by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 4th September, 2018
Travelling is probably one of the more expensive hobbies you can have. The accumulation of transport, food, accommodation and entertainment all piles up and you can often end up spending a lot more than you originally budgeted for. But for those of us who are interested in taking up full-time or even just frequent travel, how can we not only travel cheaply, but save and make money while doing it?
Of course, the first step to saving money is not spending so much of it in the first place, and the best way to do this is to cut down on how much money you're spending on food. It's really easy to slip into bad habits and start eating out, buying take out, or even just grabbing expensive snacks from the local grocery store when travelling, and it all adds up to become a huge deficit in your bank account. The best way to eat cheap is to make your own food. Scout out the cheap local markets and stock up on inexpensive staple fruits and veggies, along with some cheap items like beans, rice, potatoes and pasta. Then make your own meals. Sometimes, this is easier said than done so keep your plans to eat cheaply in mind when looking for accommodation. Generally it's better to spend a little more on a hostel with a kitchen than have to eat out every day, three times a day.
The next big expense that you can save on is accommodation and bills. Wherever possible, look for the cheapest accommodation that will also serve your needs. This also means staying in areas that aren't as expensive. Places like Indonesia, India, some countries in Europe, and rural areas will generally have much lower rates of accommodation than big cities or popular tourist destinations.
Don't just rely on AirBnB for your accommodation, look for hostels in the area you want to go to, or even campsites if you're willing to take a tent and some sleeping supplies. If you're really looking to save money, consider couch-surfing, which is an international network of people that let you sleep on their couches or spare rooms for free.
You'll probably want some entertainment if you don't have a specific purpose for travelling, other than tourism. For a lot of newcomers to a country, the easiest option is often to throw some money at some tourist experiences like guided tours, adventure experiences or museums. This is all well and good, but it does very little to help your bank account balance, so instead, try to find free ways to entertain yourself. Exploring the local nature is one excellent option, as is using the Meetup website to find groups near you to attend. If you're in a city, there will also likely by free museums and galleries you can go to.
What if you could cut out all your transportation expenses, completely? How much money would you save - a sizable amount, I'm betting. There's a new trend circling the globe of "slow travelers" travelling for free by walking, cycling and hitch-hiking. If you are really looking to just explore somewhere new and get out of your comfort zone, walking or cycling to your destination can be a fantastic option. There are even people who have travelled all over the world by bike (with a little help from airplanes and ferries of course). With this inexpensive method, you can carry everything you need on your back and be completely free. If you're particularly out-doorsy, you could even pack on a tent into your stuff, and start camping for free in national parks, probably one of the best ways to not only save money, but explore nature too.
Not feeling the walking/cycling vibe? That's cool, you still have plenty of options to reduce the costs of accommodation and transportation. Many intrepid, money-saving travelers have taken to living and travelling solely out of their cars or vans in order to save money. A quick scroll through the #vanlife hashtag on any social media platform will show you an array of portable tiny homes, some with showers and toilets installed too. You definitely don't need to transform a sprinter van into a livable home however, you can just as easily sleep in the back of your car of truck and save the money on accommodation while you're at it.
Probably the best way to actually save money while travelling, is to make it. There's no getting around the fact that at some point, you will likely have to spend money while travelling, and in order to actually increase or sustain your savings, you'll need to make some of that back. If you are interested in more long-term travel opportunities, a working holiday visa to a country like Australia could be a great option, you could work in bars, cafes, libraries, just about anywhere you're qualified for. Alternatively, you could work online. "Digital nomads" have been gaining attention for their lifestyle of travel and work. If you have skills in graphic design, illustration, web design, or any other type of job that can be done from a laptop, you may well be able to find a way to make money online, while you travel.
Au-pairing is an excellent option for anyone looking to travel, save money, earn some money, without having the stress of a full-time job, or the erratic nature of earning money online. If you haven't heard of it already, au-pairing involves travelling to a new country and staying with a "host family". In exchange for the travel experience, the free accommodation, pocket money and language immersion, you help with the housework and childcare. If you like working with kids and want to really get to grips with a new language and explore a new culture while also earning a bit of "pocket money" this could be an excellent option for you.