We travel on different budgets, but there’s one thing we all have in common, we want to save money travelling around the world, and we want to travel for as long as possible on the funds we have.
It’s important to ensure we make our travelling money stretch, while not compromising our travel adventure, and we get to do the things we enjoy – after all, isn’t that one reason we wanted to travel?
We’ve been travelling Asia for 107 days now, and we travel in completely different ways. Emily will save money at every turn and live as cheaply as possible, while I on the other hand like to be more of a flash-packer and live it up a little.
Over time we’ve found middle ground, and we’ve both been good for each other, Emily splurges once in a while on the things she enjoys, and I have saved money by living life a bit more frugally.
If you’re a couple or with friends you’ll be able to save money travelling on accommodation, there are many places that don’t have dormitory’s, if you’re travelling alone you’ll have to splash out for a single room – so it’s good to make friends.
Since the start of our Asia travels, we’ve kept a comprehensive Excel sheet on everything we’ve spent, over time I’ve developed it to give us an analysis of how we’re doing. Below you’ll find our results so far, how Emily has managed to save money travelling compared to my reckless flash-packer lifestyle, and how you’ll be able to save money travelling too.
You can also check out saving money travelling for some more tips.
1. Sharing is caring
Share costs with anyone whenever you can, you’ll both end up winners, share a room, transport, trips, guides, you can save huge the more you can spread the costs – fellow travellers will love you for it, you both save money and that’s more money towards travelling.
Check out couch surfing as a way to help save on the costs of accommodation and make new friends, you can also volunteer, try house sitting or pack a light weight tent (check out hammock tent’s), as you’ll be able to camp in some places.
Obviously common sense prevails, don’t go sharing rooms with complete strangers or anyone you don’t feel comfortable with, you won’t save money travelling by having any incidents.
2. Buying drinks adds up
Always carry water with you, most places will let you use your own water, after all you’re the customer and the customer is always right. If you cut down on buying water and soft drinks at establishments and use your supermarket bought produce then you will save huge. Check out our differences in spends below, this is largely to me splurging and getting juices, soft drinks and Emily being responsible and using her water, it all adds up.
Lots of countries will have water refill stations (they look like a vending machine – check out Emily’s video of a water refill station) – look out for them outside shops, this will not only save you money, it’s also good for the environment.
If you’re buying alcoholic drinks, head to a local supermarket to get a rough idea of how much you should be spending, whenever you can buy from the supermarket than an establishment – get a beer and enjoy a sunset on the beach, it’s cheaper.
Emily doesn’t drink alcohol very often, here’s an idea of how much I’ve been spending on my tipples.
3. Walking is good for you
Walking is good for your health, and it’s good for your wealth, it will really help you save money travelling. Get used to hearing “It’s too far to walk” from the locals when you ask them if you’re able to walk to something. We’ve learnt that too far is usually a 5 to 10 minute walk, which actually isn’t very far – you could always hire a bicycle for the day.
Some countries the people don’t like walking very far (I can understand in hot humid climates) or maybe they’re incentivised to give you a ride to earn a few quick bucks, if you get in the habit of walking short trips, you’ll save money travelling which will help you travel for longer – always remember to carry water.
If you’re travelling with a smart phone or tablet you can download offline maps (search your app store), or look up distances online before you set out. We always pick up a cheap local SIM (Indonesia SIM) with a data package and use Google Maps with GPS – it’s saved us a small fortune, more money towards beer.
4. Simple changes really add up
Emily made simple changes to the way she travels, eating at stalls, cheap food markets or refreshments from supermarkets, not paying for drinks all the time with her meals, she always has a water bottle to hand, so avoids having to buy drinks in restaurants.
Emily washes her own clothes, often washing mine for a small charge; I’m lazy and like to pay for laundry, I don’t mind spending a few dollars so I can do more exciting things.
5. Average spend per country
Here’s how much we’re spending in each country, it’s for both of us, so divide by 2 for a rough idea of how much you might be spending if you visit these countries by yourself.
These costs include everything we’ve spent on our travels, however it doesn’t include our vaccinations before we left (£750 each), travel insurance (£430 each) and our initial flight from Melbourne to Indonesia. Excluding those three things it includes all other travel costs, such as onward flights, buses, trains and boats etc.
6. What room would you like? The cheapest please
The generic answer when asked “What room would you like” is the cheapest please. We usually always take the cheapest room available, unless we want a bit of comfort, and have been known to spend an extra $1 or $2 for something a bit nicer.
Room with a fan is cheaper than a room with air conditioning, dormitories can be cheaper or more expensive than a room if you’re sharing, dormitories can have air con, which will work out cheaper than a room with air conditioning and shared bathrooms are cheaper than ensuite. Ask what’s available, check out the rooms and pick the one that suit’s you the best, if there’s 3 of you, you can usually always get a room to share for a little bit extra.
Check out if you’re visiting a country in high or low season, this will give you an idea on how much you can bargain. If it’s high season I would advise booking ahead.
Our tried and tested method is to look online on agoda.com, booking.com and tripadvisor.com to give us an idea for decent cheap accommodation and a rough idea of how much to pay. We usually book online about 50% of the time, as we hate trudging around for a long time in the heat trying to find somewhere to stay.
Otherwise we’ll turn up; we know the online price and try to get a discount. The number of times we arrive and they try to charge us a lot more than the online price, a little bit of research before you arrive will save you time and money.
One final tip, ensure you ask about all the room types they have available and if they’re free, sometimes you’ll find the cheapest rooms are full, but become magically available if you’re going to find somewhere else to stay, this is especially true in Indonesia.
7. We all love percentages, right?
Finally you can see where our money goes. We obviously travel as cheaply as we can, sometimes we do splash out, we want to enjoy the way we travel, at the same time stretching our cash to travel for as long as possible, to save money travelling is essential for our limited pot of funds.
Finally here’s a small snippet of our travel expenses sheet
In the columns we have our location, date we were there, activities (expenses), accommodation and rating, beer (for me), transport and totals to show in UK pounds and New Zealand dollars, the final column is for Emily to adjust the costings so we know if I have spent more than her that day, or she has spent more than me – which doesn’t happen a lot.
I would love to hear your suggestions on way’s you’ve found to save money while travelling, leave a reply in the comments below.