Travelling the world can be expensive and leave a lot of people feeling overwhelmed at the financial prospect of it all. Luckily, the world has opened up and there are now many opportunities to travel no matter what your budget. Below I’ve compiled a list of tips that from experience helped me stretch out my pennies whilst on my solo travels. Also for anyone interested, I’ll leave a link to ‘How I Saved £10,000’ here if you want to see a pre-trip financial guide.
Again, these are all based on personal experience. Some may work for you, others not. Take what helps and work with the rest. Travel is amazing and worth all the hard work.
- Plan Ahead.
Get in there as early as possible, especially with booking flights. I know people like to book these things on a whim, but you can save a lot of money planning and booking ahead. For example, I booked my flights just under a year ahead and for all of my international flights including return I paid around the £1400 mark. That was flying on a super jumbo jet with airlines who average ticket prices start at £1600. ALL my international flights.
That’s a huge saving.
This goes for planning trips and activities as well. For the Southern Hemisphere, Backpackers World Travel are a great company. They HAVE to price match and consultants are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. They also foster good relationships with clients so are able to call up and get you discounts on the spot which other companies wouldn’t have access to.
I booked multiple trips with them and wouldn’t hesitate to use again in the future. Here’s there website for more info. My initial travel was booked with STA travel, there site is here if you’re interested.
2. Budget, budget, budget!
I’ve discussed this before but the power of budgeting cannot be underestimated. Make an assessment of cost for each of the countries you’re visiting. Places like Asia and South America are going to be significantly cheaper than say Australia or New Zealand. Work with a budget, even a rough one, so you’re not left short on cash or stressing when you should be taking in those views. Consider which order you want to visit countries and prioritise what activities you want to do to make your money go the furthest.
I’ve put a link to an online budget calculator here.
3. Hostelling is your friend.
We’re not talking about YMCAs . Traveller hostels are geared towards travellers: friendly, cheap and for the most part clean, hostels are the best way to travel and meet people, not to mention saving on the pocket. Asia offers some amazing hostels for as little as £3 a night whereas western countries will be more expensive with less quality.
If you’re travelling around Australia, New Zealand or United Kingdom consider joining the YHA member schemes for savings and discounts. Their hostels are monitored and held to a certain standard so you’re guaranteed some level of cleanliness. They also run great themed nights, some free and some for a small contribution. YHAs were some of my favourite hostels on my travels: simple but effective.
4. Travel overnight to save money.
Glamorous? No. But it saves time and money combining travel and sleep. The Bangkok to Chiang Mai sleeper train is one of the more popular ones in Thailand, or in Australia break up an twelve hour coach trip by taking it over night on the Greyhound in relative comfort.
A popular choice for lots of travellers all over the world. Picking up farm work, english teaching or labouring not only benefits the bank balance, but allows you to really get your teeth into a country and see how the locals live. Organsiations like BUNAC are great for really walking you through the process and giving you all the support you might need like setting up a bank account and listing jobs, whilst worldwide organsiations like WWOOF – Willing Workers On Organic Farms – are available for travellers who want to volunteer on farms in exchange for food and lodging. Although not paid, it is a great way to see quieter areas others won’t get to.
6. Plan Expensive Things
How you do this is down to personal choice and the types of activities you are interested in. For example if you’re doing a tour of Asia/Oceania and you want to do diving, this will be cheaper somewhere like Thailand than Australia. Just factor these activities into your budget so you know where your exepnses are and how much that will leave you to work with.
7. Food Choices
In cheaper countries eating locally is inexpensive, delicious and an immersive cultural experience (so is the dodgy belly unfortunately). For a few pounds you can have delicous Pad Thai or Massaman Curry cooked fresh by local people, and will do more for your palate and belly than any burger would. Street food is another great way to try new flavours so don’t be afraid to experiment, but top tip: always go to the ones that are busy and store their ingredients safely. Eat nothing that is just sitting out unprotected and warm.
Cooking your own food where eating out is too expensive will also save on your pocket and gives you the freedom to cook anything you love. It’s a good time to try out the new recipe you picked up in China, or group cook with some friends and make it a feast!
Hiring a campervan? Taking a coach? Exploring by bike? Choose which one is best for you based on your expenses and choice of country. If you want to camp, offset the economy of camping versus the cost of hiring and running a car to take you there. Same for the campervan. If this is something you want to do, consider going with a group to split the costs.
Coaches are an easy and comfortable way to get around, taking you to the top places and often coming with a discount or package. The downside of course is you will only see the ‘beaten track’ and nothing of the hidden gems.
This point also ties in to point four about saving money by travelling overnight. Something to consider when deciding on travel/accommodation options.
9. No Souvenirs
It’s very tempting to buy that penis bottle opener or silk scarf, but think: you’ve either got to carry it around for the rest of your trip or pay to send it back home. Plain and simply – don’t do it. This is your experience, your money and your trip. You are not obligated to buy souvenirs as you would a week on the Costa Brava. Your nearest and dearest will understand. Your photos are their souvenirs.
There we are, my nine top tips for travelling on a budget. Whether you want a weekend in Paris or an adventure year, remember: it IS possible.