HOW TO KEEP COSTS DOWN WHILE TRAVELLING
On top of budgeting while backpacking
Saving money and setting off on your adventure is a huge accomplishment. You've worked hard, been conscious with your outgoings and stuck to your plan. Don't let this all go out the window by wasting your hard earned cash. Your travels will go much further if you learn how to use your savings wisely.
To keep your travel costs down while on the road and to get the most time and experience out of your trip --- learn to live like a local. By learning the basic rules and tips on how to get by cheaper, all around the world, you will see how far your money can stretch you. By this, I don't mean being super tight with your cash or counting pennies! It's all about using some common knowledge and realising, you're not on holiday.
Below I've written some general rules that I always remember without question on my travels.
Walk, Cycle or Skate as much as you can and for as long as you feel safe. When you arrive in a new city, the best thing to do is wander or 'get lost' on purpose. Not only is it cost-effective but this is where you will see things most people don't and experience a place fully for yourself. (Take your hostel/guesthouse address card with you)
Use Public Buses, Trains & Water Taxi's when the place you want to go to next, is that bit further. Buses and shuttle boats used by the public are always very reasonable. Trains can be a little more but generally get you there faster. For Europe, check out the rail passes available and price the tickets you're planning on using in advance to save money.
A 'chicken bus' in Nicaragua! Decorated school buses brought from the states used in Central America for public service. They're the cheapest way to get around there!
If you need to use a Taxi, Tuk Tuk, Rickshaw or Motorbike Taxi, set a price first or request a Taxi to turn on their meter. Never just hop in before agreeing on a price, this gives the taxi driver the right to name any price he likes once he's taken you to your destination ---- something he will take great pleasure in doing!
Carsharing or Hitchhiking is regularly used in some countries! Find someone who is going on the same route as you through the app BlaBlaCar, request to car share with them then share the costs! It's an extremely well-received app and is perfectly safe. It connects locals with spare seats to tourists who need a ride as well as splitting the travel expenses.
Hitchhiking freely on the side of the road has to be more cautiously executed but, is more common than you would think in some places like Scotland, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Israel, Central America and New Zealand. Always be aware, use common sense and politely offer to chip in money once you've been given a ride.
Eat Street Food Everyday. It won't kill you! Don't worry about getting ill, the food is fresh, always delicious and made in front of you. It's the cheapest way to eat and lets you try local cuisine in the most traditional way. Head to the busy and bustling street stalls full of locals ---- they're popular for a reason!
Noodle Soup & Red Pork, at a street stall in Sukhothai
Find Hawker Centres and Food Markets. These are a collection of different market stalls packed together selling seriously cheap and delicious meals. The selection could be anything from interesting snacks to spicy soups to yummy desserts. You will love touring the stalls, testing out the different tastes and sampling the local delicacies. Some food markets are near quirky bars and are a great way to spend a fun food-filled evening. My favourites are the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre in Chinatown, Singapore and the Ratchada Rot Fai Night Market in Bangkok, Thailand.
First Hawker Centre in Singapore
Take a Pre-Packed Lunch or Cook your own Food. In places like North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand, shopping for food at the supermarket and making your own lunch or supper, is sometimes the cheapest option. Take a break from exploring with a picnic in the park, beach or national garden. Bringing your own lunch is a great option when going on paid day tours that don't include meals ----- the food that's on offer is usually overpriced. At night you can save your cash by cooking for yourself. Most hostels have common kitchen areas and supply equipment where you can use your culinary skills.
Avoid Restaurants in the middle of a Tourist Spots. Restaurants that are directly in the vicinity of popular landmarks, tourist beaches or tourist streets are usually overpriced and serve low quality food. Ask workers from your hostel or the host of your Airbnb where they like to eat for cheap and which residential areas to head to for amazing food.
Remember Airbnb. This site lets you book alternative accommodation options for a great price! Not only is it cost-effective but you can also find somewhere to stay that's really unique and traditional. It's always amazing value for money. I only used Airbnb during my trip in Croatia. I stayed in stunning, secluded apartments with pretty views and modern finishings, all costing next to nothing. Browse thousands of listings all across the world of rooms, camper-vans, tree-houses or entire homes you can rent nightly privately from the owner.
This house in Ubud, Indonesia was rented through Airbnb for £30 a night!
Hostels/Guesthouses/Inns. Stay clear of pricey business hotels while travelling and stick to these. Hostels charge you per person and usually have fun and convenient common areas for backpackers. The rooms are set apart by how many dorm beds there are in each of them ---- the more bunk beds there are, the cheaper the room is.
Guesthouses and Inns are also very cheap but offer private rooms and private bathrooms. They don't usually have common rooms or kitchen areas though. If you're travelling as a couple or with a friend, a private room in a guesthouse could be cheaper than paying for two beds or a private room in a hostel so always compare.
One of many stunning guesthouses I've stayed around the world
Try Couchsurfing at Least Once. Couchsurfing is a social networking site that connects open-minded locals to wandering travellers. Kind-hearted people open up their homes and offer their spare bed or couch for free. It's a perfect opportunity to meet interesting people, experience a new city from their perspective and save money.
Get lost in the scenes on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
Free Walking Tours. These are really popular in Europe where you meet at an organised starting point and explore the city with a guide. It's perfect for solo travellers who have just arrived in a new place, as you can sight-see for free, meet new people and find your way around. Other cities across the world can be explored in an organised yet freely way also ---- check Lonely Planet guidebooks for maps of a walking itinerary you can carry out on your own or with friends.
Museums. Learning about new cultures and their history is fun and connecting. Many museums are actually free of charge to enter and a great way to learn about a new place. I was in awe at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. It was one of the best things I did with my mum while we were there on a weekend break --- I couldn't get over it was free!
Experience Nature. Soak up the sun and waves at the beach; hike across a national park; find waterfalls or get lost in a forest. 'The best things in life are free' is a true saying. Go out and enjoy the beauty of the world.
Haggle when Shopping. If haggling is accepted wherever you are then don't forget to bargain with a vendor when shopping for that perfect gift or souvenir. Don't settle for the first price offered, try halving it then taking it from there. Always stay respectful but if you know you're being ripped off or not getting the price you want, walk away. They will be sure to call after you and sell it for the price you suggested.
Volunteer. There's no better way to give back than to go out and help the people who actually need it. Your time away will slow down and it will give you the chance to reconnect. When volunteering, you will find yourself and realise what you're truly passionate about. By helping others you will get something from a country you didn't know was possible. Look for local volunteering opportunities rather than larger organisations.
Try out WWOOFing.
Browse the listings and apply to work and live on an organic farm for food and accommodation. The site gives you the opportunity to connect with farmers and live on organic farms across the world.
Don't forget WorkAway.
This is a site where you can exchange your skills and help out a few hours a day for accommodation and food. I've heard of people staying months at some Workaways for the experience or sometimes a couple weeks to tide themselves over until their next destination. You may find yourself helping with construction on a deserted island, building a new Eco Home or House Sitting! I've met friends who house-sat someone's impressive villa, swimming pool and took care of their dogs for them in Indonesia for 3 weeks --- all while getting to stay at the actual home and have food prepared for them. They were able to splurge afterwards because they had spent next to nothing!
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
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