A question I get asked all the time is “how do you afford to travel so much?” and “how do you travel on a budget” so today I want to give you all of the advice I can possibly think of to help you to understand how I manage it! I’ve travelled to many countries in my life but in the last few years I’ve experienced first hand being a long-term backpacker, I’ve worked on farms lived in hostels for months on ends and lived in my car along the way. My adventure took me to Australia, Bali, Hawaii and a few states of America before returning home to work for a year saving as much as I could before I arrived in my current destination - New Zealand!
Below are all of the tips I can think of that will help you to stretch your money a little further on your travels, I’ve split them up into smaller categories in hopes it wont be as overwhelming, but I wanted to make sure I cover all areas. I also wanted to show you how easy it is but also how budgeting affects all areas of life when travelling.
Potentially the most important part of any travel is topping up your funds before you board your plane and say goodbye to the motherland
- Save as much money as possible before you leave on your epic adventure, the more you save the less you have to worry
- The more money you have chilling in your bank account the less stressful the experience will be
- Save according to your itinerary - if you’re only going on a short trip you don’t need to have huge savings and if you plan on working when you arrive you don’t need to worry about having as much money behind you.
Flexibility when travelling is so important, if you’re setting of on the adventure of a life time choose your dates wisely and try to be open to what day of the week/month of the year you want to travel
- Flights can be cheaper on certain days of the week with some airlines
- Prices peak around holiday seasons and bank holidays, be savvy with the date and time of year you book your adventure, being flexible allows you to save hundreds of pounds on the exact same flight.
- If you found the perfect accommodation but they’re fully booked see if you can re-jig your plans so you can stay there, having flexibility allows you to get the best experience and accommodation deals possible
The type of work you can do as a backpacker varies wildly, we’ve worked on farms and ski slopes but have friends who are professional chefs that travel around the world with their skills. The job you decide on depends entirely on your experience and interests, below are some examples of work you can do on a working holiday visa
- Au Pair – becoming a personal nanny looking after someone’s children. This may include making them meals, getting them ready and taking them to school and looking after them until their parents are home. Usually Au Pairs live in the family home (hello free accommodation!) and get use of the family car, however they generally only get one day off a week and live in the home full time, so in a way you’re always on call.
- Farm work – This is the perfect job for someone who doesn’t want to fully commit to working life. Farm jobs are super easy to come by and you generally need no or little experience, the hours are long and sometimes random but it gets you some extra cash in those desperate times and also lots of sunshine!
- Waitressing/bartending – The most popular backpacker job for sure, these kinds of jobs are usual casual and can be either part time or full time, but they’re great as you can usually expect to get tips on the side. Cha Ching!
- Cruise ships – If you have your sea legs this could be an amazing option. You get to live and work on a cruise ship and explore on your days off in amazing locations all over the world. Generally a small amount of your pay-check goes towards meals and accommodation and the rest if yours to do with what you please! You can make life long friends on cruise ships, I know a lot of people who say this job is the best they’ve ever had.
- Ski season – if you’re a sporty type then a season on the slopes might be your cup of tea. You can chase winter all year long getting a wire array of jobs, from a lifty (operating chair lifts) to ski or snowboard instructors to working in hospitality or on the front desk. If you score a job with a mountain resort you usually get a free ski pass, which gets you free unlimited ski/boarding and free travel to the slopes, saving lots of money if you’re staring the whole season.
- Yachting – Along the same lines as the cruise ships you can work as a helper on a yacht and get to explore some seriously stunning places with little – no accommodation costs so you save heaps of money alongside.
- Woofing – Working for free accommodation and sometimes meals. You’re usually required to do 4-8 hours of work a day in return for housing, it’s a great way to stop spending as much money on accommodation and gaining some life experience. Woofers can do anything from gardening to building a house! Be wary of woofing if you’re looking to save money, although it seems like a great deal sometimes it’s not worthwhile. If your main aim is money saving you’re probably going to slowly loose money by woofing as you wont be getting an income and probably wont have time to work alongside, unless you work online.
- Couch surfing – a great free way to stay somewhere for a day or two, there are lots of websites offering this service where locals let you sleep on their couch for the night for free. Another great way to do this in a less sketchy way is to make friends with locals and then they might let you sleep at their house a night or two for free.
- Hostels – the go to for most backpackers, these places tend to be cheap and a hive of social activity making it so much easier to connect with people and make friends. If you can find a hostel that offers free breakfast or soup… even better!
