How we travel cheap and you can too! Tips and tricks and why you do not have to be rich. All in one place. In our previous blog post, we discussed how to find cheap flight deals to get you to your dream destination! This time let’s talk about how to travel cheap for a fraction of the price most travelers pay, thus making your adventures last longer. We have divided this article into five main steps that you should take to make the cheap travel lifestyle reality. Respectively, we will cover the preparation stage, accommodation, getting around, experiencing and our favorite topic (can’t blame us for that) – food.
- How to Travel Cheap? | TRAVEL ON A BUDGET
- Before You Go on a Trip – Preparations
- The Right Mindset to Travel on a Budget
- Do not Carry Many Valuables on Backpacking Trips
- Getting Around on Budget, When Traveling
- Hitchhike to Travel the World on Budget
- How to Find Budget Accommodation Around the World
- Pay for Your Accommodation
- Pay Less for Your Accommodation
- Stay for Free Around the World When Traveling
- Find Budget Activities When You Travel
- What to Eat When Traveling to Stick to the Budget?
- Travel for Free While Volunteering – Key on How to Travel Cheap
How to Travel Cheap? | TRAVEL ON A BUDGET
Before You Go on a Trip – Preparations
Learn How to Pack Light
The more luggage you have, the more you will have to pay to transport it around. Therefore, the more difficulties you will encounter. Aim for one backpack where you will put all your necessities and one daypack with the phone, passport, money, etc. to keep with you at all times. So many people overpack, always. They carry around stuff they will never use, making their life miserable. Their bags are heavy, not very mobile and will cost them money every single time they have to fly (big money). That is not a way how to travel cheap.
Let’s put it in a perspective – we aim to travel for a year each from one backpack, which contains – 4 shirts, 3 shorts, 2 long pants, 1 pair of flip-flops, 1 pair of sneakers, 7 pairs of undies, 4 pairs of socks, 1 warm jacket, 1 raincoat, 1 book, 1 notebook, 1 bag of medicine, 1 bag of toiletry, 1 swimsuit, 2 sets of glasses in casings, 2 scarfs. Then we have ONE gear bag for two of us which holds 2 laptops, 1 deck of playing cards (very important), 1 DSLR camera + lens, 1 GoPro, 2 phones, 1 power bank, all the chargers, bank cards, passports, money. That’s it! We are quite proud of ourselves as people always complement our minimalistic lifestyle, even for backpackers!
We always follow our old wisdom – is there something you cannot live without? Something that you cannot buy if needed when traveling? – Yes, passport, bank cards, your phone. The rest will be available for purchase ANYWHERE in the world, whenever you need. Learn to let go to travel cheap.
The Right Mindset to Travel on a Budget
If you plan to travel on a tight budget you have to prepare for it mentally. You have to acknowledge certain inalienable truths – you will sleep at hostels most of the time, sometimes sharing your room with bed-bugs, 10 other backpackers, a chicken and the owner himself while sleeping on a hard-mattress holding your backpack and taking a cold shower in the morning. Okay, totally exaggerating and scaring you guys! But, try to see the beauty in it – you can see the world and experience it like a local!
This mindset I am talking about is one that lets go of your daily luxuries. Such as knowing where you are going to spend the night, the predictability of what is going to happen, what you will have for dinner, that you will have wi-fi, clean, hot water, and private space. I can assure you that even high-maintenance people can adjust, you just really have to want to!
We have traveled with many of our friends, some of them have been ridiculously cocky about the places we have stayed at. Also means of transportation we have taken, even though they insist on being backpackers. In the end, they never end up packing their bags and actually going on backpacking adventures, beach vacation in the South of Spain is way better. At the same time, we have some comfort-loving friends who have adjusted amazingly and fallen in love with the cheap backpacking lifestyle! Everyone is different and that’s alright. However, we suggest you to try to adjust your mindset and go on a low-budget trip at least once, it can’t do any harm to try!
Mindset is everything.
Do not Carry Many Valuables on Backpacking Trips
I know it sounds hypocrite, as we travel with our tech gear, but we have paid for that with my phone once. If you take any valuables with you – be extremely cautious. Apart from technology, we suggest leaving your expensive and precious stuff at home. Why should you play dare with destiny and establish yourself as a potential target? By no means, we are saying that traveling is unsafe. Simply one has to be mindful of his belongings at all times and flashy appearances are thief targets anywhere in the world.
