I used to be under the assumption that travelling was something I could not afford. Fulfilling my dreams of visiting every continent in the world could not be possible on a student budget. I’ll just have to wait until I’m 67 years old and dip into my retirement fund to be able to afford plane tickets.
Over my few short years of galavanting around the globe, I’ve learnt a lot from travelling, especially when it comes to travelling on a budget.
1. Be flexible with flight dates
Being flexible with your flight dates can save you a tonne of money. A number of flight comparison sites such as Skyscanner and Google Flights have an option where you can select an entire month, rather than two particular departure and return dates. This shows you the individual prices for flights each day. And yes, some are SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than others. This tip could literally save you hundreds on flight prices!
2. Buy your own travel insurance
This is a mistake I have made many times. I’ve opted to book my holidays through a travel agent and agreed to use their travel insurance company, not realising it would cost me around $200-$300. BIG NO NO. Travel insurance can be as little as $40 for an overseas trip depending on the type of cover you need. By using a site such as Compare the Market, you can find travel insurance to suit your requirements and save your coins.
3. Don’t be afraid to stay in a hostel
I must admit, I was one of those people who were apprehensive about staying in a hostel. After all, dormitory style accommodation just isn’t my thing. But seriously, they are So. Damn. Cheap. For as little as $20 a night (depending on the country of course), you have a bed to sleep on, free wifi and sometimes the inclusion of 3 meals per day. Plus, hostels are the number one place to meet travel companions if you’re backpacking solo.
If dorms still aren’t your top accommodation choice, opt to stay in a private room at a hostel. You’ll have your own bedroom and bathroom, and will still save money on accommodation costs.
HostelWorld is a fantastic website for finding cheap accommodation. The site allows you to pick and compare hostels and provides thousands of reviews from other travellers, ensuring you find accommodation to suit your needs.
4. Save on snacks
Rather than eating out at expensive restaurants everytime you get peckish on your day trips, grab some snacks from a local supermarket. Stock up on nuts, fruit or biscuits that you can easily throw in your day bag or backpack and save your coins.
5. Don’t forget the tourist tax refunds
Some countries have tourist tax refund schemes for purchases you make whilst abroad. You can claim a refund on some (or even all) of the tax you pay on retail goods. Make sure you hold onto your receipts as proof of purchase is generally a requirement. You may also need to fill out some paperwork, but that’s not so bad considering the refunds you gain from your purchases.
6. Have fun for free
Numerous cities around the world offer free walking tours where you can see some of the best tourist sites and learn the history behind them. Sightseeing and hiking are also fun options that won’t cost you a dime. As tourist areas have a tendency to be far more expensive, chat to some locals about areas you should check out. Not only will you save money, but you also get the chance to see some hidden places you had no idea existed.
7. Reward programs
Numerous airlines have reward programs for frequent flyers where you can work your way up to a free plane ticket. Even if you don’t fly often, these reward programs are free so you have nothing to lose by signing up. If one day you happen to earn enough points, you may just get a flight for free.
8. Do as the locals do
I recently received this advice whilst travelling in Fiji. Upon asking the hostel owner how to get into Nandi Town he told me, “do as the locals do.” Next thing I know I was out on the side of the road waving down buses. Rather than spending all your money on a taxis, opt for a bus. This simple tip saved me So. Much. Money. I’d rather pay 70 cents for a bus fare than $15 for a taxi any day.
9. Beware of pricey exchange rates
Comparing exchange rates before trading your dollars can save you a lot of money. Check out rates at banks, currency exchange services and airports before you exchange. Remember, exchange rates fluctuate every day so make sure to keep a close eye on it before your trip abroad. Exchanging at the right time ensures you don’t lose too much of those precious dollars.
The site Currency Shop allows you to search and compare exchange rates across numerous currency exchange services across Australia. It is free to use and is super helpful in choosing the perfect place to buy foreign currency.
10. Pack less
Avoid the additional luggage costs by staying well under the baggage weight restrictions. By packing less on the way over, you’ll have extra weight to play with on the way home. If you are only heading overseas for a short time, ditch the checked bag completely. Flying with just carry on means you don’t pay for luggage at all (just make sure it’s not over 7kgs to avoid those fees).
I hope these 10 tips help you save money on your next trip overseas. If you have any tips for budget travel that you’d like to share let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,