*This is just part 1 covering the basics of how to travel cheap and saving money on accommodation and transportation. Click here for part 2 which goes into more detail about saving money on food, partying, sightseeing and other stuff.*
How to Travel Cheap - The Basics
One of the most common questions people keep asking me is; How do I make enough money to travel for so long? The answer is, well... I don't, well not the kind of money they think. I just don't spend much. My target budget is around €200 per month, of course it depends on the country, sometimes I spend less, sometimes I spend more, but I never usually go much over that. So, how?
First of all take a look at the main expenses a normal person would have when travelling;
An average hostel in an average country would cost around €15 per night, or €450 per month. I very rarely stay in any form of paid accommodation, I usually couchsurf, or camp. I've even been known to camp in the centre of a city when I wasn't able to find a host. If I ever do need to stay in a hotel or hostel I always research very hard which one is the cheapest. For example in Goa there weren't many couchsurfers, I checked on Hostelworld and Booking.com but there weren't any super cheap options there either, so I just showed up and started asking around the locals, that's how I found a room for €2 per night, split between me and my girlfriend. Of course it helps to have a girlfriend to share costs with, but you can also travel with a friend, or even ask on couchsurfing if anyone wants to join up and travel together, I have also done this many times before meeting my girlfriend. One time I shared a 2 person room with 4 other couchsurfers in the Philippines. We were right on the beach and paid almost nothing! Another way I sometimes save money when it's not possible to find a couch is to combine a cheap hotel or hostel with camping. If you pay for a hostel you generally have the right to keep your bags there for 2 days, the day before and the day after your night's accommodation. So if you alternate between camping and staying in a hostel you will always have somewhere to leave your bags while you explore a city or relax on a beach, and you will never go more than a day or 2 without a shower and a comfortable bed. I often do this to spend 3 or 4 days in a place and only pay for 1 nights accommodation. I have a more detailed guide about couchsurfing here, and will write guides on free camping and finding cheap accommodation soon.
One last alternative; you could also take part in a farm stay or other similar volunteer program. I have done this many times, mostly in Japan and South Korea and was given free accommodation AND free food/entertainment. Japan is one of the most expensive countries in the world, but I travelled around it for 3 months spending only €100 per month! I also wrote a detailed guide about this here.
The next biggest expense is usually transportation, especially flights. It's hard to say an average for this as it depends on how far you go and how often you change location, etc. But most budget travellers spend about the same as or more than they spend on accommodation, especially if you include international flights.
Personally I hate to fly, it's expensive, stressful and you miss the best part of your "journey". Over the last 5 years I have flown maybe less than 10 times! And in all of these cases I chose extremely cheap flights. I wrote a detailed guide on how to find cheap flights, but in short it's all about flexibility. My travels allow me to be very flexible, so when I'm planning to fly from Izmir (Turkey) to Rio De Janeiro (Brazil) like I am this winter for example, I don't look for flights from Izmir to Rio on the exact dates I want to go. I look for any flight from Europe to Latin America, somewhere between September and December. Because of that flexibility I found a flight from Spain to Mexico for €120, the cheapest flight from Turkey to Brazil in November is €952. Ok not everyone can be THAT flexible, but at least expanding your search to other nearby airports, and picking the cheapest times to travel might save you €832!
And of course to get from city to city, and country to country I almost always hitchhike. Check here for my guide on hitchhiking. I know many people are scared of it, but I've almost never met a person who really tried it and didn't fall in love with it! Ok, it's not always perfect. Sometimes you get offered a ride in a Porsche, and sometimes you might be in the back of a dirty pickup truck, you have to accept the bad with the good. But seriously, even if I was rich I think I would still hitchhike a lot of the time! For one it's sometimes faster than the bus! I have raced my non-believer friends many times and won. You also get to meet the local people, and most of all it really adds a sense of random spontaneity that makes every trip unique and magical. But anyway this post is not about that, it's about saving money... and there really is no better way than hitchhiking! Other ways are using ride shares that can be found on couchsurfing or facebook groups and on craigslist. You can also spend a little more time seraching for the cheapest bus options. I usually find buying tickets direct from the bus station gets the cheapest tickets, the travel agents are simply adding on their commission.
I know not all of this advice will apply to everyone. It is up to you how much or how little you decide to follow, either way I hope everyone can learn to save at least a little money to put back into making their trip longer and more enjoyable 😉
Please comment below if you have any other tips and suggestions. Or click HERE for part 2 which goes into more detail about all the little things.