How Would Wendy Save?

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 😀

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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.

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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.

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Slow Down

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.

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Eat Locally

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.

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Hostels

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 😀

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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 😀

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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 😀

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Coupon Codes

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!

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Traveling Overland

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.

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Discount Airlines

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?

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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.

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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 😀

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 😀

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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!

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Haggle

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.

After you have done that then take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see all the fun and normally very cheap adventures I get up to 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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How To Be A Frugal Wendy

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Piggies love those pennies – make a penny jar!!

People constantly ask me about how I manage to have traveled as much as I have and how I manage to live in Thailand only being 22. There really are no special or fancy tricks to it, it’s all about common sense and desire that overcomes everything else.

As with anything in life, a lack of finances is what prevents people from beginning their travels in the first place. But if you really want it enough you can travel wherever you want for as long as you want. It may take time, but that moment when you realise that everything you have worked for is finally paying off is, for me, the most rewarding feeling in the world. Many people have often mistaken me for being very well off financially to have traveled the way I have. I wish!!! All I have done is make smart decisions with my spending and taken active steps to save up to do the things I so desperately want to in life.

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Sadly, most of us don’t have magic top hats full of money

Even though there aren’t any magical tricks, apart from winning the lottery, there are many tips I can give you that will help you save up for your incredible once in a lifetime trip to Thailand.

First of all you need to ask yourself the right financial questions

How can I create more money in my life?

and

How can I cut back in order to save more money?

(Remember a dollar saved is a dollar earned. Or Pound. Or Euro. Or Yen) How Can I Create More Money in Order to Travel?

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How do I save money for travel?

For me I look at what I want from life and what I want to be able to look back on in years to come.

Will I really care about that pair of shoes, that one night out or that iPhone 71234234 when I am 75?

No is the answer to that question, I will look back at the adventures I have had and whilst sat in my rocking chair with my knitting, that is what will bring a smile to my aged face.

So what do you want in life? That once in a life time opportunity to swim with elephants or a night out?

Is buying ______________ worth giving up your dreams?
Could this ____________ be worth more to me than watching the sunrise over the Grand Canyon, teaching a child it’s first words in English or protecting an endangered species?

When I was in England I was working two full times jobs as well as putting myself through University as well. I wasn’t living at a parents house either so I had to pay for all my expenses; needless to say I wasn’t getting any sleep, but I knew it was all worth is for when I would be able to travel and do all the things I had dreamed of doing.

A couple of things you can always look at doing also include

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Lodgers/Renters

If you have space in your house or your flat and you want some extra cash then getting yourself a lodger is a great idea that will not only get you extra cash but will also mean that you might be in a position to have someone you trust looking after your property whilst you travel.

Which brings me on to renters. If you are a home owner or you are on a long term contract, I know that your home is often one of the biggest things stopping you from travelling. You can remedy this by having someone rent your house from you whilst you travel, if you are on a long term contract and you aren’t able to rent out then maybe ask a friend if they need somewhere to stay for a bit, get them to pay for a percentage of the expenses and you’re set!

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Ebay

Ebay and Craigslist, if you are in the States, are on the way to being your new BBFs.

Look at all of the things in the room you are in right now.

How much of that stuff do you actually need, use or even want? I can guarantee you that if you found the value of a lot of your items and how much of a financial difference that would make to your trip you would sell everything!!

Trade your materialistic things for memories.

It doesn’t even just have to be possessions it can be clothes as well, I know how many clothes I have bought from Ebay over the years and someone out there is making money off that so what’s to say you can’t be that person!

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Make it a Working Holiday

For many this is a very practical solution to traveling and staying employed. There are so many companies that already have overseas offices, ask around your own workplace and see if there are any oppertunities for moving to another office abroad. If this isn’t possible then just look for a new job abroad. As long as you get the right visa you can work pretty much anywhere and do everything from teaching to bar tending; these are actually the two easiest and most requested jobs for people traveling 🙂

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Save Your Tax Returns and Bonuses

Tax Returns, bonuses even Birthday money is all money that you don’t count on in life. You can only ever really count on your salary, so these unexpected lump sums of money can often provide you with enough money to pay for flights, a few more weeks of travel or even the sometimes pricey working visas.

I know that I used the interest I had gained off a large sum of money so that I could pay for my flights to and from New York.

Birthday money has gone towards accommodation costs.

Bonuses have gone to pay for volunteering.

This extra money should only ever be used for your dreams or your debts, I would probably go with debt first as you really don’t need that coming back and biting you in the ass later haha

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What You Need vs What You Want

This is something I still fall for on occasion. Do I NEED that night out in town or do I want it? I normally think I need it when I don’t – well, except my Birthday 😀

But you don’t need a lot in life to be happy, as long as you have somewhere to sleep, clothes on your back, food and probably the internet, you are fine.

Get rid of all those labels, the expensive price tags, the brand new cars and other goods, the fancy restaurants, and top shelf drinks. Start living on a needs basis not a want.

It will be hard at first but being frugal will pay off very quickly. Give it one month of living very strictly and you will see the financial and personal difference.

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Public Transport

Do you need a car?

Really?

I am pretty sure there will be public transport to that place you are trying to justify in your head isn’t there?

Yeah, I thought so haha

Cars are expensive.

Buses are not.

Walking or cycling are even FREE!

So save your money, help the environment, and ditch the car for the other forms of transport in the world.

