Each week in our newsletter we share one of the many budget travel tips we’ve learned on the road that have helped to keep our costs down, but not lose out on the rich experiences of long-term travel.
Below is a round-up of our travel tips to date, but to get the most the newest travel tip in your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter.
1. Always book accommodation with a kitchen
Sampling local cuisine is an absolute must for every one travelling to a new country, but eating out every day will quickly eat up your travel budget.
Book a hostel or renting an apartment with a kitchen and make every other meal yourself. Buying just a few items from a local grocery will be a fraction of the price of eating out.
2. Try airbnb, or wimdu, or homeaway, or … compare them all
Over the past year we’ve been trying to use accommodation options like airbnb more so that we will have our own kitchen so that we can avoid the expense of eating every single meal at a restaurant – but how can we find the best budget room?
Using the free-to-use comparison website AllTheRooms we compare the prices between all of the room-rental websites against each other, but also against hotel rooms via sites like Booking.com. This way you’ll not miss out should a hotel be having a cheaper than usual week.
3. Share your journey. Share the cost.
Car sharing across Europe slashed hundreds from our transport budget, saving us over €200 per person during the three months in which we travelled from Germany, to France, to Spain, and France again.
There are many websites opening across the world, but the one we’ve found the greatest success with is Blablacar. Paired with a little hitch-hiking this might be the cheapest way to travel.
4. When asked, always say ‘local‘
Whenever you’re withdrawing cash or paying using a card in a foreign country where the local currency is different to that in your bank account, always choose to pay in the local coinage.
Why? ATM’s and local businesses are free to choose the rate of exchange and can do the conversion at an awful rate in their favour, leaving you with several percent less than you deserve
Why pay more for less? Avoid this scam by using foreign banks partnered with your own, making sure to choose the local currency and rate set by your bank.
5. Take advantage of the cheapest meals
If you’re not able to cook yourself a meal in your hostel kitchen or apartment booked with airbnb, take advantage of the cheapest meals at nearby restaurants.
During the daytime most restaurants will have a cheaper lunch time menu than their evening one, with savings sometimes at half the price of an evening meal.
Fill yourself up on a cheaper meal deal during the day and eat something cheap and easy at night. This way you’ll have a whole day of energy ready to burn off, plus finding something quick to snack at night is really easy. You can even make a basic salad in your room.
6. Talk your way into bed
We were recently put onto this fantastic travel tip by Mike of Bemused Backpacker and we adored the idea.
GoCambio.com takes the premise of Couchsurfing and amplifies it by offering people the chance to trade their native tongue for a bed to sleep in at night.
By offering to practice speaking with your host in your native tongue for a quick guided lesson during your stay, you’ll have in return a bed for the night and the chance to interact with a local on a level that is incredibly rare. You can help someone to better themselves and their language skills, whilst saving you a little money in the process.
It’s entirely free to signup for and use, and we can’t wait to start using it ourselves.
7. Bring the power. Power the world
One fantastic tip that someone sent to us recently was to pack a power socket extension so that if you’re spending a long time at the airport you can share one socket with many people and make friends along the way.
This is an especially great tip if you’re head to a conference like TBEX where everyone is going to be hunting for a power socket to charge up their laptops and phones.
8. Take the slowest train and save
Understandably taking the fastest train from one city to the next is incredibly appealing, but most of the time you’re paying much more that you need to.
We’ve found first hand that the slowest train is almost always the cheapest train. For example, last week we paid half of the price of the rapid train from Barcelona to Tarragona by taking the slower regional train instead.
Sure, we may have added 30 minutes onto the duration of the trip, but saved more money to go towards our food budget.
9. Get the most out of your money & airmiles
Travel hacking has become and fine art over the last decade resulting some people becoming masters of it, leading to them taking multiple First Class flights per year entirely for free.
Every “travel hacker” we meet always expresses their frustration at not having started to spend their money and collect their airmiles earlier, and we’re starting to feel that same way.
We’re starting to look further into how to collect as many airmiles as possible so that we too can get into the “game” of point saving, and there’s no better way for us to start travel hacking with airmiles than Nomadic Matt’s Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking.
If there’s one person who knows how to budget travel and save hard, it’s Matt.
10. Fly on the cheapest day of the week
According to the cheap flight search boffins at Skyscanner, finding the cheapest flight depends entirely on when you choose to fly.
Flying on weekdays instead of weekends can give you a saving immediately, and the closer to the middle of the week the better.
By using their handy date search tool you can see the cost of every daily flight across a whole month, and not just on one day. That way you can see which day is cheapest to fly and then you can arrange your travel and holiday around it, saving you money you can put towards upgrading your room when you arrive.
11. Don’t let debt be the death of your travels
A couple of weeks ago a friend related a story to us of two travellers they met during their own around the world adventure who made the colossal mistake of deciding to put all of their expenditure during their year abroad onto credit cards.
Today they’re sitting on more than $30,000 of debt that needs to be paid off.
Don’t put yourself into that position. It’s not worth the lifetime of struggle that will come at the end of your trip.
Even if your trip is only a fortnight long, putting yourself under future financial pressure is not worth the stress and can easily be avoided by being more frugal before your trip, rather than having to just “get by” after it.
12. Stay rent-free with house sitting
This year we've lived rent-free in London, Portsmouth, Scotland, and now Berlin and for all of those months we have house sitting to thank for it.
After two years of watching over peoples homes and their pets we've learned so much about how to be the best house sitters we could be, but if it wasn't for the Ultimate Guide to Housesitting by our friend Dani we both think we'd never have succeeded.
13. Stop folding you clothes and start rolling
For years we were carrying our clothes the wrong way by folding instead of rolling.
What am I talking about?
By rolling you clothes into a “clothes burrito” you’ll save yourself more space inside of your carry on lucking or inside of your packing cubes, and who doesn’t need a little extra space in their bag?
For a simple “how to” check this short 60 second video.
14. Write your way to a healthier travel budget
After three years of travel we’ve only just realised that we should have listened to everyone earlier:
“Start freelance writing. You can do it in your spare time and whilst travelling. It could bring in hundreds per month.“
We’ve just started freelancing and it’s already starting to bring in some money – but none of it would have been possible without our friend Karen who’s created an easy to follow “How To” course.