It’s not a big secret and not the most pleasant one, in fact you might not even like to hear these things but the truth is they saved me heaps of money, which I then could put on the bank in a special account with (albeit not much) higher interest rates. Let’s call it the “Addiction 4 Travel” account. You give up some addictive hobbies (if only for a while) and in turn feed your most addictive hobby, put the money away for later and get interest on top – not the mention the priceless memories you will make!
The General Drill
Everybody knows you can save a lot of money on accommodation by doing housesitting, couch surfing or crashing at friends’ places. Try work for accommodation, help exchange or wwoofing to sometimes even get free board as well. Online price comparisons for flights and signing up for newsletters on special deals also save a good buck and being flexible almost always pays off.
When it comes to flights, however, flexibility does not mean booking last minute as advertisements make believe. For the best times to book and other flight booking hacks, have a look at an earlier post of mine. And sometimes going by train or even bus is cheaper and you get to see more of foreign landscapes. Double win. Renting a car and sharing with friends might also be a good option, just check for insurance fees if you’re under 25 or it could end up really pricey.
The big budget reducer, alcohol has a way of sneaking in unexpectedly and at the end of the month your spent was much higher than anticipated. How could you say no when your new friends at the hostel wanted to show you the secret hot spot of the town or a new beer you haven’t tried yet? You don’t have to say no, but keep in mind three things. First, parties are possible when you’re sober and that is coming from a person who doesn’t drink alcohol.
I am far from a party pooper and am crazy just as it is (don’t give me coke!). Second, alcohol can be ridiculously expensive in some countries, such as in Greenland, Norway and Singapore. Third, especially during solo travel, it is paramount to retain your senses so as not to not be able to find your way home, get robbed or worse. Have you seen the story about the Australian who had sever frostbite after her first night in Canada? That stuff does happen.
‘So this one time in Canada, I got frostbite’: Australian’s photos of frostbite go viral
Again, I’m off the hook because that drink just doesn’t do anything for me (Just joking, you can give me coke, I need my fix!). But for the most people I come across the brown gold is just what they need to get by. But what if you reduced your coffee consumption each day to just one or two cups max? Just do a quick calculation and see how much that would save you per month. (Do it now!)
Plus, you have the added benefit of not being all weird and sleepless if you don’t drink too much in case you are that person (usually 4 or more cups per day is considered too much). And if that seems like a harsh deal, why not reward yourself once per week with a slice of cake or another fancy treat in the beginning? (But don’t completely blow the money you just saved and don’t develop a new addiction.) And if that seems to terrible for you to bear, know that some hostels and hotels offer free coffee.
Unless you stock up on ciggies in countries where they basically cost nothing, you might run into problems keeping your need for a puff alive without compromising your lifestyle. You wouldn’t want to be a chain smoker in Canada, Australia or France according to the Marlboro index. Again, I am not a smoker and have never understood why you would voluntarily stand outside in the cold or have a glowing stick in your hands on a hot day while being shrouded in a cloud of fumes. A positive thing is you get to meet a lot of new people and have an instant bonding experience.
Do you really need another hat? Do you even have space for that? And no, stacking 3 on top of another and placing them on your hat is not really the best option. Try travelling with only one bag and you will see how your life shrinks to the bare essentials. It might sound terrible at first but it will open your eyes to all the unnecessary things you used to carry around.
Are you not guilty of packing things you never or only once wore? I certainly am but travel is an excellent teacher and I am constantly amazed by how much I still learn. So the next time you think about a purchase, equal its value in your head to a part of your next trip. Who knows, it might be worth a train ride? Think about it. In the end it comes down to what you value more, experiences or material goods.
Food is a vital part of travelling. You will not catch me drastically reducing my travel budget to just live off pasta. I do that a lot but that is usually after I splurged on eating my way through all the street food there is in my new vicinity. And if you opt for trying national dishes in lesser known local spots, street stores or supermarket goods you will save so much more as compared to eating out fancy. Another way to approach this is to share different meals with friends. This way you can avoid paying the full price for something that turns out the be revolting, too!
And if you are hard pressed, then choose to purchase local dishes or ingredients in supermarkets or on farmers markets and cook yourself – alone of with friends. You can even prepare double portions to carry lunch with you for your next outing and not stepping intp pricey tourist traps. Plus, it will save you the annoying hunt for places to eat at.
If you are that kind of person that enjoys dropping off the face of the earth or have a break from social media pressure and electronic devices, then you might skip this one but every now and then you might need it. Investing in sim cards, portable hot spots or buying wifi access can be costly and quickly adds up. It is usually way more expensive for tourists anyway, so what to do? Search for accommodation in your budget class that offers included wifi and check reviews for comments on its reliability. I have turned my back on good places just because the wifi was mostly broken or actually needed to be paid for to be used for more than 30 minutes.
If you are a coffee junkie or like cafes in general, you can spent hours using the wifi in exchange for buying a beverage. Also, tourist information, libraries, main streets and train stations might provide free wifi. Read the small print before you access it, sometimes it is limited and you might reconsider checking your facebook over important mails.