More and more people are hitting the road with just a backpack and a one way ticket just like I did! However travel requires money, obviously! Every country is different with some costing a lot to travel and others being budget backpackers paradise! With my 3 year travelversary coming up I thought I would make a mega blog post of the tips and tricks I have picked up along the way to travelling the world on a budget!
I also have a huge video about 20 ways to travel for free which packs in loads of ways to bring down the costs almost to nothing! I have also tried to link as many blog posts and videos to this article if you need a bit more information!
- Couchsurfing is one of the most popular ways to save money on the road! Couchsurfing is an online community where people open up a spare room or sofa to travellers FOR FREE! Not only is it great for saving money but you will also get to stay with a local and make some life long friends!
- Hostels are easily the most popular option for budget travellers! Using HostelWorld you can browse through endless listings of cheap hostels around the world.
- Airbnb has been my all time favourite since I left for Australia 3 year ago. Offering cheap short term rentals you can really find some super unique places to stay at super low prices! We rarely use anything else!! You can get $35 off your first trip if you sign up here.
- Agoda is my new favourite when all else fails! It lists everything from hotels to guesthouses and they have some really competitive rates!
- Don’t be too quick to book though, make sure your new digs are well located so you don’t end up having to pay a fortune getting around the place!
FOOD AND DRINK
- Pick a hostel with a kitchen to cook your own meals or make friends with those in a hostel and cook up a feast together!
- Supermarkets are great for picking up some snacks and picnic style lunches!
- If you visit the supermarket a couple of hours before closing you may be able to grab some super reduced items to help you out!
- Lots of hostels have “Free food” bins where people can throw in food they haven’t eaten before they check out!
- It’s a tried and tested win, but see where the locals are eating and follow suit. You will normally find the prices to be much lower and food much better!
- Markets are normally always a winner for a cheap and tasty meal! You really get a taste for that country so be adventurous and get in and amongst the locals to try some killer dishes!
- Alcohol can be expensive in some countries so look out for happy hour, backpacker areas and student towns for special deals. Or have a couple of drinks at home before you hit the town! Drinking is normally a bank balance killer so be mindful that if you like to party, you will need to have a larger budget!
- For short haul flights, avoid buying food on the plane! Get some snacks like dried fruit and nuts to keep you going on your flight!
- Getting from the airport to your accommodation can get really pricey especially if you don’t research it before hand. The bus is normally the cheapest option but normally takes the longest.
- Download uber or Grab if you need to get a taxi anywhere.
- A lot of big cities will offer a transport card where you tap on and tap off and this will generally give you cheaper rates, so if you are there for a while it might be worth picking one up!
- Walking is a great way to save money but sometimes in super hot countries you won’t want to do this for long trips. Buses, songthaew’s and trains can be the best way to get around. If it is cheap enough, don’t ruin your time there by trying to save a buck by walking, getting burnt, sweaty etc. Just get the train! However walking is my favourite option as I feel you can orient yourself so much better and explore hidden gems!
- Also big cities may offer public bikes which you can find docked around the city!
- ONLY if you are an experienced and confident rider, scooters are an awesome way and one of our favourites to see a new place! Never hand over your passport as a deposit and maybe get your accommodation to help you arrange a good price for hire.
- Consider going hand luggage only. This can be a challenge especially now with the 7kg weight restriction and if you are visiting cold climates but the price for baggage on every flight you take will really add up!
- To find cheap flights you have a lot of options such as SkyScanner, Momondo and Kayak. I love using SkyScanners “Everywhere” function to sooth my wanderlust as it shows the cheapest flights out of a specific country. From there I get a price and cross check it with Momondo and Kayak to make sure I am getting the best price. Checking the airlines website directly can be good to see if they can offer it cheaper.
- Another tip for using Momondo, I have found they are normally the cheapest price around but with their algorithm it seems to be so cheap because the layovers can be super long! Once we saved £140 on our flight from London to Thailand because there was a 24 hour layover in Stockholm, Sweden! So essentially we budgeted the day for the money we saved on the flight and got to see a whole new place, for free!
