Ways to Travel on a Budget in Expensive Cities

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Traveling on a budget can be hard. Especially if you know you’ll be visiting a notoriously expensive city. In theory, you may know all the travel hacks and steps to take to ensure you keep to a strict spending amount. Yet in practice, all your careful planning and money-saving tricks may go out of the window. Resulting in you in an expensive city, way over your original budget and trying to decide how to remedy the situation quickly.

A New York travel company AllTheRooms has some suggestions for ways you can travel on a budget in expensive cities. Whether you’re spending a fortnight in London exploring all the sights, learning the difference between good coffee and bad coffee in Melbourne, or shopping in the bustling city of Seoul, the tips below are ones that should keep you from scrambling.


  1. Stay in cheap accommodation
    Accommodation is usually a big expense when you’re traveling, and a great way to pinch the pennies is to choose a budget option when looking where to stay. If you’re traveling solo, a dorm room may be the best option for you, as they start at very low prices and are great for socializing. If you’re traveling in a group, getting a vacation rental may be the cheapest and most convenient option, plus, you’ll be splitting the price between everyone, so might just work out more cost-effective.

  2. Cook for yourself
    It may not sound like the most fun option, but if you are really looking to stick to your budget, cook some meals for yourself. Eating out is a huge expense whilst traveling, so opting to go without a few brunches or fancy dinners will save you money. Of course, cooking depends on your accommodation situation, but most hostels nowadays, and most vacation rentals, have kitchens and prep areas to store food. Whether you rustle up every meal yourself or just make breakfast and a packed lunch for the day, you’ll be amazed how much you save. Not to mention, you’ll also get to improve your culinary chef skills!
  3. Take public transport (or walk)
    Using the city’s public transport is a great way to see the city and keep within your budget at the same time. If you’re in a location for a while, look into purchasing a weekly or monthly travel pass. Most cities have these passes as an option for using across the train, bus, and tram services. Better yet, if possible, skip transport altogether and walk or cycle around the city. Some places offer city bikes, where you pay a deposit and small fee to explore on two wheels — great exercise and fun! Remember to avoid taxis in general, as they tend to be more expensive and can sometimes overcharge people who are notably tourists.

  4. Book in advance
    If you know the main attractions you want to see in your chosen city, think ahead and book entry tickets before your trip. Booking in advance is generally cheaper than purchasing on the door, and you won’t have to worry about long lines. It’s also worth noting to keep an eye out for joint tickets and tourist passes. These include entrance to a number of key attractions in cities, such as museum and art galleries, and are available at a discounted price.

Using these simple tricks will help keep your spending limited without compromising your vacation experience. Luxury doesn’t have to mean big $$, just remember to do your research, plan ahead, and be realistic with what you can afford.

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