Here we go, new three part series on budget travel. Tips on saving money, looking for cheaper options and not paying over the odds just because your from 'Grongolandia'!
First part is all about accommodation. This will be the biggest chunk of your travel budget - staying in hostels, hotels b&bs. We'll look into cheaper alternatives so you don't end up out of pocket.
- Never ever ever book a hotel in advance for the whole stay. First few nights in new place is fine (recommended even) - you need to know you have somewhere to go when you step out of the plane - just for your peace of mind. But don't book the hotel for the whole journey - you will most likely pay full price, and you never know if that's the hotel with the best location / atmosphere. Look around, once you've arrived, and ask about the prices in local hotels. That way you will pick the location you like, you will see the hotel and the room up close, and the staff will usually give you a discount on the night just to fill up the hotel. Even smaller profit for them is better then keeping the room empty for the night!
- Staying in one place longer is much cheaper then moving around. That of course works if you are travelling long term, you're on a gap year etc. If you stay in one place for a month or longer, ask for better deal at the hotel / hostel if you pay in advance. You will most likely get 30% off the full price. Also ask if there's further discount if you don't take the breakfast. By the end of the day, you will most likely be served tea and toast, and for the money saved you could grab something in town!
- If you have to travel somewhere long distance, like 200km to your next destination, take a night train. You will save the money on overnight accommodation, and don't waste the whole sunny day stuck on the train.
- Rent a room or apartment. It will be way cheaper then paying for each night at the hostel. Look for adverts in local papers or estate agencies. If you don't know the language, ask a local person for help. For £5-10 they could go with you through adverts, make calls and translate. You can even go for 2 bedroom apartment in central location (large busy towns) and sub-let the spare room to the tourists - now that's a smart way! Just make sure it's a tourist destination, and your prices are competitive with local hotels. Put few adverts around town, local shops, or even Air Bnb. You might need to get a local sim card (if you have unlocked phone) so people will call you on a local number (and you don't pay the roaming charges back home).
- Try home sitting and stay rent-free! Yes, you can look after someone's home when they're away and don't pay for accommodation! That requires preparation in advance, ideally before you set of for travels. Create house sitting profile on specialists websites: TrustedHousesitters and HouseCarers. These sites connect home owners with house sitters. Most likely you will be required to look after the pets (dogs, cats, sometimes farm animals). So experience is preferred.
- Couchsurfing. I haven't tried that myself but it's an option to stay in someone's place for free for up to few nights. You might get a couch, spare bed or even own room! There's few sites connecting people together, most popular without a doubt is Couchsurfing.com Check it out and set your profile now!
- Work exchange (WWOOF-ing). You can live and work on organic farms, help with a work load, and stay on the premises. Great deal, but requires a lot of hard labour - if you're prepared to do it on your travels. Look at it as a working holiday. In some places you can stay free, but in some you will be expected to pay for the accommodation, still it will be much cheaper then the hotel, and you'd probably get meals in that price too. Check this site: WWOOF International
- Volunteering. That's a fantastic option. You can volunteer for nature / animal preservation organisation and help them with their work. In exchange you will stay with the group of volunteers rent free. That doubles as amazing experience, you could be saving rare species of animals, teaching local kids English or help comfort victims of domestic abuse. You will make a difference to local communities, contribute and meet amazing people in the process. Start here: Workaway.info
- Try Homestays – similar to apartment rentals and Couchsurfing, homestays are just like they sound — you stay at someone’s home for a set amount of time — but the difference between this and the other options is that for a set price (usually a couple of hundred dollars per week), meals and language lessons with your hosts are also included. You find a lot of these in developing countries, particularly Central and South America, where they are very widespread. For safety reasons, recommended to couples and single males only.
- Home exchange. Now that's a different level. Have you seen movie 'Holiday'? It's like that - you exchange homes with someone else who's willing to stay in your place, for a set period of time. This method works best for older travellers who already own a home. Home exchange programs have been around for a long time but are growing in popularity due to good marketing and word-of-mouth. Home exchanges are just like they sound — for a set amount of time, you exchange homes with a family from another country.Most people don’t do this because they worry about security — but remember the other family trusts you with their home, too. Moreover, websites that facilitate home exchanges usually have various levels of verification and security similar to Couchsurfing. Families talk to each other over phone and e-mail, and there’s no commitment if you find that it’s not right for you. Sounds interesting? Check this site: HomeExchange.com
Budget travel pt 2 - Food
Budget travel pt 3 - Getting around