I have spent many years traveling across 6 continents. Some places I ended up staying and making home for a while, others I simply treated as home while I was there. Traveling requires 2 main things. Time and money. Often both are scarce, but no matter if you are on a short holiday package or backpacking your way across the globe, spending less money is pretty much appealing to everyone. If you do have lots of time, slow down. You will save loads. But no matter where you go, the best way to cut down your travel costs is by living like a local. You don’t see Greek fisherman or native New Yorker’s dining out every night. When looking for accommodation, go online and rent a flat or get a hotel with a kitchenette. By doing it myself, the money that I save on coffee and breakfast alone is almost enough to fund a weekend getaway.
Another great way to save money is before you even start. Search around for flights. Even if you are planning an independent holiday, consider hitching a ride with a package group. You will often find it cheaper in the long run as many will offer self-catering accommodation and flights at a fraction of what you would spend yourself. If you plan to rent a car, arrange it online before you leave. Don’t ever buy the “online” insurance with a rental. Get it from where you pick up the vehicle. The online one is just secondary insurance and it’s how the budget internet companies make money.
If you are doing any overland traveling, take night trains. While it is very easy to find budget carriers to fly between many cities, and overnight train with a sleeper knocks one nights hotel off of your budget and is infinitely more comfortable. Travel by train, especially in Europe is one of the greatest experiences around, but is often overlooked by many travelers these days.
Always bring the essentials. Carry a collapsible water bottle that you can refill anywhere, saving countless bits of change that quickly add up. After all, bottled water is more expensive than petrol. A corkscrew and a pocketknife are essential too, for those picnics in the park. Hit the local markets and stock up on goodies. The cost of lunch for 2 in a restaurant can be the same price as a weeks worth of lunches with wine if you do it yourself.
Make sure you download a decent translator for your phone that doesn’t need to be online to work. There are many available and you will save loads, especially bargaining at markets. And when it comes to using the internet, lots of places will have a free connection, simply ask before you order your coffee. You really need not pay for internet anywhere on the planet.
Lastly, travel light. Anything you need you can pretty much get anywhere, unless maybe you are in the jungle in Panama. But chances are that you will be doing some shopping and also find goods that are way more expensive back home. You will wipe out all those savings by having to pay extra luggage charges if you didn’t plan to leave room in your suitcase when you left home.
Just try to become part of where you are traveling. Eat where the locals eat, do what the locals do. You will find that your experience becomes much more rewarding and your money goes a lot further.
This article I wrote for Weekend Travel Show a few years back.
Many people think that it takes a lot of planning, preparation and money to travel, but this is simply not true. Really it just requires determination, common sense and probably a passport. I have been crossing the globe for years, some times as a backpacking hippy, others leaning more towards the luxury side of things. Either way, it is always an adventure.