How to travel on a shoestring budget

How to travel on a shoestring budget

Tired of wishing you were on a tropical beach sipping mojitos or vicariously living out your travel dreams through your Instagram feed? Granted, international travel doesn’t come cheap, but there are many ways to stretch your holiday fund without having to compromise your experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a six-month stint roving through a faraway continent or just popping over to Bali for a quick breather, these handy tricks will ensure you don’t find yourself out of cash halfway through your trip.

Know the lay of the land

Having a good understanding of the local public transport system and knowing your options when it comes to rail and bus passes will go a long way in saving you some cash. If you do find yourself booking a driving service to cart you around during your stay because it’s the most viable option, do your research. Don’t get bullied into making a deal because you were put on the spot by a persistent driver. While it may not be glamorous, if you’re travelling between countries, look out for overnight buses and trains or cheap flights on budget-friendly airlines, it will be worth roughing it for the cash you’ll save. Plus, that red-eye trip will technically double as one night’s accommodation.

Eat economically

A general rule for travelling abroad, on a budget or not, is to eat where the locals do. Not only will this save you paying too much for your meal, but it promises an authentic dining experience. If your accommodation offers free food, take advantage and fill up before heading out. If the weather permits, grab some supplies from the local grocer and have a picnic in a park or on the beach. Unless you’re travelling in a country where drinking the tap water is unsafe, opt for a reusable water bottle and take it everywhere you go. You’ll be surprised how much the little things add up, not to mention how gross single-use plastics are.

Think ahead

While it’s not necessary, or very fun, to stick to a rigorous itinerary while you’re holidaying, it’s worth making a rough plan of your comings and goings before leaving your accommodation each day. Having an idea of where you’re going and how you’ll get there means you won’t be caught off-guard by any unforeseen costs. Sure, be spontaneous, but do a little research if you’re going to head to a museum on the other side of town for the day. That way, you won’t arrive to find entry costs more than your Airbnb. Booking tours or activities ahead of time will also mean you can negotiate prices or jump in with a group to save some coin.

Do what you want to do

You know that phenomenon where you tell somebody about your upcoming holiday and they immediately start rattling off things you “have to do”?. Yeah, just no. If you couldn’t care less about art or history or whatever it is, don’t think you have to fork out money to head along to some gallery or museum that your mum’s friend was raving about. The same goes for trying to one-up other people’s travels. Is paying some stupid amount of money on a photogenic cocktail at a swim up bar so you can show off to all your friends really worth it? If that will genuinely make you happy, by all means, go nuts, but don’t feel compelled to compete with the wannabe travel bloggers of the cyber world.

Buy travel insurance

Yes, travel insurance is an expense but it is worth it in the long run. Nobody goes on holiday thinking they will break a limb, contract a virus, lose their wallet or get trapped somewhere because of some unexpected weather disaster, but these things can happen and you don’t want to find yourself out of pocket because you thought ‘that won’t happen to me’. The peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve got a safeguard in place is worth the money in itself. Who knows, it might save you sleeping with one eye open while spooning your valuables in your hostel bunk each night.