How to Travel Cheap – The Basics

*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

how to travel cheap 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;

Accommodation

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.

Transportation

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.

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15 comments on “How to Travel Cheap – The Basics
  1. Iuri Gama says:

    Great tips! I've been considering the idea of camping when visiting cities – to save money on accommodation – but I think the main problem is I don't want to be exploring a city with a huge backpack at all times…

    Also, how about food? I find it quite hard not to spend a considerable amount of money on this if I don't have access to a kitchen.

  2. Dan says:

    Why don't you couchsurf? In big cities it's usually very easy to find a couch to stay, you can leave your bag and if you pick a good host they might even show you around or at least give you information. For me camping is usually a plan b, either because a host cancelled or I am in a place where there are no hosts.

    Also if you are couchsurfing you will usually have access to a kitchen, and a local person who can tell you where the cheapest places to eat are. Really, can't say how wonderful couchsurfing in for travellers, I don't know how I would travel without it!

  3. Omg, this is going to be my favourite travelling website!
    Thank you for sharing the info man! 😀

  4. Dan says:

    Thx man, am glad you like it 🙂

  5. James Colin says:

    OK but you don't say how you make those 200 euros per month.

  6. Well first of all it's better to look at it as €1500 for around 6 months than €250 per month, and it's really not THAT hard to save up €1500 right? I usually saved up a lot of money in countries like the UK or Japan before I started travelling. Now that I am on the road I just always keep an eye out for any way to make a bit of extra cash, for example I bought and sold a few motorbikes in Thailand and that paid for my 5 months that I spent there a year ago.

    There are a lot of small seasonal jobs you can get in tourist areas as well, like selling event tickets, tour guides, stuff like this that you can do along the way that can help fund your travels.

  7. Jonathan says:

    Great tips! 🙂 After traveling in South America for 7 months, I’ve noticed that its a lot cheaper to travel by bus than by plane. The bus system in South America is pretty good and the tickets are usually half the price that a plane ticket would be. The only setback is that they are way too long. I’ve even been on a 28 hour bus ride.

    • Dan says:

      In South America especially! I guess there’s a lack of competition but flights in South America are extremely expensive. I know 28 hours can be tough sometimes but remember it’s all part of the experience 🙂

  8. omid incarnation says:

    Hi
    Unfortunately I’m an Iranian person, most of the country in the world don’t give us visa to enter their country.
    What can I do?

  9. Dave says:

    This is really cool

  10. Melody coxon says:

    Great post! I’m impressed when I can get by on 1,000 a month let alone 200.00. Looks like I can learn a lot from ya. Thanks for the post!

  11. Garry says:

    I love this site. I used to be the average traveler that would spend over $1,500 every vacation. But now with this site and others….check out https://poormanspilgrimage.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/a-very-european-summer/
    I can now travel all around the world more than every three years!! Great!

  12. JJ says:

    This is an awesome page! We still have a lot to learn about budget traveling but we are using pretty much same tricks as you. At the moment we are traveling around Japan by using hitch-hiking and couchsurfing 🙂

  13. Accommodation and Transportation is certainly within the top 3 expense-wise, it would vary a little depending on where you are and how you travel but it will be within the top 3. Awesome tips you have here! After these two, they can work trying to budget their food expenses.

  14. azam says:

    great tips!!Thank you alot

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