Let’s face facts, travelling isn’t cheap! The price of hotels, flights and cocktails on the beach quickly adds up! Many people assume you have to work your fingers to the bone and save money for multiple years before you get to travel, BUT, it’s not as much money as you think! Long term travelling isn’t about how much money you have, it’s about how you spend your money.
While living life on the road, there are plenty of ways to save those pennies and keep on travelling for as long as possible! In this article, I’ll share some different ways you can save as much money as possible during your travels!
Table of Contents
Stay in Hostels
Accommodation is one of the biggest expenses when it comes to travel, so having a cheap place to stay for the night is vital for long-term travellers! The solution; budget hostels, places that have been the favoured choice of backpackers for decades.
Hostels are by far the cheapest form of lodging throughout the world and have a huge difference in price compared to even the cheapest hotels. They rarely go over £15 a night and are usually much less! You can even find some for as little as £2 a night in some places! Those savings really add up over time!
Check Multiple Accommodation Sites
People usually have their go-to site to look for accommodation. Whether it’s the ever-reliable Trivago or Booking.com, or the cheaper hostels on Hostel World and the unique selection on Air BnB, there are plenty of sites to choose from. So which one should you check? Why not all of them?
If you’re looking to get great value for money, you can’t just rely on one. Every destination has a different selection of accommodation across different sites. To ensure you get the best deal, it’s worth checking out a few to see what you can find.
Take Connecting Flights
Most people choose to take a 12-hour flight straight from A to Z. Though it may be the easiest and fastest way to do it, it definitely isn’t the cheapest. Sometimes you might have to go via B, C and D. By dividing your journey into 2 or 3 flights, then it becomes a hell of a lot cheaper!
You can easily find routes that have just one connecting flight with an hour layover, which gives you just enough time to stretch your legs before getting back on your claustrophobic experience!
Admittedly, this isn’t an ideal situation. Many connecting flights have long 12+ hour layovers, and you could get into a lot of trouble if even one of these flights is delayed or cancelled! It just takes a bit of time and research to find flights that fit your needs. And though it might seem like a big ballache to deal with, your wallet will thank you in the long run.
Base Where You Fly on the Price
If you’re the type of person that has no set plans when they travel, then you could save a lot of money if you book your flights based on the deals available. For instance, if you plan on exploring an entire country, or travelling from one side to the other, then you might as well start off from the cheapest point!
Finding potential destinations to travel from London on a particular date
Finding an exact city to fly to
Sites like Skyscanner lets you compare flights to different countries across the world and then find the cheapest cities to fly into. That way you can save yourself a lot of money just by starting your journey at a certain destination.
Travel By Buses
There are a couple of different ways to travel cross-country. You could take domestic flights, trains or even taxis. However, without a shadow of a doubt, the number one choice for budget travellers has always been buses! They’re by far the cheapest form of transport, and that doesn’t mean they sacrifice quality!
First off, they’re much more extensive than any other form of transport. Any place you’d want to go, chances are you can take a bus there. And despite popular belief, they’re almost just as fast as the equivalent flight and train journey.
A detailed explanation of how to get the most out of your travels in Japan on a tight budget, spending as little as £15 a day!
They’re also a hell of a lot more comfortable than people think too! Many buses these days are very well equipped, and give you an opportunity to stop at a rest area to stretch your legs! Try doing that on a flight!
Travel On Off-Peaks Times
Whether you’re taking buses, trains or planes, prices vary based on the time. The beginning of the week generally have cheaper tickets compared to the weekends, and even the time of day can play a factor. You’re more likely to find a cheaper flight at 2 in the morning rather than in the afternoon. So you could save quite a bit of money by carefully selecting what time you will travel.
Travel at Night to Save Money on Accommodation
A good way to avoid paying for another night at a hotel is to simply travel at night. By jumping on some transport in the evening, you can catch a few hours sleep before you arrive at your new destination early in the morning. Many buses and trains even come with sleeper cabins to fit that very purpose! Nice little travel hack!
Share a Ride
In certain countries, such as Australia and America, it’s a popular trend for many travellers to buy or rent their own vehicles to travel across the country. Often there’s room to tag along, so why not share a ride?
Travellers often post info on hostel noticeboards and Facebook groups looking or offering rides. Usually, the only payment is having to split the cost of fuel, which ends up being cheaper than taking other transport anyway. If you’re a confident soul, you could even hitchhike your way across the country for absolutely free!
Walk in the City
When you’re travelling to different points across big cities such as New York, London or Tokyo, you’ll start spending a lot more on transportation. Costs of subways and buses quickly start to add up, and you can forget wasting all your money on a taxi! So how can you completely avoid this cost? Go for a walk!
