Travel is one of those things that almost everyone wants to do more of, but few ever manage to make happen. The more I talk to people about travelling, the more I keep hearing the same reasons why people don't travel more — and it's always about time or money.
The travel industry does a good job of hiding deals and affordable ways to travel. It prefers to paint the image that travel is very expensive and in order to have an enjoyable vacation, you must spend a lot of money. Why? Because big, expensive vacations mean more money for them. And, it's the big hotels that have advertising budgets. As a result, people tend to be unaware of the plethora of ways to save money on travelling.
Below is a list of some of my favourite travel hacks from around the world to get you travelling more cheaply and frequently.
Find Cheap Accommodation In Asia
If you are travelling through Southeast Asia, try to avoid booking your accommodation online. While you can find good deals online in larger cities, the best and most affordable places are the guesthouses and budget hotels not found online. Most hotel booking sites take a commission for bookings made, and many small guesthouses in Asia don't have the profit margins to afford that fee and thus are not listed. To find a more complete listing of accommodation in Asia, useTripadvisororTravelfish — free services which have better lists of budget places.
You can use this tip throughout the developing world. While looking up rooms in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, I found over 100 properties on Tripadvisor but less than 20 on Hotels.com. This mismatch happens throughout Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and many other places around the world. Look on Tripadvisor before you book, and you'll find more places to stay than on regular booking sites.
Better Yet, Find Free Accommodation
One of the best ways to save money on accommodation is by not paying for it. Stay with a local who will give you a free place to rest your head, local information, and someone to hang out with! There are several websites designed to make this happen:
All of these services connect travellers with people in various cities that offer a no-cost place to stay. Sometimes it's a bed, sometimes it's a couch, sometimes it's literally just space. The purpose of these websites is to help travellers not only save money, but also learn about the local culture. Additionally, you can also house swap with someone or house sit for someone while they are on a vacation.
Eat Cheap In England
TheTaste of the UKcard is a dining card that offers 50 per cent off and many 2-for-1 specials at over 5500 restaurants in the UK. Considering how expensive it is to eat out in the UK — especially in London — this card can be a lifesaver. Additionally, you get a free 30-day trial, so you won't have to pay for the card providing your holiday is less than 30 days long. You do need to have it mailed to a UK address; I simply provide the address of the hotel where I'm staying and the problem is solved!
Take 50% Off Train Tickets In Europe
Train tickets in Europe are up to 50 per cent off when you book two or more weeks in advance. Booking trains at the last minute gets you a much higher fare than booking early. If I'm not travelling on a rail pass, I always book my tickets as soon as I know my travel dates. You should too, if you want to save money. For most countries in Europe, you can simply purchase your tickets online via their national rail website. Image via Matt Kepnes.
Take 70% Off Train Passes In Australia
You know what's really expensive? Taking the train in Australia. You know what is one of the most scenic things to do in Australia? Taking the train in Australia. The famous Ghan through the desert is close to $800 for an adult, and it's a similar price for the Sydney to Perth Indian Pacific line.
Luckily, there's a loophole — getting an Australia rail pass cuts your costs by up to 70%! You can buy a pass for all the train lines in Australia (about 10) for $722 or one for only the three most famous: The Ghan, the Indian Pacific, and the Overland (Melbourne to Adelaide) for only $450. These passes are incredible value and make train travel in Australia an affordable option. Even if you are only using one route, buying the pass is still cheaper than buying the normal priced fare. Image via Shutterstock.
Get Free Booze On Your Cruise
Alcohol is not included in the cost of a cruise. A way to get around those costly drinks that is to sneak your own booze onto the ship. While not illegal, it is frowned upon and if the crew catches you, they will take your alcohol away. To ensure they don't catch you, get a Rum Runners flask. These containers pass through x-ray scanners by not showing any air bubbles, thus appearing as a solid object and therefore undetectable. Bring a few of your favourite bottles on board, save lots of money, cruise cheaply.Image via Shutterstock
Go On Free Tours
In most major cities around the world, you can find free walking tours that will show you the city's highlights and help you learn about the culture. In NYC, you can use Big Apple Greeters; in Paris, there's "Paris Greeters". In Europe, almost every big city hosts a free walking tour, with the biggest company being New Europe Tours. Moreover, you can also use the hospitality site Couchsurfing. Many of the locals on that site are more than happy to show visitors around and they'll give you a first hand look at the local culture.
I don't have a lot of money. I never have and I'm also naturally cheap; I hate spending money, especially when I don't think I'm getting a lot of value for my dollar. Thus when I travel, I look for every little way to get more out of money so I can travel longer and cheaper. By following these strategies, you'll be able to have a great vacation, be closer to the people in the country you meet, and enjoy everything you'd do on one of those expensive magazine vacations — but without that expensive advertised price.
Matthew Kepnes runs the award winning budget travel site, Nomadic Matt. He got the travel bug after a trip to Costa Rica in 2004, and decided to quit his job, finish his MBA and travel the world. His original trip was supposed to last a year. Over six years later, he is still out exploring and roaming the world. He's scuba dived in Fiji, played professional poker in Amsterdam, taught English in Thailand, got lost in a jungle in Central America, and broke down in the middle of Australia's outback. Matt's advice has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian UK, Budget Travel, BBC, and Yahoo! Finance. His new 272 page, 60,000+ word book, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, is now available to help you travel cheaper, better, and longer. It contains tons of tips and tricks to cut your trip expenses in half whether you are going away for two weeks or two months.