Most people think holiday is for rich people only, or that you have to save for years before you can enjoy a short break. This is far from true. Take for example Thailand, a country where we stayed for two months total, while spending less than we would if we stayed in our own country.

There are a couple things to consider when calculating your budget for your trip to your dream destination. How much does my airplane ticket cost? What kind of accommodation do I prefer? How many tours will I join? Do I take a tuk tuk/taxi or do I walk? And, how much do I spend for food? Also check how expensive the country is that you would like to visit. There are beautiful countries in every continent, so if Paris turns out to be to expensive check if there are some cheaper cities in Asia or South America.

1. Ticket
For most people, the airplane ticket will be the biggest expense. So, this is also where you should try to save as much money as possible. Use websites such as or Kayak to find the cheapest tickets. If you don’t have any specific dates or no schedule yet, use sites such as Airfarewatchdog. This site scans the internet for cheap tickets and will send you an e-mail when the price of a ticket to your preferred destination is cheap. This way you get the cheapest ticket possible.


Also check if flights can be cheaper if you fly via other destinations. For example a flight from New Zealand -> Bali could be more expensive than a flight from New Zealand-> Australia -> Bali. So do some research and just try some different routes to see if the flight could be any cheaper via other countries.

If you travel to multiple destinations, you could check busses instead of airplanes. In South East Asia you can go almost everywhere with the bus. Taking the bus is way cheaper, but also takes way longer. If you don’t mind to stay in a bus for 10 hours, this could be a great way to save some money. Just hope you don’t get scammed in Laos.

2. Accommodation
The second most expensive thing on your list will be accommodation. This however doesn’t have to be very expensive in most countries. In places such as Thailand we paid no more than $10 a night and in Cambodia and Laos we paid just $6 per night. Keep in mind, this is for two persons. Backpackers can literally find a place to sleep for a couple of dollar a night.

In Thailand we have also slept in more luxurious places “for backpacker standards” with a big tv, a giant bed, daily cleaning/roomservice, a great shower, air-conditioning and access to a pool. We paid no more than $20 a night.


Once again, it all depends on your standards and which country you would like to visit. In New Zealand for example we paid on average $50 a night and most of these “backpackers” were less modern than the cheap guesthouses in South East Asia.

Another thing we noticed is that a lot of guesthouses, at least in Asia, are not promoted online on sites such as So don’t be afraid to walk around and ask for the price. This is how we found cheaper guesthouses in Laos and Cambodia.

3. Food
Food is probably something where most people can save some dollars. This however can be a challenge. All those delicious local snacks, fruit juices, beer and delicious mails add up quick. We have noticed this during our trips to relative cheap countries.

Because $1 or $2 doesn’t look like a lot, you don’t mind spending it. This however results in buying way more drinks and snacks than you would normally buy, and you will end up spending the same as you would in your own country.


Because of this, we gave ourselves some rules, such as maximum 2 drinks/juices per day (the rest will be water), eat out no more than twice a day (in Asia) and only buy one snack a day. We also gave ourselves a daily budget for food. Doing this, you are forced to find the cheapest restaurants, drink a lot of water and buy fruit from the markets. Which is not a bad thing to be honest.

Of course you should spoil yourself once in a while, but try to stay within your budget five days of the week.

4. Tours
In our opinion, tours should ALWAYS BE AVOIDED! Tours cost a fortune and are less adventures than when you go explore on your own. Once you start joining tours, a cheap holiday is impossible.

Most scenery tours are easy to avoid. Instead, rent a scooter or bike for a couple dollars a day and enjoy the scenery at your own phase. Go hiking or take a dive in the blue ocean. Spend some time in free museums and temples, or just relax on the beach. You will spend almost nothing doing these things on your own.


Some things however are only possible with a guide or tour group, such as a balloon ride, boat trip or safari tour. If this is the case and you are not alone, try to negotiate a “group discount”. 10 or 20 procent discount can make a lot of difference.

5. Transportation
Transportation is something a lot of people forget about when calculating what their  travel-budget should be. On day one of your trip you are probably already forced to take an overpriced taxi from the airport to your hotel.

Before you book your accommodation, here are some things to think about. Can I walk to all the main attraction from my hotel? If not, is it cheaper to pay a bit more for accommodation closer to these attractions to avoid the expensive transportation costs?


In bigger cities, expensive tuk-tuks and taxis can be easily avoided. Cities such as Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur have a great public transportation system. The bus or tram are relative cheap because it is made for the locals, not tourists. In Bangkok you could even travel by boat for just $0.50.

You could also rent your own scooter or bicycle. In Cambodia we have rented a bicycle for just $1 to see Angkor Wat. In Indonesia we spend just $4 for a scooter and in New Zealand we even found a hostel that offered free bicycle rental.

Tips: How to travel cheap?
* Be creative when you buy an airplane ticket.
* Don’t be to picky when you book a hotel/guesthouse/backpacker. You go out most of the time anyway. Just get a clean place and you will be fine.
* Give yourself a daily budget for food.
* Drink water and eat fruit. This is healthy and cheap.
* Avoid buying souvenirs. Your photos and memories are the souvenirs.
* Don’t join tours when it is not necessary.
* Walk more than you would do normally. Paying a couple of dollars for a tuk tuk or taxi every single day will add up quick.

Do you have any tips or advice, please share it in the comment section below.


We are Chris and Seulki, the owners of AtlasExplorers. We write stories based on our own experience. We like to share our adventures with the world through blog posts, YouTube videos and Instagram photos.

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