15 Proven Ways to Travel Guilt-Free

If I had asked 20 year old me, by now I would be living in a nice apartment close to an airport, with a nice salary and an amazing holiday coming up. Well, that didn’t happen. But I still travel. And I travel guilt-free.

The thing about travel is that it is generally perceived as an extravagant form of escapism.
But is it really? Here’s how you can travel guilt-free as well!


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Why is it ok to spend your money on fancy dinners, occasional cinema goings, the latest electronics and shopping? Those are escapisms as well. There is nothing wrong with getting your mind off things and just enjoy yourself. The only problem is that unless you’re a millionaire you have to set priorities.

And if you want to travel guilt-free and not drastically cut back on all your other spending, there are two factors you need to stick with.

  1. Calculate a realistic budget
  2. Sticking within that budget

But how to do these and still have the time of your life? How DO you travel guilt-free?

Glad you asked.

3. Don’t Encourage Temptation

I cannot stress enough how the ‘treat yourself, it’s your holiday’ mindset is just wrong. Not only does every single treat you give yourself gradually lose meaning and you will not remember or appreciate the one coke you bought at the expensive kiosk, but it will slowly eat away your budget.

4. Set Yourself Limits

In fact, you should keep up with spending habits the way you do at home. You don’t starve yourself at home but neither go shopping every day or out for dinner. It’s ok to want to try everything but you need to set yourself limits.

5. Know Your Hangry Times

I am one of those weird people who are constantly hungry and get hangry without food intake within two hours. It’s just the way it is and to prevent bad moods and desperate searches for food – usually in areas without affordable options – I always pack my own snacks.

15 Proven Ways to Travel Guilt-Free

6. Do Your Research

It also helps to schedule food times and research whether there will be nearby food options during your day trip. You don’t wanna be stuck in the only open restaurant in the middle of nowhere and offend the cook by not being able to make up your mind due to lack of affordable options (jep, that happened).

7. Have One Big Meal a Day

It’s ok to stock up on sandwiches for day excursions and stuff your face with the hotel breakfast or evening buffet. Sometimes it is well worth it to opt for the included food options with your stay even if it means you pay a little more.

8. Try Local Supermarkets

You need to keep in mind the time you waste trying to find a local supermarket (find out which ones are cheap and which expensive) and figuring out what is included in the products on the shelves and then to calculate the prices back into your own currency.

9. Go Local

Another option to buy local but cheaply are farmers markets. This way you can see regional products, chat with locals and get affordable dishes and sometimes samples. I loved Borough Market in London.

15 Proven ways to travel guilt-free
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10. Follow the Business Crowd

In case you do not want street food but hit up a restaurant, find out where the business people go during their short lunch as those are the lunch deals that you’ll love. Plus, you’ve got more time and can come in when everybody is leaving and avoid the crowds.

11. Check for Freebies

A lot of cities offer free city tours, for instance the company that guided me around Adelaide offers tours free of charge throughout the world. Your hotel might also know great free attractions or open museum days, such as are popular in NYC.

12. Meet the Locals

There are plenty of people who love to guide travellers around their home town or invite them to their parties. Sites such as Couchsurfing, EatWith, Ask a Stranger, Skillshare, ToursByLocals or Meet Up make it possible to catch up with locals and even learn a thing or two.

13. Only Do the Things You Enjoy

So everyone keeps telling you that you absolutely HAVE to see this attraction? Go up the Eiffel Tower, jump from the Sydney Bridge or visit Hollywood? Well don’t if you don’t feel like it. Either you are converted and will enjoy yourself tremendously or you won’t. The second is more likely since you already don’t feel too keen in the first place and would feel forced. It’s your trip!

15 Proven Ways to Travel Guilt-Free

14. Take Public Transport Everywhere

Not only will you save a lot of money by walking more than taking the bus or tram, but you will also explore a place from an entirely new perspective. By walking around Tokyo for two months I got to see so many suburbs and districts, which are all quite different from one another. I got to know a very different Tokyo than the general tourist.

15. Try an Outdoor Yoga Program

It can be any sport really, as long as it’s a local and not a tourist thing. While I was in Cairns, there were free activities every day by the Laguna and ocean. It was so much fun and you’ve got the perfect ice breaker to talk to others. In Malmö in Sweden I did beach yoga and dance. It was super tough but made me feel great afterwards and the view over the ocean was stunning.

Tell me: Do you travel guilt-free? Which of these tips have you not considered before?

2 Comments

  1. I would say this article is very helpful for everyone who loves traveling but on a budget.
    I love doing the local stuff, packing my sandwiches and doing the free stuff. Never had a chance to connect with people from the sites suggested above. Maybe I try in my next trip.

    • Hi Manjulika, thank you for your comment. I love travelling on a budget but at the same time getting the most out of it. I like a good mix of comfortable and budget travel – I like flashpacking. I hope you get to meet many lovely people from the different sites I linked to. All the best with your travels!

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