To all long-term travellers, money is the bane of their existence. It’s the one irritant that we all share and deal with in wholly unique ways. Often on our travels, when a group of bumbling-about backpackers get together it’s a union, a circle of flowing ideas, tips and advice, a melting pot of ’secret ingredients’ that keeps us on the road for longer.
We are not the cheapest travellers, we are not here to help you scrimp or tell you that if you only eat rice and never buy a bottle of wine you will be able to travel indefinitely. But we can help your budget go further by sharing several ideas that have kept us on the road adventuring and exploring for over 6 years.
Eating local in Central America, Asia and many other places around the World will halve your food bill… at least! Often only a few roads away from built up tourist areas, eateries will have substantially lower prices alongside great quality local food. If you fear getting sick, simply follow the locals and head to places which are busy and go with the flow. Keep a look out where bus drivers and cab drivers eat- they are usually spot on!
How often do you meet people abroad and they say “when you’re in my area get in touch, you can crash at ours for a few nights.” Take them up on their offer.
We’ve recently been house sitting our way around the UK on an ‘Ultimate British Road Trip’. We are spending less that £100 per person per week for groceries, fuel, a car and accommodation and it’s all thanks to house sitting. We compare house sitting websites and prices in our blog post ‘Our 11 favourite travel tools of 2017‘
Speaking and understanding even the most basic of phrases will encourage you to travel and eat locally. Fearing communication with a local will merely steer you towards the more western/expensive eateries or transport modes.
It might give you the shivers to squabble over a few pennies but bartering is mandatory throughout the globe. It will not only promote respect from the locals but also deliver cheaper deals and a bit of a laugh.
If eating local means expensive meals like in some parts of Europe and Australia, then a few baguettes with cheese and tomato will help keep costs down and perhaps increase the romance of your trip, Ha!
Travel bloggers are there for a reason, make use of them. We bloggers have the most up-to-date information regarding transport costs, local scams and pitfalls, budget accommodations and do-it-yourself travel information.
A website focused on partnering ships with crew mates regardless of your ability. You can contribute towards costs or score a trip for free if you become a competent crew member. Cooks, deckhands and lookouts are all needed. Not only is your transport cheap but you will visit some seriously unique places, learn new skills and have one serious adventure. Becks crewed 2 sail boats for 5 months reaching Papua New Guinea, Palau, Micronesia and Philippines from Cairns, Australia. The first vessel she sailed for free in return for manual labour prior to leaving and the second was a contribution of $20 a day to cover food and fuel, an experience she will tell you was second to none.
Becks and I will never deny an adventure if our heart is set on it, no matter what the cost. However a couple of nights away from alcohol can equate to a few nights accommodation (unless you’re into the local brew… it’s usually cheaper than water!)
Hostelworld, Hostelbookers and Lastminute.com may not always be the cheapest option but Agoda and booking.com have some awesome deals closer to the date of arrival.
This is a big one. The more flexible you are the better the deals you can get on fights. Not only be flexible on dates, but destinations too. Skyscanner has a search tool that allows you to select From: ‘Anywhere’ and To: ‘Anywhere’ or From: ‘Europe’ (any airport) To: ‘Anywhere’. In 2014 alone we picked up £50 flights (one way) to Iceland from the UK, £20 flights to Portugal from the UK, £200 flights to Turkey from Indonesia and £250 flights to Mexico from the UK.
Skyscanner also allows you to check prices for the ‘whole month’ – if you’re flexible you can hold off a few days/weeks for a much cheaper airfare. Our flight to Cancun, Mexico from the UK was 1 of 2 flights that cost £250 during the month of February with the rest of the flights costing £600.
It’s not something we do all the time but if we feel safe and are not in rush to get somewhere, we don’t hesitate to jumping in the back of a ute or the front seat of a truck. We saved $300 on transport by hitching in western China and created some of the best travel memories and stories to date.
We have met many travellers that use their skills to save money, ourselves included. If you’re good at art maybe you can score a few nights of accommodation in a hostel in return for painting a mural. Maybe you can use your dive certification to guide a group of divers in return for a free dive trip, or play your guitar at a hostel for free food/accommodation. If you have the knack for photography it’s possible to get some discounts on tours in return for some promotional pictures of the tour? You don’t know if you don’t ask.
Those men shoving signs in your face and beckoning you to book tours with them are highly annoying after a 12hour bus journey. BUT, often they are promoting cheap accommodation, transport or tours which isn’t yet advertised or that’s overshadowed by the guidebook recommendations. If you can’t face them at the time ask for a business card and contact them later on.
Slowing down your travel can only mean you travel smarter. With less travel days you will only be feeling more refreshed, enthusiastic and calm and thus less tired and less likely to crave western comforts that come as a higher price. You will have more patience to haggle over prices or to choose a local bus over a tourist bus.
Do a little research, read some travel blogs and find out about how the locals travel. Braving local buses will not only get you closer to the locals but will also be much cheaper than taking a tourist bus.
Whilst you have money, keep your savings in a high interest account until you need it. Even if you only receive $40 a month interest, it’s still essentially free money.
“It doesn’t cost a thing and you meet so many wonderful local people who share the same interests in travel” – Gabrielle, The Gobe Wanderers
Although it can be pain to carry a tent, Katie from Feathery Travels saved so much money in South America camping and would recommend it to any adventure goer who is looking to get off the beaten track and have a little more freedom.
As long-term travellers we see the importance of how far our money goes. We understand that without money, we cannot travel. These 17 tips will surely make your pennies last longer but not only that, they are also likely to enrich your experience within a country and with its people and let’s be honest, what makes greater travel memories than that.
If you have any more advice, we would love to hear from you. Write them in the comments section below and we will be sure to add a link to you from our world travel blog.