Nowadays many people call themselves as a budget traveler or even a thrifty one. On my past travels, I always been proud of telling my friends that I don’t travel luxuriously and survived traveling halfway around the globe on a tight budget. However, on my recent backpacking trip, as someone who travels while being unemployed and embarking a journey as a full time travel blogger, I started to realized that calling my self as a budget traveler before was a disgrace to those who are feeding their wanderlust with their last pennies.
As I officially became part of the ‘#funemployed’ pool, I realized how it is like to weigh on everything whenever I have to open my wallet. Don’t get me wrong, I still dream of having unlimited budget on a trip around the world but while that is still under process, here are some things I noted to know if you really are part of our growing family of traveling budgetarians.
1. If you are on alert and hungry for airline deals.
A big chunk of our travel budget comes from booking all those flights. Those of us who want to save but itching to travel miles and miles away often found ourselves subscribing to several budget airline promo alerts. Believe me, it is worth it! You can even get deals as low as 0.02 USD for a return flight (google Piso flight).
2. When you are fine on not getting any flight miles rewards just to get a buddy pass ticket, or doesn’t mind to wait as a chance passenger just to get that 90% discounted staff ticket.
Recently, one of my favorite airlines is giving out discounted tickets to friends of its staff (called a buddy pass). As someone who doesn’t have any family member working in the airline industry, this news was music to my ears. I was able to use tickets from my cabin crew friends on several trips going to Europe (paying only 50%) and also to Australia (paying only 10%). If you have friends in the industry, try asking them. The only catch is that, you will not earn any miles points and at some occasion, you’ll be a chance passenger —– well, I don’t really mind, as long as I can save some big bu-bu-bucks.
3. If you spend all your pre-travel time browsing through hostelwold.com or hotelscombined.ae to find the cheapest accommodation that will serve its sole purpose = a PLACE TO SLEEP. Free Breakfast is a plus.
Just yesterday I spent hours looking for a place to stay in Bali. Of course, one can argue that hotels are the best (and most relaxing) place to stay but for someone who doesn’t mind bending a little to save more travel money for tours and food, getting a cheap hostel is a major option. Saving up doesn’t mean that you’ll dish out all your standards. There are amazing hostels out there, clean, fun and with free breakfast! Just check out what other travelers are saying about your potential home away from home. ( I met more of my travel bestfriends in hostels ^^)
4. Or convincing yourself that best way to travel is to live with a local. So you start contacting friends in Facebook or post couch requests in Couchsurfing.com
If I have friends ( I mean real friends—the one I have ‘real’ relationship with) in the city that I am about to travel to, I always ask them first if they can host me during my visit. It might be a cliché, but based from my experience, the best way to learn about a new city is to live with the locals. They will bring you to places and give you insights that travel guides will not tell you. If you don’t know anyone, you can try your luck through an app called Couchsurfing.
Most of the time, if you choose this type of accommodation, you’ll spend Z E R O on board and lodging. YEY!
5. When Blablacar.com or Bus Radar is your new best friend when traveling around Europe.
During my last backpacking trip around Europe, because I really don’t have any clear plans where to go and when to move. These online tools ( blablacar.com and busradar.com) became my go to travel options whenever I plan to move from one country to another. If you have enough time to go around (I mean if you can spare 12 hrs of your travel time cruising on land), forget about booking an inter-European train or a plane ride, hopping on a bus or hitchhiking is the new way to travel if you are on a budget.
6. When eating out is not anymore an option
Eating out? What is that? Hahaha…well, of course, part of traveling is experiencing the local food. During the time that I was traveling and still expecting a salary by the end of the month, going to fancy restaurants every now and then was part of my normal travel itinerary. But as I embarked on being a full time traveler, budgetary sources became too tight. This means, less restaurants and more visits to the local supermarket —also more home cooked meals (which means, if you are staying with a local friend — from #4 — you’ll experience how the locals dine and wine).
7. When buying ref magnets for a souvenir, you are thinking which meal to skip or to sacrifice with your 3.50 euro purchase, will it be lunch, dinner or both? (well you had your free breakfast in the hostel anyway)
Of course, like all budgetarians, you’ll master the art of which budget to sacrifice in order to buy something or pay for something. Normally I skip a meal or forget about being fancy go straight to a street food cart (talking about a 1 euro hotdog sandwich here)
8. Mastering the art of alternative souvenirs
Do you collect things whenever you travel? Three things that I normally buy, magnets, Starbucks city mugs and museum books, but lately I started to think outside box (or lemme say, outside my wallet) and figure out what to get as a souvenir. I started visiting local markets where I got old magazines and newspapers dated around 1950s- 70s (this will replace those museum books that costs between 30 – 60 usd). Another thing I started collecting are leaves from every city I visited (talk about bringing something from your travels right? — this will replace my magnets). For the Starbucks mugs, I completely just look the other way whenever I pass by this café (spending 15 -20 usd for a mug became a no-no).
9. When paying for a laundry service is a no no.
Paying to wash clothes? Whaaat? No no no. Just look for a sink and buy a detergent soap and you’ll have clean clothes the next day! Also, it is best as well whenever you book a hostel to look for one that offers free laundry services.
10. Convincing yourself that the best experience is always free
Well it is! You can find a lot of things to do for free. One of the things I always do is to join free walking tours and hunt for free museum entry days (most museums in Australia are free, some in the UK and there are free museums every Wednesdays in Paris). Aside from that, you can brag about hanging out with the locals along the river La Seine.
11. When walking is your main recreation
If you are a budgetarian, walking should be your besfriend. Aside from it will keep you fit while you are on the road, it is also the cheapest way to travel ( just bring your own bottled water from the tap—you are all set to go without even spending a dime). True, Eastern Europe’s transport is very cheap but once you step on the western boarder, you’ll find that this tip will save you a lot of hard earned travel money which you can eventually use to pay for those activities at the top of your bucket list (maybe climbing the Eiffel Tower? Anyone?).
Traveling on a tight budget is really a big challenge but also fun. I call it ‘good problem’. Of course, if we just stay at home we will never face this problem, but we still chose this path. The path to explore and enjoy God’s creation (one way or another). So now the question is, are you a traveling budgetarian? Share your stories at the comments below.6