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11 ways to travel the world when you’re broke AF

Saving money for a holiday can sometimes feel impossible when times are tough, but what if we told you that booking cheap flights is possible on the tightest budget, all without giving up the fun and adventure that makes travel such a joy. Yup, it’s true, so start counting your pennies and check out how travel the world when you're broke.

1. Try flash sales for cheap flights

Some folk might break out in a cold sweat over the idea of spontaneously buying flights to some faraway place, but flash sales really are a great way of scooping cheap holiday deals. You could try saving up what you can before the sales hit, so it’s less of a shock expense all at once. But if saving still feels as unlikely as a Friends reunion special, just remember: if you work out how much you spend on store-bought coffees, Netflix and booze in a month, cutting down for while could help you save even more. We’ve also got you covered on this one, as Skyscanner Price Alerts ping you an email when your desired flight drops in price. That way you’ll never miss a bargain again.

2. Hostels are cheaper (and cooler) than hotels

Let’s be brutally honest here, hostels aren’t the sole domain of smashed gap year students or people born after the internet became a thing. They’re clean, safe and friendly places for travellers of any age who are travelling on a budget. Better still, at some hostels you can even save money on food thanks to free breakfasts, while complimentary wi-fi and in-house bars trim back on your spending even further. For many of us, if you’re broke it shouldn’t matter where you stay, as long as you’ve got a comfy bed to sleep in. Still not convinced? Here’s our guide to 12 of the best hostels in Europe. Some of these places really need to be seen to be believed.

3. Eat and drink local to save money

Eating and drinking like a local isn’t just a great way to save money on scran, you’ll also be able to enjoy your destination the way it’s intended while trying new cuisine. If you need recommendations for where’s good, you can always ask hostel staff and check out reviews online. Digital diners might want to download foodie app Ekplate, which lets you search for nearby street food wherever you are. You can even check out reviews from other users. Who knows what mind-blowing street food or local institutions you might unearth? We’ve served up even more tasty, bite-sized (too many food puns sorry!) tips in our series The Local’s Food and Travel Guide. It’s full of recommendations on where to eat in some of the world’s most popular destinations.

4. Rent your stuff out while you’re away

The gig economy is still very much a thing, thanks to the popularity of Uber and other sites. It’s also a great way of making back the money you’ve just spent on your trip, all while you’re off enjoying your holiday.For example, you could rent out your home using Airbnb or TripAdvisor’s travel rental site Flipkey. You could even use transport site Turo to rent out your car while you’re abroad. Want to cut down on your spending even more? Our guide to finding deals on last minute flights can give you food for thought.

5. Cycling is cheaper than taxis

Rent a bike. No really, we know that many of you are going on holiday to relax and do as little exercise as humanly possible (and that’s perfectly fine of course). But if your bank balance is deflating as quickly as a burst paddling pool you could hire a bike to cut back even further, and you’ll get to tour some wonderful scenery. Better still, if you’d to quaff on some local culture, you could take a bike tour with other tourists. In fact, the rather handy site Cycle Tours Global has a directory of over 7,500 tours to help you work off all those pesky holiday calories before you head home.

6. Be a flexible traveller

As long as you don’t have your heart set on a dream holiday, you could try being super-flexible to find the cheapest flights and accommodation around. Sure you might be wanting a summer beach holiday in the blazing sun, but would a half price trip to somewhere colder like Reykjavik appeal if it was far cheaper? In some cases you can save even more by taking indirect flights with more stop overs, or by flying at less popular times of the day (which isn’t one for those who like a lie in, sorry!) We can help you with this one, because with our Month Search tool lets you find out precisely when in a month or year is cheapest to fly to your ideal location. Less faff, more savings for the win.

7. Try working while on holiday

The idea of working while on holiday might make some people be a little sick in their own mouths, but if you’re on a longer backpacking trip you might want to check out Skillstay, where locals offer free accommodation in exchange for your skills. It’s also worth checking out Workaway, which is a volunteering site full of social projects designed to help local communities. From teaching English to school kids in Thailand to helping out on a farm in Ireland, both sites are full of character-building opportunities abroad. If that doesn’t take your fancy, perhaps travel writing is your calling? Tempted by the backpacking lifestyle? Check out our guide to the 10 Best Backpacking Tips and Tricks to find out how you can get started.

8. Always milk the freebies

Seriously, don’t feel bad for taking hands, especially when they’re there to be had. For example, many destinations around the world offer free walking tours in exchange for donations. The handy site Freetour has a directory of free tours held by locals around the world. They’re great for sampling places like the locals do, and finding things away from the tourist areas. Also, don’t forget to hammer any free Wi-Fi you find, scour your travel guide for deals, and keep your eye out for more freebies. Just remember, there’s no shame in it and absolutely no one will look at you funny, we promise. Speaking of free, the official Skyscanner app is a free and great way to quickly search for flights, accomodation and car hire around the world. Why not have a gander and see what’s on offer?

9. Pack smart to avoid baggage fees

Ask yourself, ‘do I really need everything I’ve packed?’ If the answer is ‘no’ then you could try packing lighter to avoid fees for excess or extra baggage. It pays to research your airline’s rules on carry on bags, and take as much onto the flight as they allow. You could even try the new craze of wearable luggage to make things easier. We’ve even made an entire guide to wearable luggage for you to check out. No really, this is a thing that people are doing and it works, honest!

10. Research as much as possible

This may be a no-brainer at this point but seriously, if you do as much research as possible before your holiday, the less money you’ll spend. Between local listings and reviews by other holidaymakers, there are countless resources out there designed to help you have fun on any budget. That also goes for knowing when your destination’s peak time is. That’s typically when prices skyrocket and your wallet starts to shudder with fear. Sure, going to somewhere typically warm like Las Vegas in January might mean it’s colder, but you’ll also get less crowds and cheaper rates. Our Best Time to Book tool shows you the cheapest months to fly to a country, or give you an idea of how many weeks in advance you should book. Do your homework and you’ll have more cash to spend on fun while on holiday.

11. Keep an open mind

Last but by no means least, if you keep an open mind you’ll not only have a cheaper holiday, but a far more memorable one too. By talking to locals you might learn of some amazing new spot to check out, an authentic place to eat, or a fun activity that you’ll be telling your friends and family about for years to come.

Happy bargain hunting, and if you’re hungry for more thrifty tips, here are some more guides to inspire you.

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