- Don’t worry about pre-booking your other transport before you get there. when you arrive, just book your buses and trains once you arrive. Sometimes you need to go a day or two before to the train station to get a ticket if it s a popular and long trip (eg: Bangkok to Chiang Mai on the overnight train.)
- Even though it takes longer and may not be as comfortable, getting the bus or train long distances can really save you a tonne of money and I just see it as a bit of an adventure! Check out my guide for surviving long bus journeys here!
- Hitchhiking is an option for a few people. We tried it once in New Zealand and it was a great way to get to places public transport just won’t go. I am no expert on this so you may want to do your research before hand. But a lot of friends say it’s an incredible way to get long distances, meet some great people and save money!
- Go to the airport the night before if you have an early morning flight. It will save you on taxi fare and accommodation, you just have to sleep in an airport! Make it into an adventure!
ATTRACTIONS & ACTIVITIES
- Some big museums and art galleries are completely free and can give you a great insight into the history and culture of a country. Also, some bigger museums that normally charge can sometimes offer free entry on certain days so check that out!
- Appreciate the smallest moments on the road. They are the ones that come for free and the ones you will cherish the most. Sit in a cafe and people watch for a few hours. Explore the city with your camera and do some photography. Hike a huge hill to get the best view. Watch the sunset from the beach. You don’t have to break the bank to experience a new country!
- When it comes to the big stuff like skydiving, bungee jumping etc, they all cost A LOT of money!! Most budget travellers can’t afford to do every single activity, so pick a couple you really want to do and make sure you put money aside for those. Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in incredible experiences. Don’t expect to do them all, but treat yourself to at least a couple!
- Beach days are the best because they are free!
- DO NOT try to do everything!! You won’t be able to, it will just exhaust you and you will end up seeing less! Take some time out. Relax. Wander the city and take your time. 3 hours people watching from a cafe is not a waste of time!
MORE MONEY SAVING TIPS!
- Withdrawing money abroad can be terrible for your budget but there are a few ways to bring the cost down! Try and pick up a travel money card before leaving but make sure to check a few things first. Travel money cards are widely accepted where you simply load money in your chosen currency on the card and use it to withdraw cash on the road and even make purchases at the till. Some cards will freeze the exchange rate at the time you load, which can be good and bad, so look out for that. Also, all ATM’s generally have a small charge which is normally unavoidable!
- When you do withdraw cash, don’t do it in small sums! You want to try and reduce being charged by your bank and the ATM as much as possible, so withdraw enough to keep you going for a little while. But try not to withdraw too much as carrying a lot of cash can be terrible, especially if it goes missing! We like to withdraw maybe once a week (MAX)!
- When it comes to buying travel insurance you can get some great deals if you just shop around! Using websites such as MoneySupermaket will compare prices from all over the place. STA travel and similar companies offer 12 and 24 month packages but they will cost you a lot! If you are on the road long term, World Nomads is one of the only companies where you can legally buy and extend travel insurance when you are not in your home country. Not the cheapest, but sometimes the only option!
- Don’t feel bad about shopping! Of course buying less material possessions will help keep your bag to a smaller weight and help your bank balance but if you want that silk scarf, go for it! Hunting around markets for a great deal and having a haggle is all part of the experience.
- TRAVEL SLOW! This is the biggest piece of advice I can give you! The quicker you move the more you spend. Flights, buses, visas, accommodation will all rack up quickly when you are constantly jumping from country to country. Plus such heavy moving can be utterly exhausting. As we travel full time and I work online, moving slow makes sense for us. We love to grab a cheap apartment for a few months, refresh and then head out on a 3 month adventure, then stop again. Don’t feel as though you need to tick absolutely everything off your bucket list in order to feel as though you have really travelled. It’s not about how many places you have visited, it’s about how many memories you have made! Take it slow, really take it all in and experience a new place.
I really hope you found that helpful! I am sure I have missed a tonne of great tips so let me know in the comments what your hacks are for keeping costs low when you’re travelling! I have a tonne of other helpful videos on all these topics so you can have a browse on my channel if you need some more in depth advice!