Want to get out and see the world but don’t have the bank balance of a millionaire? Whether you’re a student dreaming of a gap year abroad, a professional taking a sabbatical from your career or a newly retired couple wanting to explore, you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy the adventure of a lifetime. Here are our top tips for those looking to travel the world on a tight budget.
1. Plan Ahead
While many are tempted by the romance of just packing a bag, hopping on a plane and seeing where the world takes you, it’s not the most cost-effective way to travel. Try to at least nail down a starting and finishing point, that way you can use flight comparison websites to shop around for the best deal in advance. If you’re heading anywhere during peak season or times like Christmas and New Year, it’s best to book your accommodation in advance. If you arrive on a remote island with nowhere to stay when everything else is booked up, you’ll end up having to fork out an extravagant amount for an inferior room. Planning ahead also works while when using public transport too – in many countries train travel is a cheap and rewarding way to get around, but you’ll need to book in advance to get the best deals.
2. Get Off The Beaten Track
The best deals are to be found in places where tourists are few and far between. Staying with locals and getting involved with the native way of life is an amazing thing to experience in any country, and one of the most affordable things you can do. Best of all, it doesn’t mean you can’t visit popular destinations – everywhere from Thailand to India offers plenty of opportunities for wandering off the beaten track within easy reach of the major tourist resorts.
3. Work Along The Way
Thanks to the popularity of movements like WWOOFing and websites like workaway.com, there are now thousands of opportunities worldwide where you can exchange a few hours’ work for room and board. You don’t need any particular skills to volunteer – just a willingness to learn and a hardworking attitude – but it’s a great way to travel for free and learn something new. People with relevant skills, such as dive instructors or musicians, can also find it relatively easy to pick up paid work, particularly in popular tourist destinations.
4. Eat and Drink Like Locals
If you’re always searching for familiar food wherever you are in the world, be prepared to pay a premium. Western food is typically the most expensive thing on the menu in many destinations, so instead get stuck into the local specialities. Every country boasts its own street food, which is nearly always delicious and dirt cheap, while local beers and spirits are always cheaper (and often stronger!) than imported brands.
5. Stay Connected on the Cheap
Don’t get caught out spending lots of money on phone calls back home – most destinations have internet cafes equipped with software like Skype, microphones and web cams for free video calls. Or, if you really must have a phone, choose one from a specialist international operator like Lebara.co.uk. With great value tariffs designed for calling abroad, they offer cheap calls to Australia, America, Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and hundreds of places worldwide.
What other frugal travel tips do you have to have fun on a tight budget?