So you want to know how to travel the world cheap. The good news is that it’s possible, even on a shoestring budget. It just takes a little bit of financial ingenuity. Here are our top tips on how to do it…
1. Visit Budget Destinations
There’s a reason why backpackers aren’t flooding to cities like Zurich and New York, but rather visit places in Bali and Thailand.
Where you go on your adventures will be the most important factor for staying in budget. You’ll be able to double or triple your length of stay by choosing your locations wisely. This is probably the most important thing to consider if you want to know how to travel the world cheap.
Visit expensive places for short periods and cheaper ones for longer. Research the ‘cost of living’ in areas you’re interested in touring. Sites like Numbeo offer this information and give you an idea of prices for everyday living expenses as well as your expected transport costs for getting around.
2. Visit Destinations In Off-Peak Seasons
During off-peak seasons not only is accommodation cheaper but prices for flight tickets, food and shopping usually come down. Another bonus will be the lack of crowds following you around to popular points of interest.
Just keep in mind some countries experience adverse or extreme weather conditions during off-peak times, so do some research first. Visit places with minimal season changes and check first to avoid rainy months! The last thing you want is to spend weeks under a raincoat while it drizzles.
3. Pack Light- The Best Advice On How To Travel The World Cheap
If you can get away with it, pack light enough to avoid checking in luggage. From our experience traveling with checked bags doubles the price of your airfare.
Traveling around the world with only a 10kg carry-on bag is something we aspire to but can’t imagine limiting all our belongings to one small space! If you get this right, you will travel the world cheap and hassle free.
4. Pay Attention To Visa Requirements
Some countries have more relaxed Visa requirements than others. Make sure you’ve research what’s needed and all the associated costs. For countries offering visa extensions it might be worth doing. Pay the extra bucks and stay in a country longer to truly get to know your surroundings. Visa’s for travelling South East Asia are applied for online and don’t cost too much compared to those for European countries.
5. Fly Smart
This is the best bit of travel advice from long term travelers on how to travel the world cheap.
Not only are big travel days very taxing but costly too! Transport costs are one of the most significant expenses when traveling. The longer you can stay in a country before flying out, the further your money will go.
Where possible, consider extending a 30-day holiday visa and exploring the area you’re in a bit longer. Also, keep in mind, Local flights are usually much cheaper than international ones. Buses, trains, and ferries are also great options and are often more reasonably priced.
6. Fly Regionally
Flights that go between neighbouring countries across land instead of the sea, are usually more reasonably priced. Consider flying systematically, keeping to one area before moving on to the next.
A flight from Vietnam to its neighbours – Cambodia or Thailand will be far cheaper than flying to places in Indonesia.
You’ll need to look at a map for this one and mark off the countries you’re interested in visiting and plot the routes between them.then use sights like Sky Scanner and get flight quotes.
7. Buy Affordable Airfare
When purchasing air tickets, do your research and find the lowest possible prices across different airlines and on different days of the week. By flying mid-week, you could save loads of money versus flying on Monday or over the weekend.
Always remember that airfare is usually cheaper when bought in advance and buying flights last minute is the most expensive. So if you want to travel the world for cheap, plan ahead! Use Sky Scanner or Google Flights for comparative prices across all the airlines.
8. Join Every Frequent Flyer Program
When purchasing tickets for flights online, look for that specific airline’s tab requesting you to login or register for their frequent flyer program.
When you compare buying tickets without pre-registration, this extra step might take you a minute or two longer, but once your details are loaded, it’s far quicker buying future tickets from them. The real win though is the points earned and discounts received with registering.
There are no extra costs, so joining these programs is a no-brainer! Especially if you’re considering flying to multiple destinations on your trip. There’s no limit to how many programs you can join, and you’ll have no idea how often you’ll use a particular airline so join them all!
If you’re flying to destinations within South East Asia we highly recommend signing up to:
- Air Asia (for travel around the whole of Asia)
- Vietnam Airlines and VietJet (for Vietnam)
- Krisflyer (for Scoot and Singapore Airlines)
- Jetstar (mainly Asia-Australia travel)
- NokAir (for Thailand).
These links will take you directly to the airline’s sign-up pages, go ahead and sign up now!