Getting Around on Budget, When Traveling
Use The Public Transport
We always take public transportation, does not matter how slow, uncomfortable, cramped or crowded it is. In the long run, it will save you loads of money. Also, it is an unforgettable experience and we believe – the only way to get to know the culture and blend in with locals. Who needs the dark window, air-conditioned shuttles which take you from place to place?
If there is no way you can get around by public transportation use either Grab in Asia, Uber in Europe, US, and Latin America. You can even opt for GrabShare or UberShare or motorbike to cut your expenses in half by sharing your rides. These apps are life savers and are at least 50% cheaper than usual taxis. Some places in Indonesia have already restricted Uber and Grab use just because local taxi drivers are running out of business. Well, for the prices they ask, no wonder why. (Sorry local taxi drivers, but it is an ever growing and competitive market.)
When it comes to public transportation just think of it as you would back home. Everyone who does not own a private car has to get around somehow. Most of the time it has to be inexpensive as everyone should be able to get from place to place. So you better download Here maps or MapsMe or just use Google to find closest bus/train/boat stations. If you find yourself in a situation without any internet just ask locals, they will always be happy to help.
Rent Transport Locals Use to Get Around
It is important to note that in some countries renting a motorbike, car or bicycle will be cheaper than taking a mode of public transport. Possibly also easier than walking if you have to cover long distances. Ask around before you decide how you will get around a certain country. For example, renting a motorbike in Indonesia costs 3 EUR a day, while it is impossible to get around on foot as the distances are veeery long. On the other hand, renting anything in Europe will be quite expensive, however, walking around cities and sightseeing can be done easily. European cities are usually compact and best explored on foot.
Walk Instead of Getting a Taxi Every Time
Instead of getting a motor transport – walk. Wherever the distance is walkable just go ahead and walk. This option will keep you fit and feeling less guilty for all that amazing food and beers you might indulge in during your travels. And, once again, it will help you to meet new people. Not to brag, but we used to walk around 15-20 km a day when traveling. Then we started living in Asia and driving around with a motorbike, as it is the cheapest option.
Hitchhike to Travel the World on Budget
Last option you might consider – hitchhiking. This option is almost always totally free and the best way to learn a new language or about the country’s culture. Hitchhiking is an amazing experience and we would recommend trying it. In the end, if you don’t like it, at least you gave it a try. The reason why so many people are reluctant is usually because they are scared. Also, because it is not the fastest or most convenient way to get around. Yes, sometimes you could end up in a potentially bad place or with bad people but that can happen anywhere in the world, whatever you do.
To hitchhike you have to be flexible with your arrival and departure times and be ready to sleep at roadside hostels. Oftentimes the driver you hailed down will share his meal with you. If it’s getting late he will rather take you to his home and set up a bed for you, (to help out the traveling soul) so you can continue your travels safely the next day. Amazing. Hitchhiking practices will differ from country to country, but I have friends who have traveled the world like that, so we assure you, it’s doable!
How to Find Budget Accommodation Around the World
Pay for Your Accommodation
Stay at the cheapest accommodations possible. Ranging from hostels to hotels and homestays. When you search for a place to stay, be humble and just sort them from price going from low to high. Pick one that you are okay with, but still from the cheapest ones. We have never traveled and stayed in luxury hotels or somewhere you pay double the price just for some unnecessary extras like a bigger room. We truly believe that you can spend your money more wisely than booking overpriced hotels. Read peoples’ reviews first to know what to expect, we always spend quite some time looking for our accommodations to find the best value for the money.
Let’s be frank, our budget at the time of writing this is 15 € / 17 $ for two people per night. In Indonesia, we spend about 10 € / 12 $ per night and in Vietnam, we have spent as little as 6 € / 7.50 $ per night. Europe will be more expensive though, and the cheapest roof over your head will be around 20 € / 25 $ as the minimum. For all our bookings we use booking.com, we love it, it’s the best, cheapest, worldwide recognized site with great bonuses!
Pay Less for Your Accommodation
If you are a single traveler or just love to party hostels worldwide will be your home. We rarely stay at hostels, as it is two of us and a private room costs as much as two beds in a dormitory. Still, we must acknowledge that hostels are awesome for parties and meeting likeminded people and having fun. We volunteered at a hostel for a while and our time there was purely amazing.
