If wishes were horses, a lot of us would have travelled the globe over and over again just for the heck of it. However, wishes are not horses and the idea of globe hiking can seem daunting once you begin to factor in the research and finance needed to accomplish this feat.
There are people who always have an excuse ready to give as the reason why they have not travelled as much as they want to. Most of these reasons always center on money. The truth is that unless you are flat out broke, money is not what is stopping you from travelling. Your refusal to think outside the box and be flexible with your idea of what the perfect vacation would look like is your hindrance. Either that or you would rather spend your money on something other than travel.
Everyone wants to be lodged in a fancy beach hotel, enjoy exotic meals that will titillate their taste buds, ride a camel, and go swimming with the sharks among others. Getting over this picture of a perfect vacation brings you one step closer to making your travel expedition a reality.
If you are a frequent traveler, whether it is for business, vacation or both, here are a few tips I have picked up - from myself and other travelers- about how to enjoy your travels on a tight budget.
1. Save every possible penny on airfare
The price of airline tickets can be enough to discourage people contemplating a vacation. Yes, ticket prices can be exorbitant, but there are ways to get around this. One way is to make all your purchases with your credit card. I am talking about things you will normally spend on with or without a card. Groceries, gas, airline tickets and other daily purchases.
Most card companies have a system where points accrue to you as you spend with their card. These points can be redeemed in cash when they build to a certain point. In addition, card companies sometimes have mega deals where they give up to 50,000 miles when you spend up to 500 dollars. I once saved up to 2500 dollars using miles I accumulated with my cards.
You can also save on other stuff beside the basic ticket price. Companies exist that help save us the disappointment and frustration of hidden, unexpected and overhead costs.
This frustration occurs where it concerns stuff like airport parking, hotel and lounge bookings, car hire etc. I used Tripindicator early this year to hire a car and book a hotel on one of my numerous travels. I was even able to take advantage of a cash back policy I did not know about until I had returned from my trip.
2. Learn the art of haggling
Yes it is an art. If you do not share my opinion at least know this: if you do not ask for discounts, you will not get any. And I'm sure everyone would like a discount.
Haggling is a skill that anyone can learn and perfect overtime.For me, it has always been a great way for me to meet new people in whatever place I find myself. So wherever your travelling expedition takes you to, learn to haggle whenever you need to spend some money.
What if you do not speak the language of the locals? No problem, haggle with your gesticulations and always remember to smile. You might make yourself look stupid in the process but that is often a good thing. Sometimes the entertainment value you provide them with your lame attempt at communication can often be considered good enough to get you a discount or even waive the price completely.
I encourage everyone to try this while travelling. The worst that could happen is that you do not get the discount.
3. House-sit your way around the world
We all know how expensive hotel bookings can be especially in peak travel periods. You must not always check into a hotel especially if it will put some serious strain on your travel budget. Consider house sitting gigs. There are likely thousands of people dotted around the globe who are looking for people to watch their house for them.
Anyone can do this even if you are travelling with your family. The owners of these houses may require you to do some house chores such as feeding their pet, cleaning the place, watering the plants and keeping an eye on things in general.
While you are not paid for this service and you are entirely responsible for your own expenses, you get a free place to stay. Sites like Trustedhousesitters and Mindmyhouse can help you find housesitting gigs when you do not know how to go about it. Accommodation is one of the costliest aspects of travelling so to be able to get that for free is a deal nobody should refuse.
4. Make your own meals
Buying your food is usually more expensive than cooking it yourself, more so when you are in a new environment and culture. Buying food can easily add an extra $50 or much more to your bill especially if you are not dining alone.
Buy your own groceries and cook a nice meal for yourself that you can take with you when you are out exploring the must-see sites around town. You will still get the full experience of the scenery, be it the beach or some other exotic location, you will just be spending less doing it.
5. Avoid taxis, take the bus
Taxis are usually expensive and take away from the globetrotting experience. They will just take you from your pick up point to your destination but will not show you around the way public transports or tour buses will.
Most people do not consider their vacation to a foreign country fulfilling if they do not meet new people, learn about the language and culture of the place and make lifetime connections. Always taking a taxi will burn through your travel budget while slashing down the opportunities for you to meet new people.
For areas in the city where public transport buses do not pass through, you can explore by yourself on foot, or hire a bike or any other available means. Just make sure you pick up a well-detailed map of the locality from the airport or any newspaper kiosk.
6. Skip the souvenirs
It is normal to want to bring back some thing with you to commemorate your travels and to show to those back home. Souvenirs are not always the right way to go though, as they can easily set you back a large percentage of your travel budget.
Branded t-shirts, hats, shot glasses and the likes are cute, fun..., and expensive. If you come across something you do not want to forget, perhaps a person, location, object, take a shot or make a video with your phone or camera. Only opt for physical souvenirs if they are free. You will be surprised how many places will be willing to give you stuff for free to take home as a souvenir.
There are so many ways to travel the world on a small budget. All you have to do is ditch the fantasy vacation idea in your head; be more practical and organized and the world will be yours for the travelling!