Want to see the world, without breaking your bank account? You can. Thousands of people around the globe travel on just a few hundred or a couple thousand dollars. You can cut your expenses down to as little as $10 a day in countries like India, or to just a bit more in South America, Eastern Europe or any other such destinations. Even if you’re traveling expensive countries, there’s a lot you can do to cut down your expenses. These five ideas will help you travel anywhere in the world on a shoestring budget.
1) Have One Carry-On
Buy one medium-sized backpack that can fit four or five changes of clothing and skip the checked luggage. This will help you save a lot of money on local airfare.
If you’re traveling within Europe, chances are you’ll be using a discount airline like EasyJet or Ryan Air. If you’re in Asia, you’ll probably be flying with AirAsia. These are airlines that cut their prices down to as low as they can possibly go. However, any add-ons are quite expensive.
A checked luggage is such an add-on. All discount airlines charge extra for checked luggage. If you skip this expense, you can easily cut your airfare expenses by 20% or more!
2) Check Hostelbookers or Hostelworld
Before you arrive at a destination, check out the hostels on Hostelbookers or Hostelworld. These two sites will list all the different hostels in your destination city. You can find the lowest priced high-rated hostel to stay in before you land.
In some places, you’ll be able to simply land and book a room on the spot. In other places in the world, you really do have to book in advance. The best way to find out is to book a room for the first city you’re visiting, then talk to other travelers about how the room booking works in the area once you land.
3) Get a Free ATM Withdrawal Card
Most major banks charge a fee for withdrawing money from a foreign ATM. For example, Chase charges a $5 fee per ATM transaction, plus a 2% currency exchange fee. HSBC charges a similar 2% fee. While these fees might seem small at first, they add up very, very quickly.
Remember that when you’re traveling, the vast majority of the money you’ll spend will be in cash. This is especially true in developing countries or non-first world countries. If you’re spending $1,500 a month while traveling, 2% of that money is $30, plus $15 for three ATM withdrawals is $45 a month you’ll be spending just to get your money out.
Before you leave, get an ATM card that doesn’t charge you these fees. IGN has a debit card that actually refunds you ATM fees charged by foreign bank accounts. Charles Schwab has a similar bank account.
4) Check Your Credit Card for Travel Insurance
If you have a credit card, give your credit card company a call. Often time’s as part of an incentive program, credit cards will give you travel insurance for a short period of time for free.
These usually apply to older credit cards, as credit became scarcer since the 2008 financial crisis. However, if you have a credit card from before that era, there’s a very good chance you may already have one to three months of free travel insurance. Give your credit card company a call to check.
5) Identify the Cheap Food and Eat it Often
Each country usually has one or two dishes that are particularly cheap. Look for that one food and try to eat that food as often as you can.
For example, in Greek, the cheapest food you’ll find is the Pita Gyros. That’s something like a burrito but wrapped in a thicker piece of bread. While large filling dishes might cost you 6 to 9 Euros, a filling pita gyros will only cost you 2.30 Euros.
Of course, when you’re traveling you’ll want to eat out every once in a while. You want to enjoy the companionship of the people you’re traveling with. That’s perfectly okay. Just make sure that when you’re eating alone, you eat inexpensive meals to save money. It really adds up.
These five tips will help you live well yet travel cheaply. Traveling is an incredibly rewarding life experience – Don’t let money keep you from going where you want to go.