- Living in a car or van – if you have the money to pay for the initial investment this can be a wonderful way to save money while travelling and then once you’ve finished your adventure you can sell your van and hopefully get some if not all of the money back! Backpacker cars never seem to depreciate in value – it’s a mystery. Some hostels allow you to park in their car park and pay a small fee to use their facilities, which can sometimes be cheaper than campsite so always keep that in mind and remember to ask around.
- Airbnb – a great way to get to know the locals, some airbnbs are shared with the homeowner which is usually a lot cheaper than renting your own apartment. We love airbnb and always recommend it; we’ve had some seriously awesome hosts in our time travelling. If you’d like to get £25 off your first stay click here.
- House sitting – an awesome way of saving some money if you’re up for looking after someone’s house and potential pets while they’re away on holiday. There are loads of amazing websites and beautiful homes you can stay in for free, you usually have to pay a small annual fee to be a member but it more than pays for it’s self once you get your first house sit.
- Sleep on the bus – if you’re going on long bus trips try and get ones that travel though the night so you can save money on a night or two’s accommodation
- Always check the price of the couple rooms compared to two dorm beds, sometimes if can be cheaper or just as much money if you’re travelling in a two.
- Always research - is this worth the money, is this the best trip there is? Always check trip advisor for reviews
- Cities usually have free downloadable walking tours if you like to learn about the history of the place you’re visiting. There are also sometimes sightseeing tours organized by locals that are free and you can choose to tip them at the end of the tour.
- Car share! This one is very popular in Hawaii and Australia, a group of 5 people will chip into the cost of a car rental and spend the day exploring together, this is usually way cheaper than organized tours and you get to make a small group of friends
- Check out the hostel activities before you stay there, sometimes hostels have really great trips that they organize for a couple of dollars each.
- Hitchhike! The oldest backpacker tip of all! Thumb your way to your location and get a friendly chat from a local along the way, people are friendlier than you think.
- Hand wash your clothes in the sink or shower – hostel washing machines can be very expensive so this is great way to save money every now and then.
- Avoid excessive drinking/smoking both of these are a huge money drain the large majority of backpackers out there. People spend more on alcohol for the week than they do for food – madness!
- Cook your own meals – avoid getting that $5 dominoes pizza, as tempting and cheap as it sounds it’s so not worth the money if you’re penny pinching. Going to the supermarket and buying a big bag of rice and some veggies will last you so much longer and be a lot healthier for you too. Always check the price per KG on loose fruit and veg, the bagged fruit can seem cheaper but generally buying it loose is much more cost effective.
- Get info from local people that is non bias so you can see all of the best things in the area • Chat to people at hostels and hear there experiences of trips they’ve been on and what they think was worth it and what they would avoid if they got the chance again – knowledge is power, they say!
- Ask for discount when booking tours and accommodation, see if they have any offers on at the minute. If you’re booking a lot of tours you can see if they can give you a good deal as you’re spending a lot of money with their company
- If you’re staying at an airbnb or hostel for more than a week it’s always worth emailing/ringing and asking if you can get a weekly discount.
- Do I really need to buy this?
- Can I get this cheaper?
- Can I afford this long term?
- Is this adding to the experience?
- Remember time = money. Dom (my boyfriend) likes to figure out how long he would have to work to pay for the item he wants to buy. Is that coffee and muffin really work 30minutes – 1 hour of work? I doubt it, and when you’re watching your money it’s always worth asking yourself that question.
Definitely not a budget friendly option but soooo worth it and all part of the experience! The original shave ice while in Hawaii😍
- Don’t obsess over money, you will have a much happier time if you’re not constantly worried you’re going to run our of money
- Set yourself a budget before you leave, that way you know exactly how much money you can afford to spend each day/week and always aim to spend less!
- Allow yourself to have fun; what’s the point in this epic adventure if you never want to part with your money. Book that helicopter tour/bungee/sky dive! It might seem expensive but when else in your life will you get this opportunity again?
- Make new friends and have amazing new experiences, and always remember that most people travelling are in the exact same boat… we’re all as broke as each other!
I hope you found this helpful I know I wish I’d have had this information available when we set off travelling a few years ago, but you live and you learn. Travelling on a budget is totally possible, you just have to be smart with your money and find ways to make it stretch far. Always make experiences a priority over food and accommodation, they’re the things you will remember the most once you go home and probably the reason you left to go travelling in the first place.
Check out my video below ↓
If you have any other helpful tips I didn’t mention please leave them below so we can help each other and If you’re on a trip/planning an adventure then let me know below so I can be excited for you too!
Thanks so much for reading and have a wonderful day