Summer on a Shoestring: How To Travel Cheaply
Unavoidably, travelling costs money. Unavoidably, it also usually involves thought and preparation - it would be wrong to say that anyone can just go off for a jolly without some pre-planning. This is especially true for some people who are without parents who let you get away with long periods of rent-free crashing, or in a job where the flexibility to up and leave on a whim is simply not there. All of this can make travelling seem really difficult and horrendously expensive, leaving it as nothing more than a perfect pipe dream that belongs on someone else's Instagram page.
However, I'm going to show you that you don’t have to be loaded to travel. Yes, you still need thought and preparation, but you don't need a comfortable amount of 0s in your bank account in order to have an amazing time. Think less about the zero, and more about the let's-go; by following my tips you will probably see more of the world, get to know more people and learn more about yourself than if you just shacked up in a hotel.
You don’t need to spend 300 quid on a fancy backpack! If you are planning on some serious hiking then it’s worth the investment, but if not you are wasting your money. Check out eBay and wallapop for second hand equipment, or ask friends if they can lend/sell you their old kit.
A lot of people spend a bomb on fancy looking first aid kits. Although keeping yourself safe and looked after is key, you don’t need to do that. Instead of buying a premade kit including more surgical tape than you can shake a stick at, make your own: go to a pharmacy and buy some own brand painkillers, plasters, antihistamines, antiseptic wipes etc, and pop them in a little bag of your own. Sorted!
For flights check out skyscanner - it’s a comparison site where you can find really good deals. I've picked up flights for a fraction of the normal price here. You can also compare flights for the whole month if you’ve got flexibility, meaning that you can see exactly what time you may need to book off work to get the most for your money.
Blabla Car is a great site for car sharing, where you pay someone fuel money to join their trip. Look for people with positive reviews so you can feel safer. Blabla car is a great option between bigger cities but is also getting more expensive these days so do a bit of research before choosing
Hitchhiking – I know it might sound scary but in safer countries and especially if you are travelling with someone else it can be a great way to travel for free. Never get in the car if you don’t feel it’s right - just say no. You can check out some great hitchhiking tips here.
Airbnb - ever heard of it...? Airbnb is a site where people let you take over their homes for a few days – there are some really great deals here and, furthermore, you communicate directly with the hosts, who will have great ideas of what you can get up to in their local area.
Hostels – these are a great way to stay super cheap. I would recommend highly if you're travelling alone, as everyone there wants to meet people and you’ll get swept up with the crowd. On top of that, many hostels have organised parties and activities, which may help if your travelling plan is lacking a little bit of structure. However, you will be sharing a dorm with other people you don’t know, which can mean a disrupted night's sleep if people are coming/leaving before you wake up. If you're worried about your belongings, you can pay a surcharge for locker padlocks, or bring them along to save extra cash. Check out hostel world for a guide.
Camping – COME ON. Even if you haven't heard of airbnb, you've definitely heard of camping! I love camping - it's such a good idea. Get a light weight tent in your bag and you can stay for a pittance on camp sites, loads of which have great showers and communal areas. You can make your morning coffee on a stove and reconnect with nature, what could be better?! To find a place, type ‘Camping near…’ into google, then you can always check the name of the place on trip advisor for review.
HelpX is a site where hosts advertise for help on their respective projects. You help with house work or on the land for 5 hours a day in return for food and accommodation. The best times of my life were spent on a horse ranch in Andalucía who accepted helpers from HelpX. An alternative site with a similar mandate, but that focusses purely on farming hosts, is WWOOF.
Bring snacks! Don’t waste money getting the munchies out and about. Stuff your bag with cheapy cereal bars and avoid spending a fiver on a sloppy chain-shop sandwich
Avoid tourist traps – in every city there are areas where restaurants are hugely overpriced and rubbishy quality. If you’re staying in a hostel ask the reception for advice! If not, Lonely Planet guides tend to get it right, or check out Tripadvisor.
Set a daily budget – decide in advance how much you are going to spend on food a day and try and stick to it! It’s OK to treat yourself sometimes but if you’re not careful you will pour all your money into overpriced and under-cooked pizzas.
Bring a disposable water bottle – for goodness sake! Don’t waste your money buying water. Ask for a glass of water instead of a bottle in restaurants, and bring a bottle to refill. If you have a really sensitive stomach it’s worth considering boiling water before use or bringing purification tablets, but it’s not cost effective to survive off of bottled water for extended periods of time.
So, there we are. Travelling skint doesn't mean you can't travel in style: it just takes a bit of forward planning and you'll be good to go!
Written by Rachel Horne. This post originally appeared on Rachel's lifestyle blog, letsgr.com