So you’ve saved up to go travelling but now want your money to stretch as far as possible so you don’t have to go home early. Here are my top tips to make your finances stretch further and keep you on the traveller’s path!
1. Look for shuttle buses or shared taxis from the airport
This was my first error and with a bit of better planning, I could have easily saved a lot of money.
So you have just arrived in a new country, feeling pretty groggy from a long plane flight and all you want to do is find your accommodation and relax. You end up queuing up at the taxi rank outside the airport and paying a small fortune for the convenience.
What I didn’t realise is there are actually loads of options for booking shuttle buses which take you to the nearest city. Or even better, prepaid shared taxis, which are a third of the price! Yes do your research before you travel, it will save you in the long run.
2. Book directly with your accommodation
I love using travel websites for booking accommodation but some of them add hidden fees making the overall cost more expensive. It is sometimes cheaper to book directly with the accommodation provider themselves.
You are also more likely to be able to haggle a deal when dealing with the accommodation provider directly.
My other piece of advice on the subject of booking accommodation is to be book fewer nights than you need. This gives you the flexibility to change places if it’s not as you expected.
It is much easier to add more nights than to try and get a refund for unused nights. Remember, when travelling, one week can feel like a month! I definitely learnt this the hard way, learn from my mistakes and only book a few nights in each place.
3. Find a place to stay with a kitchen
This isn’t always possible but remember the impact of preparing your own food will have on your wallet. Obviously, if there is no place to prepare food, you will have to eat out which can be a lot pricier depending on the country.
My friend shared a great tip with me to go to local fruit stalls and ask them to cut the fruit for you. This is often included at no extra charge and then you can enjoy freshly prepared fruit for lunch on the beach! A great way to save on eating out regularly.
Small things like booking accommodation which comes with free breakfast is another great way to save. Some hostels even provide this service which is well worth it!
4. Do your research
I’ve noticed that the more research you do, the more you will be able to save so definitely put the time in before and while travelling.
Restaurants greatly differ in terms of prices and quality, we all know that. The same applies when you visit different countries, don’t forget that! A great source of research is Trip Advisor where you can see the top reviewed places to eat for different meals. This is a great place to start.
Go one step further and study the menus and prices at each place. Don’t be afraid to ask for a menu and check out the prices before you decide to eat there.
I always make the rookie mistake of not properly researching on my first day and letting my stomach decide when it is starving hungry. Visit the restaurants before you are hungry so you can find the best option before letting your stomach dictate!
5. Shop around for best prices for food
Buying food can be one of the most expensive parts when it comes to travelling and obviously is a necessity. Supermarket prices can vary massively and make a big difference. The best advice is to follow the locals, they usually know the best value for money.
Take the time to try out different supermarkets to find the best deals. Also, keep an eye out for markets or local stalls as these often are cheaper than supermarkets.
Even stalls have different prices so shop around for those too. I found a great deal in Mirissa where the owner used to give us free fruit when we bought in bulk. Being loyal to one stall owner can also be beneficial to get personalised offers.
6. Take bottled water with you… everywhere!
Okay, so you feel like a bit of a fitness freak carrying a bottle of water around with you! It is so worth it especially if you are in a country where you cannot drink the tap water.
Some people make the rookie mistake of buying bottled water at the restaurant which will be at least three times the price. My advice is to buy water from the local supermarket and take with you. That way you can save money on buying drinks with dinner. I’m all for a cheeky cocktail every now and then but if you are living in a country for over a month and eating out every day it soon adds up!
Some places offer free filtered water especially in countries where it is unsafe to drink the tap water. Take advantage of this and always leave your accommodation with a freshly topped up water bottle. This is especially important when travelling in a hot country where it is important to stay hydrated.
7. Use public transport
I know it is ten times easier to click ‘Confirm Uber’ on your phone or hop in a tuk-tuk but this will be at least double the price and again soon adds up when travelling for long periods of time. Instead, do some research and find out how and where you can get buses or trains from.
A really great app called MapMe is free and lets you download maps for any country to access when you are offline. This means you can easily bookmark where the closest train/bus stations are and how to get there from your accommodation. Even if you eventually get a taxi from the bus stop, at least it will be a lot cheaper.
8. Always haggle prices of tuk-tuks/rickshaws
Sometimes it is safer and necessary to get a tuk-tuk or rickshaw, plus they are a lot of fun! In tourist-heavy destinations such as Sri Lanka and India, always haggle the price as they sometimes quote a double or triple price. Simply by stating it was too expensive, some tuk-tuk drivers would drop their prices by half!
Do your research and find out from locals such as your accommodation staff what the price should be, that way you can be confident in requesting a lower price.
9. Skip the luxuries
As you are aware, I have been described as a Flashpacker on more than one occasion so you know I like my luxuries. But I did discover that there are some luxuries I am happy to forego in return for a chai tea latte!
Simple things like swapping your heavy shower gel, (which let’s face it always ends up leaking all over your clothes on the plane ride!), for a bar of soap which does exactly the same job for a fraction of the price and lasts forever! The soap I bought in India lasted nearly six months.
Another simple fix which will benefit the weight of your bag is swapping a can of deodorant spray for a roll-on. Again, this lasts so much longer and is much lighter to carry.
Other luxuries I forewent was using conditioner on my hair less frequently so it was more of a luxurious treat rather than a necessity. Packing an electric shaver rather than using razors, and washing my own clothes by hand rather than paying someone else to wash and dry them.
10. Take advantage of first-time customer offers
This is more for Western countries but is a good thing to bear in mind.
There are so many offers you can take advantage of from free yoga classes, discounts on haircuts and colours (see you can have some luxuries!), reduced restaurant bills, free coffee etc.