Traveling on a low budget
20 tricks how to travel almost without money
Traveling doesn't need to be expensive, you could do it actually for free. Just keep in mind that if you won’t pay it with money you are going to pay with your comfort and time which could be „expensive“ as well. So if you're ready to sleep constantly in tents, small hostel rooms with way too many other people and a nutrition based on carbohydrates and vegetables you are ready to discover the world.
During the first half of our South America trip we heard all kinds of reproaches of having rich parents or being privileged because of our job situation or lifestyle. I actually think our only advantage are our passports and it really sucks that we are still living in a world where it actually matters in which country you were born in.
We also got quite a lot positive questions from friends or people we met on the way, how it is possible to finance a trip like this. Spoiler alert: you don't need to be a millionaire or have a rich family, a huge portion of adventurous spirit, lots of time and lowering your standards is enough to make your dreams come true. So stop making excuses, if you really want to do it, read the following tips for traveling on a low budget, quit you job and travel to the next interesting country which comes to your mind!
1. Don´t pay for your accommodation, go volunteering - It has never been so easy as today, several networks like Workaway or HelpX are making it possible. You work for 5 hours a day, 5 days a week and your host takes care of your accommodation and meals in your destination of choice.
2. Don´t pay for transport, go hitchhiking. Why to pay for it, if you just need to put your finger in the wind? A great and nice person will pick you up and bring you to your destination for free. Besides that you get to know a new friend and receive some tips where to go and what to see in the surrounding areas. If that’s not your thing check the cheapest way of transport, in some countries it is the busses in others trains. In South America for instance the meals and drinks are usually included in longer bus rides, so you safe as well on food and accommodation if you travel with overnight busses. For very long distances check Sky Scanner or related pages to keep it as cheap as possible. Or try something else like Find a crew to hitchhike on a boat. There are plenty ways to travel cheap and some of them even for free.
3. Learn the language of the countries you're traveling in - or at least the basics. You will have big advantages while bargaining on the local markets. People will treat you with more respect because they like the way you try to fit in their culture. If you will talk more with locals you will receive lots of information about discounts or cheap places which no tourist information will provide for you.
4. If you're not volunteering try Couchsurfing - The hitchhiking for accommodations, works worldwide. You stay for free, you share nice moments and probably some meals with your new friends and get a deeper understanding how the culture of their country works. Btw. always travel with a tent and the right gear to spend a night outside. You never know when something goes wrong and in some places it is just not possible to find a cheap place to stay or accommodation in general.
5. Carry a tent - your free accommodation, if there is nothing else left. Except Europe and North America nobody will even bother to ask you if it is ok or not if you camp at the border of their village.
6. Book your hostels in advance - if you can´t find free accommodation or a good camping spot, always make a reservation on Hostelword or similar pages in advance. Usually you'll already receive a discount just for that.
7. Behave like locals - if they don't know how to do a cheap living then who else does? Buy fruits and veggies on the local markets instead of supermarkets, try to use regional and seasonal ingredients to save on money. Try to catch your food on the streets or cook for your own instead of spending money on touristic and overpriced restaurants. And drop your god damn standards, anyway you won’t dine like at home and as long as it is balanced and fills you up it doesn't matter how poor it looks to you.
8. Stop smoking - I know it is cool, brings you in touch with new people and I like it too but it´s an unnecessary expense, at least in the most countries. Moreover you will die a slow and painful death of lung cancer, so better invest your money in drugs or alcohol that bring you at least some fun and will kill you faster.
9. Try to work on the way, saving is anyway for people with too much money - the best case is probably to make a deal with your former company and work from your laptop. But as this isn't a chance for everybody, try to find your own way. If you have any skills like playing an instrument, juggling or something related go and make your money on the streets. You have time anyway and in some metropoles you can make a 100€ a day if you're in the right street. In Santiago de Chile for instance we met a couple, who were earning money with improvisation shows in different cafes or bars, so be creative. If you're writing a blog do your homework in marketing, bring enough people to your page and earn money per each click on your provided links. To promote your page and make some extra money for your articles get an account on travelicious for example.
10. Make as much friends as possible - the world is full of beautiful people so in the end you just need to meet enough of them in different places, in best case on your route and they will surely invite youth stay for some nights.
11. Travel off season - ok, it might be a little colder but you will have the hostel dorms on your own, no queues and way cheaper prices on your way. No worries all the sights will still be there, also in the other half of the year.
12. Check the prices before you cross a border - between two countries there can be huge differences. Check the best price of products and services and buy them in the cheaper place. You will find a good comparison between countries on numbeo
13. Drink tap water if the city allows it – it is for free, tastes the same and is even more environment friendly.
14. Don't buy souvenirs - they are usually overpriced and useless. At some point you will get in trouble to board a plane because of the extra weight. If you really need something for your family send them instead a self-printed postcard. It is going to be cheaper and a selfie in front of the Machu Picchu will make them probably happier than any „handmade “dust catcher.
15. Share things with other travelers - share meals in hostels or your booze for the next party. Everything will become cheaper if you share it. This also applies for entrance fees, lots of tour operators will give you better conditions if you show up in a group instead of couples or single people.
16. Arrange your money - check how much you have, for how long you will travel, divide it and try to not spent more per day as planned. The excess can be used for special events or traveling longer and don't forget about your ticket back home in the end.
17. Always check your route in advance - sometimes it happens that your way is blocked, might be because of strikes or safety reasons, especially in mountain countries. In that case you could be trapped for several weeks, which will cost you a lot of money, and will ruin your mood. So get to know things early enough to change them before it is too late.
18. Use a credit card without foreign transaction fees - bankers are rich enough anyway and don't have anything to give away for free, so save your hard saved money.
19. Walk everywhere - if you're able to do your whole trip with a 15 - 20kg backpack, a walk for a day won’t kill you, keeps you fit and saves you money for public transport.
20. Sell your stuff - especially if you travel for more than a year, get rid of your flat and try to gather as much money with your furniture and electronics as possible. Trust me it is going to be a great feeling to be free from all those things. And afterwards? Who cares, live goes on and you will be back in your normal routine faster as you wish and with that again in a situation with a regulated income and new stuff.