I checked my bank account today and noticed that my balance is dangerously nearing the two digit figure, and after two years on the road,thats really not too bad.
So I thought I would share some of my sneaky tips on how to make your dollar stretch that little bit further whilst on the road...
1. Become a pirate!
Well without the peg leg, and ruthless looting of other sail boats. Jump on board a sailboat and learn how to sail! Sometimes you can get a great deal with your onboard expenses paid for (food, accommodation and sometimes your visa costs) PLUS you get free transport to other countries , some of which are best visited or only can be visited on a sail boat. You have the ocean all around you, endless diving and snorkelling opportunities and of course fresh seafood! Just make sure you don't get sea sick and that you can handle being stuck in a little plastic boat being the biggest thing around (above the water) for many miles. Sound tempting? Check out my last blog update for tips on how
2. You are what you eat.
Food is a necessity, but doesnt always have to be a major expense whilst you are travelling, no matter what country. Here are a few little golden rules I have when it comes to eating and it has saved me a lot of precious coin!
-Learn to love soup. It's the cheapest thing on most menus and fills you up!
-eat as the locals eat. Forget 'tourist' restuarants and tourist menus. Ask a local on the street for a cheap and great local place to eat, its the best way and you may even find someone to accompany you and help you choose their recommended dish! Local advice is always the best.
-Seek out where the students eat.In some countries I have visited the University cafeterias have the best food and are usually super cheap! But sometimes the main problem is how to get on campus!
-just get tap water, learn to wean yourself off coke and coffee, its adds up!
-seek out hostels or accommodation with your own cooking facilities
-even carry your own cooking stove like this one
3. Couch surfing.
(Or Bewelcome). This is the best resource on the web for travellers. Ever crave a home away from home? Want to interact with the locals and see a really authentic insight into the city you are visiting? Then what better way than to stay with locals who are offering up their couch for you! Not only is it free (and this isn't the reason to try it) but its a great way to meet locals, make immediate friends and share really beautiful memories and experiences with them. If it wasn't for couchsurfing I can honestly say that I could not still be travelling and I wouldn't have met half the beautiful people I am lucky enough to call my good friends. Visit couchsurfing.org
4.exploit your skills. Can you juggle? Paint? Play music? Cook? Babysit? You can make jewelery? Can win at pool? Are awesome at poker? Are good with languages and tutoring? Are good at photography? Can build websites? Any skills at all, use them! I lack any real skills but still managed to help out at hostels, tutoring, picking olives, helped with band posters, helped working on sail boats for free food, accommodation and other perks!
5. Cut down on flights and try other alternatives of transport.
Walk, cycle or public tranport! No cabs. Its also a great way to see and explore the city at a slower pace, you never know what you will come across. And if your not up to hitch hiking just yet, why not try carpooling? Its sometimes a cheaper form of travel where people who are driving offer lifts. Not only does this save on fuel emissions but you can meet some pretty cool people as well. Try these websites>
6. Do your own laundry. In India I used to always carry around a little laundry soap that cost less than paying to wash one item of clothing. Another good idea is to carry little containers for your shampoo and conditioner and then when you have the opportunity you can top them up, every little bit saves!
7. Take transport at nightime.
Save on that extra night of accommodation and save yourself a days travel and take that night bus or train.
4 More for the more adventurous...
1. Hitch hike.
Some of my best (and worst) experiences whilst travelling have been hitching. It is risky, but if you are a little smart you can minimise some of the risks. Its best to hitch hike in a boy-girl combination and never to hitch alone. It pays to do a little research and hitchwiki is a great webste with some great resources, location specific. But be prepared for longs day sticking your thumb out, and be prepared for disappointment as well. Its a good idea to arrange a code word with the person you are hitching with incase either of you feel uncomfortable and you can skip the ride. You have to be more flexible with time and with your destination just incase things don't go exactly how you wanted, but its all part of the adventure and the experience! If you are up to it you can look forward to hitching on all different forms of transport! Some of my best are in convertibles, tractors, boats, trucks, motorcycles or squeezed in the back of pickup trucks. hitchwiki.orh
2. dumpster dive.
Dumpster what? Well think of all that food that is wasted when its shelf life is 'out of date' all those vegies that get chucked out when they have spots on them, or more recently all those lasagna packets that got thrown away when the horse meat scandal swept through Europe. Where does it all go? Into the dumpster outside grocery stores. Yes, this may not sound like the tastiest dinner, but its free, it limits waste from the supermarket chains and it can be fun devising come interesting meal from the odd ingredients you can find. Interested in dumspter diving, check out this website. trashwiki.org
3. Workaway or woofing,
If you are planning on staying in a place for a couple of months and really want to get a lot out of a place then why not swap some of your services for some free accommodation and food. Its a great way to get involved with the locals and is great especially if you want to learn the local language and the local way of life. This website requires a very small join up fee of around $30USD (i think) and its best to make it clear with your host just what is required of you and what free time you will have as well. websites: workaway.org http://www.wwoof.org
4. Carry a tent. Make sure your surroundings are safe and that the climate is suitable to be camping in and, well there is free accommodation for you! When I was hitching in mongolia i used my tent a lot and this saved a lot of money and was a nice item to have just incase I didn't find a ride into a little village. It is an extra thing to carry though and it does pay to do some research on the availability of camping areas rather than go on a whim, like I did.
Other unrecommended recommendations...
-Skip the subway ticket.
Some places you can get away without buying a subway ticket such as Vienna and Berlin (although I got caught twice in the outer suburbs of Berlin and got hit with a $40 euro fine!) Even in Japan if you are travelling to the outer regions you can buy a ticket for a closer station and can avoid extra $20USD fees to reach the outer platforms as they dont have ticket inspectors in more remote areas.
-Learn to sleep anywhere. Carry a sleeping mat with you and you never know what opportunities will present themselves to you. When in Japan I slept in train stations, and despite being told to move by a very nice police man one night it was a cheap form of accommodation. Whilst in Mongolia I slept in a makeshift tent in a little car park and luckily woke up before construction workers arrived early the next morning to dismantle it. Check out this website next time your thinking of catching a late night flight... http://www.sleepinginairports.net
3. Share a Bed.
Find some other cheap buddies to snuggle up to and share bed costs. I had three to a single bed in Thailand and when in Berlin I shared a bed with a fellow lady traveller and she just sneaked me into the room with her room key at night. (Be warned, this isnt technically legal and can get you in trouble, as I experienced)
-I have even gone so far as to only have two meals a day and become vegetarian, its not for everyone thats for sure and is a little extreme.
But there is a fine line between being cheap and not enjoying your travelling just for the sake of saving some money and missing out on some really great activites and sights. Im not saying to avoid spending any money and to solely rely on the generosity and hospitality of others, I'm only saying its possible. I haven't made a challenge to see how long I can go without spending a cent, I'm just as cautious travelling as I am when I spend money at home. Travelling without disposable money can be challenging and can put you in situations where money is often the easiest solution, but where the cheaper alternative always leaves you richer with experience.