging, understanding the factors at play allows us to make more informed decisions and plan accordingly so that we can figure out how to travel the world on a budget.
Flexibility through research and budgeting can help mitigate the impact of these economic shifts, ensuring that the allure of discovering new horizons remains within reach, despite the evolving landscape of travel costs.