Budget travel is such a big thing nowadays, and everyone seems to know the best ways to do it… I’m not saying they’re wrong but a lot of their suggestions involve couch surfing, dorm rooms in hostels etc. Whilst these are great for your solo travellers, they’re not always as suitable for those travelling as a couple!
Don’t get me wrong, Mar and I have made exceptions and stayed in dorm rooms when we’ve wanted to save a few pennies but we find that when you’re travelling as a couple, it’s good to have a few tricks up your sleeve to not only save money but still be able to enjoy your time just the two of you.
Some of these tips are 100% applicable to solo travellers but we want to put a bit more of a focus on those wanting to experience places as a pair!
Check out our top tips for budget couple travel below…
1. Choose your destination wisely
Travel can be REALLY expensive. Especially if you choose to travel somewhere during a local holiday, big event, or peak season! Obviously if you’re visiting for a specific reason (like a festival and cultural experience) then this inflated cost might be something you have to take on the chin.
BUT if not, then make sure you do your research!
There’s so many amazing places both near and far, pick one that best suits you and your travel needs. Also don’t be afraid to look off the beaten track! Popular destinations are popular for a reason but it doesn’t mean that there’s not somewhere just as amazing for half the price!
Last October we headed to Albania, a somewhat hidden beauty. There is nothing online that is stopping people visiting Albania but I think the limited tourist infrastructure really puts people off. It shouldn’t! Albania to us was a mixture of it’s surrounding countries – it has the beautiful green mountains of more Northern Europe and the incredible blue Adriatic coastline of its neighbour, Greece – what more could you want!? On top of all this, it was so incredibly cheap! Beautiful sea view hotel rooms for £30 a night and £100rtn flights from London to Tirana!
So the proof is in the pudding. Do some research and find a hidden gem that will cost you half the price of its touristy equivalent!
2. Timing is everything
Travelling off season is the best way to save some pennies! If you can avoid school holidays, and even travel midweek, then you’re already onto a winner!
I’m not saying budget peak travel is impossible but it’s definitely MUCH harder!
Keep your eyes peeled for flights and hotels during the off seasons and I’m sure you’ll be able to find some irresistible deals!
Although you may not be able to guarantee the weather, the crowds will certainly be smaller! So not only will you be saving a lot of money, you’ll have the place all to yourself!
3. Become a member of a hotel booking site
This one is definitely a case of the more you travel the more it will benefit you.
We’ve been members of Hotels.com rewards scheme since 2017. Since then we’ve had several free nights (acquired from booking through their site) and we get special prices for being members!
This membership was the reason behind our 6 night all inclusive stay in Mexico! We never would have stayed at such a place if we hadn’t had our secret prices – we were offered a price we just couldn’t resist!
4. Stay savvy
These deals aren’t always spoon fed to you (although some will come directly to your inbox), so make sure you learn some of the tips and tricks of the travel industry!
- Keep an eye on sky scanner or google flights – even sign up for flight alerts for specific dates
- Sign up to companies such as Jack’s flight club – they do the hard work for you and send deals straight to your email
- Delete your internet cache – you don’t want Skyscanner to know where your desperate to go! Deleting your cache will help the cheapest deals appear each time!
- Try to avoid looking at the same deal as your partner on different devices. We found that when Mar and I were both searching flight prices for the same dates and place, that the prices went up. Presumably because Skyscanner believes more people are interested in this particular trip…!
5. Choose your flight time and date carefully
Travelling on a Friday or over a weekend will usually put the price of travel up! This means if you can, travel on a week day, you might end up saving yourself a fair bit.
Also, flight times are vital. You will nearly always pay more for a flight with sociable flight times (I.e. during the day). We’ve found some of the best deals are those that require a 3am wake up call to be in the air at 6am or those that land in the early hours of the morning. We don’t mind this too much now but it might change when we’re a little older!!
6. Shop around for deals
This is applicable to both flights and hotels.
It may be more convenient to book a return flight with one airline but you might be able to save a lot of money by booking the outbound and return flight separately. We quite frequently book with two separate airlines and in the past have saved LOADS!
Although we tend to book with hotels.com, it doesn’t mean there aren’t better deals out there! Have a quick shop around before you book. Use comparison sites and even try the hotel website as they sometimes offer a price match!
7. Airbnb can be a good alternative
It’s not all about the hotels these days! We’ve stayed in so many Airbnb’s as they’ve just provided a much more suitable option than the local hotels.
Check out all the different types of places available. There have been some instances where we’ve paid slightly more for an Airbnb BUT it’s had a kitchen so we’ve been able to cook our own food, saving money on eating out.
Make sure you weigh up all the options to get the best from your accommodation!
8. Pack well
First and foremost, always try to pack light. If you can get away with it, try to get all your stuff into hand luggage as you’ll save a tonne by not buying bags for the hold!!
BUT make sure you evaluate everything you need to take with you, because if you forget something or can’t take it in your hand luggage it might cost you more to buy at your destination.
If you do need to buy baggage for your flight, then try sharing a bag, it’s a great way to save some pennies.
9. Hostels can still be an option for couples
One of our first thoughts when we hear the word hostel is dorm room… if you’re like us, it’s not very appealing to a couple!
That doesn’t mean you can’t stay in hostels though. Most offer private double rooms, some even with en suite! This can save you loads if your travelling in cities or more expensive countries (including Australia)
You also have the perk of being able to mingle with other travellers in the common areas, and then retreating to your own private room!
10. Travel overnight
If you’re doing a lot of miles on your trip (and you’re not driving) then why not try getting in some of that travel overnight. Across the world there are buses and trains that travel overnight, that covers your accommodation and transport in one hit!
Sleeper trains are the perfect way to travel in some countries – you can even get private cabin for couples although in some places this comes at quite the premium!
11. Read some travel guides / blogs
The best way to find out about a new place is to understand it from someone who has a similar perspective to you.
There’s so many different travel journalists and blogs on the internet (including ours..!) that will give you the down low on different cities, countries and continents. Some write about budget travel, others luxury travel. Some focus on food and others culture. There’s something for everyone, so find one you like and read about their experiences of your next destination.
12. Tours aren’t always the best option
Sure, if you’re a solo traveller and want to meet other like minded people then day trips, tours etc. might be the best option for you. But from our experience it’s way cheaper to figure out a way to do it yourself, without paying the price of a tour.
This isn’t always an option and some places are only accessible by tour, but when they’re not, we’ll always try to find a way to do the same sights, just without the cost!
Do some research – we find getting public transport to the destination and buying your ticket yourself can save loads!
13. Share meals
This is a great way to save some money, especially as some restaurants have massive portions that are way too much for just one person! It means you can still enjoy the luxury of eating out, without the hefty price tag!
There’s been several times across our travels where we’ve ordered one meal for the two of us (especially in the USA)!
14. BYOB (Buy your own booze)
Alcohol can be very expensive when travelling, especially if you’re in a city – even one drink in a local bar can eat into your daily budget massively!
We’ve found that the best way to save some pennies is to buy alcohol for your room. Most hotels and Airbnb’s will have a fridge of some sort so make use of it and store a few beers or a bottle of fizz for an evening in or pre-drinks before heading out!
If we’re staying somewhere with a balcony, we like to make sure we have a few beverages to drink before dinner!
15. Rent a car
Sometimes domestic travel can be expensive – tickets for public transport can add up, so why not hire a car.
There’s a few times for us where renting a car has been so much cheaper than paying to get a place by train, plane or bus!
Do you have any tips for couples travelling on a budget?
Travel can be expensive but by making use of some of these tips, we are able to keep our travels affordable but still couple focused!
We might not be travelling right now, although who’s to say you can’t plan for future trips! We’ve certainly got a list of places we’re desperate to visit once lock down is lifted!!
Let us know if you have any more tips for couples travelling on a budget – we’re all ears!!
Adios for now & stay safe,
Char & Mar x