Between flights, accommodations, food and activities, traveling on a budget can quickly become unattainable. However, with careful planning and tricks of the trade (pro-tip: never, ever travel in the high season!) you can create a one-of-a-kind travel experience without breaking the bank. Check out this list of low or no-cost activities that prove travel doesn’t have to be a luxury.
- Volunteer at an animal sanctuary
One benefit of traveling is seeing wildlife that you wouldn’t normally encounter in your everyday life. While safari tours can get expensive, one way to avoid that cost is to find a local animal sanctuary and volunteer your time feeding or caring for the animals. For example, the Safari Park in Thailand offers guests the opportunity to play, feed and pet elephants, giraffes, big cats and their cubs. The park rescues and rehabilitates animals to release them back into the wild and also breeds endangered species.
For less than $50 USD, volunteers can ride on the safari bus and pet the animals, play with one adolescent cat and visit the cub playground. The park also offers premium tickets that allow guests to play in their big cat garden, take photos and feed all of the animals for about $70 USD. Learn more about their services here.
- Visit a botanical garden
Another rewarding experience when traveling on a budget, or any budget, is encountering plant (and if you’re brave, insect) species that are not native to your homeland. Just about every destination you can think of has a botanical garden and entry is often free. One of the most celebrated botanical gardens in the world is South Australia’s Adelaide Botanic Garden, which boasts an impressive 1.5 million visitors per year.
Arrive at 10:30 in the morning and get treated to a free guided tour that will take you through their many gardens, wetlands and forests. Afterward, use the money you saved visiting the park and put it towards some award-winning Australian cuisine at the Botanic Gardens Restaurant. For more information, click here.
- Lounge at the beach
What’s a vacation without relaxation? While beach resorts are famous for breaking the bank, there are plenty of gorgeous beaches with open access all around the world when you’re traveling on a budget. The Caribbean is known for its gorgeous beaches and many destinations are affordable— if you avoid the big-name resorts that is.
Bask in the tropical sun of St. Thomas’s Sapphire Beach, one of the most acclaimed beaches in the Virgin Islands. While Trunk Bay may be famed for its well-preserved shores, you’ll avoid the ticket price and the crowds by opting for this gorgeous white sand beach instead. Check out local cruise schedules to ensure semi-privacy and spend your savings on a refreshing cocktail while you bathe in the sun.
- Join a walking tour
One way to learn your way around when traveling to a new city is to take a walking tour. It will give you a chance to meet other travelers while getting familiar with the city’s sights and history. Most tours last two hours and are a great opportunity to ask locals about their favorite spots that are less likely to be overrun with tourists.
- Go for a hike
Don’t forget about nature when traveling on a budget! Some say there is no greater wonder than nature itself and lucky for you, you can often immerse yourself in it for little to no cost. Well-known, arduous trails such as the Machu Picchu will require a guide and can get a little costly, but if you train at home before your trip there are plenty of self-navigating hikes that are just as breathtaking.
New Zealand’s Routeburn Track stretches over 32 km (20 miles) and takes about three days to traverse. It’s definitely a trip for those who prefer roughing it, but you’ll save on accommodations and get the opportunity to sleep under the stars. It’s free to hike and camp, but depending on what time of year you go, advance bookings are sometimes required for this alpine adventure. Click here for more information.