Hey traveling guys and girls! Looking for a few tips by a professional traveler on how to save money while traveling? You have come to the right travel blog! I’ve been traveling the world for 2.6 years, so I have quite a few tips. I am an American, who has traveled to about 15 countries. This blog is mostly focused on international travel for Americans. The good news here is that MOST countries that dont start with a U and end with an A are cheaper to visit and live inside of. For example, I was pleasantly surprised that England was not really very expensive and the same with Spain, and ill tell you why.
#1 Travel in a country that is technically a 3rd world country – my first tip! One of the first places that I visited was Thailand. First because its very popular and I saw some videos on Youtube about the super cheap cost of living, and this is definitely true! So avoid the developed world, because that is where people have high salaries and make a lot of money and therefore the rent and food prices are more. Even though special Thailand is a popular tourist destination, it is still firmly in the developing world, so prices are cheaper, there’s some poverty, and trash around, and the currency is still low compared to the almighty US Dollar.
There’s good things and bad here, but with regards to money its all good. You can find an apartment for $150 to $300 USD, and you can find a meal for less than $2. Over in Pattaya, Thailand i used to frequent a Thai ladies food cart that was so tasty, a full meal with rice and chicken for 40 baht which is roughly $1.20. Over in southeast Asia, most of the countries are around this price level, for example Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, with the last 3 being a bit cheaper than our friend Thailand.
Plan out your expenses, plan ahead! Tip #2.
The biggest expense for travel is going to be your housing of course, and the second might be your transportation and flight costs as well as food. One of the best ways to save on housing is to get started on looking at housing on the major travel sites like booking.com before you leave, of course. What I have noticed is that sometimes the cheapest or the best valued places get booked a few weeks in advance. If you are waiting until the last minute to book you may not be able to get the best, more affordable valued place in a particular city.
Staying in a hotel?
In my experience, hotels can be some of the worst rip-offs in terms of travel expenses. These are ok if you are looking for a quick vacation with some nice luxuries, but did I mention that I had been traveling for over 2.6 years as a backpacker? Hotels are not usually super economical, but if we go back to our southeast Asia example, sometimes I can find a hotel over in southeast Asia for a few $100 a month, an sometimes if you ask, the hotel may offer you a monthly stay for as much as 50% off the nightly rate!
More tips on housing as a long term traveler: I usually research all of the major ways of sleeping and lodging in a country, hotels, youth hostels like those listed on www.hostelworld.com, airbnb, which is a major long term apartment rental site that has been just great, couch surfing, couchers.org, and booking.com, and even Facebook.com for apartments listings. So for prices over in western Europe and the UK, you may be looking at 2 to 3 times the prices of a place in southeast Asia. Youth hostels are a good answer to this even though some of them can still be expensive.
Camping to save money… Tip #3. Don’t want to pay anything for housing?!?!?! Free housing? Yes I bought a tent and I decided to camp as a way to save money. I didn’t pay anything for 1 month straight of camping over on the Canary Islands. You can see details of what I did as a backpacker here in this blog post. if you are comfortable with sleeping outside or even in a van, you may want to consider this option instead of paying for accommodation.
Food costs. Tip #4. Find out where the locals shop for food! In each country, saving on food can be a bit different. Definitely dont go for the areas that cater strictly to tourists. After a few days inside a place I’m usually shoulder to shoulder with the locals buying my stuff at their price, to avoid what is called “the tourist price.”
Over here in Albania, there are a good selection of chain grocery stores that have sale prices like Spar and Big Market. Albania also many outdoor local food markets. Yesterday i bought potatoes and onions for only 30 cents and this is enough to create a filling meal. Over in Montenegro and Serbia you can find local fast food restaurants that sell burgers for $2, still pretty cheap as compared to the USA, and in Spain I found another local cafe that sold a burger meal for $3.5, not too bad as compared to the USAs $8.
What do you eat? Tip #5. What are you eating? Since potatoes are a cheapie food, i like to cook them about once or twice a week. Some other cheap foods are things like beans, which you can find over in the UK for about 30 to 40 pence a can. I was quite surprised to see that food is cheap compared to the USAs prices where you may find a can of whatever for 99 cents instead of 40. Another good one is pasta. Over here, i bought a big package of pasta for about 70 Lek which is a total of 60 us cents. This pasta lasted me a few nights, i put some spices on top and it was fine as a meal for one or two nights, and one night i added some cheese, although this was a bit more expensive. Find out what foods are cheapest in the country that you are visiting. Good luck.
Free tours Tip #6. What is free in your chosen city? In many cities they have what is called a free tour where you are expected to make a donation, but of course you dont have to make one. I usually make a small one of $1 or $2. Some of these tours are helpful and some are not, it really depends on the talent of the guide. Over in Belgrade i went on a cool tour with this guy who seemed to know every bit of rich history of the Belgrade, and all the wars too. Just enjoy and walk away. These tend to be much cheaper than guided tours that you pay for ahead of time. Self guided tours are also helpful if you can look on Google to find these. Happy travel. Good luck saving money while traveling!