How can I spend less when traveling? What are the main expenses when traveling? What can I save on to travel more?
This article has been written to answer all your expenses questions and how to spend less to travel more when it comes to backpacking around the world.
There are 3 main expenses when you travel: food, transportation, and lodging. The less you spend on these three, the more you save.
I will thus focus my energy on these 3 expenses.
It represents 24% of my total expenses, yet I took drastic measures: I decided to simply walk and hitchhike as much as I could. This can save you a lot when traveling inside a country or through borders. So if you don’t plan on hitchhiking, your transportation bill might be extremely higher on your end.
How to spend less on transportation:
- Hitchhike. Do it. Smile, be social, and don’t be scare (and never, never treat the person who picks you up like your chauffeur)
- If you must rent a car, never do it alone. Find other people to cash in
- Don’t mind traveling at odd hours when it comes to buses or trains. Some specific timetables are less popular and therefore cheaper. Jump on the opportunity.
– How to spend less on plane tickets
Sometimes, flying is the only solution to travel. Most of the time it’s the more expensive one. Though if you’re lucky you can get some good deals.
How to save on plane tickets:
- Use search engines such as skyscanner.com
- Don’t make time a priority. If you can save money by having a 6h transit somewhere, who cares! Be careful however of transfers between 2 airline companies, you need plenty of time to do that.
- Either plan way ahead, or don’t plan at all. Tickets are the cheapest a few months in advance, or as a last minute call.
In my budget, 2 thirds of my airline spending came from 3
months in South America! This place is expensive to flight from, to and inside.
Unfortunately I didn’t give myself enough time to travel South America and couldn’t save money by taking buses instead of planes. Don’t make that mistake.
There are also some dedicated website for around the world tickets.
Looking at my expenses, I’m glad I didn’t go for that. The price would have been similar (I was told around 4000€) and fine print only allows you to go from West to East, meaning you cannot come back from New-Zealand to Australia for example. So that requires much more planning.
If you’re a big eater, you’re going see your cash just fly away.
Even in cheap countries you need to watch out. I got to Thailand happy to be able to eat a lot for almost nothing, and next thing you now I’m at 17€ a day simply because I kept on eating here and there. Behave!
How to spend less on food:
- Eat more when you’re in cheap countries and less when you’re in expensive ones
- In well behaved countries (Scandinavian ones for example), check-out supermarket’s garbage bin. Yes, trash hunting is a thing.
- Cook for yourself. Forget about that pizzeria go make yourself some couscous.
- Buy easy, long lasting, filling food: tuna and pasta is your savior
- Stack on food were it’s cheap. I saved a fortune in Iceland by simply buying all my food prior, in Canada. Rule says you can bring 3kg of non-raw food in Iceland. Do it. You’ll save a huge amount of money.
- Don’t drink alcohol. It’s expensive. Everywhere. Even when you think it’s not.
Being able to sleep anywhere builds character… and a dislike for rain.
It might seem logical here, but the obvious rule is: ditch hotels, go for hostels. And that’s only if you want to sleep in a proper bed. There are yet again more ways to save.
How to spend less on lodging:
- Buy a tent and sleep in it. I spent 200 days out of 506 in my tent. I saved anything between 3000 to 4000€ doing that.
- Stay at friends or at friend’s friends (but that requires you to have friends)
- Try couchsurfing. I wasn’t successful at all (I managed to get accepted 4 times out of hundreds and hundreds of requests), but it’s worth trying. Just remember people don’t owe anything, so don’t be a dick to your host. Their house, their rules.
- And as said above, forget about hotels or airbnb. Hostels are the cheapest, just learn to sleep with other people in the room. And be social.
- Checking in late? Checking out early? No way! Spend that night somewhere else, like at the train station or the airport (that’s probably where you’re going/coming from).
Bonus Saving tip:
How to save money, eat properly and sleep in a real bed:
Do volunteer work.
I did a lot of volunteer work in organic farms (also known as Wwoofing) and I loved it.
Yet be aware that I did it because I genuinely like to learn about organic agriculture.
So not only did I sleep in a bed, ate food, and met local people, I also learned a lot.
Please do not consider Wwoofing however if you only care about the food and the bed. There are other volunteer opportunities on Helpx and Workaway, such as language teacher or tour guide or whatever.