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Eat at Home

You don’t need to be going out to fancy restaurants, or even a McDonald’s every night or even at all. Think of how much that Big Mac meal will set you back if you have 2 a week, then add it all up and that might pay for a hostel for a week, a visa or even part of your flights.

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Who wouldn’t want to cook at home with Nigella!

Cook at Home

One thing I never used to think about was how much money I was spending when I went out for lunch everyday between jobs. I might spend up to 5GBP in one day, buying a sandwich, a drink and a packet of crisps.

This adds up to WAY more money than I even want to think about.

Now if you take that money and use it to buy ingredients for simple meals you can make at home, which you can then take to work for lunch is much, much cheaper.

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Live Off One Wage

If you are travelling as a couple this is a GREAT way of saving money, really budget yourself so you only need to use one of your wages in order to pay for what you have to in life and then use the other as a savings wage. You will be amazed at how quickly you can save by doing this.

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Work Out a Travel Plan

I am all for flexible traveling but you really should have a basic idea of where you are going, and how much it is going to cost you in order to get there/live there/leave there.

How do you plan on getting around when you travel?
What sort of places are you willing to stay, where will you eat?
In other words how low budget do you plan to go?

You can make travel as expensive as you like, if you just HAVE to stay in the Ritz then you are going to have a bad time, if you don’t mind staying in a dorm or a less desirable location, then not only will you meet more people and see more of a place but you will also save yourself an incredible amount of money.

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Airline Credit Cards

Now I personally don’t own a credit card, I don’t agree with spending money that you don’t have, even if you have it in genuine money on another card. It just freaks me out as I know that I would rack up a huge debt by never paying for anything.

But there are specialist credit cards that are travel related or even from airline companies. Cards like these allow you to rack up airmiles and often other bonuses as well, for example if the company your credit card is from is in association with a hotel chain, you might be in line for cheaper accommodation.

Also make sure you utilize the initial sign up bonuses and all the monthly or weekly prize draws and competitions they do as well. Not only will this give you an opportunity to win a lump sum, it might even offer you the opportunity to get you an entire free travel experience.

Some U.S. carriers offer a branded card that gives you 30,000-50,000 bonus miles when you sign up and make one purchase. That’s a free round-trip economy ticket right there. By adding multiple users, you can multiply the bonus. Additionally, by signing up for non-branded cards such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can earn points offered by those cards and then transfer them to your favorite airline.

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Be Flexible

If you are flexible with your destination dates you will be surprised how much money you can spend. Flying mid week for example is ALWAYS cheaper than flying on a Friday or weekend, I don’t know why but that is just how it is. I use Skyscanner for all of my flight needs and they have a great section that allows you to check an entire month for departure and return flights that will work out the cheapest, they are normally only ever a few days different from your initial dates anyway.

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Travel Off-Season

Understandably off season is usually cheaper as the weather isn’t the greatest or it has the least amount of festivals or events BUT, traveling off season not only saves you money but also means that you can see places that would normally be full of tourists in a more natural way. There is nothing like going to a beach and being the only person there, this WON”T EVER happen if you travel in high season.

Before you embark on your travels research the off or shoulder seasons for the places you want to travel and tailor your trip around those times.

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Think Outside The Box

Why are the most popular destinations so expensive? Because everyone goes there!

Want to see a Thai beach but you don’t want to pay the prices of Koh Samui or see all the drunken teenage idiots on Koh Pangyan? Try Phi Phi or Krabi, they are equally as beautiful and much cheaper, granted they are more expensive than Northern Thailand, but it is the beach after all.

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Don’t Stay In A Hotel

Hotels are expensive, you are only sleeping there so do you really need to be paying $100 a night when you could stay in a hostel for a tenth of the price. I genuinely can’t even think of a time I have ever stayed in a proper hotel, I have been in them and experienced the marvel that is heated swimming pools, massage and room service but is that honestly better than swimming in the ocean, local massage and street food?

I don’t think so.

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Stay With Family/Friends

Do you happen to have any friends or family that live abroad? This is always a great excuse to travel, not only will you get to see family and friends but they might be able to put you up for a while which always cuts down costs.

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Shop Around

Chances are the easiest flights, hotels, tours or cruises are sponsored so won’t actually be as cheap as they appear. Make sure you dig around and look at as many websites, articles and comparison companies as possible. There is always a deal out there, they are just sometimes hard to find.

Don’t give up though!!

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Quit The Gym

You don’t need a gym in order to work out, the last time I checked running, jogging and cycling were all free to do in any city in the world. The gym just gives you a place to run on the spot and be sweaty with lots of other people. Join a running club. Cycle instead of using your car. Use the stairs instead of the lift. You will be getting the same amount of exercise but it will be free!!

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Cheapskate Socializing

You don’t need to get drunk to hang out with your friends. Drinking is incredibly expensive when you add up how much you spend in a week, so much so that you could probably buy flights with a months drinking money. Think of interesting ways to socialize with your friends that doesn’t cost anything, BBQ in the park, game of football, video game nights even a dinner party or movie night. There are more ways than you think to socialize for very little money.

Make sure you do go out and enjoy yourself every now and again as otherwise you will become very bitter about saving, not to mention, your mates will think you are really boring.

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Saving money is sort of like a financial diet, cut back on all the things you don’t need and that are bad for you but have those cheat days that keep you happy 🙂

To see the kinds of things you can be doing with the money you save up take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page for our amazing and life changing volunteer opportunities.

After you have done that then take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see all the fun and normally very cheap adventures I get up to 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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