How To / Travel on a Budget

6 years ago by

I’m ashamed to admit…I’ve never been to Europe. I know. I know! I have been lucky enough to travel to other incredible places, like Hong Kong, Australia, and Mexico one spring break in high school (not sure how I got that one past my mom), but I’ve never really prioritized traveling in my budget (side note: my “budget” is pretty non-existent). But every time I hear of a friend’s trip abroad, or see a plethora of travel images on Instagram, I am determined to start savin’ and start travelin’!

Luckily, we have many friends of the Atelier who know a thing or two about traveling without breaking the bank. I begged kindly requested they share a few tips with us about how to do just that. Bon voyage!


Jamie Leilani Pelayo, Producer and Founder of Stories + Objects

My first solo airplane ride was at the age of six from my hometown of Kansas City to visit my grandmother in Hawaii. From that point on, my love of travel only deepened and inspired me to launch a travel storytelling website. In the early days of my career, I was fortunate to travel regularly to Europe with clients and quickly learned how to take advantage of my location to maximize cultural exposure on the most minimal of budgets.

The first lesson I learned is that of loyalty rewards. I signed up for a Delta Air Lines American Express credit card the year I graduated from college. Around the same time, I became a Delta Air Lines Skymiles member. Today, I’m approaching million miler status and have used the points and miles to fly myself as well as others to China, South America and countless times to Europe. Whenever my personal budgets have been tight, but my wanderlust kicked in, the miles made it possible to get on the plane and go.

When my schedule permits on business trips, I will book a few extra days to explore the city or a nearby destination that I wouldn’t have been able to visit otherwise. This works especially well in Europe and Southeast Asia. If your travel dates include a weekend or you can take the time off, have your business travel dates padded and look at the train schedules or destinations within short flight distance.

When booking accommodations, I think about how much time I’m going to spend in my room or the resort grounds. If I’m just looking for a place to lay my head to rest while spending most of my time exploring a city, then I usually look for an affordable, clean and centrally located room. Then, I’ll splurge a bit by having a cocktail or meal at the nicest or most iconic hotel in town.

Walk! Growing up in America’s heartland, we got around in cars. My favorite thing to do now, especially when traveling with my husband, is to discover a place by walking it. I find I learn so much more about a place when I get lost in it, taking in the sites, smells, sounds and local sentiments à pied.

lifestyle travel on a budget atelier dore photo

Alyssa Coscarelli, Fashion Market Editor, Refinery29

I try to book flights for off-peak hours or off-peak dates — I’m young so a super early or super late flight doesn’t take too much of a toll on me… yet. I also always set price alerts. Pretty much any travel site will let you sign up for email updates and notifications for when fares drop.

Like any frequent traveler, I always try to limit myself to a carry-on + one personal item (though my friends laugh at me because sometimes my “personal item” is a duffel bag that’s even larger than my carry-on suitcase)… I recently signed up for a first free month of Clear, a service that allows you to breeze through security. It’ll be an investment if I choose to move forward with it, but it’s been a dream so far to fly through security in two minutes. Time is money, right?

I like to shop in new cities — I can’t deny that it’s one of my favorite parts of traveling. But, I try to limit myself. I’ll ask, “Am I buying this impulsively because I’m caught up in the moment, or is it really something I need or will use for a long time?” I do a ton of research on the shops and boutiques I want to try to hit while in a given city. That way I know if there’s an amazing store that has something I won’t find anywhere else, and I can give myself X amount of dollars to spend. I recently went to Portland and planned ahead – I saved up $150 beforehand so that I could hit a vintage shop that a bunch of people recommended to me.

It’s also great to get recommendations from people with lifestyles similar to mine — I’m an early-twenties working professional, I’m not eating at 5-star restaurants everywhere I travel. I like to get reccos from people on a similar budget to mine.

Last but not least, I’m a breakfast person — I can’t skip the best meal of the day. Therefore, I love when a hotel has a package with breakfast included or an epic breakfast buffet, that way I can always get my most important meal of the day without spending a ton of money on it.

Gigi Hopkins, Travel Writer, @_itsbeautifulhere
From my first solo trip to Japan as a 15 year old, to backpacking through Europe as a super green, fresh-out-of-uni 21 year old, I feel like I mastered the art of traveling on the smell-of-an-oily-rag from an early age! On that first trip to Europe, way back when, our daily budget was 50 dollars (Australian dollars, mind you) and sometimes the 8-bed Italian hostel room we were trying to book for the night was that entire amount for a one night stay. So we traveled with a packet of rice, a tin of corn, a tin of tuna and some soy sauce in our backpacks at all times to cook up a feast in some hostel kitchen if we needed to. We got by and it was damn fun.

Fast-forward 17 years and I am happy to report there are no more hostels, but you can always still ways to be more mindful when it comes to travel spending. Airbnb has done wonders for traveling on a budget. Whether it be booking your own private pad, or just a room sharing with others – I am up for it all.

I love my coffee and it is something I am not willing to go without so I will always find a way to pay for a good cup and will happily track down the nearest place serving ‘specialty coffee.’ But on the flipside, I am more than happy to then hunt down a local bakery, a delicatessen and make my own ham and cheese rolls for a lovely little lunch in a park somewhere. Super tasty, super cheap. Another goodie is to find the closest local farmers market – the produce is always better anyway, and the prices are certainly more friendly.

In terms of seeing the sights, museums tend to always have a day where they offer complimentary entry – so it’s always worth sussing that out before you turn up. And apart from that, it’s all about walking. Everywhere. I love nothing more than pounding the pavement – crossing off all the things on my hit-list for that particular city. Oh and city bikes, another awesome and inexpensive way to get around. Travelling doesn’t have to break the bank. No way. There are always ways to make it a super affordable experience.

Sheree Commerford, Blogger and Mom @captainandthegypsykid

We seem to take one big world trip every second year for around three months. I am keeping my fingers crossed for 2018. With Australia being so far away we really like to have the time to explore and get the feeling of living like a local. There is nothing worse than rushing kids from place to place. With trips being this long they have to be partially work related or we wouldn’t be able to take them. Other times we will road trip here in Oz to see family and just get out of town.

With kids, there is so much more to plan. Not only do you have to pack, but get their schooling organized, notify any extracurriculars, get health checks, things like that. Short local trips are easy, a backpack, snacks and we are off. The biggest change is what type of trip you choose to take. There is no point paying for a big holiday if it isn’t kid friendly or interesting to them.

Really keen travelers have a separate bank account just for travel. We don’t do that as my partner and I are both freelancers. We kind of keep our fingers crossed, which I don’t advise, but we are very aware that spending money elsewhere means no travel so we really make considered decisions on what is important to us. A great thing to do with the children is encourage them to save and put away for their own travel fund. It gets them excited about the trip plus helps them really appreciate what they choose to buy.

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I’ll always put aside money for a quality vehicle with full insurance and 24hr roadside service in all the states we travel too. Also premium travel insurance with a high level of medical. A realistic international phone plan will save you money at the other end.

In terms of accommodations, there are so many more options for families now with travel. Before it was a bank breaker if you had more than two children and needed to rent two hotel room with no cooking facilities. With Air BnB and similar sites you can rent a beautiful place that feels more like a home and is catered for people with children of a certain age. There is also camping, like the trip we did towing the Airstream. A camp spot in a National Park can cost anywhere from $10-$15 per night. House swapping in different countries is also becoming really popular. I haven’t done it but that is word on the street.

lifestyle travel on a budget atelier dore photo

Natasha Garoosi, Creative producer @highqualityhumanbeings

For my 21st birthday, I bought a solo one way ticket to Europe with no concrete plans or idea of when I would return to NYC. It was liberating, mind opening & I became more resourceful than ever.

1.Buy your tickets on Google Flights
Book your tickets on websites that give you options. On google flights I found major price differences when I searched with flexible travel dates.

2. Don’t be touristy
The best way to experience a city is to live like a local. Before you book any accommodations think about any family, friends, or friends of friends who live in the destination you’re visiting.The first stop on my trip was London, definitely not the cheapest city to start in, but cheaper because I had a cousin to stay with and cook dinners with.Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for help finding a place…if they love you they should have an extra sofa, room, air mattress or friend to recommend.

3. Spend time in nature
My favorite part about traveling to different parts of the world are the different environments each place has to offer. Find local hikes & natural wonders you can do on your own or with friends.

4.Pack Lightly
I traveled to 8 cities in 6 weeks with only a carry on suitcase. I was realistic of what I would actually wear & chose to bring options that I could wear in various ways. BONUS: When you travel with a carry on then you don’t have to pay any extra fees.

5. Don’t be impulsive/impatient
Be aware of your actions and habits. You’re on vacation! Relax, enjoy yourself but don’t let your excitement make you an impulsive spender. Make sure your mind is sure of what you want. When I was in Morocco, I was excited to explore all the souks but bought the first blanket I saw before exploring all of my options. I had to bring this heavy blanket all the way back to NYC i didn’t really love. Which made me more prepared the second time i went ;)

6. Be Environmentally Conscious
Small alternatives will save you some money while also minimizing your waste as a tourist.
– Bring your own container for food or water.
– Mobile boarding pass (Sometimes they will charge you $50 to print your ticket)
– Take public transportation to and from the airport instead of a taxi for 1.

Be spontaneous & have fun! No amount of money should determine how luxurious your trip is. If you make meaningful moments & bonds foryourself, your trip will be priceless.

lifestyle travel on a budget atelier dore photo


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