Being able to travel has long been associated with wealth. Historically, travel has always been a luxury and if you had the time (and money) to go to destinations new, you were thought to be doing pretty OK for yourself. Although travel is still seen as a luxury in some ways (and a privilege if you ask me), it’s definitely more viable for many of us today, no matter how you decide to travel.
But that doesn’t mean travel has to be expensive. Just because you travel a lot doesn’t mean you’re loaded, it just means your smart and practical with your money. I budget travel a whole lot and it gets me everywhere.
Late last year, I sat down for a drink with my friends back in my hometown. I’d been roaming the world in all corners, from Asia to Oceania and back to Europe again.
“Tommy, are you a millionaire?” a friend asked.
I was quite shocked because no I’m definitely not a millionaire, not by any stretch of the imagination. But to be fair, it could appear to that way. In recent years I’ve travelled a lot, but I do work as a freelance travel professional so there are perks that go with the job. Yet, even if I weren’t a travel professional, I would still travel a lot. Why? Because like you, I love to travel.
The remedy everyone seeks is the money and how to get the time to do it. The time could come in long weekends, public holidays and annual leave from work. But when it comes to money, hitting the road doesn’t have to be an expensive ride. Remember, there are plenty of countries in the world to choose from and many of them are less expensive than in the UK. The key is about how you travel.
So, let me give you some hints. This is what I do when I budget travel:
Visit Cheap Places
The sterling goes along way in certain countries. Take Southeast Asia for instance; generally your money goes along way allowing you to keep within a budget and save more money in the long run. Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam or the Philippines are perfect examples of beautiful destinations you can experience that are very affordable to us. The food, accommodation, transport and tours are significantly cheaper to UK prices; you essentially get more for your money! I pick and choose my destinations carefully.
Stick To Budget Airlines
Budget airlines are a lifesaver and especially when we’re travelling in Europe. Ryanair, Jet2, easyJet – they all consistently have low fares. Unless there’s a great deal with a fantastic airline then a few hours of comfort for me isn’t really worth the extra money. Budget airlines may not be the most comfortable and they definitely come under the category of ‘no thrills’ but for getting from A to B they are ideal! Back in 2017, I took a flight from Toulouse, France to Edinburgh, Scotland for £9.00! Who was that with? Ryanair.
Stay In One Place
It’s really easy to get wanderlust, I’m in a constant state of it. One look at an exotic image of far-flung destinations can give anyone itchy feet. I mean there are so many places to visit in the world! However, one place at a time really is just fine. Nowadays, I try to spend as long as possible in one place and almost integrate from a tourist flashing the cash to becoming a local. When this happens you spend like a local, only on the necessities and keeps more money in your pocket. Travelling isn’t fulfilled necessarily by spending money; it’s about being there and embracing the experience. Keep it simple, I say.
Or Travel For Long Weekends
Then again, if time isn’t on your side and you’ve only got a certain amount of holidays per year from work, why not take mini trips? That’s what I do. Rather than using up all my leave on a two-week holiday I take off Friday and Monday and do several long weekend trips instead. This allows me not only to travel to new destinations more, but I’ll spend less because it’s a short trip!
Eat Local Food
Eating is a major money saver and it’s definitely one of the primary elements I consider when I’m on a budget. We all have to eat but we don’t necessarily have to make a big song and dance about it. Try the local food, eat the street food or just keep things simple. When I’m in expensive countries, let’s say Hong Kong, I eat at food courts with simple dishes such as chicken and rice. I’ll splurge now and again because eating nice foods is great but not everyday.
Do All The Free Things
One of the first things I do in a new country is go for a walk. I explore, I weave, I wander, and I climb everywhere to see something new. I take my smartphone with me and take photos of the place. What I tend to find is I stumble among things that are cool anyway! Plus there’s a great satisfaction when you find something by accident. I take walking tours, go on hikes and top up my tan by the beach and it’s all free!
Experience What I Want Not What I’m Told
One thing I’ve learnt by travelling so much is not to conform to doing everything. I understand in some countries you really should visit the major attractions (like the Taj Mahal in India) but unless it’s completely out-of-this-world incredible, stick to your guns and your own plan. Travel isn’t about bucket lists, it’s about experiencing the things you like and want. We’ll be recommended tons to see, as well as the most iconic of attractions but it really is up to you what you want to do. I experience what I want and that makes my trip mine.