Traveling on a budget

In World

You’ve finally joined those of us who have decided to leave reality behind go traveling. Beginning your travels can be daunting, especially for this who want to travel long term. For those of you who are worried about money, here are some tips:

Find work and earn money

One of the easiest ways and most obvious to achieve long term travel. Some (such as when I worked at a US summer camp) will have to be organised before you arrive in the country. You can organise this through various agencies before you leave home. Other times you can just get a visa, hop on a plane and hope for the best. It’s how the most amazing adventures happen. If you can find a jobwhich provides accomadation, such as camp jobs and some ski jobs, even better!

Me and a friend working at a summer camp in the US

Me and a friend working at a summer camp in the US


Workaway- volunteering in business’s or home stays in exchange for food and accomodation  

This is an excellent way to support travel. It is organised through websites where you can view what hosts are in a certain area and what they are offering. You then email them to inquire about volunteering. If accepted, you will then negotiate hours with your host. It will usually be 3-5 hours a day and in exchange you will get accommodation and possibly food provided. It is a fun way to meet locals and have new experiences. One of my hosts owned a scuba resort that was a 4 hour boat ride from civilisations. I had no wifi or television for a month. It was great! You will also negotiate with your host how long you will stay there. It can be anywhere from a few days to months.

A lot of the hosts I stayed with where very flexible and you could organise a volunteer position within a day of arriving. As you are not being paid and have no contract if your plans change you can just let your hosts know. To try to maintain a positive relationship with your hosts and in the spirit if the site try to let them know a few days before you leave, if possible.

These are the sites from which you can organise your volunteer experiences:

I used helpx myself and found it to be very useful. You can use this site for free however I would suggest paying the membership fee as you then gain access to features including emailing hosts and writing reviews. The cost is €20 Euros ($30AUD). You make a profile after paying this fee and can include 2 people on your profile, although I have heard of families using the site to travel. Workaway memberships last 2 years and costs $29USD ($40AUD) for a one person, or $38USD ($52AUD) for a two people. Helpx and workaway memberships are worldwide. To access WWOOF in Australia the costs are $70 AUD and you will recieve a WOOFing book or app with that. To recieve both the book and the app costs $90AUD. You buy a new WWOOF membership for every country you want to use it in and the costs vary from country to country but appear to be around £20BP ($40AUD) for single member ship or £30BP ($60AUD) for joint membership.*

I enjoyed using helpx because it included a wide range of organisations and experiences. You can volunteer at an organic farm in Canada, a resort in Cambodia or a school in Peru. I have yet to use the other sites but have met many people who have and they have had great experiences.

You can also organise these experiences without the internet, especially if you want to volunteer at a backpackers hostels. Just wander around the city and ask around until you find somewhere that needs a volunteer. Then, once your food/accommodation is sorted you need only spend money on what you want.

Be warned, countries including Canada and the US do not like people who don’t have a working visa volunteering. If they suspect you are entering the country with the intention to work, even if it’s not for money, they can deny you entry. I have heard stories of people’s electronics including laptops being confiscated at the border and the internet history searched. If they find evidence that you looked at these sites expect a grilling. It’s advisable to clear your history if you don’t have a work visa.

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Work out a budget and (at least try to) stick to it

Everybody’s favourite thing while travelling. I am constantly working and reworking budgets while travelling. Remember, sometimes you need to set yourself limits. Know how much you can spend a day and try to stick to this. In this trip I looked at where I wanted to visit and worked out how much money I wanted to spend in each country, based on which countries I was most interested in. From there I worked out how long I wanted to spend in each country with that amount if money. This might not work for others. They might work out how many days they will spend in each country and then how much money they will spend. Whatever works for you.

Just remember your on holiday. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of scuba diving and your on an island in Thailand with a chance to do it. Even if it’s out of your budget cross it off your bucket list. You may never get the chance again. Enjoy yourself. Sometimes it’s about quality of travel and not quantity.

Limit your alcahol intake 

Everyone loves a good party. Especially when your with people you will never meet again so will never embarrass you with the stories. However, no matter where you are alcohol can break your budget. I was once told a story of 2 friends who did the exact same trip in South America. One spent $5000 and one spent $10000. The only difference was the second person partied. Now, if that’s in your budget, enjoy! However if you are a bit strapped for cash try to limit the alcohol. I party now and again while I travel and enjoy it. But if your an every night kind of person it can severely cut into your budget. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Meet people to have fun and save money 

Meeting people is one of the best things about travelling. You can meet someone in a dorm room and then end up travelling for weeks together. This can also be great for your budget. Splitting rooms and meals with that person can cut costs very easily. Also if you’re in a country where bargaining is accepted, bartering for 2 or more rather than 1 usually means the seller is a lot more open to lowering the price.

Avoid tourist traps

Ah, the tourist traps. You know you’re in one when the prices of things you usually buy double and the only locals you see are trying to sell you trinkets. Some of these places, the beaches and cities, are worth spending a bit of time in. However, heading away from them gives you a great opportunity to save money, meet locals and see a more authentic lifestyle of that country. Head to the villages and lakes. They may be harder to get to but once you arrive it is so amazingly worth it.


Avoid buying trinkets

Quite possibly one of the worst things to waste your money on. Sure that gold Buddha looked good at the market, but then you get home and you can’t remember what city you brought it in and you notice the paint is peeling off. It kind of loses it’s worth by that point. If I want things to remember travel by I try to keep tickets, pamphlets or maps. They help jog your memory of things you actually experienced and enjoyed. My advice; put the gold Buddha down and have a great day at Anchor Wat instead.

*Costs quoted from websites and converted into Australian dollar at current rate

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