Since I started this blog, I’ve already had several questions about how to save money in order to travel, and how to cut down spending costs WHILE traveling. It inspired me to jot down these tips for you on how to travel cheaper! Why should you listen to me? I spent a total of $4,000 on my 6 week solo expedition to 7 different countries in Europe. That includes ALL of my airfare and extras. I spent $3,000 on my 6 week solo expedition trekking around 5 different places in Australia. I could definitely travel for EVEN CHEAPER these days if I had known back then what I know now. Hopefully with these handy tips, you can learn how to budget travel with ease!
1. CUT COSTS ON FOOD!
When I traveled around Europe I don’t even want to tell you how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I ate, but it was a lot! I remember one long bus ride where I had at least 7 in a row. All is well.. it’s just booty fertilizer right? While I’m normally concerned with nutrition, a few weeks of eating bad shouldn’t be that detrimental to your health. The fact is, you have to sacrifice on SOMETHING if you want to be a on a budget, and for me that preference is food. It’s also easy to gather up a couple of friends at a hostel and make something together like spaghetti, which is always the go to poor man’s staple.
2. STAY IN HOSTELS
Ok, I know that hostels aren’t for everyone, but lodging is something that can easily reduce your budget instantly. And honestly, I kind of prefer them. There is no better way to learn about another country’s culture, and thereby learn about yourself, than by doing so. If you feel like being alone, you can always splurge on a hotel a few nights here and there. And yes, although I would say they are generally for people 35 or younger, I’ve seen my fair share of older people there and they don’t stick out like a sore thumb unless they choose to. Yes, I’ve seen people vomit on the floors, but I’ve also met older people who have taught me valuable life lessons. Hostels are what you make of them, just as in life! As far as I know,hostels.com or hostelworld.com are still the best sites to find hostels.
The thing I’ve come to learn about other countries (at least in Australia, Europe, and Mexico), versus America, is that you can strike up a deal much easier there than in the states. As an example, whenever you go into a business to purchase a travel package, tell them you got quoted a price much cheaper at another business. When I was roaming around in Australia, searching for the best place to find a scuba diving package, I quickly learned that there were many competitors in this same field vying for my money. If I felt like their price was too high for the adventure package, I’d either convince them to throw in an added bonus or tell them Joe Schmoe down the street has cheaper prices. Travel and tourism is a much hotter market there than it is here, so they generally oblige. The only thing you probably won’t have as much luck with on that aspect is purchasing airline or bus tickets (obviously).
4. SAVE ON AIRFARE
There are many tips out there on the best ways to save on airfare. You can become a points nerd, and rack up credit cards with free air mileage. This is something I haven’t quite dove into yet, but would like to, as I know it works well. If you are reading this and know how, feel free to contact me! You can always purchase your flights on Tuesday or Wednesdays, which are supposedly the best days for cheap travel. And the biggest tip I’ll give you, that most people don’t know about, is that there are travel search engines out there that are even better than Kayak! Have you heard of Skyscanner or Google’s ITA software? They are the best search engines for travel when you have an open schedule. Then there is Skiplagged, the newest and most controversial airfare site. I’ll do another blog post later specifically for saving on airfare, but for now, rest your beady eyes on that top secret information! Don’t you feel special?!
5. UTILIZE COUCHSURFING.COM
Couchsurfing.com is a hospitality exchange and social networking website. The website provides a platform for members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, host travelers, or join an event. This website wasn’t popular when I was traveling around, or if it was, I had’t heard of it yet. I have heard many great things about it though, so be sure to check it out!
These words probably sounds so strange coming from someone who has never traveled! Www.wwoof.net is an exchange – in return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. WWOOF organisations link people who want to volunteer on organic farms or smallholdings with people who are looking for volunteer help. Generally the work is gardening or farming duties. I had never even heard of this concept until I traveled extensively so I have yet to do it. However, I have some friends who did it and it worked out well for them. Alternatively www.staydu.com is a work exchange program where you can do something different, such as work at a hostel.
7. BE A WOMAN!
Beyond gender reversal or drag, there won’t be much you can do about this as a man, but hey, why not get out there and try! Obviously there are things in life that us, as women, get for free because of our ..assets. I’m not saying you should always take advantage of this, because I highly support being a strong independent self-serving woman. BUT, if you’re a woman who is going to tell me you’ve never received a free drink in your life because of who you are, either your nose just grew about 10 inches, you’re not a very good opportunist, or you grew up in a box. I received many free dinners while in Italy just sitting there planning out my next venture! Word to the wise: Be careful with this! Traveling solo as a woman can also be scary, and obviously this reason is a little tongue-in-cheek. Check out my post on solo female travel HERE!