“How do you manage to travel all the time?” Friends often ask, puzzled by my packed travel schedule. What they don’t know is the side of me before a trip: scrimping on every penny I make and staying home instead of out partying. I’m a travel writer – life’s not as glamorous as you think, and my pay check’s not as loaded as a blue-collared executive. So before or during a trip, I tend to be extra careful with my money – I’m no expert; I’m merely sharing some of my own practices with those interested in travelling more and spending less. Hope they’re useful!
Before a major trip, I usually sacrifice party-time and instead, cook at home to save some pennies. For me, foregoing a night out with the girlfriends means saving at least $30 in just a weekend, which adds up to $120 a month (equivalent to one-week expenditure in South America!) There’s always plenty of free things to do on a weekend – take a stroll in the park or go out on a hike in the countryside – usually healthier than boozing.
2. Move in with your parents
It’s the fastest (but might not be the easiest) way of cutting down on your monthly expenditure. Renting your own place means approximately $500 off your earnings each month, pack up your bags and move back to your parent’s place and convert that into an extra month of travel in Guatemala. For the couples out there, find a cheap place to stay – who cares if it has a tv, private bathroom or even good location – you’ll cut down a big chunk of your spending.
3. Go where your dollar lasts
Instead of traveling around Europe, where your dollar isn’t going to go as far, travel to Eastern Europe, South East Asia or South America, where you can galavant for a fraction of the cost. Or if you’re planning a trip to Central America, spend more time in Panama instead of Costa Rica where prices are much higher. In Asia, take your time finding your way around Indonesia or Thailand where cost of living is lower than and then say, Singapore and Japan.
Photo by kiki99
4. Travel at off-peak period
A red-eye flight is going to be cheaper than one that leaves at a more convenient time. If you are flexible with your dates, try to fly on weekdays and non-public holidays. Summer travel tends to be the peak season, so if work doesn’t come in the way, travel when everyone else is not.
5. Scour for travel deals
Budget airlines have definitely changed the way we travel these days, a Ryanair flight can costs as low as 5GBP if you’re luck enough to snap it. Make sure to check out every airline and last-minute travel deal when booking your trip. Online travel coupons are also getting more popular, offering generous discounts off vacation packages or airfares.
6. Make friends with the locals
There are thousands of social media sites in today’s world – twitter, facebook etc. Give a shoutout when you’re visiting a particular destination to get the lowdown on what’s good and what’s not. The locals will know the best value places to eat, the fastest and cheapest ways to travel, and at times extend their hospitality by showing you around. At the end of your travel, you get a good understanding of the place you’ve just visited and you’ve just earned yourself a new friend.
7. Couch Surfing
A brilliant concept that brings travelers from around the world together, exchanging culture and experiences, and a free place to stay. The uninhibited can just sign up for free, do a search for locals living in your destination, write them an email and if they say yes, voila! – you have a free night’s stay on their couch! I personally adore couchsurfing, having done it a couple of times and always having an excellent experience.
8. Cook your own food while traveling
Although trying a country’s food is a large part of traveling (and often is one of the most important for me), eating out takes up your travel budget. Instead, visit the local food market (which can sometimes turn out to be an awesome experience) and try out whipping up some local dishes in your hostel. Or are you tempted to splurge on that gorgeous restaurant poised above the city center? Try to find a quiet spot right next to it, and bring a picnic with you to enjoy the same views for a fraction of the price.
A hostel kitchen – Photo by Alana Jonez
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