1. Book your flights either really far in advance or last minute.
… or trains, or (mega)buses. You all know the drill that if you wait to book your train home ‘til the week before the price can be astronomical, but if you plan ahead and get it done months in advance you can lower the price for yourself a lot. Obviously, sometimes you don’t know where you want to go nine months in advance so in this case look around on the Internet and ask at the travel agents to see what deals they have going. Be prepared to be flexible. If you want to go to Venice but there’s a flight to Florence for half the price, go for that! You’ll undoubtedly have just as great a time if your mind-set is in the right place.
2. Sort out accommodation when you arrive.
Especially in Asia and Oz, where you’re bombarded the minute you arrive in a new town. Everyone is desperate for your service, so make the most of it. Ask around, find out the cheapest and…
3. Be prepared to haggle.
Accommodation, souvenirs, tours: whatever it is, don’t accept the first price. This is especially prevalent in Asia and especially easy in groups. In a handbag shop in Vietnam my friend managed to get one from $150 to $30 without even trying, purely by saying she liked it when she stepped in the shop. Don’t take the mick though, people are trying to make a living and so arguing over 20p for a bowl is a bit ridiculous.
4. Also in Asia, don’t use the napkins/ eat the ‘free’ bread they’ve put out for you.
It’s not free, once you use it you have to pay for it. Do you need a cleansing wipe? No, just wipe your hand on your shorts.
5. Walk or cycle.
Unless it’s necessary to get a taxi or bus around, don’t do it. Get exercise, see the sights and save a lot of money! If you get lost ask for directions, you’ll always find someone helpful around.
6. Be prepared to sleep with bugs and around lots of people.
Don’t stay in luxury when you can get a dirty bed for half the price. You’ll be fine, just have a shower in the morning! Usually the more people in the hostel room the cheaper, so be prepared to sleep near 7, or 15, other people. Alternatively, try Couch Surfing, there’s people all over the world prepared to have you on their sofas for free.
7. Work whilst you travel.
Most hostels have the option of working for your accommodation – so a couple of hours scrubbing in the morning and you get a free bed. Alternately, if you’re travelling for a long time, try and get a job. I taught English in South Korea for a month (through the Uni – check it out!) and got free flights and accommodation for it, but there’s a lot of teaching jobs where you get hard cash for it. Alternatively there’s plenty of farming jobs, door-to door sales (although these are notoriously dodgy) and bar work in Oz. Figure out if a job is realistic/ feasible for the time you’re planning on staying.
8. For internal journeys within a country look at buses.
I went on a lot of overnight buses throughout Asia: it’s super cheap and you’re not wasting the day on the journey. Plus you’re saving the price of a night’s accommodation.
9. Car Share.
Alternatively, try sites such as Bla Bla Car. If you have a car and are driving anyway, you can use it to pick up passengers who will help pay the petrol (plus you get the company). Everyone rates themselves on levels of chattiness, whether they smoke and whether they like pets and so you can filter out the ‘wrong sort’. If you don’t have a car, you can apply to be someone’s passenger.
10. Cook your own food.
Hostels usually provide kitchens, and I strongly recommend it – cooking yourself is usually cheaper and healthier. If you can get a group to share the cooking and price, even better! In some parts of Asia however, buying food out is cheaper: you can get three meals a day for about £3. Look around, check out the prices of the street food/ cafes and see which is most worthwhile. Look up cheap recipes before you leave just in case!
11. Be prepared to slum it.
If you’re on a budget, you’re not going to be able to stay in 5* hotels, or get taxis everywhere. You’re probably going to smell and be tired because your room mates are having sex in the same room as you. But this is travelling, and it’s really fun!
And even if it’s not fun, it’s an experience to tell the kids or natter to your friends about:
‘This one time, in Cambodia…’