Join me as I share with you my top long term budget travel tips that I have learnt from over three years budget travelling around the globe.
Travelling can take many forms from short, cheeky weekend getaways to a new city, to planning your yearly two-week vacation from work too long open-ended backpacking trips for months through an entire continent.
After almost four years of on and off long term travel, mostly all on a budget as a backpacker, and countless friends asking me “How do you afford to travel all the time.” I thought it was time to share with you guys some long-term budget travel tips that this nerdy traveler use’s to get the most out of money while on the road.
Over the past few years, most of my trips have been long. Where I’ve either been laid off or left my job and my home with nothing but my backpack and the money that was in my bank account to explore the world. Like when I first left on my first big 5 and a half month trip backpacking through Latin America. As fun and liberating as this can be I always find that budgeting for an open-ended trip to be a lot more challenging than budgeting for a quick or set time limit trip when you have an end date.
When managing your money on a long open-ended trip, at the end of the day it simply comes down to the fact that the more budget savvy you are with your travels, the longer your trip can be.
So without further ado, I bring you my top 5 Long Term Budget Travel Tips
Where You Travel
So you’ve got your backpack packed, and a bunch of cash in your bank account and are ready to go on a long epic adventure that rivals that of Frodo Baggins journey to Mordor to destroy the one ring.
But where will you go? While travelling Eastern Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North America are very attractive and fun options and can certainly be done in a more budget manner. The reality is you are going to get a lot more bang for your buck if you head to cheaper countries where you get a lot more value for you money and are a lot more suited to long term budget travel.
Some popular budget travel destinations include
This includes Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, India and Nepal (Just to name a handful)
Cheaper parts of Europe
Especially in the east, including Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, the Balkan countries and even the far northern countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to name a few.
One of my favorite long-term backpacking destinations, Latin America is great for making your money last, especially if you avoid the most pricey countries like Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Costa Rica.
If you’d like to read more about how cheap it can be to travel on the cheap in Latin America check out some of my post’s from my 5 and half month trip through Central and South America.
One of the biggest expenses to any holiday is transportation. Whether you are booking flights, bus’s or trains, being budget savvy in your choices can make a lot of difference in the long run.
Sure deciding to take a 1-hour flight instead of a 7-hour bus for only an extra $50 USD might seem like a no-brainer on a short holiday, but when you are travelling in a cheap location like Southeast Asia where you are spending less than $5-$10 a night for your accommodation and moving between locations every week. Over the course of 5 month’s that $50 is going to add up to almost $1000 and means you could travel for an extra month just by sacrificing a bit more of your time and comfort.
Some great transportation money saving tips include:
Cheaper and longer
Take cheaper, less expensive modes of transport to cut down your transportation expenses.
Take Night Bus’s
When booking bus’s try to go for the night bus’s, not only will you not waste your day in a bus, but you also won’t have to pay for accommodation that night #winning
Travel like a local
Take the local bus instead of private coaches. Not only will you save a shit load of money but you will also get to experience a bit more of the local culture and get some interesting stories to tell along the way.
Stretch those legs and walk
When exploring a city walk instead of taking a taxi or a bus. Want to visit that temple, but it’s a 45-minute walk away? Instead of taking a bus or taxi just walk there instead. Not only will you save money but you will also get to explore a bit of the city and come across things you otherwise wouldn’t have seen.
Where You Sleep
Another significant expense when travelling is your accommodation. While staying in a luxury 5-star hotel room might be a fun splurge for a short weekend getaway. However on a long trip, your accommodation expenses are going to add up.
When travelling on a budget, I prefer to stay in hostels. Hostel prices are usually 3-5x lower than a hotel, and while you may have to sacrifice your privacy and personal space a bit and share a room with other people, it’s a great way of not only keeping your expenses down but also meeting other like-minded budget travelers.
Another great option is CouchSurfing, which allows you to crash on people’s couches for free.
For when you do need a bit of a break from shared accommodation, booking a private room in a hostel can be a great option or even Airbnb is a lot cheaper than booking a hotel room.
- Stay in hostel dorm rooms (The more people in a room, the more you save)
- When you want a private room, Airbnb is a great alternative to booking a hotel.
- Couch Surfing is a great free way to not only get a couch or bed to sleep in for free but also meet locals.
What You Eat & Drink
When travelling for many of us, myself included sampling the local cuisine when in a new country or city is one of the highlights of my travels.
While indulging in a delicious sit-down restaurant style meal with a glass of fancy wine is great, doing that for every meal is going to eat a serious hole in your pocket (ooooh see what I did there)
Some great way’s to keep your stomach and your wallet full while on the road include.
Eating where the locals eat.
Especially when travelling in South East Asia and Latin America, If you avoid the main tourist restaurants and head to local markets or food shacks you are going to save a lot of money and might even meet some locals.
Cook your own food
This has to be one of my favorite long term budget travel tips. Many hostels and Airbnb rooms include a kitchen where you can knock up a quick lunch or breakfast for a quarter of the price that it would cost you to buy it from a restaurant or cafe. It might seem like much but saving just a few dollars on breakfast every day over a five-month trip can really add up and give you extra money to either extend your trip or splurge on a fancy restaurant meal.
Take away is generally cheaper than eating at a restaurant.
Grabbing a slice of pizza, kebab or sandwich from a cafe is usually a lot cheaper than going in for a sit-down restaurant meal.
When it comes to alcohol, I’d recommend sticking to local beers or spirits as they are a lot cheaper than the imports. There is nothing wrong with a cheeky bit of pre-drinking before you go out on the town to get your night started and keep your drink spending low.
Going on an organized pub crawl is also another way to not only get cheaper priced drinks and free shots but also meet some awesome people in the process.
Tours and Activities
When it comes to sightseeing and activities, there are many ways to keep your expenses down, while still seeing a lot of what each destination has to offer.
Going on group tours instead of private ones
While being on a private tour generally mean’s you get a lot more personalized experience and can see more things, it usually comes at a much higher price. Going on a group tour is a lot cheaper, and you might even meet some cool people along the way. Also, when it comes to booking tours try to book directly through tour operators and not through your hotel or hostel at the cheapest rates.
Go on the free walking tours
In a lot of cities, especially those in Europe there are free walking tours. It’s a great way to see the city for cheap and although they expect a small tip. It works out a lot cheaper than going on a paid tour.
Book tours when arriving in a city not before
While booking in advance online or through a tour operator may give you peace of mind. Booking in advance or through a third party is more expensive. For the lowest price’s wait until you are in the city or to the last minute to book your tours. This will give you a lot more bargaining power and often result in getting tours at a lot lower prices. Another great tip is to try and get a few people together from your hostel and get a group discount.
At the end of the day, a long term budget travel is a bit of a balancing act, and everyone has different preferences on what to skimp or splurge their money on.
I know for me I’d rather sleep in a 30-bed dorm room in a hostel if it means having a bit more extra money to spend on drinks at the bar. Where other people prefer to splurge on a private room and cut back in other areas. The most important thing to remember is at the end of the day it’s your holiday, and how you spend and save your money is completely up to you, it’s your holiday after all.