Okay, so these are some of my tips for making the most of your travels while keeping to a budget. Constantly I am finding new ways to save and new low-budget ways of living. However, at the moment, these are some of my recommendations:
- Research – a little bit of research goes a long way. The Internet and guide books go a long way when trying to gather information, but the best for me is always asking the locals, and making sure you remember what they say. If you don’t have a good memory write it down! Make sure they realise just how cheap you want things to be though. Some locals will assume you want the deluxe option because you are travelling their country, so make sure they know just what a tightwad you really are! Sometimes a good point to start, is to get a quick idea from the Internet or a guide book of prices of transport, hostels and food, then ask a few people. See if they have any cheaper suggestions. There will always be cheaper bus options or little unadvertised restaurants where one can get a cheap snack that the guidebooks may well not know about. And use every option you get to ask these questions; ask the lady who serves you at the supermarket, ask the receptionist, ask anyone. Remember, it’s also a good way to get to know people.
- Make your own food – Where possible make your ow food. If you have kitchen facilities make at least 2 of your meals each day yourself, if not all of them. One of my favourite things about travelling is the local cuisine so I always try to have a lunch or dinner at a restaurant every now and then. This is one thing I really can’t give up! The key for me is to not buy an expensive meal through desperation. On bus rides always try to take fruit and biscuits, or even a sandwich. Service stations are always going to be quite expensive and also when arriving in a new area the first restaurants you see may well be the most expensive. Give yourself a bit of time to get rid of your bags then start exploring to find those cheaper places.
- Walk (or take the bus) – the best to get anywhere is to walk. This is the only way you’ll get to see the changes in scenery, find that shabby fruit market in the middle of the neighbourhood, watch 2 couples have a slanging match in the middle of the street, et., etc. If you feel too unfit walk, you better get practicing. It’s the only way. For journeys too far to walk or with time an issue, take the bus and watch the city flash by. Normally it is the cheapest mode of transport. In Asia, this might be slightly different as the rickshaws and taxis can be so cheap, but generally I would say this is the rule.
- Visit the markets (and general bulk buying) – find out where the local fruit market is. You are bound to get the best deals on fruit and vegetables while also getting the chance to try one of the produce along te way. It is also the perfect place to bargain. If you are buying a small amount of each vegetable buy them from the same vendor and try to strike a deal.If the price is 4.90 ask to have a couple of lemons and lies as well for 5. Apply bulk buying principles to other antics as well. If you’re staying in a locations for a few days buy the largest water available and use that, instead of buying loads of small bottles.
- Find fun things to do that are cheap. Instead of paying for drinks on a cafe, why not fill a thermos full of instant (or real if you have a strainer) coffee or fresh coffee from the hostel (I have been to quite a few that provide this) and spend some time reading in a park, library or bookshop. -Street performers are always good for a few hours entertainment. – Why not take a musical instrument with you and spend an hour or two each day practising. It can be something small like a harmonica, thumb piano or small percussion instrument up to a melodica or guitar.
- I almost forgot the most effective of all. I guess it’s become second nature now. Couchsurf or use hospitality exchanges whenever possible. Accommodation is the biggest expense of all. Hassle, take the opportunity to meet local people and use their expertise with the other points.
Okay, so I guess most of these are common sense really, but it’s good to have a set of principles that can be applied to any situation. I will try and write some articles in the future on ways to save money in a variety of different areas. However, for now, I hope this helps!