The number one question when travelling all the time: how can you afford it?
Easily, to be honest.
However, a common trait for backpackers travelling on a budget is to become obsessed with it. Suddenly, you’re travelling with people who are freaking out over anything that is over a dollar – it’s not pretty.
This can be avoided by prioritising what costs the most and working out how to make it cheaper. Making everyday life a lot easier, and ultimately, calculator free.
Do Your Research
When travelling, your budget can have a huge impact on your choice of destination. While some countries may be expensive when it comes to flights and accommodation, you may be surprised how cheap it is when you get there. The only way to figure this out before you step off the plane is to do your research, thoroughly.
Many countries boast affordability and worry-free travel, however, you should never rule out travelling to expensive countries on a budget. Many hostels offer kitchen facilities, allowing you to dine-in and spend time and money visiting the key attractions that may cost a little more.
When it comes to eating, often the home comforts of Western foods are what cost the most. To cut down on costs, opt for local food, researching a little beforehand will allow you to comfortably choose options that you think you would like without having to work out what the picture is.
Spoiler alert: the pictures have no likeness to what comes out.
Reward Yourself Regularly
I’m just going to clear the air here: travel on a budget does not mean travelling as though you have £5 in your bank account. If you travel wisely, you can afford to reward yourself occasionally with small things that you appreciate in life.
As opposed to splashing out on the occasional 5-star hotel for the weekend, or slap-up meal that costs more than your weekly budget, treat yourself to something you don’t have very often because of the country you are in. As I live in Asia, foreigners who live here go wild for cheese and wine or a Sunday dinner. So go ahead and set the date for your next treat and make it a monthly thing – you’ve only got one shot at it!
Leave Room for Mistakes
I learned this one the hard way, after planning a month of travelling and booking all of my flights in advance; I missed two and wasted a big portion of my budget.
When travelling extensively, you can never plan too far ahead: you never know when you will fall in love with a place. To make sure that you are not spending too much on last-minute flights, plan your early bookings around national holidays and long-haul flights to keep your costs to a minimum, and stick to them.
Work for Accommodation
There are always to get around in the world. And what’s more, where ever you go, there is always someone looking to welcome you into their business for little more than a bed and a meal. Saving money doesn’t get easier than this, and what’s more, you get to meet new people and potentially travel with them when you have a day off.
There are several web forums, such as Workaway that can help get you started, including a community of travellers who offer feedback on what the best deals are so you don’t end up stuck in a terrible situation. It’s important that you do your research thoroughly before selecting your spot. Value your time and your worth to make sure you are not being exploited in these situations.
Free Walking Tours and Sightseeing
Visiting a city soon and worried about the cost of it all? Walking tours are a great way to see a city and get to know its history without splashing out on a private guide. Often run by local historians, walking tours are incredibly informative and most of the time are free. It is advised to give a small donation, this is someone job, after all.
With this in mind, while travelling in any city in the world, you can always find free things to do. Whether you are looking to visit an art gallery, museum or see some of the architecture, most of the time these are cost-free. More often than not, you’ll find that UNESCO World Heritage Sites are not. However, if you do your research beforehand (see point number 1), visiting won’t cost you your lunch money.
Teach Online – The New Craze
Spreading across Asia and the rest of the world, teaching English online is the internet’s answer to making a living while on the road. For native English speakers, the only requirements are a degree, an ability to speak your language well, a quiet space and a tolerance for small children.
Each online centre requires a specific number of hours per week from their teachers, as long as you abide by the rules.
I’ll save you the time of researching this further: many online centres only accept northern American accents. Sadly, this is often what the English teaching world is like.
The golden egg of Asia, street food is a budget travellers dream. With most dishes costing a dollar or less, street food is the answer to all of your prayers when looking for a cheap and tasty fix, on top of that, it’s a great way to get to know the food and culture of the country you are in.
Before you get excited, bare in mind that tourist areas can and will charge you more, sometimes for food that is nowhere near the quality of its local counterparts. For the real deal, make your way out of the tourist traps and go early! When it’s gone, it’s gone.
Aim for Less Than 7kg
Did your heart just skip a beat? I hope not.
This is strictly reserved for the travellers that chase Summer. If you are constantly searching for sunshine, I cannot think of a reason why you need more than 7kg, especially when you are on a budget.
So, how can you do it? The first and almost the only step, think about the heaviest thing you have and find a way to reduce the size of it.
The number one culprit? A towel.
This is also the easiest to remedy. Opting for a travel towel is the one and only answer. While it does not dry you very efficiently, it definitely stops you from paying for extra luggage at the airport.
The key to the weight of the rest of your luggage is to choose lightweight clothing with essentials such as a jumper for the inevitable cooler day, or the inevitable cooler bus. When selecting your clothes for travelling long-term, choose items that you love and leave room for extras that you will purchase along the way.
Have you found a way to keep costs down while travelling? Let me know!