Many have this preconceived notion that travel is expensive and something only the rich can afford to do. I can assure you that that isn’t true.
Anyone can travel
Be on the ball, frugal and keep a track of your finances and you will be perfectly fine to last a week, a month or even a year travelling.
I know how easy it is to start spending and spending when things are crazy cheap, 100B here, 50B there is nothing in one transaction but when you start doing it several times a day it will add up and you will suddenly be left with very little or no money.
I have developed some tips over the last 9 months about how to save money whilst you are travelling, so here they are! These are for travelling in general but they do apply very much to travelling in Asia and volunteering with us 😀
Travel Outside of North America and Europe
Travelling in North America or Europe is certainly expensive. Developed countries have a much higher cost of living and finding budget or value accommodation and activities is tricky and stressful. Travelling in Asia or Central America will be much cheaper and much more exotic than ‘Western’ countries.
Travel With A Partner
I personally prefer to travel on my own, I think it makes situations more interesting and forces you to get involved with more people. But it has to be said that travelling with a partner can help you save money. Meals, food, drinks and long haul transportation will still cost the same; accommodation and local transportation (such as taxis and tuk-tuks) can be split between however many of you there are.
I know how exciting travelling is, seeing all the new places, experiencing things you wouldn’t be able to otherwise but to properly appreciate everything you see you need to slow down. Trying to cram in too much will mean you only see a very small, surface to the place you are visiting. So stop, slow down, not only will you experience local culture in a more enriching manner, but more importantly, you’ll save money by not having to buy transportation all the time.
Forget eating Western food, and at fancy restaurants. Every time I travel to a new place I always keep an eye out for the street restaurants that are chock full of locals. It wouldn’t be busy if it wasn’t tasty and decently priced right? Eating locally for 30B a meal will save you SO much money and provide you will a true country experience as well as super tasty food.
When people read the word hostel they often think of a really cheap and nasty place with more rodent and bug residents than human. As much as this may have been true years and years ago, it isn’t now a days. I ALWAYS stay in hostels, they are cheaper than a hotel, have all of the same key features like WiFi, AC, laundry services etc but they are normally run by locals or people living there who understand the concept of travelling and will go out of their way to help you. Hostelworld.com is my go to site to search for places to stay and you will always find cheap and cheerful places on there as well as the expensive hotels that occasionally I do crave as well 😀
Stay More Than One Night
Best deals will be found by staying more than one night. Even booking or renting an apartment or house for a month or so can be SO much cheaper than a hotel or even a hostel, plus you don’t have to worry about being bothersome to other hotel guests with all your crazy parties 😀
Call the Hotel Directly
A last minute phone call directly to a hotel, or hostel, asking about cheap rooms can prove fruitful. They don’t like having empty rooms so will discount any that they have left over. It might not work but you never know 😀
This might sound really silly but there are lots of events, hotels, flights and activities that can be made cheaper by the use of coupon codes. They might be in the language of the country you are visiting but a quick search on Google will normally find you a list or site which has all the current working codes on them. I have used coupons to get discounted entry to cinemas, concerts and even free food, so definitely give it a try!
I know we would all love to live a jet set lifestyle of first class flights, 5 star hotels and Michelin star restaurants but 99% of us don’t, so finding other, cheaper, ways to travel is pretty important when trying to cut costs whilst travelling.
Travelling overland, by train, bus, minivan, car or moped is MUCH, MUCH cheaper and often more of an experience than travelling by plane. I recently got back from a visa run in Phnom Penh and to travel back up to Siem Reap I used a local minivan service with a girl I met, and we got to watch a huge and amazing thunderstorm across the Tonle Sap Lake and Mekong River; something we wouldn’t have seen if we had been on a plane.
If you do have to use an airline company whilst you travel, you should definitely look to book a flight with a discount airline, such as Air Asia; not only will you save time travelling but you now may save money as well! What’s not to like about that?
Be Flexible with Your Flight Dates and Times
When you’re booking flights, try to as flexible as possible. Flying mid week will always be much cheaper than a weekend. Also look to fly at undesirable times, nobody really want’s to fly at 2am but if it is cheaper then I will take it.
A few booking engines you can use for checking out flights include:
Kayak – Compares hundreds of sites at once.
Vayama – specialises in cheap international flights.
Skyscanner – Provides instant comparison on flight prices for over 670,000 routes.
Air Treks – Around the world flight ticket experts.
Airfarewatchdog – Keeps track of deals and alerts you of price drops.
Air Asia – Great for short flights within Asia, but to read why we will never fly long-haul as a family with them again click here.
Join a Frequent Flyer Program
Earn points towards cheaper fares, upgrades, and free companion tickets. It may take a while to accumulate points, but they CAN pay off big time. I recently had a volunteer who got his flight from Guatemala to Thailand purely from his points 😀
Follow on Social Media
Go and “like” your favorite travel sites on Facebook and “follow” them on twitter, even see if they have an Instagram account. More and more companies are releasing deals for flights, accommodation and food on their social media sites so keep an eye on those sites 😀
Use Credit Card Reward Points
Check the program and benefits for your particular credit or debit card, you might be able to use your points for accommodation costs and frequent flyer points. It is a very easy way to cut the prices of accommodation and flights whilst you are travelling.
Sleep While Traveling
When travelling by plane, train, or bus, try and time it so you are traveling at night. That way, you don’t have to pay for a night’s accommodation. I do this ALL the time and it really does make a huge different in the long run.
Use Free Days
Many touristy places around the world will have ‘Free Days’ or ‘Discount Days’. Always have a look around on the internet or local papers and magazines for information about Free or Discount days.
Talk to the Locals
I love getting insider tips from locals, whether it be about a place to stay, a cheap bar or even a good restaurant. Locals know what is good and where to go. A good ice-breaker is to ask for directions or advice like “Where’s a good restaurant?”. I have done this in my town and was then taken on the back of a guys moped to a truly wonderful restaurant where we sat for hours eating and drinking 😀
Travel Like the Locals
Use public transport where possible. You get great knowledge and insight by hanging with the locals, it costs you less, and is a more authentic travelling experience. Tuk Tuks are inexpensive here, walking is free and it is so much fun getting lost in the place you are travelling!
Haggling is expected in most places in Thailand, obviously not 7-11 or a department store, but market vendors will normally bargain with you. Just remember that 100B you are trying to haggle over is nothing to you but can be a days food and water for a Thai, so be respectful when you haggle.
One thing to remember though!
You are travelling, and you came travelling in order to see and experience things you otherwise wouldn’t do so don’t limit yourself financially just so you can stay in a country for longer.
Go splurge on a famous restaurant, see a big concert, attend a mega sporting event, go on a safari, jump out of a plane, do something incredible. Even if you have to go under budget for a few days or a week to compensate for your splurge. It’s worth it.
Plus if you are constantly checking your funds and refusing invitations you will become so cranky about money and nobody wants that when they travel!!
Have fun, enjoy your experiences, save money where you can and then blow it on something even more amazing!!
Take a second to look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page, volunteering is another great way to not only save money but to experience a new culture and make a difference in peoples lives.
Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto