Saving money for a trip comes down to your priorities. Would you rather have nice food every day or use that money for a snorkeling trip around an island? Your gaming system is the same price as living 2-3 weeks in Thailand!
Listed below are ways that you can save money to travel. Some of them may be obvious and others aren’t so obvious but either way these add up to weeks of travel you may have never been able to experience otherwise.
- Go to discount grocery stores and buy things that fill you up easily like peanut butter. I lived off of eggs and peanut butter for two months before my first epic adventure and it was so worth it!
- Cell phone bill-
- Coffee is a killer-
- If you must drink it please buy it in the bulk section of the discount grocery store and make it yourself at home.
- Alcohol, cigarettes and any other substances-
- Getting drunk can feel good, Smoking a cigarette can take the edge off your stressful day. Remember what else can get rid of that stress; being 6,000 miles away from your boss! If your friends are drinking at a bar and you really want to go, consider one of two things. You can either tell them you need to save money for your trip and likely one will offer to buy you a drink (don’t be too proud) or you can find that old bottle of whiskey in the back of your pantry and put it in a flask. Go into the bar bathroom and mix it into the free soda the bartender will give you at the bar. Yes i’m cheap, yes it’s worth it.
- Car insurance-
- Often times we will just pay our premiums without looking for a better deal. Go to an insurance broker. Brokers have dozens of different insurance companies they work with. Give them your info and see if he can get you a better deal. It’s free to check so it can’t hurt.
- Don’t buy expensive things for your trip-
- All first time travelers say they packed too much and you will too. You don’t need the $250 backpack and the $189 North Face jacket. What you need is one pair of shorts and one pair of pants and a few shirts. Use that money for the things you do need like margaritas on the beach or entrance to the great wall of china.
- Be willing to work hard for your dreams. Pick up that extra shift or two every week. I worked 7 days a week for three weeks before my first big trip. It was hell but it allowed me to live my dream life and I was willing to do anything, you should have the same mindset. Every extra shift you work is two days of travel.
- Sell your stuff. Trust me you won’t regret it-
- Sell all of those electronics that you never use. Sell the playstation, the jackets you never wear anyways and the dirt bike that sits in your garage 364 days a year. Craigslist or Ebay will give you hundreds of dollars and a good spring cleaning. You will be surprised how little you miss that stuff when you’re windsurfing in Jamaica.
- Buy plane tickets and hotels with miles-
- Read the posts in “Flights” and “Hotels” for a step by step beginners guide to acquiring and using miles. This may be the difference between being able to afford your dream trip or staying home eating Top Ramen…..again.
DURING YOUR TRIP:
- Couchsurfing/WOOFING and other home stay options-
- One of, if not THE biggest expense for travelers is accommodation. It sneaks up on you. $20 a night may not seem like much, but that adds up to $600 a month. If you could take $600 a month from your expenses that would allow you basically a free one way ticket anywhere you want to go…EVERY MONTH. I use Couchsurfing and I love it. There is reviews of the hosts and travelers so you don’t have to just cross your fingers that they aren’t crazy. You also get to know locals and you often see a side of the city no other tourist gets to see. Many people I know use WOOFING because you also can get free food and it’s a good way to get new experiences working alongside locals.
- Don’t stay in hotels if you hate people. Hostels are great for so many reasons. You meet people from all over the world (likely one of the best parts of international travel) and get amazing tips and stories you would have never gotten otherwise. They are safe and clean and using websites like www.hostelworld.com you can see hundreds of reviews and pictures. Every new Facebook friend you make at a hostel is free stay in that country also!
- Street food-
- This is the tastiest way to save money by far. Local street food does come with some risk of getting a stomach bug, but it is a risk worth taking in my opinion. Street food consistently outdoes local restaurants and it’s usually half the price. You cannot say you’ve traveled somewhere without trying the local food!
- Tours from a local-
- Ask the receptionist at the hostel if they have a friend who wants to make a little extra cash by driving you around to the tourist hotspots. Tell them you don’t want a taxi because you want to pay less and you want to have a local to talk with. You pay them at the end of the trip and they will either wait for you while you explore the temples or museums or come with you if there is no entrance fee and then you get a free photographer! Another great option is www.Vayable.com which is a sight where locals give interesting and unique tours that you wouldn’t normally find at a tour guide stand at the airport.
- Airport taxis-
- Every airport you go to will likely have lots of taxi drivers yelling “TAXI! TAXI! WHERE YOU GO!?” You just keep your head down and say no as you walk past them to the taxi drivers in the very very back of the group or sometimes far away from the arrivals area. Those taxi drivers know they have to charge much less or they will be standing there forever. If you think the price is too high just turn and announce your destination to the big group of taxi drivers with a price that you want. “KATHMANDU CENTER 35, KATHMANDU CENTER 35!!” Don’t have an argument with anyone just look for the one guy who agrees by running up and saying “follow me”.
- I can’t stand to see someone pay full price for anything when I travel. A basic rule of thumb that I use when negotiating is that they start out at 100% and you say “no no no I’m sorry that’s just too much” then take a moment to shake your head and say “I could do 50%” Then he will say “oh no no this is good quality! I’ll give you good price just for you 80%” Then you point out something wrong with it or a reason you don’t really like it and say “60% final price” He will groan and say “65% is best i can do” and you agree with a big smile and shake hands getting 35% off of your little trinket. He makes money and you walk away feeling like a master negotiator. If you are buying a lot of different things this can really add up. Realize that EVERYTHING is negotiable. I negotiate on food, clothes, hostel prices, scooter rentals and even currency exchange rates!
Money is the lifeblood of your travels. Without it, you may end up pushing pencils again. Be smart, frugal and understand that your freedom and travel experiences is more important than a panini or a new video game.