If you really want to know how to travel the world cheap, you need to focus on bringing down the price of flights.
9. Make Final Purchases Incognito
The first time you go online to shop for transport and accommodation, you’re unlikely to complete the purchase. That’s ok if you don’t, but make sure you take notes of the costs. The reason why we do this is that Google and all the online purchasing sites are aware of your current interest and tracking your already quoted prices. Often on your second or third visit to a website, the price goes up. Go INCOGNITO on your browser and search again for the cheapest options you came across earlier. Going incognito makes you a first-time interested buyer and prices will start lower once more.
This hack is used by long-term travel enthusiasts and is a sure way to ensure you travel the world cheap, or at least cheaper.
10. Choose Your Transport Wisely
Renting a scooter or bicycle is cheaper than getting a taxi or private driver for your travels. If you plan on traveling for a long time, it might be worth your while becoming a confident scooter driver and obtaining a license. Keep in mind that accidents happen all the time, and you’ve got to be a confident and skilled driver for less than ideal situations — things like heavy traffic, minimal road rules, and roads in bad condition.
To ride a scooter, you’ll need a valid class B license (specific for motorcycles). If you don’t have the right license, you could be looking at paying a fine! It only happened to us once (after a whole year of travel) and it depends on where you go.
Second to renting a bike and driving yourself around, we highly recommend using online taxi services Grab and GoJek. These are the Asian versions of Uber and are far cheaper than using the local taxis. Alternatively, buses and trains are usually cheap options for getting around and available in most cities. Sites like Bookaway.com and 12Go Asia are beneficial when comparing your local transport options and buying tickets online.
12. Use Accommodation Resources
In our opinion, if you want to know how to travel the world cheap, you need to pay lots of attention to accommodation options.
Airbnb is the cheapest option for couples, families, and anyone looking for their own private living space. 9/10 times we find more reasonable offers on Airbnb when compared to booking at a hotel or hostel with a private area.
To add to the money-saving, find a place with a kitchen or at the very least, a fridge and kettle, and give the restaurant scene a break on occasion.
Here’s an extra Airbnb sneaky tip:
Once you’ve entered your travel dates on Airbnb’s site, click on the price button and switch on the ‘Discounted stays’ tab. This feature will only show places with nightly prices of 10% off or more. We’ve done this a few times and found some incredible and luxurious stays at very reasonable prices.
If you still have a property at home that’s unoccupied, you might want to consider listing it with Airbnb. The money you make could be enough to fund your own cost of living while you’re away. Home Exchange is another great option if you still have a property back home.
Hostels are great for solo travelers and anyone looking to meet fellow travelers.
They usually have excellent facilities and offer an awesome vibe. Just make sure you don’t spend too much money at the bar, socializing with your new friends!
As a couple staying in a hostel, we try to book a private room or mixed-sex rooms (so that we can sleep together) but with limited amounts of beds (so that we don’t sleep with everyone else!).
Sights like Hostelworld and Agoda are great for finding Hostels in your area. Search by ratings and reviews so that you won’t be let down or disappointed with your selection.
13. Cook Whenever Possible
Eating and drinking at restaurants three times a day is going to cost al lot! We definitely don’t recommend that if you’re trying to travel the world cheap!
It’s better to pay a higher price for an apartment or villa offering basic cooking essentials and eat-in on occasion. No doubt buying groceries and eating home-cooked meals brings down your daily spending and ultimately, your monthly budget, no matter what country you’re in!
When searching for accommodation through Airbnb, use the ‘kitchen’ filter to find places suited for home cooking. Some hostels and hotels give you access to their kitchen; you just need to ask.
At the very least prepare quick oats and fruit breakfast before you head out for the day and on occasion, pack snacks or sandwiches for lunch on the go. You won’t believe how much money you’ll save this way. Trust us, your wallet and your health will thank you at the end of the trip.
14. Shop At Local Markets
When it comes to buying groceries, support the locals’ markets selling fresh produce and local brands.
The food is always fresh and bursting with flavour.
Reserve your visits to the bigger supermarkets when buying imported condiments and non-perishables you can’t find anywhere else. We’ve never had any problems finding our favourite grocery items at local stores throughout SE Asia.
