You want to see the world, but your earnings and budget don’t allow you to travel? You listen with envy to your friends who tell you about their adventures abroad and you dream to be able to do the same in the future? You want to know how other people can afford to go to Cuba, Spain, or Thailand? You have no idea how to organise a cheap trip? Despite of what you might think, travelling doesn’t have to be costly. You only need some motivation and a good plan to organise a cheap trip and to see the world on a budget.
The world is your oyster. Holidays are not for the privileged anymore. We earn more and thanks to low cost airlines and price comparison sites most of us can afford a trip to an exotic country. Travel agencies try to sell us great deals, but it’s still better to organise a trip by yourself.
I learned how to travel on a budget only a few years ago. Before, I used to go on holidays, during which I preferred not to count every penny. I went to expensive restaurants, drank pricey cocktails and spent my time on a beach, or by a pool. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but at one point I decided to reduce my holiday budget. I stayed in hostels, ate street food and preferred to spend my money on experiences rather than on luxuries. I noticed that by doing that I was getting out of my comfort zone, I met more people and I had really great adventures. That’s why I became almost an expert on how to travel on a budget.
Before you start planning and read the points below, ask yourself a question – why do you want to go away? Do you want to travel the world and see other places? Or maybe you want to get away from your everyday life, drink cocktails on a beach and relax? If it’s the latter, then put away your travel plans to a later date and wait until you save more money. This way you will not be disappointed and you will avoid stress that financial uncertainty brings.
If you treat travelling like an adventure, which gives you amazing experiences, read along and find out how to organise your own trips and travel on a budget.
Set a budget
Budget is the most important thing. You have to know how much money you want to spend and how much you can set for accommodation, food and trips. Set your minimum and maximum amount for a day. Have some savings for emergencies. Based on this budget you can now find a suitable country for you.
Choose the right country
What currency do you earn your money in? If you earn in dollars, or pounds, finding a country to visit won’t be difficult. If you earn in a weaker currency, then you can choose countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cuba, or even Slovakia, or Poland. The most expensive are usually flight tickets.
To check average costs of living in each country, search the internet. Go to Numbeo and Expatisan to see what accommodation and food cost in the location you want to go to.
Travel blogs are always a good source of information. People love travelling and then telling their stories on their sites. Spend some time reading their posts.
Facebook is also very useful. Join travel groups and search them to find answers to your questions. You can also ask for advice there, but be sure to check if answers to your questions are already there first.
Ask your friends for advice. Maybe some of them have been to the countries you’re going to and can give you some useful tips.
Write down everything you find and compare the prices. Once you choose the country to go to, start planning your trip straight away.
Prepare earlier and draft a plan
Check the currency in your chosen country then compare to your home currency. Find out if it’s worth bringing dollars with you, or maybe it’s better to change the money in your country and bring the currency with you. Sometimes it’s worth taking money out of ATMs in the country you’re going to, especially that some credit cards don’t charge you for international transactions.
Create an Excel spreadsheet and put transport, food and accommodation prices. If you can find out costs for any trips and excursions, put them there, too. Once you have it ready, add 20% on top of the total amount. This way you will be sure that you can afford everything.
The more time, the better
Travel slow and stay in one place longer. This will allow you to get the place better and you will save some money on transportation. It’s really better to slow down rather than rush through a country not getting to know it properly. Plus, moving around too frequently makes you spend more money.
Check price comparison sites and track promotions
You will find lots of price comparison sites on the internet. They not only help you when it comes to buying tickets from cheap airlines but very often you might stumble upon a real deal, like a half-price ticket to Thailand with British Airways.
Check the prices every day. New promotions come up all the time and it’s easy to miss them.
Last minute trips are also a good idea. Sometimes you can find some great deals and go on an all inclusive holiday for a very low price. The only disadvantage of this is that you have to be ready to go at any point, which is not that convenient if you’re employed full time.
Don’t travel alone
Travelling alone is great and I love it, but if you want to travel on a budget, it’s best to take someone with you. Why? Because you can split costs of a trekking trip, a guide, or a room. Taking a taxi will be half price for you if you have a friend with you.
Look after your money
Remember about your budget. It’s good to write down all your expenses every day and check them against your budget. If it turns out that one day you went a little over, then reduce your expenses the next day.
Remember to keep your money where it’s hard to find. If you carry cash with you, you really need to be extra careful and trust no one.
Try not to use cash machines too often. Every time you take money out, your bank charges you for it. So, if you need to use an ATM, take some more cash out. You won’t have to do it again, and you will save a little money.
Avoid changing money at airports and in places that seem illegal. Check the exchange rates first and then compare them with those you see at the exchange places, then choose the best spot to get the currency.
Don’t argue about every dollar. If a taxi drive demands to take 2 dollars more then the ride should have cost, don’t protest. Consider the fact that in some countries having a whole family to feed is very hard.
Remember that overland transport is not always the cheapest and it’s sometimes better to take a flight. First, check how much a bus, or train costs and then check the flight prices. Consider how much it costs to get to an airport and if you have to wait a long time for your connection. In Thailand flying from Chiang Mai to Bangkok costs the same as a train ticket and the journey is much faster and more comfortable.
Look after yourself. Don’t forget about travel insurance and about eating well. Your health is the most important and it will cost you a lot if you get sick.
Don’t try to save money everywhere. You’re on holiday. From time to time indulge yourself. It might be a good dinner, a fancy drink on a beach, or something pretty to wear. Travelling on a budget doesn’t mean you need to be uncomfortable.