How to Travel on a Tight Budget

Money. It may be the root of all evil but it’s also nice to be able to eat while travelling. Here’s a little guide on how to make your money go further, so you don’t have to book a flight home and go back to living with your parents.

Transport

Planes, trains and automobiles. How to get around cheaply without being able to apperate.

Flights

Best time to book

When booking long-haul flights, the best time to book is six weeks in advance. The best time to fly is usually on a Tuesday. If you use the Momondo comparison site, they give lots of insight about the best time to book and fly. Always search for and book flights while browsing privately. Airlines look at the amount of demand for a flight and raise prices accordingly, so if you keep going onto their website and checking the prices, prices will rise. This is very important for group bookings, where members are booking flights individually. All you need to do to browse privately is open a new incognito tab or window. Voilá!

Cheap flight sites

Use sites that show very cheap flights. These are usually airlines that need to fill seats, flights that are cheaper because the price of fuel was excluded from the ticket price (fuel dumping), or error fares. You have to be quick though as these rock bottom prices don’t last too long. Secret Flying, Airefarewatchdog and The Flight Deal are my favourite sites.

Learn how to find cheap flights yourself

Fuel dumping involves intentionally pairing two separate flights on the same airfare ticket in the hope that the fuel surcharge component of the main, more-expensive flight is either partially or fully eliminated. You book one long haul flight that you want to go on such as Dublin to Sydney, and then another that you don’t need such as Sydney to Melbourne. It works best with multiple airlines and open-jaw flights. To understand more about fuel dumping click here and to use the fuel dumping tool click here.

Travel with only hand-luggage

If you’re travelling with hand luggage only, you can book a flight with Skiplagged to a “hidden city”, using your layover in a city, as your final destination.

Motorbikes

If you are in Asia, use a motorbike. They are so darn cheap. Gas costs around $1 a week. Bikes in Bali cost around $45 a month. In Vietnam, they are even cheaper. Do some research when you land (or beforehand). Ask the locals where they rent their bikes from. If you are staying for a long time, buy one and sell it on when you leave. Oh and if you have one, you’ll always have a place to nap.

Local taxi services

Check out the country you are in for local taxi apps such as Uber and Grabcar. Here is a comprehensive list for Asia. Most local taxi apps also offer a motorbike service, which is even cheaper again. If you find a driver that you like, keep their number and contact them privately whenever you need a lift.

Ride sharing

Check out if there are any ride sharing services such as Blablacar available in your country. If not create your own. Reach out to people in Facebook groups and ask who would like to share a ride to X on a certain date.

Hitchhiking

If you’re up for it, why not? Just be safe if you’re doing it on your own. Take a mental note of the vehicle registration and text it to a friend (on the sly).

Accommodation

WWOOF

No, I don’t have Tourette’s. It stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic farms. The company links volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences. You don’t get paid but you get free accommodation and usually free meals. More info here.

Workaway

Sort of similar to WWOOF but doesn’t only offer opportunities on farms. You could end up working in a ski resort in France, a youth hostel in Japan, or helping someone take photos for their business in Chile. It’s also done a volunteer basis, but you’ll get free accommodation and board. Time scales vary but places usually want volunteers for at least a month. It’s a great way to meet new people and get to know a country very well.

Couchsurfing

Do not do Couchsurfing unless you’re interested in meeting new people. Hosts usually don’t like if you use their couch as a place to kip, in order to save money on a hostel. The best thing about Couchsurfing is that it’s free and works on a karma basis. All members also do regular meet-ups in various cities. I would recommend it for solo travellers.

Sublet

Contact people through Facebook or other social media platforms. There are bound to be people who are going on holiday for two weeks and are leaving their house vacant. Anything you pay them is extra money, so you’re likely to get a cheap price.

Co-living

Contact people living in your destination country, through the relevant Facebook groups. Organise to split the cost of a large villa. If that doesn’t work you could always contact a company who runs co-living programmes. *cough* my travel tribe *cough*


Shopping

Bargain till you drop doesn’t have the same ring to it but I’m gonna use it anyway. Find out how much things should cost from someone who lives there. Always have a maximum price in mind going into a shop. Act shocked when the seller gives you the original price, throw in a couple of “Oh my God that’s so expensive” in the local language, offer him 50% of the original asking price and compromise on 70% — 80%. Be willing to walk away if they don’t budge. If they let you walk away they’re obviously not willing to lower the price further. Knowing the local language is key to not getting the “western” prices. If you have a local friend, get them to come along with you. If you don’t, borrow one and offer them 10% of what you end up paying. Don’t buy trinkets and souvenirs in touristy areas — they will charge you more. If you are buying clothes, hit up the clothing villages and the vintage second hand stores. Cheaper and more environmentally friendly.


Eating out

Obviously it’s cheaper to go to the grocery store and cook your own food but sometimes that’s just not possible. Your hostel doesn’t have a kitchen. There are no shops nearby. You’re way too hungover. The number one way to save money is to eat the local food. It’s a fraction of the price when it’s not imported and when it’s in season. When eating out with friends scope out the portion sizes. If they look big why not share a main and an appetiser? Or better yet, get a kids portion (if they allow it). Kids portions aren’t that much smaller and usually cost 60% -70% of what an adults’ main course does. If you’re only eating out once a day, do it at lunchtime, when prices are lower. Don’t buy smoothies, juices or soft drinks when eating out. Restaurants often charge the same price for these as they do for meals. Ask for tap water (if you’re in a country where it’s safe to drink) or bring your own. If you’re getting delivery (as you can’t move from your hungover death-bed), download an app such as GoJek delivery or Uber Eats. Often you can get promo codes from online forums or Facebook groups, or share your own referral code to get free food next time. Cha-Ching!


The bare necessities

Laundry

It may seem like a very small cost but they all add up. After showering, use a small towel to dry yourself, and when dry, cover yourself in a large one. This means less washing, which is especially important in some laundromats, where laundry is priced by the kilo.

Toiletries

Nab the small bottles of shampoo and shower gel from your temporary accommodation. Sometimes you’ll even get a shower cap, a comb or conditioner. Once I ended up with a manicure kit. Happy days. You might have to eventually buy toiletries though. When you do buy men’s ones. Men’s razors and certain men’s toiletries are the exact same with different packaging. Blue Bic razors cost $1 less than their pink counterparts. One thing that ain’t cheap? Toilet roll! Stop using it. Most countries in Asia have a bum gum. Embrace the bum gum! It’s also more hygienic than using toilet roll. Watch this video if you need further convincing.

Phone. Mobile. Portable. Cellular phone.

A phone by any other name still costs as much. Not anymore! The best advice I ever got was to buy Skype credit to phone home, banks, insurance companies and expensive toll numbers. Now when I’m waiting on hold with the bank for half an hour, at least I’m not worrying about the cost of the call. Calls cost as little as 1c per minute, but it depends on which country you are calling. Check out the rates here. The internet and apps are so cheap and multifunctional now that I don’t even have a phone plan anymore — all you need is data. I use Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Wechat or Skype to call and text people. The only fear I have is that my data will run out, especially as I use it to navigate myself around the country. A little tip for Google Maps is to not use navigation. Simply turn on your location and follow the blue dot along the line to your destination. It saves your battery too. Win-win!


Laura is cofounder of My Travel Tribe, a start-up that runs month long co-living and co-working programmes, essentially helping female digital nomads to find their own community while travelling.


Originally published at www.mytraveltribe.co.