You work so hard to save up for a trip away so you want to do everything to make that money last as long as possible and spend it wisely. My three highest expenses whilst travelling are food, accommodation and transport. The majority of your budget will go towards paying for these three things and they are pretty boring, so you will want to spend as little as possible on these so you can do all the exciting stuff. So here are my top tips for saving money!
Work for accommodation – This is fairly straight forward. Ask around at the hostel you are currently staying at and send some emails to hostels in your next place to see if they have positions. Most hostels want you to be currently staying there before they will hire you, but I always email to check that they offer WFA before booking a few nights there. There are a bunch of jobs you might do from working in reception, bar work, cleaning or running activities. In exchange for free accommodation you will normally work up to 20 hours per week, and many people also get a second part-time job to fit around the hostel work.
Couchsurfing – Having gained popularity in the last few years, couchsurfing is just that – you stay in a locals house either in a spare room, a couch or a mattress on the floor for free. This is great if you are only staying a few days and the host might show you around the area or help you plan your stay. Some people cook for the host or bring a little something to say thank you but most are just happy to help a traveller out.
Camping + campervans – This is a great option if you like the outdoors and want to get into those more unexplored parts of a country. Camp sites are typically half the price of a hostel so can save you a lot of money over the course of a year as well as many free camp areas. There are added costs that come with having a vehicle, insurance, breakdown cover, fuel etc. but if there is a small group travelling together, these costs are going to work out fairly economical. It is a big purchase to start with but you will get a good portion of it back when you sell it at the end of your trip. And also think of the never ending road trip!
House + pet sitting – People want their homes and pets to be taken care of when they are on holiday and so allow people to stay in their homes, free of charge, to look after their property and pets. Some last for a few days but some can last a few months which is a great option if you plan on finding work in the local area. Keeping the house clean, bringing in the post, doing some gardening and caring for the pets as all common things you will do. Look at Trusted House Sitters and House Carers for opportunities.
Cook in the hostel – Again, another simple thing to save money. Bulk buy ingredients for a few days and keep it simple. Club together with a few mates and make a big meal and split the cost. Take advantage of free/cheap food night in your hostel as well, a lot of time there will be BBQs or pizza nights ran each week. This is also a great way to meet fellow travellers and get some great food at the same time.
Eat out at lunch– Evening meals are always more expensive compared to other times of the day so if I am going to eat out, I will try to arrange for a lunch or afternoon as most of the time the restaurants are quieter and they have lunch time menus with great deals on.
Bus + train passes – These are a great option if you are backpacking and travelling over a large area with lots of stops. Often very flexible and good value for money, these passes can last for months with multiple stops and multiple different route options to suit your trip. Check out the greyhound buses if you are in Australia, the Naked bus pass for New Zealand, Eurail passes for Europe and National Express for the UK.
Set up price alerts – Everyone knows the price of flights fluctuates massively over the weeks running up to departure, so to snag the best price set up daily price alerts. This will send you an email if the price increases or decrease for a specific flight. I always use Google Flights to find the cheapest time of month to fly and then set up price alerts with SkyScanner to get the best price over the next few days.
Book well in advance – If you already have an itinerary planned you can go ahead and book your transport weeks to months in advance to really save some money. Last minute deals can also save you some money but that option is not very flexible. Take advantage of January sales and offers for flights as there can often be £100 or more off your flight.
What other tips and tricks do you have for saving money while backpacking?