So we all have that urge to get away, go someplace new or even travel the world. Whether it’s a holiday in sunny Italy or exploring the maintains of Prague, our inner wanderlust always finds a way of telling us to break free of our predictable lives.
So, how do you travel cheap?
Now most people think they can only afford to go away for a week or two and surely they’d need to save up thousands to travel for months or even a year. But with certain sacrifice and good planning it is possible.
First things first, a couple of years ago I decided to pack my bags and leave the gloomy grey English lane which I called home to go venturing around Europe hoping never to return or anytime soon at least.
Little to my surprise, one month later I was back home, broke and jobless. Depressing I know but after getting back on my feet I realised where I went wrong and how I came to writing this blog post. Follow these 5 tips and you will be on your way to living that travelling life you always dreamed of.
- Planning It All
So before you go anywhere you need to plan. Now don’t worry I’m not saying you need to plan your whole trip from start to finish because that would take the fun and excitement out of traveling now wouldn’t it.
What you do need to plan though is what sort of trip you’re looking for. E.g. travelling the sunny southern part of Spain and Portugal, cruising from beach to beach or hiking through the Balkan maintains, staying in a tent every night.
I say this because each trip requires different resources and knowing your plan will help you when it comes to pre-booking, accommodation and could save you a world of extra baggage.
- What do I pack…??
As I’m sure you all know, whenever you mention travelling or going away most people’s first question is what are you going to take? Now a lot of people think that the more you take the cheaper it will be… that’s not quite the case.
In my experience taking less is more. By this I mean having less weight on your back and less things to worry about gives you much more freedom, especially when it comes to transport. Remember you’re not just paying for yourself to get from place to place you have to pay for your stuff too, so keep it light.
Another thing to remember is always leave room for food and water in your bag, you never know a missed train could leave you stranded for the night without food so always have back up.
Try use items to their fullest ability, I mean there are a few necessities such as, comfy shoes, clothes and basic first aid but a lot of things can be used for more than just its original purpose. Such as a phone can also be used as a torch and a black bin liner as a waterproof poncho. For more information on what to pack see my page on.
- Where do I sleep?
Now I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s all going to be 5-star hotels because it’s not. The biggest thing you have to prepare for when travelling cheap is a sleepless night and/or sleeping on public transport.
Saying that, it’s not all doom and gloom.
There is an unbelievable amount of hostels spotted around the globe and especially in Europe. Most of them are very cheap as well and offer a clean bed, bathroom and even Wi-Fi. Make sure you do your research though and use websites such as booking.com to compare offers in the area you are staying.
You often have the option of choosing to share a room or having your own. Of course, the more people you share with the cheaper it becomes but that is not a problem. Travelling is all about meeting people and making new friends and believe it or not these are the people that will help you along the way.
Say you meet someone in Spain and you’re looking at moving on to France. If they’re heading that way too, hey look you just got yourself a free ride.
Another great tip is to stay just outside of main cities, for example I stayed in a place called Harlem, just outside of Amsterdam for less than half the price that hostels in the city were offering.
There are many different means of getting from place to place when travelling. The obvious being, inter-railing, coaches (such as mega bus), hitchhiking, flying and driving.
But there are also things such as carpooling websites (blablacar.co.uk) that allow you to organise lifts with people, for a fee of course but sometimes next to nothing.
Now my advice to you is don’t just use one mean of transport. Different areas of the world cost more/ less for different means of transport. For example, places in eastern Europe charge barely anything for trains where as more westernised countries will have extortionate rates. So, when passing through westernised countries always try to use coaches or hitchhike. Another cheap trick is to try to travel overnight, this way you are saving on paying a night in a hostel or hotel.
My daily food expenses were probably the hardest thing I found to keep within budget. My biggest tip for this would be to research common food and flavours of a country before you get there in-order to plan meals on the cheapest budget.
Avoid major super markets and chains, especially in westernised countries. You may not think it but paying that extra bit of money for something you recognise can really strain your budget. Live a little and try to explore the national cuisine of a place, this will also get you points from the locals.
Make your own packed lunches as often as you can. Buying ready-made food is far too expensive to live off.
In the end, travelling is a personal experience that allows you to take chances and live on the edge, see things that your normal life doesn’t allow and meet people you never would. So, spend the money that you need to spend in-order to enjoy it. That’s my advice anyway.