4 rules on how to travel cheap
There is this false belief, that you must be rich in order to travel. When explaining to some acquaintances how long we were gonna travel for, some of them would react like “Wow, you guys are loaded!“. We are far from being loaded! The funny thing is, those who say that probably go on holidays for 2 weeks, spending the same money than us in 2 months! That’s why we want to share our 3 rules to travel cheap!
We’ve discovered that spending more money usually doesn’t make your trip any better, in fact, if anything, it makes it less authentic.
1. Choose your destination wisely
Let’s be honest, your holidays are going to depend a lot on the country you are at. It’s not the same to visit Myanmar than visiting Switzerland. Whenever you go somewhere expensive, be aware that there is a tradeoff…
Moving by taxi if you feel tired vs public transport, meaning you end up exhausted every day
Eating wherever you feel into vs. eating in McDonald’s because you can’t afford anything else (e.g. Hong Kong is famous for its super cheap Michelin Star restaurants!)
Boat to that magic cave + kayaking + cooking lesson + motorbike tour vs free walking tour around the city
You get the idea…
Thus, one of the most important rules to travel cheap is to choose countries that are considered cheap for your budget. This does not mean you can’t go to, let’s say Japan, for 3 weeks and still make it affordable like we did. However, for the same money, you could spend 6 weeks in Thailand without counting every penny!
The next of our rules to travel cheap is to stay away from hotels. Hotels are usually expensive and they are not worth the money. Plus, who wants to stay in a room where you can’t really tell which country you are at? We like to have a local experience, which hotels don’t really give you. Our favourites alternatives:
We find Airbnb great, as you get to stay in truly local places and, in seconds, you feel like you belong there. Say hi to new neighbours, get a morning coffee in the local shop, warm baguettes from the bakery around the corner, and fresh fruits from the food market nearby.
Hosts usually try to help you as much as possible to get a positive review, so it’s a win-win. Fair to be said, Airbnb is not super cheap and the hassle of checking in/out it’s usually not worth it for short stays (1-2 nights). We go for Airbnb when we want to stay for the medium-long term (4-5 days at least).
TIP: Many hosts offer you discounts for staying a week or a month. If you are thinking about staying 5-6 days, check how much would it be 7 days, as it may even be cheaper! Same thing with monthly stays.
We use any of these services for short stays. If you are going 2 days-1 night somewhere, you aren’t going to spend much time in your room. Thus, just get something cheap, well-located, clean and move on. You really don’t need that Smart TV, you have it at home!
TIP: Also, if possible, book your accommodation only a few days before arriving at your destination. Why? Hosts lose money when they have their place empty so they will be happy offering discounts. You may get up to 30-40% discount on the price! This also applies to Airbnb.
At the beginning of our trip, we were a bit worried about staying for free in someone’s home, but we have to admit we were wrong. If you find the right host, it’s an unbelieve experience. Keep in mind these people invite strangers to their home for free, so they do it because they enjoy it!
With this platform, you go to someone’s home to take care of their pets while they are away – for free. You live in their home, meaning they are fully equipped and ready to have a very comfortable stay. Sometimes the houses are dream houses, you would not believe it.
Of course, you have to love animals, otherwise, this is not for you. You’ll be taking care of cats, dogs or pretty much anything they have at home.
The last of our rules to travel cheap is, of course, related to transport. Some tips:
Don’t buy flights that are out of your budget. If possible, change your itinerary so you can fly cheaper. Never buy a flight without tracking for a few days how the price oscillates. Setting a Skyscanner alarm for a flight or Kayak “buy” advice are usually very useful.
Whenever possible, take buses as they are way cheaper than planes.
Using a regular taxi in, let’s say Bangkok, it’s pretty challenging, and you’re very likely to get ripped off. Use Uber or Grab. These apps make it really easy and they remove the language barrier. Happy times.
To travel around Asia, services like 12go are pure gold, as sometimes it can be challenging to buy tickets in a foreign country. Check it out!
EXTRA TIP: Try to travel at night. We know sleeping on a bus or plane is not very comfortable, but you will save one night of accommodation. Plus, overnight trains are so romantic! If planning to visit Thailand, make sure to take a sleeper train on the classic route Bangkok – Chiang Mai. We loved it.
Ok, these are our rules to travel cheap. However, we want to give you an extra piece of advice…
4. Activities (for free)!
Instead of splashing some cash on an expensive tour with a guide, do a quick search – chances are, there are some free city tours whenever you are!
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