The boon of budget travelling is well and truly blooming, and the days of travelling expensively are becoming less and less fashionable. Travelling with less money is becoming popular, easy and more accessible, and its benefits are great. That said, travelling without much money is of course relative to how much ‘not much’ means to you. But in this blog, we take a look at some of the ultra-budget ways you can view the world without seeing a negative bank balance.
In a previous post, we considered ways to find cheap travel deals, with low-cost providers of flights and accommodation so in that article you can find cheap ways to find the inexpensive basics. In this post, we rather consider day-to-day ways to save your cash, and potentially travel for months with hundreds rather than thousands of dollars.
Location: This one is perhaps the most important. Location is key. It’s possible – relatively – to travel cheaply anywhere, but you’ll be able to do it better and longer if you travel somewhere where the economy isn’t so strong. Regions like Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and South America offer incredible opportunities to survive on less than $20 a day, and you can still eat well, travel well, and see some life-changing things.
· Couchsurfing: The website Couchsurfing is a brilliant resource if you’re willing to forego a little bit of privacy in the quest to save money. This website works via hospitality exchange. On the website, you simply search for people who live in a place you’re planning to visit… then you can stay with these people entirely for free. Sometimes you might sleep on a couch, sometimes on a bedroom floor, other times in your own king-sized bed. This style of travel also has the fantastic advantage of allowing you to link up with real locals to enrich your experience and learn about the culture, cuisine, history, and traditions of the places you’re visiting.
· Other accommodations: If you’re not quite willing to use Couchsurfing, you can also find super cheap hostels and guesthouses, both online and in person. Whether you find these places over the internet or simply walk in and ask at the desk, it’s very possible in some regions to find a reasonably-comfortable bed for $4 or less. Websites like Hostelworld offer some really fantastic deals, and hostels are an amazing way to become acquainted with other travellers and make friends. Camping is also a brilliant – and unique - way to save money, but it’s good to check the legality of doing so; in some countries it’s illegal to camp in non-sanctioned areas.
· Hitchhiking: This one, though perhaps a controversial entry, is definitely a great way to save money when you’re on the road. The days of hitchhiking around the world are considered by some to be dead and gone, but that simply is not the case. Many people thumb their way from country to country, and it can be a fantastic way to see the world and meet local people along the way. Some countries are more hitchhiker-friendly than others, so while it might be really difficult to find a lift in Spain, drivers in Georgia, Armenia, or Thailand are very likely to stop and pick you up. It’s also worth noting that it’s illegal in some countries, so you should check the law before you stick out your thumb. Be cautious and sensible, don’t hitchhike at night or in dangerous areas and do it only where you feel comfortable. For the right person, hitchhiking can be a budgeteer’s dream, and there’s really no better way to meet local people. You’ll often be offered food, drinks, and a place to stay. Hitchwiki is a great website if you’re looking for tips, tricks, and an introduction to how to get started.
· Other forms of transport: Depending on where you are, you’ll find that certain methods of transport are cheaper than others. For example, in Germany, France, and the UK, coach travel is very cheap, whereas countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka have insanely low-cost train tickets. Check what’s cheapest for your particular destination, and don’t use transport which is designed exclusively for tourists. Always travel how local people travel; they know the best deals and methods to cheaply get from point A to point B, so follow their lead. Some serious budgeteers even cycle their way around the planet.
· Markets: You wouldn’t eat out for every meal at home, and the same can apply when you travel. Supermarkets and food markets offer a great way to eat on a budget, and many cheap accommodations even provide a kitchen for you to make your own food. Local markets also offer a great way to see what people really eat, and you can get some incredible bargains if you take a little time to investigate what’s expensive and what’s not. Watermelons in one country might cost $5 a kilo, but might be ten times cheaper elsewhere. Local produce will always offer you great value.
· Eat where local people eat: if you really want to eat out, eat where local people eat. If a place is full of foreigners and English menus, you’re probably going to pay a premium. Ask local people where they eat if you want a more affordable – and probably tastier – meal.
· Working: if you’re travelling for a very long time, you might want to consider picking up a job wherever you are. You need to check the legality of doing so before you proceed, but as long as it’s permitted, this can be a great way to make money, reduce your costs, and get to know locals. Websites like Workaway even offer voluntary roles if you want something more casual or unique, with some outrageously interesting jobs that you couldn’t even dream up.
Travelling no longer has to be expensive. Make use of these tips and you’ll be more than able to travel long-term with only the smallest of budgets. Your only limit is your imagination.