Here are some resources that have helped us stay within our budget:
For air travel:
–Skyscanner is a great search engine. You can also check out the flight costs in different countries by changing the country code at the end of the URL. The website will automatically detect the country you’re in but changing the country can enable you to get a price without tax.
-Search for local discount airlines like Europe’s Ryan Air, Vueling, Easy Jet; Asia’s Air Asia; or the USA’s SouthWest Airlines.
For ground travel:
-Buy local bus tickets, or ask locals how they would get to a certain location and how much they would pay
-Hitchhike: from our (or close friends’) personal experience, we can say this is very easy to do in the Pacific NW (USA), Auroville (India), and New Zealand
-Rent bicycles or motorbikes. Rental costs (and petrol) are very cheap in Nepal, India, and Thailand. Helmets are often not included though, and traffic can be extremely chaotic so please be careful! (This is also not the most earth-friendly option.)
-Don’t be afraid to walk! Especially when there’s no rush. And there shouldn’t be since you’re essentially on semi-permanent vacation! (It’s good to remind ourselves of this.) Walking has saved us lots and has given us a more genuine sense of place. Earth-friendly option!
-Use Happy Cow to find vegan restaurants within your budget (and their addresses and hours of operation!)
-> The number of carrots symbolizes the expense of a typical meal. we usually go for one carrot, not three! 🙂
-> Double-check the address and opening hours as you can lose a lot of money trying to find a restaurant that has moved or is closed
-Cook at your couchsurfing host’s house, hostel, or eat fruit, at least for breakfasts
-Volunteer with a local Food not Bombs chapter. Share your labor and cooking skills and eat at community servings, and learn dumpstering spots!
-We try to always couchsurf. Plan ahead to make sure you don’t end up without a place. “Last Minute Couch” groups on CSing can help you find people who are more sympathetic if you happen to procrastinate with your requests.
-WWOOFing is another way to exchange your labor for food and accommodation. You’ll have to register in the country in which you wish to work, unless it’s on the WWOOF Independent list.
-Camp! It’s usually cheaper than a guesthouse, or free if you find a hidden area 😉
-Sleep in the airport or on a bus. You can save on a night’s guesthouse cost if you plan to travel during the night. Just make sure to wear comfy clothes and bring earplugs to set the right soporific environment.
-Read used books and trade them for free at most hostels, even if you aren’t staying there! Ask for permission though, of course.
-Check out local free events in newsletters, the public library, or Couchsurfing’s event pages.
-For a night in, watch streaming movies here.
-People-watch at a mall= free, entertaining, and air-conditioned!
-Play haiku games with your travel companions or new friends.
-Go on bird or nature walks. Hang out in a park.
-Introduce yourself to people who are having fun! This one is very hard for me, but I remind myself that I may never see this person again but I can have fun and learn something from them for now.
-Avoid going to “Top Ten” tourists destinations. We can almost guarantee that there will be an expensive entry fee of some kind, and the experience will be cheapened by all of the over-documenting and sad exploitation of a local culture. Well, that’s our opinion at least. Find more genuine ways to explore, for example, with couchsurfers!
-Set a daily budget. This helped us so much! We calculate beforehand how much we should spend on each meal and on transportation. Every evening we record how much we’ve spent and determine if we need to adjust the budget. That way, there’ll be no surprises if we find we’ve over-spent by a lot!
-Take days “off” to research and re-evaluate where and when you’ll be moving locations. Traveling cheaply takes time, and luckily time is free! and can be your money-saving resource.
-Buy less, and pack less. Not only will you save on shipping needless trinkets home, but you’ll save on checked bag fees and possible medical/massage bills for breaking your back lugging around extra weight. Traveling cheaply is a mindset: you have to embody simplicity and release attachment to material things. The real stories involve people, not things. 🙂 We’ve found this pack list to be exceedingly helpful.