We traveled for 2 years with a budget of €25 per day which (outside of the 2 flights we booked before we left) had to cover all of our travel, food, accommodation… everything.
I never felt broke until the day we stepped food on Australian soil with €150 each to set up a new life on a new continent with no supports to call on; daunting but, we bloody did it! From extensive experience of travelling on a budget here’s my top 10 tips on keeping costs down:
1) Avail of overnight travel where its a option… the journey will go ahhhh lot faster when you’re asleep and it’ll save you the price of a night’s accommodation.
2) Eat the bloody street food! SO many people we met were reluctant to delve into the mystery bowls of street food on offer in most counties we traveled but I’m guaranteeing you it’ll be some of the most flavorsome & budget friendly food you can eat.
If you’re worried about food poising let me tell you; I ended up in hospital for 3 days after a club sandwich in a ‘western restaurant’ in Cambodia & Sean was at death’s door from a McDonald’s in the Philippines. Take the risk!
3) Sign up to Couchsurfing and Airbnb as great alternatives in places that don’t have great budget accommodation offerings. We couchsurfed in Australia while we got on our feet saving us endless amounts of money (… which we didn’t have at the stage anyway!) and used Airbnb in cities where we knew it was going to be expensive to eat out.
Having our own kitchen allowed us to have breakfast at home & make packed lunches for our days out… frugal and, a welcome alternative to constant restaurant dining.
4) Get adventurous with your travel options– in The Philippines we often hitched with local motorbike drivers instead of relying on their overpriced & infrequent tourist bus services.
We would agree a price with the driver before we hoped on & then away we went. Convenient and, a really nice way to travel (once you don’t crash but, that’s a tale for the ‘wild & woeful tales’ part of this series!).
5) Travel to areas in ‘low season’ if you don’t mind (or prefer) less people being there. ‘Low season’ in India & South East Asia is wet season but, having traveled through a lot of these countries at this time I can tell you that its very unlikely to rain all day.
It’ll come in sheets when it does but usually surmounts to a fraction of each 24hrs therefore allowing you to enjoy the rest in tropical heat and on a budget. Most places offer really competitive rates during wet season meaning you can splash out without breaking the bank.
6) Get to grips with a few common phrases & words of the native language. Not only is it basic manners, it’ll almost always get you better prices.
The difference we experienced when we could ask for a lower price in their local language was HUGE, it shows respect and a sign of a more authentic traveler so, study a few phrases & your wallet will notice the difference.
7) Repair everything! I brought 1 pair of flipflops with me which I got repaired time & time again. I used my needle & thread to constantly to fix damaged clothing and often re-worked a tired piece of clothing into something new.
Plenty of play suits were remodeled into separates & fallen in love with all over again. If you’re not willing to give up on your love for fashion you’ll have to get creative!
8) Work for your keep. We did this a few times in South East Asia doing bar work or flyering in return for food, drink and accommodation. By covering your day-to-day overheads with a small bit of work you can live for free while enjoying the country you’re in.
This type of work is common place in the more standard backpacker countries & is a fantastic way to meet people. If you like the vibe of whereever you’re staying ask about casual work.. don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!
9) When you first arrive somewhere new, leave one person with the bags while the other sets off to look for accommodation. We learnt this trick early on & I’ve no doubt it saved us a fortune because, when the guest house worker sees you with your backpack they know you have nowhere to stay so have the upper hand in terms of haggling.
Also, walking around with your bag in will leave you weary & desperate to take almost anywhere… leave the bag with your companion & you’re guaranteed to get a better deal.
10) Don’t stay directly in the ‘tourist area’… the money you save on accommodation & eating out will easily afford you a taxi into the busiest areas once a day; win win!
There you have it guys… 10 things that saved us endless amounts of money in our 25 month backpacking stint xx