Traveling can be expensive, especially in big cities, but I do have some advice on how you can save money and do it on the cheap.
GO WHEN THE WEATHER IS NICE, BUT NOT DURING PEAK SEASON
If the weather is nice, you can spend most of your visit outdoors (at the beach, in a park or gardens, along the river, etc.) which will save you lots of money, so try to plan your trip for a season with decent weather. However, make sure it’s not peak season as that’s when all the prices are jacked up.
Eat street food. Utilize local supermarkets. Cook. If the weather is nice, picnic in a park. The gardens at the Eiffel Tower is a popular destination for picnicking and drinking wine or beer while enjoying the power and mystique of the tower. If you really want the restaurant experience, go at lunch time during the work week when there are deals.
STAY AT HOSTELS, AIRBNBs OR TRY COUCHSURFING
Basically, opt for affordable accommodation with a kitchen so you can cook your own meals and buy your own booze. Some hostels even have free breakfast and/or dinner. Avoid hotels or accommodation where you’re forced to eat out for every meal.
NEVER PAY FULL PRICE TO SEE THE SIGHTS
Avoid the over-priced tourist attractions, and instead visit those that are free. A quick Google search for “free things to do in (city)” will probably clue you into what sights don’t charge. Research free days at popular museums. Seek out alternatives; for example, in Paris, instead of paying to go up the Montparnasse tower, you can enjoy an equally spectacular view from the Printemps department store cafe.
SEEK OUT CHEAP NIGHTLIFE AND ENTERTAINMENT
Research free events or how to get free entrance to clubs. Go to happy hours when there are drink specials. Find live outdoor music at plazas and free local festivals. Do as the locals do in many cities and buy a bottle of something and sit outside in a plaza, park or along the river.
DO A FREE WALKING TOUR
Many cities offer free walking tours, so find one and go. You’ll be expected to tip so it’s not completely free, but it’s still a lot cheaper than a paid tour group, and you’ll get to learn about the city and meet other travelers.
SPEAKING OF WALKING…WALK EVERYWHERE
If you walk as much as possible, not only do you not have to feel guilty about not getting enough exercise while traveling (and hence, save on paying for a gym if that’s something you were considering), but you also save on public transportation costs. If you can’t walk it, then take public transportation, and be sure to research the best deal based on the length of your stay and how often you’ll be using it (i.e. buy a pass instead of individual tickets which usually cost more). You can also check out bike rental options (such as Velib in Paris).
USE BUDGET AIRLINES, OVERNIGHT TRAINS AND BUSES OR RIDE SHARING APPS
If you can find a cheap flight, great (booking in advance with a budget airline on a website such like farecompare.com or lastminute.com helps). If not, overnight trains and buses are not only affordable, but you also don’t have to pay for accommodation that night. Pick up food and provisions at the supermarket before you board. Ride sharing apps like BlaBla car are another cheap way to get from one destination to the next.
If you have a huge suitcase with you, not only will you be more tempted to take taxis, but many budget airlines will charge you for the extra weight. So, try to keep your luggage to under 15 kilograms.
GET AWAY FROM THE TOURISTY AREAS
The restaurants, bars, shops and everything else are going to be more expensive in the touristy areas (for example, Montmartre in Paris, Ipanema in Rio, Palermo in Buenos Aires, Sultanahmet in Istanbul), so if you want to save money, venture into more local less touristy areas for dining and shopping.
USE WIFI AND FREE APPS TO STAY CONNECTED
If you don’t need to be connected 24-7 while traveling, then just stick to using WIFI on your phone and staying in touch with friends and family that way, through apps like Skype, Facebook and Whatsapp. Many cities have city guide apps that can be used offline.