Let’s face it. Costs can add up fairly quickly when you’re on the road. That said, having a budget can go a long way in determining how much you can experience during your travels. And adopting a money-conscious approach to wandering doesn’t have to be a limiting experience in fact, it forces you to get creative.

Today, we’re highlighting individuals whose crafty approach to spending has allowed them to travel the world without breaking the bank. From solo travelers to backpackers and luxury-loving wanderers, here are some of Instagram’s top budget-travel experts.

MONICA STOTT (@THETRAVELHACK)

What she does:

Monica Stott, the British travel blogger behind the Travel Hack, began blogging in 2009 when she embarked on a journey through Asia. In her words, that’s when she “totally caught the travel bug!”

For Monica, budget travel was never really a conscious decision. Rather, as a backpacker trekking through Asia and then as a student living in London, she faced financial realities that required her to embrace money-conscious travel. The more she resorted to craftiness to cut back on costs and extend the duration of her trips, the more she realized that travel is about a different kind of wealth entirely. Now the proud mom of two little boys, she exposes them to the world of travel as often as she can.

Her take on budget travel:

These days, Monica focuses on finding the balance between budget travel and unforgettable experiences. Not one to miss out on any once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, she occasionally “splashes-out” and treats herself to a lovely hotel or a nice meal. But, even then, she makes a point to travel with budget airlines and cut back on what she considers to be unnecessary travel expenses whenever possible.

Favorite budget-travel experience:

Meeting a savvy neighbor after staying in an Airbnb in Warsaw, Poland. The woman was generous enough to tell Monica about a handful of hidden gems within the city that she would never have known to visit without the local expertise.

A word of advice:

“Book as much as you can as early as possible. When the cost of the trip is spread out over six months, it makes it much easier to manage. It also keeps the excitement up and gives you something to look forward to as you plan a different element each month.”


RACHEL HILL (@RACHELTRAVELS)

What she does:

Rachel Hill is an Instagram influencer and digital strategist who first started adventuring around the world when she quit her corporate career in IT project management. This decision followed a year-long struggle with anxiety and depression, but what started as a personal journey soon transitioned into a mission: to make wandering her full-time job.

Rachel launched Rachel Travels as an open journal meant to document her first adventure, a backpacking journey through Southeast Asia. But soon after that solo trip, she noticed a significant gap in the travel-blogging market — a lack of narratives highlighting the experience of black travelers.

Through blog posts, online courses, consultations, and speaking engagements, Rachel Travels aims to inspire today’s generation of African-Americans to get out there and see the world, all while encouraging the idea that travel doesn’t necessarily imply spending a fortune.

Her take on budget travel:

Rachel is a firm believer that, contrary to popular belief, budget travel doesn’t have to be unpleasant — in fact, she’s proven it can be quite luxurious. From a beachfront penthouse in Dubai for less than $40 a day to securing a mansion on the coast of Jamaica for $59 a night, Rachel has a knack for finding discounted deals all over the world. The secret to her success is research. When it comes to planning trips, sites like Jetsetter, Airbnb, and Groupon are all on her list of favorite resources.

Favorite budget-travel experience:

Scoring a round-trip flight deal to Abu Dhabi with her family for only $178 per person — all thanks to a flight glitch she discovered while perusing a travel forum on Christmas morning.  

A word of advice:

“Start where you are! If you’re unsure about traveling on a budget, consider exploring your own backyard or taking a road trip to a nearby city. Also, take some time to research your intended destination in advance. This will help you plan out your budget. I find that using a personal travel budget template helps me account for  everything from flight costs, transportation, food, experiences, and more!”


JANICE WAUGH (@SOLOTRAVELER)

What she does:

Janice Waugh is a traveler by nature. At the age of 14, she saved up to join a one-month cycling tour through England and Wales — and she hasn’t looked back since. Whether traveling with her family, with her significant other, or by herself, Janice is well-versed in the art of wandering.

In 2009, personal loss, a newly empty nest, and a love for exploration all conspired to encourage her to create Solo Traveler, a vibrant community where solo travelers can exchange tips, suggestions, and encouragement. With her desire to travel always exceeding her financial resources, Janice began documenting her experience of traveling alone and on a tight budget.

Her take on budget travel:

For Janice, travel is about the experience rather than the money she spends. It’s about the people she meets and her ability to get lost, which allows her to discover the cultural nuances of the destinations she visits. Budgeting might require some extra effort, but in Janice’s experience, it’s more than possible and definitely worth it.

Favorite budget-travel experience:

Getting an authentic taste of the places she visits through Global Greeters, a worldwide network of local residents who volunteer to offer visitors guided tours of their respective hometowns for free!

A word of advice:

“Use hostels. Accommodation is sometimes the most expensive aspect of travel. Hostels can save you hundreds of dollars — even on a short trip. If you don’t know what the experience is like, you can read my article on the typical hostel experience.”


