Whenever I talk to people about traveling and why they don’t do it, one of the first reasons that I always hear is lack of money or an unwillingness to spend money. I’m here to inform all of you out there that you don’t actually need a lot of money to travel. I don’t think there has ever been a point in my life where I would say that I was wealthy or had more money than the average person my age and yet I’ve managed to get out there and see lots of different places. I’ve been able to do this because of a few different techniques that I’ve picked up along the way. I’ve provided below some pointers on ways to travel without a ton of money.
*Note – This post will be two parts
First things first – Figure out where it you want to go and the different ways you can get there. If you’re staying in the country that you’re already in and just moving to a different area, there are probably a few low cost options for getting where you need to go.
For example: Take a bus – Do not be scared to do this; everyone does it. I quite enjoy riding the bus. It is a great people watching spot, you get to see things you probably otherwise would never see, and if you’re outgoing enough you’ll probably make a new friend. I know people who have never actually ridden a bus and to those people I have to say- it is not as complicated or terrifying as it might seem.
Take a train – I’ve got pretty much the same thing to say about the train as I do about the bus except the train is even better because chances are you can buy snacks on the train. If you’re imaginative enough you can even convince yourself that you’re on the hogwarts express to make the ride more fun.
Ride share – A ride share is pretty self explanatory; you share a ride with someone – usually for a small fee like splitting the cost of gas. There are plenty of different ways to find ride shares just be careful when you do it!
Take a bicycle – Depending on how fit you are, you may be able to get to your destination by bicycling. Of course for some places this will take several days to get where you need to go but no doubt will be a good experience.
If you’re going out of the country things can be a bit trickier. If you’re going to another country that borders your own, then the suggestions from above still apply. You can probably get there cheaply without leaving the ground. If you’re going a bit further than the bordering countries, or if you’re going overseas you’ll need to figure out how to look for a cheap flight. I will soon be providing a post on how to find cheap flights. Trust me, it can be done.
Where to stay
So when you finally do get to your destination you’re going to need to find accommodation that is within your budget. This can be done in several different ways. You can research accommodation in your destination ahead of time, you can wait until you get there and just see what you come across, you can hire a travel agent (let’s be real, you’re on a budget so you’re not hiring a travel agent), or you could rely on the help of friendly locals to guide you to the best places (this tactic does not always work – be careful especially if you’re a lone female traveler).
I’ve gone about finding cheap accommodation in all of those ways apart from the travel agent. Here are some tips for you guys:
Use your connections – Go to a city where you know someone, even if it’s a distant distant relative, or a friend of friend, don’t be afraid to ask them the good places. If you know nice people, chances are they might show you around or even let you stay with them until you find a good place. I’ve done this on a number of ocassions. It helps to have friends all over the world. If you don’t now, you’ll get there because once you start traveling you’ll make lots of new friends.
Stay in hostels – Don’t be afraid to do this. I remember my first experience staying in a hostel I was excited but also had a creepy image in my mind of what i’d be facing when I got there. My first hostel stay was in Edinburgh, Scotland and I have to say I had an amazing time. I paid something around 6 GBP per night to share a room with 7 other people and I had the experience of a lifetime. If you’re going for a long term or permanent holiday you can even land a job working at the hostel for free accommodation. This is a good way to keep yourself in your desired city/country without having to stress too much about finding work and accommodation. Working at a hostel does not appear to be easy but the people I met who worked there seemed to love their life and made so many life long friendships.
Scour the net for discounts and specials. Grab that groupon while it’s hot! There are deals to be found if you put in the time and effort.
Look into house swaps- Again this is one of those things that is exactly like it sounds. You can literally swap houses with someone on the other side of the world for a holiday. This one I’ve never done as I’ve not yet owned my own house but I do intend to try it one day.
Couch Surfing- For a small fee you can join a website where you can find a place to stay in different cities. This is really a great service and a good way to meet new people. The website is really helpful as well because you can read reviews about the experiences at different houses and choose something you think will fit you best.
Spy on the locals – The best way to eat affordable food is to watch what the locals eat. This is especially important if you’re in an area that has a lot of tourism. You’ll find restaurants that I like to call “tourist traps” everywhere. These will be the easiest and most obvious places for you to eat, but they are also probably some of the most expensive. Try and figure out where the local people eat and go and eat there as well. Chances are the food is going to be cheap, super good, and authentic.
Share- Another good tip is to share a meal with your friends. Sharing meals with the people around you is great way to make new friends, be a nice person, and save some money. If you’re coming from the western world, especially America, sharing plates is not a very common concept. Typically each person will order the food they want and eat that food to themselves. You will find that in a lot countries most of the eating is done “family style.” The dishes are all in the middle of the table and everyone takes some from each dish. This is an awesome way to try lots of different foods. I admit when I first came to SE Asia it took me a while to get used to this concept, it felt very foreign. I learned along the way though not to be shy, and not to be stingy and this has contributed to many wonderful experiences for me. Sharing a meal with people has to be one of the most joyful things you can do in life.
Discounts, groupons, etc! – There are so many good deals and discounts everywhere you go. A lot of them will be things like buy one get one free which are great for sharing with your friends! Just put in a little bit of time and find good deals. Another good tip is to find newly opened restaurants that are doing trials. I’ve got quite a few free meals that way. 🙂
Limit your drinking- I know that for some people this will not be possible, but if you are able to limit how much alcohol you drink you will be surprised by how much money you will save. One thing i’ve learned along the way while traveling is that having a drink on your journey often leads to a fun time but it can also cause you to forget parts of your trip that you wish you could remember. After all, if you’re going to travel across the world just to get black out drunk you could save yourself a whole lot of money and stayed home to do that 🙂
Part 2 coming soon
Thank you for reading!