After spending months executing your pre-departure budget perfectly, pinching every penny ‘til your fingers get sore, it can be bloody difficult exercising the same level of discipline and saving money once you’re finally overseas. The sun is blazing, the music blasting, and you’re seduced into washing everything down with a cold brew or eight. Or you’re in the opposite hemisphere and you’ve just played in snow for the first time and you want nothing more than to tuck into a hot roast dinner with mulled wine. Whatever the reason or season, saving money while travelling is a pain, so we’ve rounded up some simple tips to make sure your money – and your trip – lasts longer.
1. Don’t be pressured into doing everything
Whether you’re amongst friends or strangers at the hostel, it can be easy to get carried away by everyone’s excitement and say yes to everything. Good for your trip, not good for your savings. Whilst this can lead to loads of happy memories and all that shit, it’s also the perfect recipe for a sleepy, grumpy traveller with no money for next week’s accommodation. Don’t seek out every skydive or pub crawl or expensive restaurant just because other people are doing it, and even if you truly want to do it all, you’re gonna have to prioritise. I’m not advocating being a bore and staying within your comfort zone, but if you want to save money you’re gonna have to learn to say no.
2. Eat as the locals do
It’s no secret that restaurants that are catered towards travellers in developing countries are going to be grossly overpriced compared to their local counterparts. It seems unfair at first, but it’s simply the price you pay for comfort, clearly marked menus, English-speaking staff, and often higher standards of hygiene. I find these places fucking boring, so I always look for the places that locals are eating at: the roadside satay, unassuming chapati houses, and tiny tamale stalls. The food’s always bloody legit at these places, and a tiny fraction of the price you’d pay at restaurants; giving you a chance to keep saving and have cash to spend on other things during your trip.
For countries that don’t have ridiculously cheap street food options, the key is to find a hostel with a decent kitchen; if you want to stay a long time in these countries, you can’t afford for every meal to be made for you. Sure, you’ll probably get sick of cheap pasta, but at least you’ll be doing so in another language. Some countries even have cheap niches, like finding England’s Pengest Munch, 7-Eleven’s in Japan, and cute little French bakeries.
3. Get a local sim
It can be tempting to say you’ll just go without internet on your phone for the duration of the trip, saving your daily dose of memes for the rare moments of reliable WiFi. However, you’ll often find yourself desperately needing to check Google Maps to drunkenly find your way home or using Facebook to add the cutie you just met on the beach. Instead of racking up international roaming costs, just buy a local pre-paid sim – there’s usually a package for heaps of data and little to no calls.
4. Don’t pre-book everything
Sometimes the best deals are found online, but other times they’re found by scoping them out in person. This is because the cheapest places may not even be advertising online, instead getting enough business as the local favourite. Other times you’ll get the best recommendation for a hostel or hike guide from fellow travellers, and you don’t want to be tied up to anything subpar. Pre-book for your first night in a new place, sure, but afterwards you can find somewhere cheaper or negotiate a cheaper rate for your stay.
5. Slow down
Take a breath, young gun, you don’t have to see everything in every city of every country right away. One of the biggest expenses whilst travelling is transport and the best way to cut down on this expense is simply to stay still and reduce the number of cities you’ll visit. Not only will you save money on bus fares and plane tickets, but you can also try to get a good deal at your hostel if you’re staying for longer, as well as being able to explore each place more intimately.