I love travelling. So much so that I may even go as far as saying it is my favorite thing ever. And by that I mean I love it more than books, lists and a comfortable bed (a bold & equally nerdy statement, yes).
I am what you may call a ‘wanderlust gyspy’ in some circles, and ‘penniless vagabond’ in others. It’s all a matter of perspective. I operate on a strict budget more than 99% of the time. I carry my luggage on my back rather than in a wheely bag. I have to bust my balls working and saving for months/years before I hit the open road and even then I’m no Daddy Warbucks. But that has never bothered nor deterred me from getting out there.
In an airport you’ll have better luck finding me loitering outside the first class lounge trying to connect to their free wifi than sniffing duty-free fragrances selling for ‘such a bargain!’ Pfff.
The biggest part of your travel budget is hands-down, lodging. If you are paying upwards of hundred dollars a night to stay outside of your home, you can’t make your travel dollars stretch!These are some of my top tips for being a nifty thrifty traveler and staying for cheap (or free!) all over the world.
Because I bloody love tents. And the outdoors. And if I’m sleeping in a tent there is a 99% chance I’m actually in the great outdoors (we won’t discuss the other 1%) and I’ll take that travel experience over any other. A tent is also a means to travel without moving too far from home (which can often be your biggest expense). One car/train/bus trip into the outdoors, some thrifty camping food in your backpack and BAM! A holiday made in gypsy heaven.
2. A local couch (& local knowledge!)
Far less dodgy than it sounds (take a deep breath mum), there are countless reputable websites that offer accomodation in the spare rooms of local homes. This is a double tip – there is no richer location knowledge than that weaned off a local. Your ‘Lonely Planet’ pales in comparison to any tips you might procure from your local host regarding the best places to do just about anything.
The watering holes for weary gypsy counterparts! Hostels are where we congregate to share travel tips, heed warnings of places to avoid & share a bottle of wine (or 3). Depending on your priorities (and by priorities I mean sex drive and desire to sleep more than 3hrs a night) some hostels can be pretty wild, which is cool if you’re into that kind of thing (me, circa 2004) but not so cool if you’ve outgrown the excessive drinking and dormatory room sex (sorry mum). So choose wisely here – do your research, reading every single word on the hostel’s website before booking. Some pride themselves on being a more mature houseshare which is great if you, like me, prefer getting your rest to getting it on.
4. A rented house
“What!? You’re no gypsy!”. Oh contraire! This option is for special occasions & like most things, has it’s place. A house is my favourite option if travelling with a group of 4+ people and if you know where to look, it remains an affordable option. There are plenty of websites offering beautiful farmhouses, beach cottages etc for a bargain. It’s all about the numbers – the more people to share the cost, the cheaper it becomes. Last minute deals, off-peak specials and off-season rates are your friends. Take your own booze & food, cook your meals at home and shazam! Gypsy.
5. Trade exchange
Do you have any type of skill? (Or, “not yet”?) Consider trading your skills for room / board / or even pay. House sitting or pet sitting is a relatively pain-free way to get a free room in a new city. Love working with your hands and digging into dirt? Check out WWOOF, a work-exchange program that places you in organic farms across the world. Festivals are another great way to work and get paid while visiting a new city. Since they need temporary workers by their very nature, it’s a perfect win-win situation.
I hope these tips show that you don’t need a wealth of money to travel – just some hardcore planning, flexibility & a bold sense of adventure. Sharing is caring so let me know your own frugal travel fashions! 🙂
Also by Morgan: The Confessions of a Wanderlust Gypsy
Adventure Time – a Story Off the Beaten Path
More in Travel: 10 Best Vegan Travel Tips
Photo: destination arctic circle via Flickr