STEPHANIE PARKER (@BIGWORLDSMALLPOCKETS)

What she does:

Stephanie Parker is the self-proclaimed travel addict and founder of Big World Small Pockets who began her blog as an online resource for budget wanderers everywhere. Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, she left home at the tender age of 19 and set sail for a wild adventure in Southern Africa. Six months later — after living out of a tent for most of her travels, mastering the art of navigating African bus systems, and becoming an amateur sailor on a catamaran traversing the Mozambique Channel — she was hooked. In 2010, she chose a life of travel over a traditional career in London, and she hasn’t looked back since.

Her take on budget travel:

As a solo female traveler in her 30s, Stephanie brings a new perspective to the table. Her blog is aimed at women over 25 — and, more specifically, at those who might already have a career and are looking to dedicate some time to see the world. Big World Small Pockets highlights off-the-beaten-track destinations in Africa, Central America, and the Middle East — regions that boast an endless wealth of history, culture, food, and nature but tend to be less trodden by solo female travelers. Her motto is: Spend less; travel more.

Favorite budget-travel experience:

The kindness and hospitality she experienced from strangers in Sudan. According to Stephanie, she couldn’t walk 100 yards without having someone invite her into their home for a cup of tea or a plate of food. She even met shopkeepers who wouldn’t let her pay, taxi drivers who refused to accept fares, fellow bus passengers who paid for her tickets.

A word of advice:

“Work hard; save hard; travel hard. You can’t take money with you when you leave this world — and no one lies on their deathbed wishing they had spent more time in the office!


ELENA NIKOLOVA (@MUSLIMTRAVELGIRL)

What she does:

Elena Nikolova considers herself a citizen of the world. Born in Bulgaria, raised in Greece, and now a resident of the U.K., she currently calls Doha, Qatar, home. On a professional level, she is a content creator and writer for the award-winning blog Muslim Travel Girl, the largest Muslim-friendly travel site in the West helping Muslim millennials explore the world without breaking the bank.

Having grown up in a family that worked in the travel industry and owned a small hotel, Elena caught the travel bug at a young age. Traveling was always a dream for her, but the financial resources weren’t readily available, so she developed a knack for finding cheaper alternatives to exploring. With a passion for “beating the system,” Elena perfected the art of finding the best budget-friendly options to get to her destinations, all while still maintaining some semblance of luxury.

Her take on budget travel:

Throughout her travels, Elena noticed a significant gap in the market — the Muslim travel narrative wasn’t being explored as much as it needed to be. That’s why she started Muslim Travel Girl, so as to seek to help Muslims explore the world, remove the barriers that have been established, and prove that Muslim travelers can be just as savvy and adventurous as any others.

Elena believes it’s important for new generations to break the misconception that travel is inherently expensive. It’s all about finding the budget-friendly alternatives so that any itinerary can be customized to fit the needs and wants of each individual traveler..

Favorite budget-travel experience:

Taking advantage of  fare glitches on flights from England to Dubai for only $198, and  to New York for $296 — something that many people are quick to speculate is “too good to be true.” Though, for Elena, a close-second was visiting the Ionian islands in Greece, where she enjoyed walks by the sea and a souvlaki for less than $3!

A word of advice:

“Be flexible! That is the best advice I can give. Usually, the budget diminishes when we start putting too many demands on it. By being flexible you can have so much more fun. Explore off-season or take a longer layover and explore another city for free. You can even pick your destination based on the cheapest flights. My favorite flight tool is Skyscanner — I just love putting in the dates and discovering the cheapest flights to a country or city that I might have never thought of going to otherwise. It’s a very liberating feeling, and the memories are guaranteed to be priceless!”


KASH BHATTACHARYA (@BUDGETTRAVELLER)

What he does:

Kash Bhattacharya, better known as the BudgetTraveller, has an affinity for travel that began nearly 20 years ago when he studied abroad in Scotland. His weekends there were often dedicated to exploring the country and occasionally venturing to mainland Europe, but as a student with a limited budget, Kash found himself resorting to money-conscious alternatives. Regardless, he found his experiences to be priceless. For him, budget travel was a character-building challenge, something that forced him to research the destinations he wanted to visit and connect with people along the way.

His take on budget travel:

With a focus on budgeting in style, Kash’s blog has a unique take on what low-cost travel entails. While saving money is a key consideration, Kash believes that traveling on a budget is just as much about the creative challenge. From finding an expensive city’s cheapest eats to spending a night in a pod-style hostel dorm, seeking out unique experiences is one of the bonuses of being crafty with your resources.

For Kash, traveling on a budget is timeless. He’s found the “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” approach to travel to be a humbling one, as there’s always something worth learning from the travelers he encounters along the way.

