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Make the Most of Your Travel Budget and Do the Improbable

Travel Budget Tips

jeffdspeaksTravel saved my college career. Travel literally turned a boring and mundane college experience into the trip of a lifetime.

I got recruited to play baseball at McDaniel College, but got unexpectedly benched. I had a great tryout and made the team, but on the one day the head coach decided to closely evaluate me I had a bad game. This is the kind of coach where his first impression of you is his forever impression of you. So despite being one of the best hitters in the conference, I rode the bench my college career.

But I found the hidden opportunity in my setback and chose to study abroad at McDaniel’s sister school in Budapest, Hungary. I’m 25% Hungarian so there was serendipity here as well.

BudapestIt turned out to be one of the best years of my life! I worked full-time, went to classes on my lunch break and after work, played on Hungarian baseball teams, created epic YouTube videos, and traveled all around Europe and Asia on a virtually nonexistent travel budget.

The first part of this article will be some tips on how you can travel the world on a budget, when you don’t have a lot of extra money. The second part will be about how you can create epic and incredible memories for yourself while traveling on a shoestring budget. I’m here to tell you that you can have your cake and eat it too. There are fewer limitations than you may have initially thought.

Cheap Accommodations

When you travel, you want to spend most of your money on elegant restaurants, delicious local cuisine, world-renowned bars, and fun adventures. If you save money on accommodations, you’ll have more money to make the most of your adventure.

Here are some excellent choices for cheap and free accommodations:

  • Couchsurfing
  • Global Freeloaders
  • Wimdu
  • Hostel Bookers
  • HI Hostels
  • HomeAway
  • GowithOh
  • 9flats
  • Roomarama

I’ve had the best success of all with Couchsurfing – through that site I’ve stayed with people for free when other people were paying hundreds upon thousands of dollars in accommodations. I most recently used Couchsurfing when I was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia while competing in the semifinals of the World Championship of Public Speaking. My Toastmasters friends were amazed that I was able to stay with someone for free for nearly a week.


One friend said to me, “Jeff, I wish I would have spoken to you before this trip so that I could have saved money on the expensive hotels.”

If staying with strangers isn’t your thing, I get it (I suggest giving it a shot, but if you are completely adverse to it I understand) – you want your peace of mind and your own space for the evening. Even if you use hotels, you can still save lots of money on hotels using these sites:

  • Hotels Combined
  • Trivago
  • Hipmunk
  • Venere
  • Booking
  • HotelPower
  • Tingo
  • HotelTonight

Cheap Flights

For cheap flights, start with flight aggregators. These are the best because they compare different flight prices across the entire internet. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Momondo
  • Mobissimo
  • Vayama
  • Kayak
  • Dohop
  • Hipmunk

As you are conducting your search for an excellent airfare, sign up for price alerts and compare flights from different sites. Here are more great websites for discount flights:

  • Airfaire watchdog
  • The Flight Deal
  • Secret Flying
  • Flynous
  • Holiday Pirates
  • Easyjet

Word of Caution: Everything in life is a balance and that includes your travel plans. Your safety is first and foremost so if you have to pay a little extra to be safer, then do it. For example, a few days ago I booked a flight to Germany to go see my European girlfriend in Holland. There was a cheaper flight connecting through Kiev, Ukraine, but I didn’t feel comfortable flying over an area where a plane was blown up mid-air, so I paid $100 extra for a different flight option.

Do the Improbable

Finally, once you get to your destination, you want to make sure you have as much fun as humanly possible! Here are some out-of-the-box, break-the-rules, unorthodox ways to have an experience you’ll be remembering for literally decades to come:

  • Less planning, more spontaneity. In my bestselling book Traveling Triumphs: The Improbable in Budapest and Beyond, I talk about how most (if not all) of my best adventures and moments came from pure spontaneity. Ditch the plan and go with the flow. Leave room for unexpected events.
  • Limit your use of a guidebook. Guidebooks are fantastic. But if you are constantly feeling pressure to see everything, you won’t enjoy the moment. Pick one to three “must-sees”, and play the rest by ear.
  • Take a Risk. The best travelers are the ones who take the most risks – reasonable, well-calculated risks, but risks nonetheless. The world is filled with incredibly friendly people. 99.99% of people in the world are friendly, but the media focuses on the 0.01% of people who are bad. Don’t be brainwashed by the media! Take risks and approach strangers while you’re traveling. You’ll meet fellow travelers in the exact same boat as you.

These tips are only the tip of the iceberg but if you apply even a few of them, you’ll be well on your way to a reasonably-priced, epic, and adventurous trip!

Jeff Davis is a world-renowned author, professional speaker, blogger, YouTube creator, and philanthropist. For more information on Jeff, please visit or contact his Executive Assistant Meg via

Jeff Davis, | April 4, 2016

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