7 budget travel tips for short-term travel

Long-term travel isn’t in the stars for us right now due to family circumstances, but we need to satisfy our wanderlust one way or another. Since short-term travel is relatively expensive I started thinking about ideas for affordable short-term travel. Here are the budget travel tips that I came up with so far.

I’m not (yet) seeing how we can combine tropical, scuba destinations, short term and affordable travel and a home base in Holland, but hopefully we can come up with a solution! We have a rental apartment in Haarlem, that we would keep as a base. Because it’s social housing, it’s affordable, but we aren’t allowed to sublet. So while traveling we would still have substantial costs back in Holland.

Our wishlist

(luckily we’re not asking for much ;-))

  • Relatively cheap to reach
  • Cheap to stay (accommodation and food)
  • Good wifi
  • Enough time for me to work
  • Sunny and warm
  • Scuba diving destination


Here are 7 ideas that I’ve come up with that tick at least a few of the boxes.

Budget travel tip #1: Long term home base abroad

Very often you get a discount if you rent for a month or more, and moving around is expensive. So it makes sense to choose one location and stay there for an extended period. If we’re in the same place for a few weeks we can establish a routine with Jace, and if we choose a location with good wifi, working shouldn’t be an issue either. So this option might work. Downside is that even with the discount the costs of the accommodation might still be high and now that Jace is almost three, we have to pay for his transportation (plane, train, bus). So we would have to look at destinations that are relatively cheap to reach AND offer affordable accommodation. Airbnb.com is an obvious choice to look for accommodation, but good alternatives are Flipkey.com, Homeaway.com, 9flats.com and Wimdu.com

Budget travel tip #2: House exchange

As mentioned before, in Holland you aren’t allowed to sublet if you rent social housing. But, you can arrange for a house sitter. Officially you can’t ask for rent, but you might be able to exchange other services. It would be a great solution if we could do a house exchange! Haarlem is a great city to visit and our apartment is in a pretty strategic location, close to a supermarket and other shops, very near a bus stop to the city center, about 10 minutes away from the center by bike, free parking in front. Our apartment is quite small (about 40m2), which might be an issue, but the major downside to this idea is that the minimum period is three months for an official, housing corporation approved, house sitter. Also both parties need to be in Holland at the same time for an appointment at the housing corporation to sign a contract. If we had a house of our own, this would be a lot easier, for instance with Guesttoguest.com or Homeexchange.com

Budget travel tip #3: House sitting

This seems like a great option to stay in a new place for a while, with minimum costs. We might have to spend a bit more on transport to get there, but accommodation would be free. Since it most likely involves pet sitting too, we would be at home a lot and should be able to minimize our spends on eating out and sightseeing. Of course with Jace we want to make sure that there’s enough to do and see in the direct area and that it’s easy to reach stores etc. We might be able find a house sit a bit closer to home for the first time, so we can travel there by car and have our own transport while we’re there. I’d love to give this a try! There are so many house sitting websites though that it’s hard to choose, Trustedhousesitters.com is one of the biggest, but Nomador.com also seems like a good option.

Budget travel tip #4: Work exchange

Mau could make use of this building and renovating experience in exchange for accommodation and food. The challenge might be to find a place where they wouldn’t mind hosting a family though. And I would have to have enough time to work, so I can make enough money for us to live and pay rent at home. I guess for the hours Mau would have to put in, it’s not really worth it. He’d make a lot more here in Holland for the same work. But still, it might be an interesting option, as it would be a whole new experience. HelpX.net and Workaway.info are great sites for this.

Budget travel tip #5: Buying a campervan

Some friends of ours are away most weekends in the summertime in their Volkswagen campervan. Their pictures always look amazing. Such freedom! We recently connected with a Dutch family with a baby boy who sold their house and are now traveling around Europe with an RV. What an adventure! Of course since I dislike the cold so much, we would have to make our way really far south in the winter and it would be quite costly to return home for shorter periods. But budget airlines might offer a solution there. Of course camping grounds aren’t free either, but if we stay in one location longer we might get a discount and save on gas too. This option wouldn’t allow us to go to those tropical diving destinations, but it’s still worth looking into some more.

Budget travel tip #6: Scoring deals by booking long in advance

We generally don’t like to plan ahead. You never know what will happen and we like to be able to change our plans whenever we feel like it. But, we can save loads if we would book a lot longer in advance. Plane tickets are much cheaper and you have a lot more choice in accommodation. It would also really help our motivation to know that we have travel plans coming up. The way we’ve traveled the past year and again when we were in Vienna, Prague and Berlin in May was to only book a day or two in advance. I feel we were lucky to get the apartments that we did, but I’m sure we would’ve had a lot more choice and more affordable options had we booked ahead. We might have to become a bit more organized (oh oh….).

Budget travel tip #7: Setting price alerts & watching deals sites

It seems that flexibility is also a great way to score travel deals. Platforms like
Secretflying.com, Booking.com and lots of airlines often have great deals, but you have to act fast. Mostly that doesn’t mean you have to be able to leave the same day, but you do have to decide quickly if you can leave on a certain date, even if it’s a few months away. Since we’ve never traveled that way it would be a big change for us. But I think we definitely have to start paying better attention to these kinds of websites!

Now that I’ve written this post I definitely feel a bit better! We need to do some more homework, but it seems we have a lot more options than I originally thought. Of course it’s so much easier to feel depressed, and sit around and complain, but if we want things to change we need to take action! Hopefully these ideas will help! 🙂
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