15. Look At Restaurant Prices First
Most of the information about restaurants (including a menu with prices) is available on Google Maps or Trip Advisor.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for that way, most restaurants display their menu at the entrance. Have a quick look at prices before committing. We usually do this in locations catering specifically to foreigners.
Also, don’t forget to add in any extra taxes and fees that maybe not be presented on the meal prices, as some restaurants add them in afterwards.
16. Eat Just Outside of Popular Tourist Destinations
Prices drop the further you are from tourist hot spots and not due to a lack of quality.
We’ve enjoyed some of our favourite meals at modest restaurants producing consistently good food for locals.
Not only is it a great way to ensure you travel the world cheap, but you’ll get to meet some wonderful locals that are more than happy to see a new face!
17. Eat Out For Lunch Not Dinner
Eating at restaurants over lunchtime is far cheaper than at dinner.
Not only are the Lunch meals more affordable, but drinks prices usually come down and happy hour falls in this period too. Happy hours usually run between 3-6 pm during weekdays.
18. Limit Your Drinks
Another thing to keep in mind is that drinks prices at restaurants often matches that of food.
For every meal you eat, you’re more than likely going to order two to three drinks. Order the occasional water instead of a fancy iced tea/ mocktail/smoothie to balance things out.
19. Oder Local dishes and drinks
Local dishes at restaurants are usually half the price of those filled with imported ingredients. Such costly ingredients include things like cheese and extravagant cuts of meat.
Not only is the price a deciding factor here but often the international dishes are disappointing. Stick to the meals that a particular place makes best, usually the local ones.
20. Choosing Street Food Over Restaurants
Most of the world, especially around SE Asia, has plenty of street food vendors that pop up all over the show.
Make sure you pick popular vendors, and one’s preparing food fresh for you.
You don’t have to do this all the time, but eating this way on occasion will save you a lot of bucks in the long run.
21. Sightsee For Less
Don’t get caught into paying for costly day trips and tour packages.
If you rent your own bike/car, you should be able to get around without a guide.
Lesser-known destinations can often be more exhilarating and discovering your exploits can be more rewarding.
If you download Google Maps, Airbnb and the Trip Advisor app on your phone, you’ll be able to use these three sights as a reference for things to do. Most of the local tour guides and tour companies advertise their full day trip itineraries on these sights. Go to these sights and type in your current destination, then choose to search by ‘experiences’ or ‘things to do’. Make a note of all the destinations mentioned and see them for yourself, unattended.
22. Research Your Bank Fee And Card Options Before You Go
Choose bank cards and bank accounts offering the lowest fees.
These annoying little fees first go undetected but add up fairly quickly. You can’t get rid of them so factor them into your budget.
If you’re swiping your card, never choose the option of having the transaction converted into your currency. Let your bank work this out for you later. Converting currencies at the store level will be done at a much higher rate.
23. Avoid Drawing Money From ATM’s
It’s usually cheaper (or free) to swipe your card than withdraw cash from an ATM.
Not to mention safer!
Ideally, if you can organise a travel card offering free or minimal fees on ATM withdrawals AND free card swipes you” be in the best position.
24. Buy Less Stuff If You Want To Travel The World Cheap
Most of the places you visit will be geared for tourism and continuously bombard you with things to buy.
Asia is full of swanky souvenir shops, clothing stores, and intriguing travel gear shops. If you’re planning on travelling for long periods, you should only buy essential goods.
If you can live without it, chances are you should.
Once you’ve adopted this way of thinking, it’s pretty easy to maintain. Leave the shopping sprees to the holiday goers that are expectantly spending lots of money over short periods. You’re in it for the long haul and what you’re gaining is far more satisfying than a buyer’s buzz.
25. Learn To Haggle
Believe it or not, asking for a better price is not considered rude in many countries. It often demonstrates that you’re a more experienced buyer.
If you don’t ask for a better price, it is assumed you don’t know any better, opening you up to being taken for a ride or even scammed. Don’t worry about being rejected or offending anyone. If a seller is not interested in your offer, they’ll walk away and dismiss you outright.
If you have entered into negotiations and settle on a price don’t feel bad, guaranteed the seller is still making a profit. Haggling or bartering can save you loads of money in an array of scenarios.