Favorite budget-travel experience:

Backpacking South Africa across the Garden Route, a stretch of the country that has a wealth of affordable and amazing experiences, as well as a spirit of genuine hospitality. From paragliding in Knysna to zip-lining in Storms River and sampling the delectable feasts, the Garden Route is Kash’s budget-travel paradise.

A word of advice:

“Just hit the road. Get out there, regardless of how much money you have in the bank. When I was living in Edinburgh, Scotland, I had no savings whatsoever, but I packed my rucksack, checked myself into the cheapest hostel I could find, and met a whole bunch of friendly travelers. It allowed me to make a handful of memories and see Edinburgh from a different perspective. Sometimes, it’s just that simple.”


DANI HEINRICH (@GLOBETROTTERGIRLS)

What she does:

When Dani Heinrich set off for a year to travel around the world in 2010, she did so with plans to return to a corporate job in London. But that 12-month trip quickly turned into an eight-year odyssey. Globetrottergirls began as a way for Dani to document her journey, but when she decided that she’d rather choose a life of wanderlust than  return to a desk job in England, the blog became her sole source of income. When she embarked on her trip, she had just enough savings to keep her on the road for 12 months, so until she could make money writing and monetizing her blog, budgeting was a necessity. Fortunately, her budget posts and articles were among the most popular on her website.

Her take on budget travel:

Dani is not an advocate for traveling on as little money as possible. While there are travelers out there who survive on $10 a day and skip pricey sights, Dani simply makes it a point to spend her money wisely, sometimes dedicating hours to researching the cheapest ways to get around and places to stay. She makes sure to budget for more expensive experiences as well, like a snorkeling trip in Belize or admission to UNESCO sites like Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

For Dani, traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to rough it; you simply need to be smart about how you’re spending your money and planning your travels. She believes that if you book your transportation prior to arriving and reserve your rooms well in advance, your wallet will definitely stretch much further.

Favorite budget-travel experience:

Exploring Thailand and Sri Lanka, as they are both countries that boast everything Dani seeks out when traveling: beautiful landscapes, amazing food, interesting cultural sights, and stunning beaches. The way she sees it, nothing beats a $10 bungalow on the beach and a tasty $2 meal!

A word of advice:

“Start with an inexpensive country. Countries like Iceland or Australia tend to be expensive, and the Dollar–Euro exchange rate is not favorable for Americans at the moment. Visit a country where you can have an amazing time on $30 to $50 per day, such as Mexico, Colombia, or Cambodia.”


JACKIE NOURSE (@THEBUDGETMINDEDTRAVELER)

What she does:

Jackie Nourse, founder and editor of The Budget-Minded Traveler blog and podcast, has been living and traveling overseas for 15 years. From roasting marshmallows on a Guatemalan volcano to studying Portuguese in Brazil, backpacking in the mountains of Patagonia, and sailing with dolphins in Nicaragua, Jackie’s vagabond adventures have taken off full-speed since she first studied abroad in 2003. A firm believer in the idea that seeing the world and being exposed to other cultures is a fast-track to tolerance, understanding, and education, she began her online community as a way to show others how she’s managed to travel independently for so long. In addition to running The Budget-Minded Traveler, she’s also the founder of Traveling Jackie, a platform where she writes about travel and personal development and leads international group adventures.

Her take on budget travel:

For Jackie, budget travel is not just a blogging niche — it’s a lifestyle and a mindset.

Throughout her travels, she’s come to the conclusion that budgeting isn’t about spreadsheets, coupons, and numbers, nor is it dependent on flight deals, points, or hacking.  She’s confident that the key to affording international travel is simply choosing to make it a priority — a decision that starts at home. By paying attention to everyday saving and spending, and prioritizing travel over less important expenses, anyone can make it happen. Her blog and podcast series focuses on practical steps that can be applied at any time, encouraging readers and listeners to make smart travel choices that will ultimately enable them to save and travel more.

Favorite budget-travel experience:

Spending eight birthdays and four Christmases overseas, studying abroad four times, living in seven countries, and becoming conversational in five languages. These opportunities have allowed her to create and share the beauty of travel for a living all because she chose to make it her personal and financial priority.

A word of advice:

“Travel comes down to one thing: you. Wherever you go, there you are. Never underestimate your own resourcefulness. It’s not like jumping out of your comfort zone automatically strips you of all common sense and the ability to speak in full sentences. You will figure it out. Have courage. Just go.”


Did we miss anyone? Which budget travelers do you respect and admire? Let us know in the comments below!

Header image by @chuttersnap

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A Cuban girl with an American passport and a home in the Dominican Republic, Caro Moya is a writer and wanderer with an affinity for finding home in the unknown. When she’s not working for Passion Passport or planning her next big adventure, she’s most likely dipping her toes in the ocean or singing her favorite songs into a hairbrush. Follow along on instagram @caroocaracol