Having just reached the milestone of 18 months travelled since we first left the UK in 2012, we thought it’d be a good time to sit down with a pen and paper, Franca’s fantastic (and complete mystery to me) collection of spreadsheets and a calculator to see just how much we’d spent from our travel budget, and just how much we saved.
We were in for a few surprises.
Calculations done, the last receipts checked and binned; we discovered that over the course of 547 days of travelling around the world through Japan, South East Asian and Europe we had spent less than £1000 on hostel and hotel accommodation over the whole period.
“How?“ you might ask. Well, allow us to explain just how we saved:
We’ve long been advocates of the international community of hospitable locals who’ve not only welcomed us into their homes, but also into their lives.
We’ve spent over 200 days in different Couchsurfing locations around the world and couldn’t think of a better way of saving on accommodation – but – you really mustn’t look at it from a budget-saving point of view, but rather what opportunities it can offer you from living with someone local who not only knows the town better than you or any travel guidebook, but has joined Couchsurfing in order for you to share an experience like no other.
Just recently we’ve spent a few days with Couchsurfing hosts in a few cities in Switzerland who not only showed us great hospitality by giving us somewhere to sleep, by teaching us how to make local dishes (vegetarian too), but also by taking us out with them as they go about their lives either playing violin in the local Irish jig night, or by taking us across the border into France and up on a 1500ft high mountain hike!
Before we left we had lots of our friends that had moved across the world get in contact with us to tell us that when, not if, we arrive in their country we’d have no problems with looking for accommodation during our time there.
Staying with friends has given us some of the greatest experiences of our 18 months of travelling around the world, and no matter whether its in Taiwan or in Slovenia, our friends have always gone out of their way to not only look after us, but also to take us around the country showing us some of their favourite places.
We both look forward to the day that we have our own place so that we can return the favour to them all, and take them out for dinner!
Friends Of Friends
Now this is one unique way of travelling that we don’t hear people making enough use out of.
All it really takes is the simple task of putting a social update out there on your Facebook profile or Twitter, or, by sending a quick personal message to a friend you know is originally from that town, city or country and ask them if they wouldn’t mind sharing your update, this way you get to not only connect with people in the place you’re travelling to, but also with someone who knows your friend and their little secrets 🙂
One of the first times we stayed with someone this way, we were in Florence for a few days and had managed to connect with a friend-of-a-friend who was French and doing his internship in the city. Not only did he host us for a few days, he also took a whole afternoon to walk with us around the city and to some off-the-path locations that not every traveller or tourist might find.
Yet another way to save on accommodation whilst travelling around the world is to put your money to a more sensible use.
It’s inevitable that you’ll need to spend money on hostels or hotels, so why not redirect that money to a charity project where you can volunteer your time and your what ever skills you have in return for incredible experiences that you’ll never forget, and maybe get a free place to sleep in return.
There are occasions where you’ll be able to make a difference to someone, somewhere, where you’ll be able to stay and sleep for free without having to contribute any money – and we’ve been that lucky on occasion too – but even if you’re at a location where a donation is necessary, the cost is certainly going to be less than any hotel nearby.
House and Pet Sitting
This is something we’ve really been seeing the benefit of lately after spending a few weeks in Munich and, just recently, a month in Cannes, France.
By using one of the many housesitting websites on the internet, you too can find an exotic location in almost any country around the world where you can watch over someone’s house or much-loved pet whilst they’re away thereby giving yourself not only free accommodation, but also a base in which to return after exploring the local area just like a native would.
By housesitting we’ve seen how the locals really live, away from the most tourist focused centres.
Of course, there are probably a whole host of other ways to save money whilst you travel, such as carrying your own tent and pitching it up wherever you can; and there will of course be those who will say they can go cheaper, and harder into the shoestring-budget-free travel territory – and we applaud you – but we’re really happy with the way we’ve saved so far.