A lot of friends and other backpackers have asked me how I can travel as much as I do. Where do I get the money, are things not expensive? “When I go on 2-weeks vacation I spend a huge amount of money. How can you travel for 6 to 8 months a year?”
I have lost count of how many times I have got these questions- Well here’s my answer on how to save money while traveling…
I never set a daily budget, I do what I want to do, and I like to eat good and I like to have a “few” beers.
By following these 11 easy tips, I manage to travel for 6 to 8 months a year on a low and smart budget.
I’m not going mention things like; CouchSurfing, WorkAway, Student Cards etc, since I assume most backpackers already know about those.
These are original tips I have found to be true while traveling.
1. Travel Light.
I can’t say this enough; travel light! light traveling = cheaper traveling.
Most people bring way more stuff than they need, or use, on a trip. Packing as if you are in a hurry, and bring only what you need!
If you pack one t-shirt to little, or you run out of socks, you can buy these anywhere (and usually much cheaper).
Not only does all low-cost airlines charge for check-in luggage, but a lot of buses- and ferry companies also charge.
Packing light enough to bring as carry-on can save you a lot of time and money.
By traveling light you also never have to pay to store your luggage. If you buy a lot of souvenirs it will be cheaper and less of a pain to ship it home, then to carry it around.
2. Stay Central.
Even if it might cost a bit more to stay central, you will save time and money on transportation.
You also tend to get longer days since you don’t have to plan your return to the hostel/hotel, far away out in the woods.
It’s not just good exercise and calorie-burning. You will save a lot of money on transportation, and discover interesting places where few other tourist has been. I often get invited in for a cup of tea/coffee (..or vodka), by locals that are not used to seeing too many foreigners (..even if there are a lot of tourist in the city).
4. Don’t book accommodation beforehand.
A lot of hotels/guesthouses/hotels have walk in discount, and you can ALWAYS find cheaper accommodation if you walk around a bit. Remember, the cheapest accommodations don’t spend money on adverts or by paying commission to online booking pages.
So don’t dismiss a guesthouse for its lack of reviews or shabby facade.
My good friend and web designer, Thomas, actually offers small unknown hotels a free website for free or cheap accommodation.
5. Check your options.
As mentioned, never check only one hotel/hostel/guesthouse. Some accommodations might have the same standard and price, but one might offer things like; free breakfast, free coffee/tea all day, free shuttle transport to the city or airport, etc.
6. Get up early.
Everywhere I’ve been it has been cheaper to eat early in the day. A lot of places offer breakfast deals to cache the early-birds on their way to work or school. Normally a big portions, coffee/tea, and juice. Some places offer the all-you-can-eat buffet. These places usually open from 6 am to 10 am.
7. Don’t stay in places recommended by guide books!
Guesthouses/hostels tend to crank up the prices when they get into the a guidebook. A lot of accommodation owners I’ve talked to openly admit it. The reason being the fact that; once you’ve got you hotels recommended in a guidebook, you get a stable flow of customers. The quality tends to drop a lot after this, which is sad.
Always go for the local bakeries, bars and restaurants.. there’s a reason the locals are there.
9. Don’t dress like a hippie.
You don’t have to dress as a hippie even if you travel on a budget.
Only hipsters do that shit. They love embracing the “dirty-backpacker” stereotype.
If dress decent there’s a bigger chance the locals will invite you over.
You wouldn’t invite some dirty foreigner, that looks like his clothes are falling apart, to dinner.. would you?
10. Flying can be cheap.
Sitting on a bus for 30 hours is not always cheaper than flying.
With more and more low-cost airlines, flying all over the world, flying can be cheaper than taking the bus. Especially if traveling light!
11.Get off the tourist trail.
Going to tourist places is always more expensive than going to rural places. In rural places you “never” have to pay entrances fees and commission, or pay to take a photo of some old lady in her “national dress”.
I should also say that heavy drinking and partying can hit you wallet, hard. But I don’t want to be a hypocrite 😉
If you need more tips on how to save money, check out this post from Allison.