How to Travel the World on a Budget:
Hey everyone, Josh here again. I’ve been sharing some of the most valuable tips and tricks I’ve learned through my years of travelling. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a world traveller and freelance writer. I just returned home from my second long-term trip in the last two years, and I’m on a mission to prove that if you know what you're doing, saving up for a travel adventure just ain't that hard. With that being said, welcome to Part 2 of this series, where I tell you the best ways I’ve discovered how to travel on a budget. If you haven’t yet, check out How to Travel the World on a Budget: Part 1.
Part 1 was all about budgeting and saving up for your next adventure BEFORE taking the plunge. Part 2 of this series will tell you how you can save WHILE travelling so that the money you’ve saved will last as long as possible, no matter where you are in the world! This will be the true test of your finance-savvy superpowers.
But first, here's a picture of me hanging off a cliff in Bolivia. (This is Death Road - I mentioned biking down it in this same space in my last article. It was a crazy ride - click the play button for some GoPro footage.)
Travel Budget Tip #5:
Cook your own meals.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that this was the most effective money-saving technique I used during my long-term adventures. It was my main focus during my latest trip to South America, and I can tell you firsthand how cost-effective this small change can be.
Yes, I know - you want to experience all the local dishes when you’re there, and tell people all about the delicious and unusual meals you had when you return home. You can still do this! You just don’t have to do it for lunch and dinner every single day - otherwise, you’ll be kissing your travel budget goodbye very quickly.
If you don't plan on cooking while you're away, but you want a long-term travel experience, think about a Work Abroad adventure.
Food and accommodation are almost always provided, and sometimes even flights - which saves you a lot of money. You'll also make friends to travel with, so you won't have to pay the whole cost of a hotel room or car rental. You'll also earn some pocket money to finance your excursions.
Now - I can already hear some of you saying, “But Josh, I don’t cook at home - there’s no way I’m going to cook while travelling!” That's right, we're on first-name basis now. Don’t worry, there are still a couple of things you can do to save a bit of change. As often as possible, dine at local restaurants outside of the city centre or tourist attractions. Not only will these places be more manageable for your budget, but they’re often the hidden gems that have the tastiest and most authentic food in town. Also, take advantage of the free breakfast (and sometimes even dinner!) offered at hostels. When I’m looking for a place to stay, I will add this as one of my filters during my search. Sure, it’s not going to be a luxurious, fill-your-face meal, but it should be enough to hold you over until lunch or a light snack later on in the day.
Many hostels and guesthouses will provide a functional (if not fancy) kitchen for their guests. Take advantage! If you’re travelling solo, this also gives you a great excuse to spark up a conversation with others staying at your hostel. Ask them if they have plans for dinner, and if not, invite them to cook up a meal with you. Not only have you saved money on groceries, you’ve also potentially made a new travel buddy for your next destination. Nothing brings people together like food!
Travel Budget Tip #6
Get your walk on.
After arriving in a new city or town for the first time, my favourite way to take it all in is to commit a full day to walking around and exploring. This way, you’re able to discover the secret alleyways and sights that you’d have missed otherwise. Exploring by foot is also a great way to get your daily step count up, and work off those extra carbs you had the night before. Penny-pinching and calorie-burning all wrapped up in one package deal!
Or, use local transportation.
Sometimes your final destination is not within walking distance - or even worse, the weather decides not to cooperate. In these scenarios, your best bet to save money while travelling is to take advantage of the local transportation. Understanding the metro, tram, and bus systems in a new city can be overwhelming at first, but it’s a worthwhile learning experience. I enjoy immersing myself with the locals, and gaining an insider’s look on life in the city - another benefit of using the local transportation. Is it crowded? Check. Hot and stuffy? Yep. Slow and time-consuming? You bet. But I wouldn’t have it any other way - it’s the most authentic travel experience you can possibly have. Uber and taxi fares will add up very quickly, so if you are travelling on a budget, I highly recommend walking or using the local transportation to help you save.
Depending on where you are, you might also be able to rent bikes, like these 3 handsome fellas did. Just make sure you choose an easier route than Death Road.
Travel Budget Tip #7
Find free, cheap, and DIY activities.
This strategy takes some research and asking around. If you’re on a work abroad program, use your discount on treks, tours, rentals, or otherwise. No matter where you are in the world, or what your travel budget is, there is always an option that will work for you. As I mentioned, one of the best ways to take in a new place is simply walking around. If you’re someone that enjoys learning from the locals, go on a free city walking tour. These are often lead by an experienced guide, who will help you to get oriented with the city, and introduce you to the area’s top landmarks. (Just make sure you tip at the end!) If you’re a solo traveller like myself, this is another great opportunity to make new friends from around the world.
Another way to save money while travelling is to plan out certain activities to do by yourself, rather than in larger tour groups. Many of the tours you see online or at your hostel can be done drastically cheaper than advertised, simply by doing a bit of research and planning. And one final tip that is sometimes easier said than done; don’t feel like you have to do everything the city has to offer. Not only will you burn out more quickly during long-term travelling, it’s almost guaranteed that you will end up spending more money!
Travel Budget Tip #8
Work for free.
It doesn't sound great, but working for free in exchange for food and accommodation can help you stay abroad for longer. It's an excellent opportunity to engage with the locals and immerse yourself in their culture. After all, travelling is all about cultural exchange. Hopefully, you can also make a difference, no matter how small, in the community that has welcomed you into their world. Combined with saving money on accommodations, these can be compelling reasons to base yourself in a certain location for a term. In the backpacking world, there are lots of opportunities to work for free at hostels. In exchange for committing a few hours each day as a bartender, reception staff, or tour operator, you can expect to receive a free bed, and sometimes a meal for the night. This may not seem like much, but these savings can quickly add up during a long-term trip, allowing you to tack on as many extra days to your adventure as possible. If you find yourself wanting to venture out from the backpacking circle, there are often other positions available with local communities, as well. The list is endless, but some opportunities include working with children, helping on a farm, or assisting with environmental projects. Again, you can also make money working abroad, with food and accommodation included - it just depends if you'd rather call all the shots in the moment or pay up front and plan out excursions for the weekends or after you're done your work contract.
Or, find freelance work.
Finally, another option for those like me who are constantly hopping from one destination to the next: do some freelance work! You would be surprised how many opportunities are available online, that allow you to do work remotely, no matter where your adventure leads you. It can be difficult to get the ball rolling, but once you have established yourself in the freelance world, you are able to do as much or as little or you would like. Having this flexibility and source of income available is a great option to travel the world and get paid to do it! (And isn’t that the dream?)
Travel Budget Tip #9
Just go for it.
If there's one thing I've learned, it's that travel is always worth every penny. We only get one life, so we might as well experience the world while we've got a chance. So if you're worried about affording your next adventure, just get out there and do it - in whatever way works best for you. I promise you won't regret it.
So there you have it, people. A few simple but essential tips to help you save (or even earn!) while travelling. Remember, every little bit is a dollar, pound, yen, or peso in your travelling piggy-bank.
For now, take care of yourself - and remember, adventure is out there.