I love my country and the lifestyle I live in Australia, but I also love adventures, and traveling overseas is my ultimate favourite hobby. Right now as I am writing this blog post I am sitting in a co-working space in Borneo, Malaysia.
Since my very first overseas trip when I was 15 years old I have travelled to 16 countries and counting. Many of them on a very tight budget. Here are my money saving tips for travelling:
1. Do some research before you leave on your destination’s public transport systems.
If you have an idea what you want to do or where you want to explore, you can work the price of travel into the budget for that activity and not have to pay huge or unexpected prices for Taxi’s. More often than not it is cheaper to buy your train and bus tickets ahead of time.
2. If you DO need to use a taxi, try using Uber instead.
Uber are always giving out promotions and discounts in their current ‘growth’ business model. The best part is, you don’t have to speak another language to tell the driver where you want to go or have an argument haggling on a price… The app does all the hard work for you, including an estimated quote before you begin.
3. House sit someone else’s house for your accomodation.
Maybe even arrange an exchange, they can house sit for you too. There are many house exchange websites available such as homeexchange.com or lovehomeswap.com. If you can stay with friends, that’s great too, however I would always offer some ‘board money’ or a gift no matter how long or short I’m staying in one place.
4. Eat from Supermarkets.
Take a jar of Vegemite or Peanut butter with you before you go. You can buy a bread roll from a supermarket for brekky or lunch along with some fruit and water and take it with you as you discover your surroundings. Make sure your bottled water is sealed properly depending which country you are travelling, if you know the local water is safe, take a bottle with you and fill up from drinking fountains as you go. Constantly eating out at restaurants is a killer for your pocket not to mention a balanced diet. If your accomodation has cooking facilities, definitely cook your own meals at home as often as you can.
5. Take your business with you.
I understand this only works for some business types however, knowing you are still making money towards your bills at home or at least keeping in contact with your customers for when you return and can have work lined up ready to go is a peace of mind.
6. Choose your destination wisely.
In some countries the exchange rate is a killer! While the flights themselves might be reasonably priced, food, tourist activities and accomodation can drain your bank balance very quickly. Ensure you do some research into your expenses before you book your flights. You might need to save up more than your realise for spending money. After all, I wouldn’t want you falling into debt while you are overseas.
7. Research your activities
Make sure at the very least to google ‘free things to do in …’ you will be amazed at what you can enjoy doing for no money at all! For me, just standing at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower right on dusk as the lights come on was breath taking… and it didn’t cost a cent.
8. Pack light
Ok this doesn’t have much to do with the money side of things but if you can travel without lugging around huge suitcases do it! It is such a relief at the end of a long day of stop overs, flights and jet lag.
9. Get Travel Insurance.
This is one area you do NOT want to scrimp, it is just not worth it. To be honest, I’ve never had to make a claim. But just knowing I have insurance particularly for hospital insurance or if a suitcase goes missing gives peace of mind. If you can, try using a credit card which includes free travel insurance, there is plenty of them available. As per my money principles though, always make sure you already have the money available to pay off that credit card before you make your purchases.
10. Avoid travelling during high tourist season.
Not only is it less crowded but we have managed to save a pretty penny simply by choosing the day before high season begins to fly. Or even better, avoid the city and tourist centres and visit the country side. Language can be slightly more of a challenge (there’s plenty of apps for that) but living expenses are far cheaper in those areas.
11. Avoid using your international phone plan.
Instead grab a local SIM card from the airport or phone shop in the country you are visiting. You can keep in contact with family and friends using FaceTime or Skype and apps such as Messenger & WhatsApp. These days there is free wifi all over the place. Your accomodation, McDonalds, airports and shopping centres are just a few. Choose the times when you have wifi to make your video calls so you don’t chew through all your phone data.
Just because you are travelling on a budget, doesn’t mean you can’t have an unforgettable experience. Embrace all that overseas travel has to offer without going broke.
Want some more ideas for saving money in your budget when you land back home?