So, you’ve scrimped and saved for months to afford your trip – congratulations! If you’re hoping to make your trip last as long as possible, there are some really easy ways to continue saving money while you travel to help your budget go even further.
Disclaimer: this doesn’t mean that you need to exist only on bread and water for your entire trip. It should just help to stop your money disappearing faster than the world’s glaciers once Donald Trump is finished with the environment.
A complete guide to saving money while you travel
Book your flights in advance
The days where you could hop on a cheap last minute flight seem to be gone. Instead, flight prices generally seem to increase as you get closer to your departure date. We’ve had a couple of shocks along the way which have led to us changing our travel plans so be prepared! If you know you’ve got to catch a flight at a specific time, bite the bullet and get it booked in.
Check out all your options
The most popular option isn’t always best so do your research. Before I got to Australia, I assumed a Greyhound pass was the best way to travel the East Coast by bus. However I got chatting to a few girls during my Rainforest and Waterfalls trip in Cairns and discovered another company, Premier. While there are less buses (just one per day compared to a selection), it saved me almost £100! Plus, they showed movies on the bus which is the kind of journey I can deal with.
Transport costs can mount up quickly so knowing your options in each place can really help you out. For example, we paid 100 baht for a 10 minute tuk tuk in Chiang Mai when we arrived not-so-fresh from the night train. Then we discovered the songthaew: a cross between a public bus and taxi van that costs just 20/30 baht per person. Make this switch and use the money you’ve saved to treat yourself to a massage. Oohhh.
Cover all bases
I used to log straight into Hostelworld, assuming it was the cheapest, pick a place and that was that. To be honest, this worked just fine when I was travelling alone in dorms. But if there are two or more of you, checking out Airbnb or hotel search engines like Booking.com shows that you can often get a twin or double in a guesthouse for the same price as two dorm beds. This is a great one for when you want that little bit of extra privacy to relax.
Grab the perks
Without contradicting my last point, you’ll also want to be sure that you’re getting value for money. Two places may be the same price but maybe one will include in a free breakfast. Yep, free food is the best way to get me interested! Other great extras to look out for include a free welcome drink, tea and coffee, movie nights, kitchen events or laundry. Some of the best hostel freebies I’ve enjoyed in include:
- Base Sydney: while not my favourite hostel, its extras were aimed at people getting to know each other. There are free daily activities, like a Bronte beach BBQ, and free food events too
- Sir Cedrics Southern Laughter (Queenstown): free veggie soup each evening
- Tamada Hostel (Chiang Mai): all-day snack bar with instant noodles, drinks and toast
Location, location, location!
If you’re going to be moving from place to place often, you want to get the most out of your time possible! It might turn out that you can stay a little outside of a city with brilliant transport links to the major attractions and save a ton of money. It can go in the totally opposite direction where you find yourself forking out over the odds to get around which is a huge pain. Personally, I always try to stay in a neighbourhood with great food and drink options nearby. Speaking of…
Food and drink
Head to the streets
In Asia, you can’t go wrong with freshly-cooked street food for value. The Pad Thai pictured above cost just 30 baht (70p) on Khao San Road in Bangkok! Restaurant meals are cheap by Western standards but if you compare £4 to a £1.50 street food stall without a noticeable difference in quality, it seems like a no brainer.
If you’re travelling in more expensive Western countries, get yourself to a supermarket pronto. It sounds boring but when you’re eating a picnic lunch at Roy’s Peak in Wanaka, those quickly-made sandwiches taste like the best thing in the world. One girl I met travelling solo in Australia said her favourite thing to do was to buy some hummus, wraps and carrot sticks and sit in a local park or beach to soak up the atmosphere while she ate. Plus, it’s a great way to spare yourself from that terrible airport food!
Happy hour drinks
Pick your wishlist
While you’re backpacking, you will be inundated with the huge amount of amazing activities on offer. What I would suggest here is knowing the big budget things that you want to splash out on and doing your research. For example, if you want to do a skydive in New Zealand, don’t rush and get it done as soon as you arrive in Auckland because you just want to tick it off your list. If you know there’s a particularly mind-blowing bit of scenery out there later in your trip – whether it’s Lake Taupo or Queenstown – waiting will be so worth it. Otherwise, you could spend a whole lot of money doing things twice that you wouldn’t necessarily choose to.
Grab yourself a deal
Agencies catering to backpackers often offer multiple-booking or combo deals for popular activities -e.g. ‘$100 off your Whitsunday boat tour when you book your Fraser Island trip’ in Australia. While often it can work out cheaper to book things yourself, deals like this are the exception!
The best things are free!
As I’m completely not an adrenaline junkie, free activities are usually my favourite. One of my most memorable travel experiences is hiking the Tongariro Crossing and it didn’t cost a penny. So many cities have free walking tours running which can be a fantastic way to get to know your surroundings. You can get insider tips and cover a surprising amount of ground all in one go. And if historical sights ain’t your thing, a bar crawl is kind of a walking tour, right?
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this short guide, designed to help you find the best ways of saving money while you travel without missing out on a thing! Let me know your best money saving tips in the comments…
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