Agoda is a place you should check out if hostels are your thing! If you are traveling with a group or just want a place you can cook and have some privacy, consider renting an Airbnb, sometimes getting a private place from Airbnb can be cheaper than any of the above options. Again, it depends on the country you are traveling to, for example, Indonesia offers some ridiculously beautiful villas for as little as 10 € a night, while in the US Airbnb will be around 60 $ per night. Go get Airbnb discount of 30 € / 35 $ on your first booking here. Booking.com is another page which we would recommend the most, as it has endless options of accommodation to offer. Which is your favorite hotel booking site?
Stay for Free Around the World When Traveling
Couchsurfing is a great way to stay for free anywhere you are traveling. It is for free and similar to hitchhiking you must be an adventurous spirit to use Couchsurfing. However, as a reward, you will meet amazing people, experience local life, and travel extremely cheap. Basically, you have to make a profile on couchsurfing.com and describe yourself a little. Then choose your destination and apply with several hosts.
You can think of it as visiting an online friend you have never met and staying at his place. In the beginning, it might seem scary or dangerous, but it really is not. The same general truth applies – anything can happen to you anywhere, anytime. If you are a social and friendly person who loves to blabber for hours and listen to exciting stories others have to tell, you have to give Couchsurfing a try.
The last option on the list is nightswapping, a fairly new practice. You must register a profile with your home and become a host in exchange for free nights at someone else’s place. You can offer a mattress in a living room or even a shared room, it does not really matter. Anytime someone will stay at your place you will earn free nights to stay at other people’s places around the world. It does not have to be the same place your guests came from. You can just choose any country. This platform works on give and take basis, very creative, very cool.
Find Budget Activities When You Travel
Not all the activities have to break the bank. We usually opt for free activities like sightseeing, enjoying the mountains, parks, beaches and other free of charge attractions. Rarely we take some organized tours, but only if it is cheaper than doing it on our own. Or if there is no way in the world that we can do it on our own (because it is dangerous or inaccessible).
However, if we take tours we always haggle about the price. We try to find the cheapest offer after we have compared several options. Often you will be asked to pay 60 $ for a rafting day trip in the city center, while you can get it for 15 $ down the road. Some people overpay for things so much only because they were not up to some fun negotiations. Maybe they felt too bothered to explore the different options.
If you have a local friend ask him to show you around. Ask about the prices so you are aware of what you should pay. Google all the things you can do in a city or region. Google how to get there as well as how much to pay. Bloggers have done the research for all of us many years before Google and YouTube went live as we know them. We are sure there is a blog out there for whatever you are looking for.
What to Eat When Traveling to Stick to the Budget?
Eat street food and hang out with the locals. Street food is good, it is safe, trust us! Yes, you might get an upset belly from time to time, but who doesn’t? It happens even if your mama cooks. So, do not be afraid to eat all the crazy and tasty stuff from the food stalls. Just avoid overpriced restaurants who will, on top of the fact that they serve the same food better presented, charge you anywhere between 10% – 20% service tax. Eating with locals, chatting with them and struggling to understand what is that you are eating is an unforgettable experience.
You can eat at restaurants when at home or for some special celebrations. Apart from that, it is way better for your budget to stick to the basics. Use the opportunity to shop at local markets for fresh vegetables, eggs, meat, fruit, grains. Then cook them at your accommodation. This approach comes in handy especially when you are staying at one place more than for several nights. By cooking your own food, you can save so much money. We must note, oftentimes buying street food will be the cheapest, fastest, easiest and tastiest option you will have. Just give it a try, if you want to travel cheap.
Travel for Free While Volunteering – Key on How to Travel Cheap
Workaway. THIS IS GOLD. Workaway is a platform which brings together volunteers with hosts who need helping hands. The tasks you can do as a workawayer volunteer range from babysitting, hotel management, cook, field worker, bartender, assistant, photographer, language teacher, etc. In exchange for some 5 – 8 hours of work around 5 times a week, you will get free accommodation, food, transport, fun times, learning experience and spending time in a country basically for free. On your free days, you can explore the country or do whatever you want.
It is amazing how many different things you can do and how different each Workaway is. Some might become your home away from home, while some might be actual hard work in exchange for all the goodies. The options are endless. Thus, if you have a destination in mind, go check out what Workaway has to offer at your next destination. Perhaps you can extend your travels by being in a beautiful place while not spending a cent. This is one of the keys for anybody to master how to travel cheap!
We hope this not so short summary gave you some insight on how to travel cheap, while still being able to enjoy a great time and making the best memories. Anyone can do it!
Keep these tips in mind for your next trip and just see how it goes. Maybe you will love traveling on a budget! What the heck, of course, you will! Let us know after your first adventure, we will be soooo happy to hear about your experiences!