So your tickets are booked, your bags packed, and your bank account is on the decline. Your savings have taken quite the hit (punch) and it’s completely messing with that post-booking high you’ve been riding. The journey is all mapped out, but the finances seem a little slimmer than they should before a big trip.
Not to worry – we have gathered some tips to help you maximise your travel money and avoid overspending while you’re on the journey. Overpriced hotels, city food and overall tourist traps are a traveller’s worst enemy: the bane of the backpacker’s budget. So here are a few tips to help you fight those financial foes, and keep you riding that post-booking high.
1. Pre-book airport transfers & train travel
Nothing says unnecessary costs like unorganised airport transfers and spontaneous train trips between cities. Before you embark on your travel journey, plan your way from the airport to the accommodation. There is nothing more comforting after a flight than knowing you have a transfer booked and waiting to take you to your destination.
The same goes for trips between cities. An organised itinerary is a good itinerary – the budgeter’s mantra. Pre-book your train trips so that it’s not a punch to the gut when you have to fork out hundreds of dollars to get around. A budgeting traveller is always prepared! (Or should be anyway.)
2. Look for free activities
If you embark on a little research before you head out, you might learn of some free activities going on in the area. Community calendars and local reviews are often a great way to discover what’s going on around town.
Try a self-guided walking tour! Take your time and journey around your new destination to familiarise yourself with the area. If you prefer some professional guidance, walking tours are usually inexpensive and are an ideal way to explore your surroundings and even meet some friends.
3. Book a room with basic amenities & shop locally
No need for anything fancy. If you’ve scored a fridge, microwave or better yet, a stove, you’ve hit the jackpot (well, the budgeter’s version). Whether you’re overlooking a suburban street or marvelling at a city skyline, sometimes a humble bowl of cereal on the balcony outside in an unfamiliar place is all you need to start the morning.
No need to waste money on poached eggs and avo at the overpriced cafe around the corner (you can get that at home). Toast, some cereal and a cup of tea is an ideal and budget-friendly way to begin the daily adventure. You can also shop at the local farmers market for great food at decent prices. City supermarkets will raid your wallet like nobody’s business.
4. Talk to people
Ah, locals – the backbones of the town. Not only are they friendly (sometimes, depending on where you are) but they are a gold mine of information. Sometimes finding an awesome, cheap restaurant, or a local gem you would never have found, means using those social skills you’ve been hiding in your back pocket. Find a buddy and scope out the experts on your way around.
Locals are also a great way to explore and learn about your destination’s culture. Not only can you discover the town’s best-kept secrets, but you can grasp a feel for the authentic, unfiltered lifestyle of the place you’re visiting. Even in this day and age, some of the best local gems won’t be found on the internet. It’s a great time to revisit and practice those school-day friend-making skills – you might even make a buddy for life! (A.K.A. secure accommodation for your next visit.)
5. Pack snacks & water
Hunger – another one of the wanderer’s woes. All that daily exploration is bound to work up an appetite, so it’s a good idea to stock up on water and substantial snacks before you head out. City cafes, restaurants and street food stands all feed off your hunger, and a pretzel from that tourist-trapping city cafe might just cost you a portion of your next adventure.
Some street food here and there is all part of the cultural experience, but it starts to add up after a while! So while you’re shopping at the local store or farmers market, pick up some snacking necessities – fruit, nuts, muesli bars – and keep yourself well-fed while you wander. Then maybe, depending on whether you’ve hit your daily budget, you can splurge on lunch or dinner in the city without guilt.
Or, if you’re really embracing the backpacker’s budget, you can make yourself a sandwich or two at home and take it with you on the road. It’s all about thinking ahead.
6. Get lost!
Of course it’s only natural to want to see the main sights and attractions of a place while you’re visiting, but take a day or two to simply get lost. Save on U
So pack a bag and put on your runners, walk as far and as wide as you can. Wander the streets and take your time, because sometimes the best places are found when you’re not looking.