Negotiate prices on accommodation, transport, food, gifts, tours, tickets and pretty much anything else that comes to mind. Just make sure you’re doing it respectfully.
26. Avoid Expensive Sim Cards
Don’t get roped into buying sim cards that work across different countries. These universal sims are available at most mobile sim stations and cost the same as local sim cards.
I know what you’re thinking, it sounds like a great idea being able to travel the whole of SE Asia without having to buy new sim cards every couple of weeks. The truth is, after the initial installation, your top-up data costs are double what it should be, and you won’t be able to make any local calls in case of emergencies.
27. Don’t Pay For Data Top Up, Get A New Sim Card Each Time
Initial sim card purchases (done at the airports) come with great deals and at low prices because telecom providers are eager to welcome you as new members. After you’ve installed your new sim card, you’ll have a set amount of data to use per day or over a set period (usually up to 30-days).
From our experiencing topping up after you’ve run out is a pain in the ass and a lot more expensive! Top-up packages usually don’t offer the same reasonable deals that come with first-time sim purchases.
Also keep in mind, WIFI is free and available practically EVERYWHERE in Asia, including most coffee shops and restaurants. Don’t use your phones data!
28. Get The Honey App/Extension
The Honey app is a browser extension or add-on for desktops and laptops.
The app can save you money by automatically searching for online coupons relating to your online purchases. It’s available for all of the major web browsers, and it’s a lot easier than manually sifting through coupon sites.
Once you’ve installed it you won’t need to do anything further.
If you’re about to pay for something online and a discount or saving exists for it, honey will find it and bring it to your attention at the right time.
29. Use Travel Apps
The most useful apps are:
- Google Translate
- Google Maps
- Currency XE
- and a reliable Budget app
- GoJek and Grab
If you’re traveling around SE Asia, you’ll want to download both Grab and Gojek to get around, as well as to order fast-food delivery and grocery services.
30. Get Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is the most critical expense and one you won’t want to skip!
Being sick is expensive, and when health-related problems arise, they can be a real setback for your budgeted trip.
Make sure you’ve had a general check-up with your doctor and dentist before you go. If you require any surgeries or procedures, do them before you start your travels.
We’re all reluctant to spend a lump sum of money on something showing little to no reward but traveling without insurance is a gamble.
The simple truth is, you can’t afford to run into trouble without it. The initial outlay will be nothing compared to foreign hospital bills you could face.
The bottom line is this, adding insurance at the start of your travels gives you the security of knowing that big, unforeseen problems don’t have to ruin your trip! Also keep in mind that If you pay annually, it’s usually at a better rate.
31. Stay Healthy
Getting sick is an expense you usually don’t plan for, and when it happens, it’ll eat into your savings pretty viciously!
To some degree, you do have control over staying healthy. By implementing small positive behaviors and health-conscious choices in everyday situations, you can ensure this.
A few health tips include:
- Being wary of sick people at airports and in confined spaces.
- Covering your face with a mask and washing your hands before touching yourself.
- Carry waterless hand sanitizer and use cleansing wipes when going to the toilet. Viruses can live for 48 hours on inanimate objects. Think about that the next time you touch the fingerprint detector at the airport!
Make sure you drink filtered or bottled water and if you’re not sure of the water source, ask first or stay clear of it.
Before you begin your travels, make sure you’re up to date with all your vaccinations an find out what other precautions are necessary for the area/s you’re visiting: i.e. rabies, malaria.
32. Travel With Basic Healthcare Items
Finding good headache pills or flu pills is almost impossible in Asia, and if you’re buying a name brand you recognise, you’ll pay top price. If you’re buying a generic line, you risk not knowing the quality of the product.
If you start feeling off-colour be prepared and start taking an immune booster or something to break a fever. Prevent what’s brewing from potentially getting worse!
33. Work Online While You Travel The World Cheap
Maybe you don’t need to quit your day job to pursue your long term travel plans.
If you work from a computer, enquire first and come up with a rate and structure that suits you and your employer.
Alternatively, you could do freelance work while you travel. Sights like fiverr.com, Upwork.com, and takelessons.com are sights offering payments for small online tasks.