How to Travel Cheap: In my last guide I wrote about how to save money on transportation and accommodation, if you haven't already, I'd suggest reading it before you read this first. Once you've started saving as much money as you possibly can on transportation and accommodation it's time to start looking at the other expenses, all the small things that add up to a lot!
The Small Things That Add Up
FoodYour food budget can be incredibly expensive in certain countries! I remember in Amsterdam the cheapest meal I could find was some really crappy fried chicken and chips for around €5. But in countries like Thailand or China you can eat a very healthy and delicious meal in a restaurant for about €1! Obviously it depends on where you are.
First of all, always shop around for the cheapest options. Ask your host, and even ask random locals on the street! Try to ask young people who seem to be living nearby, they more than likely know a lot of good restaurants, and hopefully some good and CHEAP restaurants.
If you are planning to eat at a restaurant always check the menu before you sit down to see if there is anything on the menu within your budget, and be cautious of anywhere that doesn't write the prices on the menu. Try to pick cheaper more local areas to eat rather than rich or touristy areas. Also try to eat things that will make you full so that you won't be hungry and searching for another place to eat an hour later! In general be picky and spend time on finding the right places.
For breakfast, lunch and when ever you feel hungry there are usually a lot cheaper options than eating in a restaurant. Bakeries usually have some nice and filling foods for extremely cheap, also buy things like fruit, cooked meat, cheese, pies, snacks, etc. from supermarkets. Some supermarkets may even have a cooked food section.
If you are in a country where eating out is expensive try to make sure you are couchsurfing in a place where you will have access to a kitchen, buy ingredients from the cheapest supermarket around, or even better at a local market (try to avoid small expensive convenience shops) and cook for yourself. You could even offer to cook for your host and if they are nice they will more than likely return the favour 😉
PartyingPeople often think I am off camping in the wild, or spending a lot of time in small villages and obviously not partying so much as my budget is so small... HELL NO! I love to party, probably a bit too much! In fact I can say alcohol is one of my biggest expenses when travelling as I love to go out and drink with the people I meet as much as possible. There are a few ways to still have fun and not spend huge amounts of money though.
Most of the same rules to finding a good cheap restaurant also apply to finding good bars or clubs. Ask around and find out which are the best places, if you don't have a host it can be a good idea to ask on a forum or Couchsurfing group. I usually look for places that have free entry, even if the drinks are quite expensive inside as I am usually quite drunk by the time I arrive and once I'm inside I won't buy more than 1 or 2 drinks. Obviously try to choose the cheapest drinks available, cocktails are almost never worth buying, you end up paying a huge price for a glass of juice.
ALWAYS have a few drinks before you go to any bar. If you are a little (or very) drunk before heading out to the bars you will drink more slowly and spend much less. You can suggest to your host to have a few beers before leaving the house or grab a few beers on the street or in a nearby park if it's allowed in that country. Also when shopping for alcohol it helps to consider alcohol percentage, sometimes you can get a strong 8% beer for just a little more than a lighter one with only 5% alcohol. Same goes for sizes, do a little math and you'll work out that the bigger the bottle the cheaper it is per millilitre. In some countries I have even seen beer in 3 litre plastic bottles as cheap as €0.20 per pint!
You may or may not disagree with me on this but I will never judge anyone who brings along a sneaky bottle of vodka to the club, especially if you are planning to spend a few hours there, unless you buy several expensive drinks you will soon start to sober up and that sneaky bottle can keep you having fun 😉
One other thing, keep an eye out for all-you-can-drink offers, they are usually really good value and great to start a night off with before heading to a more lively place like a nightclub.
Tourist AttractionsHonestly, there isn't really much you can do about this, tourist attractions are expensive everywhere, even in the poorest of countries. In India the Taj Mahal for example is 10 rupees for locals, and 700 for foreigners! I also paid €20 to enter some sites in China, which is around the same price if not more than attractions in Paris or London! The only thing you can really do is budget carefully; make sure the places you go are actually worth these prices and only see the ones you want to see the most. Also, I STRONGLY recommend you see the beauty in other parts of travelling! I got bored of temples and famous buildings a long time ago. Instead I enjoy experiencing the real culture of a country like meeting the people and trying the foods and of course beers ;). For me these are the most important things to experience when travelling to a new country and no where near as expensive as any tourist attraction.
In general to travel cheaply means to just put value on money, ask your self if something is worth a certain price or would that money be better spent on something else, or on making your trip longer? For most of the things in this article you will only save 1 or 2 Euros at a time, but several times a day, every day these small amounts add up to a lot of money. It's also important to choose where you travel carefully, a month in Thailand could cost the same as 1 week in France. I'm not saying never visit expensive countries, but just keep in mind you might have a longer and more enjoyable holiday somewhere else.
And always remember, most of the best things to be enjoyed while travelling are free anyway 😉
I know a lot of this stuff is pretty basic as it is mostly for beginner travellers but I hope everyone can manage to find some useful information out of it. If there's anything I missed don't hesitate to let me know!