Top 10 Tips To Travel Independently On A Budget

managing money and currency on a gap year

Travelling the world costs money, that much is obvious. But saving up a lump sum for your round the world adventure is just part of the solution, you need to know the right way to spend it too! These top 10 tips will not only help you reign in your budget before you go and on the road, but will also allow you to travel cheaper for longer!

Shop Around.

This should go without saying really. When you are researching your trip never just settle for the first hotel or flight that you find. You will almost certainly find the exact same thing for cheaper if you expand your search a little.

Don’t Give Huge Chunks Of Your Money To Travel Agents.

Why pay over the odds for travel agents to sort out an itinerary for you? Look at the itineraries of numerous travel companies for the country or countries you are visiting, and then simply do it yourself! Pick and choose the places on those itineraries you want to visit, maybe drop an item or two that doesn’t take your fancy, and then do so, simply sort out your own travel and accommodation! You will save a lot of money!

Haggle. Haggle, Haggle!

Learn the ancient art of haggling and barter hard wherever you can, especially at local or tourist market, hotels or guesthouses or even taxi’s, tuk tuks and other private daily transportation. Great savings can often be had by simply asking ‘is that your best price?’ Don’t feel guilty about doing it either, in many countries it is expected, and they often jack up the asking price once they see a tourist anyway. As long as you are respectful and polite, and treat it as a bit of fun, both sides can come away with a good deal that you are both happy with.

Get Around Like The Locals Do.

Use public transport as much as is convenient. Don’t be afraid of it. Sometimes taxis are the best option (if you can avoid the taxi mafias and the rip off scams), Uber or Lyft can be good alternatives, but public transport is often extremely cheap, easy to use and a wonderful way to explore a place.

Cheap Eats.

Eat at street stalls or cheap family run places and keep fancy restaurants to a minimum. There’s nothing wrong with splurging on a nice local restaurant from time to time, in fact I wholly recommend it, but avoid western fast food chains like the plague as they are often as expensive as a nice restaurant, and why would you want to travel half way round the world to eat packaged rubbish you can get at home anyway?

Do You Really Need A Drink?

Limit your alcohol intake. Drinking is often the biggest expense whilst travelling, so if you do have to have an alcoholic drink whilst travelling stick to the local beer rather than imported stuff, or limit your nights out.

Student Benefits.

If you are a student, then consider paying out for an International Student Identity (ISIC) Card. A very small outlay can net you great savings all over the world in hostels, hotels, museums, some airlines and many other things. The place I have had most benefit from this card in the past is actually Egypt, where you can save up to half the price of the entrance fees to all of the museums, sites and monuments, given as how many monuments and sites there are in Egypt, these can all add up. If you are not a student, but are under 26 or are a teacher, you can get the International Youth Travel (IYTC) Card or the International Teacher Identity (ITIC) card instead. Slightly different demographics, but the benefits are the same.

Mix It Up A Bit.

Go off the beaten track. Tourist hot spots and traditional backpacker destinations are great to visit but are always going to be more expensive. Instead, why not visit a country that isn’t so popular, or at least add some of them to your itinerary? Instead of Thailand, why not try Laos or Borneo? Instead of Brazil, why not visit Venezuela? I’m not saying don’t visit the other countries too, but consider less obvious choices and your wallet will thank you.

The Rainy Season Can Be Your Friend.

Travel off peak. Low season, monsoon season, whatever, it doesn’t matter. The rainy seasons are often the best times to travel! If you avoid high seasons whenever possible (I know it isn’t always easy to do), you will find prices drop a fair bit and it is much easier to haggle and barter as businesses become more eager for your custom. Apart from that, places are much less packed with tourists and other backpackers too.

Take Advantage Of The Freebies.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy the place you are visiting, the world is full of amazing things to do for free. Simply taking time out to laze on the beach of a tropical island with a good book, or heading out into the countryside for a hike are obviously free and easy to do, but there are other things unique to individual places too. You just have to do a little research. Major cities are often full of national parks or amazing scenic routes such as Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront in Hong Kong where you can watch locals practice Tai Chi, or the Marina Bay in Singapore. Some of the world’s best museums are free, such as the Natural History museum or the British museum, and even the Musée du Louvre in Paris is free on the first Sunday of every month!

There are so many great hacks and tips to save a little bit of money and keep your costs down when travelling, this is just a short selection! So there is no excuse for anyone who says they can’t afford to travel.

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

10 Easy Ways To Save Money For Travel.

Budget Basics.

Pre Trip Expenses.

How To Completely Blow Your Budget When Backpacking. (Or Ways To Avoid Blowing It).

How To Manage Your Money On Your Gap Year.

Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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Posted in Travel Lists, Travel Tips
2 comments on “Top 10 Tips To Travel Independently On A Budget
  1. So true. It is a lot easier than people think to save up, like you say they just have to prioritise what they really want.

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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