If you really want to travel while spending the least amount of money possible, you’ll need to become an expert at transportation on a budget.
You’ll need to get good at finding the cheapest flights, employing different strategies for getting to where you need to go, being creative with the options available to you, and comparing prices between all of them.
It’s more work than simply taking the first option you see, but it can save you a lot of money.
So without further ado, let’s get started!
1. Book the cheapest flights
To be a successful budget traveler, you need to become an expert at finding cheap flights with Google Flights and Momondo. Check out my Guide to Google Flights and Guide to Momondo, both dedicated to showing you how to use those platforms to their full potential.
Next, you’ll have to become familiar with budget airlines and be aware of how they are different to normal airlines. Check out my Guide to Budget Airlines. They will be the main type of airline you will fly with.
Then, you’ll have to learn about the different ways you can save even more money on your flights. Check out my Guide to Cheap Flight Strategies.
Once you’ve got the flights part down, you’ll need to learn about the other types of transportation available and how to plan out your transportation between destinations that are too close or too expensive to travel between via plane so that you spend even less:
2. Use Rome2Rio to see what other transportation options are available
The first thing you should do when trying to figure out how to get to your next destination (assuming that you aren’t flying there) is to use Rome2Rio to see what transportation options are available in the first place.
Simply input your departure and arrival cities and click search. Rome2Rio will then show you the different ways you can get there. Disregard the prices for now and just take note of all the options available.
While Rome2Rio is good at showing you lots of options, they don’t always have all of them for every destination so a little research on your own might be needed too.
3. The bus will be your best friend
For destinations that are not too far apart, the bus will almost always be the cheapest way for you to get there. Get used to taking buses if you want to save money because train tickets are typically more expensive.
The best website for finding and booking bus tickets online for any destination in the world is Busbud. For Europe it’s Omio and for Southeast Asia, East Asia (not including South Korea), Australia, New Zealand, and some destinations in South Asia, it’s 12go.
Not every destination will have online tickets available though so don’t fret if you don’t see any buses available on those websites because you may just need to get your tickets from the bus station itself instead. Sometimes you can get even cheaper tickets by buying them directly at the bus station instead of online too.
You can get more info about traveling by bus in my Guide to Bus Travel.
4. Check for trains as well
Sometimes the train will actually be cheaper than the bus. There isn’t a website that exists for booking trains worldwide, but there are websites that focus on specific regions.
Both Omio and 12go also let you book train tickets with them, although with an extra service fee. Compare the prices and itineraries for both trains and buses on those websites if you’re traveling in the regions they cover.
But the best thing to do is to go to the national or private railway’s official website for the destination you’re in to check for schedules and prices. I include a link to the respective website in each country’s Destination Guide.
If the website is in a foreign language and it doesn’t give you the option to change it to English, use Google Chrome and you should be given the option to translate the webpage into your language. You can also go to the train station to look for tickets.
Oh by the way, in Europe there is also a pass called Eurail/Interrail or RailEurope that you can buy. They can be convenient, but it’s actually cheaper to plan out and book your trains one by one in advance is cheaper than to buy that pass. And if you combine train travel with the other forms of travel here, you’ll save even more money!
You can get more info about traveling by train in my Guide to Train Travel.
5. See if you can rideshare
In some parts of the world, there is a new way to get around which can be cheaper than buses or trains and it’s called ridesharing.
Not to be confused with ride-hailing (i.e. Uber, Lyft, or Grab), ridesharing is more like a formal version of hitchhiking except instead of standing on the side of the road with your thumb in the air, you book your ride online for a fee with someone who is already traveling to your destination with their car.
You get the driver’s contact information and you confirm the meeting point which could be anywhere in the city. Then you meet up with them and they’ll take you to the agreed destination!
It’s most popular in Europe thanks to Blablacar (also available in Turkey, India, Mexico, & Brazil), but it’s gaining ground in Canada (and some cities in the US) too with Poparide.
6. Consider hitchhiking
Almost everybody knows about hitchhiking, but not that many people have actually tried it before. Even though I like to be organized and have everything planned out, even I have hitchhiked before in my travels, usually out of necessity.
If you really want to save money, this is the cheapest method of transportation since it is free! Hitchhiking can be done worldwide, although it is safer in some destinations than in others.
A really great resource for information on hitchhiking anywhere in the world is Hitchwiki. Search for the country you’re in and you’ll get information on the local customs for hitchhiking and if you search for a specific city, it can tell you the best spots in the city to get picked up from. It is a lifesaver and should definitely be checked out if you plan to hitchhike.
And if you want to get some more information on hitchhiking in general, check out my Guide to Hitchhiking.
7. Take ferries for free by asking drivers if you can join them
A lot of people don’t know this, but you can take most vehicle ferries for free by finding the lineup for the vehicles that are about to board the ferry and asking drivers if you can hitch a ride in their car as it boards!
If you’re not traveling with a big group, chances are that you will be able to find at least one driver nice enough to let you do this. It does also help to have a grasp of the local language as not everyone will be able to speak English in foreign countries.
If the ferry company charges per passenger in a vehicle, then this will not work and you will have to buy a ticket normally, but if it doesn’t, then it’s worth a try!
Some drivers may ask you to pay a small amount like $5 as a courtesy to them or maybe you buy them a treat from the ferry’s shop to say thank you, but that’s nothing compared to the cost of some ferry tickets!
Make sure to do your research beforehand and check how the ferry company you plan to travel with charges its passengers. If you want to know how to find those ferry companies, check out my Guide to Ferry Travel.
And that’s it!
The best strategy is to mix and match! Compare all the options available and take whichever form of transport is cheapest for you to get to where you need to go during your travels to maximize your savings.
Let me know if this guide helped you out in the comments below and once you’ve become an expert at cheap transportation and you want to save even more money, then you’ll also need to become an expert at cheap accommodation. Find out how in my Cheap Accommodation Guide.