Travelling on a budget – part one
I caught the travel bug young and now almost all of my savings go towards my next adventure. People often ask me how, on my income and with the rent on my inner city apartment, I can afford to travel overseas at least once a year and domestically three or four times on top of that. Well, if you want to know how I budget and save, you can read about that here.
But beyond simply saving money, I’m also a smart traveler who makes her dollar (or euro or pound or yen) go that much further. I’m going to do a series of posts on this topic, as there’s a lot of ground to cover, but let’s start with the basics… because travelling on a budget is easy, I promise!
International travel: transport and accommodation
You cannot afford to stay in fancy palaces, so don’t even bother.
1. Make pals with your travel agent
I have one travel agent that I always use. His name is Russell, I’ve been going to him for about three or four years now (although, admittedly, we’ve been mates longer) and he is an absolute wealth of information. I know he’ll never rip me off, that he’ll make sure I’m on the best value insurance plan and he’ll sort out any visas or other documentation I might need. Also, it’s a total given but please book as early as possible to get the best rates.
2. Travel off peak
Chicago is bitterly cold in Winter, but I look super cute in my orange coat.
I hate Winter so very much. Like so absolutely completely very much. But I also know that travelling in Winter is incredibly cheap: there’s less people on the road (except for Australian’s, we are everywhere) which means tourist attractions are empty and often cheaper and hostels are desperate to fill rooms so will heavily discount their rates. Big cities like NYC, London and Paris are always bustling, so you won’t miss out. Plus, it’s a little bit magical wearing a big coat and getting caught in snow sometimes… sometimes.
3. Budget airlines are your friends
I openly declare my love for TigerAirways regularly. I love how cheap and efficient they are. Yes, they’re bloody uncomfortable, but whatever, they’re gonna get me from A to B, who cares? I obviously have to fly a full service airline from Australia to my destination, but once I get there, I’m all about the budget options.
I favour SouthWest in the United States (they give you two free checked bags) and EasyJet in Europe (I know RyanAir is cheaper, but they are beyond crap that I cannot and will not even deal how many hidden fees they have, I’d rather pay a few euro more for EasyJet). AirAsia will get you around Asia for cheap but I know a lot of people are now nervous to fly them (you shouldn’t be!). Flying short trips doesn’t need to be comfortable, it just needs to be cheap.
4. Buses and trains are also your friend
Sometimes, especially if the distance between A and B aren’t that far, buses and trains provide a great overnight option to help you save on a night’s accommodation. I’ve taken overnight buses from Madrid to Barcelona and trains from Graz to Salzburg and they’re not so bad, if a little uncomfortable. A successful night on transport requires ear plugs, a good neck pillow and a warm blanket (I travel with a wide purple pashmina, which I use as a blanket, a scarf and to cover my shoulders for temples.). If you can, organise early check in for your accommodation or ask if you can at least use their bathrooms to freshen up.
5. Stay in hostels or use Airbnb
India: the exception to the rule
You do not need to stay in a five star hotel, especially if you are travelling alone. You might be very comfortable but you will not make any friends, you will not experience anything local and you will likely get lonely fast. I love hostels and with their rise in popularity, it’s easy to find clean, friendly and comfortable hostels almost anywhere. (There are some exceptions to the rule, like I probably wouldn’t stay in a hostel in India… and yes, I’ve been to India. It was beautiful.) If you really cannot and will not stay in a share room with five or so other awesome people your age or you want a few days alone, Airbnb is a great way to live like a local for a few days.
What’s next? In my next post, I’ll cover the day to days of international travel on a budget, including food, sight seeing and avoiding pick pockets.
Have you got the travel bug as badly as I do? What are your budget travelling tips?