As a student I travelled a lot, and being a student naturally means having little-to-no money! How is it possible to travel and experience everything without the hefty price tag? Read my Top Tips:
1. Saving Starts at Home
SAVE SAVE SAVE! If you’re a Uni student then hopefully you get a nice package of student loan every term – great for partying and clubbing with your mates right? WRONG (if you want to travel anyway). Use your student loan to save as much as possible, of course you should use it to live and buy food and clothes but only buy essentials (no you don’t need that new release edition of Nike 270’s!!) That way you can save more for the one thing in life that is truly important…. TRAVELLING! If you have time, or if you don’t get a student loan get a job and work every hour that you possibly can to save some extra $$$ – it wont be for long because as soon as you reach your target you can get on that plane and you’re off!
Birthdays & Christmas – don’t ask for presents… ask your mum, your aunt or your second cousin Jimmy for money instead! That’s what’s gonna be really valuable to you and allow you to experience the trip of a lifetime.
Saving throughout the year when you have commitments that mean you HAVE to be in your home country, means that for the months you have free you can live it up and experience so much! Amazing!
2. Flights Don’t Have to be Expensive
This is a classic mistake to make, before you even get there! You don’t have to book flights through travel agents, avoid the extra costs to pay their wages and sort your flights out yourself.
I use skyscanner to book my flights, they search through all of the airlines to find you the cheapest flights.
You can even search flights throughout the whole month to see what the cheapest day to fly is – flying on a Monday, for example, is usually more expensive than flying on another day as it is more popular.
I personally think skyscanner is the best but other sites you can use to compare flights include kayak and I also sometimes just use google flights!
When researching flights have your browser on private as flight companies track cookies and bump up their prices. Also, you want to book your flights well in advance to get the cheapest price – unless you leave it until the very last minute and get a deal on the last seat on the plane leaving the next day (risky!!).
My best advice for this aspect of travelling is hostels, hostels and more hostels!
Staying in a hostel dorm room is the cheapest and in my opinion the most fun option. I have never had a bad experience, not been able to sleep or had anything stolen in a hostel dorm. You meet so many people and make great friends, plus hostels usually have wifi, a plug by your bed, breakfast is often included, a great social area and in places like South East Asia you can get all of this for under £5 a night!! In comparison to a hotel which doesn’t usually include breakfast, might make you pay for wifi and costs more than double the price of a hostel the winner is clear. If you still want the privacy of your own room hostels also usually offer private rooms for a little extra (still cheaper than hotels though!) Booking.com is my go-to for finding a hostel, usually there’s no deposit to pay and you can do it any time anywhere.
Couch Surfing is another option – locals will put you up for a night or two, maybe even show you around so you get to experience the local culture and make new friends… and it’s FREE! Only ever approach hosts that have reviews, and I only go for verified hosts just to be safe.
4. Use PUBLIC TRANSPORT
‘But it’s easier to take a taxi?‘ That doesn’t matter to the budget traveller! The cheapest way to get around is to use the public busses, boats and trains – it’s easy to organise on google maps, just type in where you want to go to and from and it will look up the bus numbers, times and where the stops are. Or you can just go to the local bus or train station, look at the times and buy a ticket there.
There is an amazing website aimed at budget travellers in South East Asia called 12Go Asia for travel across countries – you can say where you want to go to and they will give you options for how to do it, including public services and services tailored to tourists.
Another option is to go to a local travel agency, but be careful they don’t over charge you! Do your research and know how much stuff should cost you before you pay for anything.
If you really do need to take a taxi, or if you’re just stubborn, make sure the driver sets his meter to zero. If they refuse, then get out and find another taxi. Be savvy and pay attention or you might get ripped off!
5. Do FREE STUFF
There is an abundance of stuff to see and do for free, a guided tour isn’t always necessary or the most enjoyable way to explore your new environment as they can be crowded and take away from the experience. Instead, head to google (google is your new best friend) and read up on what free stuff other people have done in the area that you’re in. Theres plenty of hikes and sights to see without paying for the guide, although there is usually an entrance fee.
In situations where an excursion is required, e.g. snorkelling, then see if there’s an alternative? Can you make friends with a local who happens to have a boat? Or can you meet a group of people who will club together to rent a local’s boat and go to the snorkel location that way?
6. Food and Eating Out
There is no sense in travelling half way across the globe to a country with a culture so different to your own with the aim to experience as much as possible, and then eat in an over priced western restaurant!
To avoid this irony, eat street food for less than $2 in most parts of South East Asia, or if you have the funds eat at a local restaurant serving local food.
Fruit markets are great for getting some goodness in you while on the move, no plastic packaging and they’re so cheap too!
6. Research Before You Go
Do your research kids, nobody likes being ripped off. Before you get to a new country, find out how much basic thing like transport or a hostel are likely to cost. Use Trip Advisor, the Lonely Planet website, travel guides and use blogs like this one!