I’ve been travelling for the past eight months – I started off in India, made my way to Malaysia, then Laos and Sri Lanka, to finally end up in New York City – leading most of my friends to believe that I’ve either robbed a bank or married a millionaire. Well, I haven’t done either – travelling doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s all about your travel philosophy (and how you manage your money!;). If you want to stay at expensive hotels, eat out everyday and treat yourself to shopping sprees, you have very little chance of keeping it cheap. To me, travelling is about experiences, and these often come free. Wake up early and watch the sunrise. Go on a lone walk, have a chat with the locals and listen to the rythm of the city. Admire the architecture. Take a midnight swim in the ocean and look at the stars and the moon as you let the waves carry you. Keep an open mind and heart. You’ll be surprised what you will learn, not only about the places you visit but about yourself, when you just let go, slow down and enjoy the moment.
Enjoy simple things. The way I see it, each day is a sum of moments, so the more we enjoy each moment , the greater our day. It’s all about little things – like stopping at a cafe in New York’s Little Italy on a rainy day, choosing a window seat and slowly sipping your cappuccino as you’re watching people pass by.
Make Friends! Making new friends while you travel will not only make your trip more fun and exciting but also save you money! Paying for accommodation, regardless of where you are, is one of the most expensive aspects of travelling – and if you’re not free-spirited enough to enjoy camping on the beach or sleeping in a car few days in a row, then sharing a room with a like-minded travel companion will help you save a lot. Plus it may just turn out that the person you randomly met somewhere in Southern India will become one of your best friends, and invite you to their home country where you will join them on more crazy adventures!
Explore! Yes- travel guides are great and it’s always good to buy one before setting off on a new adventure – but use them as a starting point of your trip, don’t base your entire stay on them! After all, you don’t want to recreate somebody else’s experiences – you want to create your own! One of the greatest things about travelling is the freedom you feel when you arrive to a new place – with all the new, amazing things to explore, who is to tell you what you must and musn’t see? Ask the locals, talk to fellow travellers, trust your instincts, be spontaneous, don’t be afraid to get lost– and you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime!
Don’t book ahead! From what I’ve noticed, accommodation that you find online tends to be more expensive than privately owned hostels and guesthouses which don’t have the money/resources to advertise online… So if you don’t mind arriving at a place without a pre-booked room, head off to the area that offers the best accommodation deals (check your travel guide!) and find a hotel that goes best with your budget – you might even be able to haggle and you can’t go wrong with that! (This is true especially in India, where you can (and should!) haggle for room prices, often ending up paying 50% of the starting price! If you book ahead online or through an agent, you will have to stick to the price that you already agreed to pay…And that means overpaying!!)
Use public transport! While taking a bus, train or a rickshaw may not be the most glamorous way to travel, it’s definitely the cheapest! Plus, it’s an adventure – you will have a chance to meet local people and exchange travel tips with other travellers. And for God’s sake, if I survived a 12 hours ride on a local Indian bus, squeezed between bags of vegetables and screaming children, then you really have nothing to worry about! The rule is simple – the slower you travel, the less you spend!
Collect air miles! Ok, so while travelling around the country once you already got there doesn’t have to be expensive, GETTING THERE usually is. Follow three golden rules to make it cheaper – 1. Book flights in advance to get the best deals; 2. Collect air miles to pay less; 3.Travel with cheap airlines such as Air Asia, Ryan Air etc (you can also try befriending an airhostess and travel for free ;).
Swap restaurant food for supermarket meals. If you’re travelling for a long time, eating out is a luxury you can’t always afford – supermarket food will cost you less and last longer (especially if you’re staying at a place with a fridge/kitchenette). Also, consider buying local food to support the local economy! And if you’re desperate for a meal at a restaurant, use discount websites such as groupon.com to get the best deals.
Be patient and stay open-minded! Travelling to a foreign country can be difficult – you might have a hard time getting used to the local customs, have problems communicating (language barrier) and adjusting to the climate. But before you get frustrated and upset, take a deep breath, look around you and remind yourself that you decided to come to this place for a reason – that being there is beneficial for you because travelling is the best way you can learn about the world, the people and about yourself. Don’t worry if you missed your train or if things don’t work out exactly the way you planned – sometimes the best and most exciting things come our way when we least expect it!
Happy travelling 🙂