Of course, you don’t want to spend 4 or 5 hours walking from A to B, usually, time is of the essence. That being said, if your next site is just 20 minutes away or 1 subway stop, it might be better just to walk it. You’ll probably pass plenty of interesting things along the way anyway!
What if I told you that you could stay somewhere for weeks or months at a time, all for absolutely free? Sounds too good to be true right? Well, that’s exactly what you get when you volunteer!
You’ll get a free place to stay for as long as you’re there, and most places will even offer you free food! This means that your expenses will be close to zero for your entire stay! All you have to give in return is a couple of hours of light work over a handful of days.
There are several websites out there with opportunities across the world. My personal favourite is Workaway, which is easily the most extensive website with more than 40,000 hosts across 170 different countries. Wwoof, is another popular site that specialises in working on organic farms across the world, or sites such as Working Traveller, MovingWorlds and Worldpackers.
Another hugely important advantage is the completely unique experience you get during your time with these hosts. You’ll spend time with locals, often in their own homes. They’ll share their cultures and their customs with you, as well as being very curious to learn yours. It’s a money can’t buy experience!
An extensive guide on how to get the best out of your travels by being a volunteer!
Save money, extend your trip and enrich your experience
Prepare Your Own Meals
Trying new cuisine is a must–do when you travel the world! You definitely have to visit some local restaurants and try out some street food on your trip! That being said, however, these are not the cheapest way to eat. Just like being back home, you can save a lot of money by preparing your own meals when you travel!
Luckily, many hostels come with their own fully equipped kitchens for you to do just that! Some places might not have the facilities to cook for yourself, but at the very least they should have a kettle. Ramen noodles anyone?
You’re probably not going to like this, who wants to eat fast food and 7/11 sandwiches when they’re on vacation? Of course, you should splash out on a restaurant now and again, but doing so every day gets very expensive in the long term.
Whenever possible you should try to survive on cheaper items. Convenience stores will become your best friend, and local supermarkets a great source for cheaper items. Is a meal in a restaurant worth the price of a night or two in a hostel? No question about it.
Look For Free Breakfasts
Food is an expense we can’t really avoid, but there is one meal you can get for free while you travel, the most important one of the day! These days, it’s pretty standard for most hotels and hostels to offer a free breakfast for guests!
Some places just offer some simple tea and toast while others lay out a full buffet! Some of the fancier places might even offer free food throughout the day! Either way, who’s a budget traveller to turn down free food! It’s worth looking up beforehand as it could save you a lot!
Fill Up With Free Water
Every hotel / hostel throughout the world offers the basic human right of free water, then you should take full advantage! You’d be surprised how often you’ll pop into convenience stores for a quick refreshment and spend money on something you could get for nothing!
Why waste all that money while you could have all the water you’d ever want from your accommodation. Save yourself some pocket money and fill up bottles every day.
For so many reasons, travelling during holidays is the absolute worst idea! Not only will every form of accommodation and transport be completely booked out, but everywhere will be awash with a sea of people! But most importantly, EVERYTHING will become more expensive!
Hostels are the lifeblood of backpackers around the world, but plenty of people don’t want to stay in them.
So what are the pros and cons?
The limited accommodation available will have higher prices. The cheapest transport tickets will all be gone, and attractions will have special holiday prices. Just try to avoid holiday seasons whenever possible.
Pick The Country Carefully
Some countries are much more expensive than others. Countries like Iceland, Japan and Switzerland are ridiculously expensive compared to the likes of Thailand, Vietnam and Mexico. Therefore it’s pretty self-explanatory where you should be spending most of your time.
If long term travel is your goal, then you can save a ridiculous amount of money just by carefully planning out where to go and, more importantly, how long you’ll stay there. Otherwise, you’ll find that your travels finish much quicker than you first thought.
In many countries around the world, it’s all about the art of the deal! Almost everything is negotiable! Taxi rides, market stalls, tours etc. are all fair game to negotiate a deal. Of course you cant negotiate everything. Hotel prices and 7/11s won’t change their prices for you!
It becomes a real art to recognise which countries and which kind of places you’re able to negotiate. The more you do it the more comfortable you get at it! So next time you’re at a market stall that sells nick-nacks, give it a try! No better way to save money while you travel than trying to haggle everything!
Have a Travel-Friendly Bank Account
Every time you take money from an ATM while you’re abroad, most banks charge a transaction fee, which in some cases can be pretty considerable. HSBC for example charges a 2.75% “Non-sterling cash withdrawal” fee and another 2% for any cash taken out. It may not sound like a lot but that quickly adds up over time, especially for long term travellers.
Some banks will charge more, some less. Therefore it’s worth doing some research beforehand to find the bank with the best deal before you go travelling.