Budget Travel vs. Minimalist Travel

At first glance, budget travel and minimalist travel seem to be synonymous, but there is actually a specific difference between the two. Let’s break them down, so you can decide which travel style is best for you.

Minimalist Travel

According to Travel Off Path:

Minimalist travel is a lifestyle that involves owning less material items so you can travel and experience more.

This idea leads to several other minimalist trends, such as a capsule wardrobe and packing list, so you’re carrying less, but you have additional funds to focus on things such as nicer lodging, a nicer destination, or even traveling in the first-class cabin of the airplane if that’s your thing!

If you’re looking for a great resource on minimalist packing, to start your travel journey off on the right foot, check out this article from Her Packing List which illustrates that less is more when you focus less on the clothes you bring, and more on the destination that you are visiting and what you can do there.

Some other tips for following a minimalist travel trend start with packing, and limiting your packing to one carry-on bag per traveler. This way, there is no hassle and no waiting for checked bags. You can step off the plane and go, since your carry-on has all of your stuff right there! Here’s an article from the Postcard Press archives on some basic packing 101 for air travel, especially for carry-on packing.

If you want to focus your spending on food and adventures, then definitely shop around the neighborhoods for lodging, such as AirBNBs or even check if local residents offer couchsurfing. Maybe you’re interested in staying in a nicer hotel, but don’t want to splurge on food–then consider grocery shopping locally instead of going out to eat for every meal. Opt for lodging that includes a kitchenette so you can take care of your own meals, and bring snacks with you when you’re out and about!

If you’re a foodie and love staying in a high-class hotel but don’t want to blow money on Ubers and cab fare, consider taking public transportation instead. There are so many different things you can swap out, but still be a minimalist traveler!

Budget Travel

Now, moving on to budget travel, here’s a good description of the term from Nomadic Matt:

A traveler who spends his money wisely, no matter how much he spends, is a budget traveler.

I would simply think of a budget traveler as someone who wants to have as much of a culture-filled experience as anyone else, but is budget savvy and looking for deals at every turn. This doesn’t mean a traveler should cut corners that they shouldn’t and regret not trying a new kind of food, or doing or seeing something they considered a waste or “too expensive.”

Starting with lodging, I already mentioned couchsurfing, or even staying with those you know. If there is any way you can score cheap or free lodging, that will cut the costs of your travel expenses drastically. Once you’re settled, consider ditching the transportation you may need and consider, once again, public transportation systems or even bike rentals if you’ll be in a mild climate with safe bike lanes.

Once you’ve arrived and are ready to get out and explore, don’t think that you need to pay for every activity out of pocket. Many travelers don’t realize how many free activities there are, and what you’re missing if you don’t take advantage of them! Here’s a great article about traveling to London on a budget, and all of the fun stuff to do there for free!

As mentioned before, another way to cut costs is to grocery shop like a local, but if you don’t want to miss out on the local drinks and cuisine your destination has to offer, talk to some locals and look for food and drink deals. Find out the resident’s favorite places to eat that won’t break the bank.

Finally, let’s talk about shopping and how buying dinky souvenirs will seriously wipe out your expenses in one fell swoop at the cash register. Instead, think about sending a small postcard with a photo of you, instead of a tacky fridge magnet or something else that can be found in any other tourist trap gift shop. If you do like to shop around and take something home with you that you can wear, instead of hitting the expensive shops for clothes, seek out some smaller independently-owned boutiques and even thrift and second-hand shops. You may even find something so unique and one-of-a-kind that it couldn’t compare to a fast fashion shop such as Forever 21 or H&M.

Well, there you have it! Minimalist travel tips, budget travel tips, and the difference between the two!


Are you a budget traveler or a minimalist? Do you have any tips to share that would fall under the term budget traveler or minimalist traveler? We’d love to hear them! And pssst! Don’t forget to pin!


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