By far my biggest expense while travelling is food and alcohol, and let’s be honest alcohol would be 70% of that. So how do you try and save when you’re on the road while trying to not miss out on anything, from the bucket list items to the evening shenanigans. If you’re anything like me you will succumb very quickly to your own arm twisting and rational justifications of why you should do certain things even if you’re having a “budget day”. So having a few tried and trusted methods to keep costs down helps in those “oh gosh did I over spend last night” moments. The classic option is to work at a hostel where you get a meal and a bed for free in exchange for your hard given labour. It’s easy enough to get, just ask at reception of hostels and they will let you know the score. Below, however, are things you can do when you really want to save but don’t want to work.
1. Find hostels that offer lots of free things (or couch surf)
Breakfast, all day coffee, tours, happy hours (that go for 2 or 3 hrs). It also helps if you find hostels that are happy to point you in the direction of delicious cheap eats and other happy hours as well.
Couch Surfing is free accommodation..on you guessed it, peoples couches…or you might get lucky and have a bed. http://www.couchsurfing.com
2. Choose the 10 or 12 bed dorm instead of the 4 or 6
Whether there’s one snorer or two it doesn’t make much difference. Arm yourself with decent earplugs and you’ll be fine. What about the mess?…well in all seriousness you probably haven’t been able to wash your clothes in at least a week and the pants you’re wearing have asked to see other people so a bit of mess for a few days…no bother
3. Share taxis with other travellers who are also up for a cheap fare
I’ve been known to walk up to complete strangers and I’ve had them walk up to me to check if we’re going in the same direction. It’s welcomed and excitement ensues as you pay only half a taxi fare.
4. Take local transport over taxis
It’s definitely a hassle with your backpack on trying to get into a sardine style bus or train, but once that backpack is firmly locked away under your bed, hit up the buses, trains and trams. Travel like a local and pay those local prices
5. Supermarket shop your food and alcohol
This is a no brainer. A classic pasta, tomato, tuna mix, or cous cous is a great pasta alternative. It’s not forever, just until you recoup the extra spending of the last few days. A Bottle of Rum at the Supermarket or Tienda- $1.30 in Myanmar (I’m not joking), $5 in Nicaragua, $8 in Cuba.
6. Don’t be afraid of street food
Shan Noodles $1, Myanmar. Empanadas $1, Bolivia. Giant Pretzel $2, Czech Republic. You get the idea. Darryl Kerrigan says it best “You couldn’t buy the materials for that.”
7. Find a travel buddy that’s on the same budget train as you
It’s no good when one of you is happy to sit in restaurants every night and all you want do is buy a can of 30c tuna. You can share meals, cheap activities, rum etc. We’re not talking about saving millions here, but if you think dinner is a $1….A $4 saving is 4 nights dinner.
8. Stop shouting everybody drinks
Although things might be cheap relative to your own country, it’s still money you’re spending on others which is meant for your onward travels. KEEP IT!
9. Limit drinking to weekends…..
HAHAHA! Sorry guys, I couldn’t keep a straight face for that one! As if, but maybe make the hangover so bad you can’t drink the next day….HAHAHA!! Sorry again, we all know there’s only one way to cure that hangover.
10. Don’t worry about it!
We all go over budget and in all seriousness if we stay for 8 months instead of 9 then it’s no big deal … if you had the time of your life, and in those moments made the decision to spend the money on things that made you happy, then you’ve done it right. You will know your bucket list items and how much you need for those, but the rest… live and let live. Be totally present and create those wonderful memories without regret.
© The Universe’s Bike