Budget Travel Tips

“Davina at Home and Abroad” began as a demonstration of how to set up an affordable website. However, since travel is my favorite hobby this created an opportunity to share photos, tips, and tricks. I harbor no dreams of becoming a digital nomad or visiting every country on the planet. Instead, I like to travel affordably and as frequently as possible. There is a rhythm to my travel hobby.  I like taking smaller day trips between longer and more distant excursions.  The title “At Home and Abroad” reflects this travel philosophy.  Today, I want to share with you my top 5 travel habits that help me travel more and save money doing it!

Les Invalides, Paris viewed from open-top bus.

Les Invalides, Paris – View from Open Top Tour Bus, Nov. 2011

Travel with Compatible Friends

It’s always fun to have a friend to share the adventure! However, traveling with a buddy will help keep expenses down by sharing the costs of food and lodging. The key is to find compatible friends who enjoy traveling at the same “level.” While I have had the opportunity to fly business class a few times, I generally prefer traveling on a tiny budget. Consequently, I’m almost always sitting in the economy section of a train or plane.  So I always try to travel like-minded budget babes.


Photographer Alisha Westerfeld and I both enjoy train and boat travel,
art museums, shopping passages, garden pavilions, and open top busses!

Reduce Costs by Splitting Lodging

The biggest cost benefit of traveling with friends is saving by booking shared lodging. I’m happy to stay in 2 or 3-star accommodations, hostels or even couch surfing! My goal is to find less expensive lodging so I can afford more days of travel.  Doing a lot of internet research and staying open-minded about where to stay keeps the budget down.  The key is to agree with all of your travel companions what parameters you’re looking for in your accommodations.  Once you have determined your wants and needs, use every internet resource possible to locate affordable deals.

IMG_2426.JPGBudget view from a room at the Generator Hostel, London Dec. 2009

Focus on Food Expenses

I’ve also found that if you are traveling with compatible friends, you can reduce meal costs by eating at less expensive restaurants, splitting entrees, eating street food, ordering small plates, and buying sharable snacks. When I travel with my co-author Alisha, we both like to make the time to stock up on snacks at a grocery or convenience store when we arrive in a new location. Often, we snack for breakfast, picnic for lunch, and then go out for a nice dinner.

KinkyDonutCart.jpgKinky Donut Cart
A deal in York, UK December 2009

Plan Free Activities

I’m a trained art historian and enjoy seeking out historic places is my jam. When I’m in big cities, I like to visit historic shopping districts, galleries, and shopping passages. Finding off-beat interesting historical places means going to areas that are often less crowded than the top 10 must-see monuments and museums. There are plenty of sights to see in any major city.  The goal is to plan one or more “ticket free” days during each trip.

Paris-Shopping-Passage-Gallerie-Vivienne.jpegPassage Vivienne, Paris, July 2012 taken on a “Ticket Free” travel day.

Pack to Carry On

Traveling lighter saves a lot of cash. Most airlines are now charging for every bag you check so packing everything into a small carry-on suitcase and one “personal item” will save money on your flight.  If you can handle your own luggage, you will also save on tipping porters, paying for bag check, and other fees associated with baggage handling. For me, this means packing all of my gear into a small international carry-on sized rolling suitcase and a backpack. I can travel for two weeks or longer with just these two pieces of luggage.

Divide your Stuff to Streamline Gate Checking

Carry-on sized hard body suitcase and lap-top backpack.

Even when you are planning on carrying on a suitcase and personal item, sometimes the airline will gate-check your bag. Be prepared for this scenario by packing all of the most essential and valuable items in your tote or backpack. While you cannot pre-plan for every eventuality, gate-checking happens frequently. I always feel totally secure checking my suitcase because I know my cash, identification, computer, and personal items are always all in my backpack.

I also take a small cross-body bag to keep my ID, passport, and cash as well as any travel documentation on the front of my body while on the move. This allows me to get at important paperwork without taking my backpack off my back. I just make sure there is space in my backpack to tuck this bag when I’m ready to board the plane. I carry a super affordable lightweight cotton bag that I’ve embellished with my favorite fabric, assiut.

Assiut Embellished Travel Bag

I hope that these tips come in handy you when planning your next trip!
Best of luck and happy travels,
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
Sept. 15, 2018

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