I am constantly blown away by the vast amount of people who assume travel is only for the rich and retired. More than anything, time and money seem to be the top two excuses holding many people back from traveling. We’ll save time for another day, but in this article we are talking about money — and how you don’t need loads of it to travel the world.
In the summer of 2015, I spent a week traveling solo with Dubrovnik as my “home base” and did day trips to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. During that time I spent less than $600 — and I could have done it for even less. Today I’m sharing my budget travel secrets and how you can do the same!
You can see the full breakdown below in the travel budget spreadsheet of how much money I spent, what I spent it on, and my average daily cost. You can also view the full spreadsheet for more detail.
Looking back, I was thrilled at how little it cost me to visit three different countries in a week. In case you’re not convinced, there was still more you could do to cut costs.
Stay in Mostar or Kotor
Although I only spent $35 a night in Dubrovnik, staying in Mostar or Kotor is even cheaper. Prices are as low as $10/night in Mostar and $8/night in Kotor. Dubrovnik may be cheap compared to other large cities around the world, but as the most touristy city in Croatia it is also the most expensive in the country. Read my budget travel guide to Dubrovnik for cost effective tips if you do decide to make Dubrovnik your home base.
Be flexible with dates
Not only is Dubrovnik the most popular Croatian city, but I also visited in August which is the busiest time of year out there. If you can be flexible with dates and travel in the off season, prices will be even cheaper — but keep in mind this comes at the expense of some tours and attractions having limited hours or not being open at all.
Take the ferry to the islands near Dubrovnik
I did a pre arranged island hopping tour to visit Koločep, Lopud, and Šipan, the only three inhabited islands that are part of the Elaphiti Islands. There is a ferry that goes between the islands for about $3 each way, and while you won’t have a guide this will save you some extra money and will give you the freedom to decide for yourself how long you’d like to stay on each island.
You could do the same with the day trips to Mostar and Kotor by taking the bus, but you would still pay about $15-20 for a one way bus ticket. For that reason, I would advise booking a tour if you’re just going for the day so you can also have the benefit of a guide accompanying you and explaining landmarks along the way.
Cut out drinks
I only had a few drinks over the course of the week, so they were fairly inexpensive for me. Yet, at around $3 for a beer, it could add up quickly if you make drinks a regular part of your purchasing habits. Bringing your own water bottle that can be refilled will also save you from spending on disposable plastic water bottles.
Avoid the occasional splurge on food
If I’m going to splurge while traveling the first thing it will be on is food. Having a delicious, authentic meal that might be on the pricier end is fine with me. Zuzori and the Taj Mahal were my two favorite splurges in Dubrovnik. They still weren’t expensive compared to fancy restaurants back in the United States, but they ran me about $20 each just for myself.
Most of the time I opted for a sandwich or something simple for lunch or dinner, which only cost around $2-3. To be even more effective with your money, shop more often at the grocery store so you can cook your own food or make your own sandwiches.
There is nothing wrong with luxurious travel. But if you can’t afford that kind of lifestyle, I urge you to not let money be the excuse that holds you back. With a little extra planning and frugal spending habits, it is possible to travel to incredible places on a tight budget.