Travelling can be EXPENSIVE but don’t let that deter you! I remember getting to Bali, Indonesia and finding out my budget of $6 for daily meals should in reality be more like $10-15. It was very stressful at first. There are ways around this of course like getting a job. But the first thing you should do is cut expenses. The good thing about a backpack or suitcase is there isn’t a lot of room for extras. Generally that means most of what you’re spending all your money on is, you guessed it, food and beer. Don’t get me wrong I love food. The quickest way to experience a culture is through their food, but be reasonable. If having 10 beers a week vs 20 means a scuba diving trip at the end of the month then make the cut! Here are some other ways to pinch those pennies so you can treat yo future self:
HOSTELS – They’re already cheap but did you know you can even stay for free? Talk to reception and see if they have any – work in exchange for accommodation – jobs available, most will. Don’t be afraid to try a couple of hostels until you get a ‘yes’ it’s worth it. Calling around also works if your suitcase is heavy.
AIR BNB VS HOTEL – If there’s more than one of you I would highly suggest an Air bnb over a hotel any day. The main reason being it has a KITCHEN!! What a money saver. Trust me fresh veggies, rice and different ethnic sauces go a long way while travelling. Especially when the alternatively eating out costs $10 per meal per person.
Here’s a list of ingredients you can do A LOT with.
$1 bags of pasta
Canned tomatoes (pasta sauce, tomato soup, add to rice etc.)
Flour (crêpes, quick flatbread, pancakes etc.)
(Cheap) butter (adds flavour to otherwise boring cheap meals)
Fresh veggies (the ones on sale)
Fresh fruits (the ones on sale)
Rice /rice noodles
Favourite asian sauce / curry
Milk / Alternative milk
Chill flakes / Oregano
This is just a basic list but you can make TONS of things with this. Everyone cane make rice and noodles right? Obviously add what you can to this but this should shoot you off in the right direction. Meat is the biggest money waster and I rarely eat it while travelling. Instead, I wait to do a BBQ with roommates / other hostel members and then buy myself a steak and a case of beer. Worth the wait and makes it special.
SHOPPING – On a really tight budget and down to your last ingredients? Try this website. It will give you a list of meals you can make with the ingredients you have. Which inevitably won’t be the basics like sugar, ketchup, who needs salt anyways? (Been there).
BE SHAMELESS – NOT that way. I don’t want to see you working the streets BUT be shameless in not being afraid to ask for help, favours, work etc. I have a LOT of pride so I know it’s not second nature to everyone to ask for help. What I’ve learned from my German-Chinese friend who is skilled at Couchsurfing is to ASK. It’s always a ‘no’ if you don’t ask. Ask friends, make friends, use Couchsurfing, (carefully) tag along with friends. Everyone has a couch you can crash on. In the mean time hostels are great while you gather up friends. Need a job? The best way to find something is to hit the pavement and ASK.
BUDGET – Set yourself a budget and don’t forget $$’s for fun. For example in Australia I had a $75 a week budget which could go to fun and/or food so if I spent $30 on food for the week, sweet, I could get a lot of $3 beers on saturday night or if I wanted to get groceries and a fancy meal I could do that too. Or I could put it away and save for a trip up the coast. What ever your budget and/or plan just make sure you have one. Money just slips through the cracks otherwise.
PLANNING ACTIVITIES – Don’t plan too many tourist activities. Sometimes when you’re travelling you feel like you have to do it all. You don’t. Pick a few must-do’s and stick to it. I always like to get advice before I commit to any tourist attractions. That way I know they’re worth it and I feel good spending the money.
PACK HEAVY – Bring things from home. Umbrellas, sunscreen, water bottle etc. Got fins and a snorkel? Bring them along. Beachside places charge a premium to rent these types of things. That is, if you have room in your suitcase of course. I also now pack a beach towel. Without fail if I’m not staying in a hotel I always have to buy a beach towel. Once I stayed in an Airbnb in Iceland that came without towels! $30 later we could finally go to the hot springs. Same goes for a lightweight sleeping bag. If you know you’re going to staying in hostels that require bedding zyou might as well. I spent $50 euros on a blanket in Florence because I didn’t read the fine print on my tour which clearly stated – bring a sleeping bag-.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT – I know public transport can be scary but it could mean saving upwards of $50 a day on cabs etc. Do a bit of research and make sure the city you’re in has safe public transport firstly. For example a single woman would not want to take a bus solo in Morocco. But Germany? Absolutely! Then spend a bit of time figuring it out. Ask around if you get confused and leave yourself plenty of time to get to you destination. Remember the journey is half the fun and when you feel like crying just remember if I can figure out the insane train system in Japan easily then you can figure it out too.
The best advice I can give you is budget right from the start. If you’re a bad budgeter and you’re going on a short trip what I sometimes do is divide my money. I’ll divide by day or by week in cash and that’s all I get for the day/week. It’s tough love after that so it straightens me out quick. I’ll take my day’s alottment and leave the rest in the hotel safe. Of course you can do this by hand too (aka keep it card only) but I’ve found this keeps me way more accountable on trips. Especially the ones I shouldn’t have even taken because I was already so broke. In the end I’ve NEVER regretted any last minute or well planned trip I’ve taken no matter how much the cost. I may not be riding in a Jaguar any time soon but these memories are what life’s all about right?