Traveling is for me the most awesome thing you can do in your life. You explore new cities, landscapes and cultures, learn about the world and meet a lot of people, mostly when you are traveling alone. Depending on where you go and what you wanna do it can cost a lot of money, but there are lots of possibilities to save money, travel cheaper and because of that longer.
This blog is about how I managed to travel for a year and mostly how I have the money to do that. First about how to make and save money before travelling, after how to do that during travelling, both related to own experiences.
The most important thing to make money is of course just to work. Depending on when and for how long you have to travel you have to work a lot in a short time or you can just save money besides your job for travelling. I took the short path and was able to save 15.000 euro in my graduation year. 15.000 euro is in general enough for 1 year backpacking. The biggest part of this was to work besides my study, but I also received an internship fee and participated in some medicine researches (which is safe to do in the Netherlands). Also before I started my travel I sold the things I didn’t need anymore like my laptop, moped (brommer) and furniture from my old student room.
To save money you have to think through which things in your normal life you spend most on. I didn’t have much time in my last year anyway, but I did cut down on going to cinemas, bars or restaurants. I rarely bought fast food on the way home, bought a cheap phone package and didn’t spend much money on new clothes. The biggest expense to save money on was actually that I started to live at home with my parents again for a few months. Sounds maybe as a big change backwards in life but fortunately it wasn’t as difficult as I expected. It saved me money in not paying rent and groceries, which are the biggest expenses in your daily life. However, like I said, you can also take it more easy and save money for your travel spread over a longer period than a year, but by thinking about on which expenses you don’t really need you can save a lot of money;)
Categorized in accommodation, transportation, food, activities, atm’s, vaccinations, insurance and work possibilities.
The expense of your travel which you will spend the most money on. The cheapest and best way to meet other travelers is staying in hostels instead of hotels. It’s less comfortable to share your bedroom, kitchen and shower, but worth it because you meet a lot of other travelers. Good websites/applications to search for hostels are booking.com and hostelworld.
A cheaper and for me an even better way to travel is using Couchsurfing. It’s a network like Facebook where travelers meeting locals and can stay at their place for free. The idea behind it is that you share your home with travelers so they can travel cheaper and to get in touch with local people as a traveler. It was new for me to sleep at someone’s place who I had never met before, but after the first time you get pretty used to it. I had very great and special experiences and I am still in touch with many of them.
After accommodation, transportation is the biggest expense you can save money on. For flights are different strategies and methods to get the cheapest one, but in general the advice is to book around 50 days in advance. Good websites to book your flight are skyscanner.net and momondo.com. To travel inside a country or from a country to their neighbor, buses are a good way of transportation and often cheaper than flights, mostly when you book last-minute.
Hitchhiking (liften) makes moving around free, but can be difficult and requires patience. You have to be comfortable with that. It depends on the area where you do it, how you do it and how long it will take until someone picks you up. The most efficient way is to go to gas stations just outside a city to ask truck drivers, who are most of the time driving far distance and more open for accompany. Even though I did it a few times and it was fun, I prefer to travel by bus because it’s more comfortable and you travel faster to your new destination. If you do it, search for someone who wants to join you, otherwise it can be a bit lonely.
Blablacar.com is another way of traveling cheaper. It as a website where drivers post their travel from city to city. As traveller you can join that trip and share the gas costs, which often is cheaper than the bus.
Try to avoid Uber. Even though it’s more comfortable and cheaper than a taxi, public transportation is always the cheapest way to get around and you will save a lot money for the longer term.
It depends on what you like to do during your travel, but I’m not so interested in going for diner at restaurants. It´s nice to enjoy the dishes and food of a country, but you can do that also by buying street food or meeting locals. When you stay in a hostel you can cook your own cheap pasta meal and share the cost and meal with other travelers. Also, depending on the country where you travel, you can save money on drinks by fulling a bottle with water from the tap every time instead of buying new ones.
As I’m big fan of fast food of the popular American fast food chains it´s in combination with partying another challenge not to get fat during my travel. What I often, but not always do, is buying in the morning just fruits, vegetables, crackers and bread at the supermarket so I don´t have to buy more expensive (fast) food during the day and eat healthy as well. Mostly in the touristic areas, bus terminals and airports the food is more expensive and better to avoid buying food in these areas.
When you are traveling on budget for a long time, it’s good to think about what you like the most during your travel and save money for that. For me it’s exploring great landscapes and big cities, meeting people and going to music festivals, so I spend my money on that. I am also but less interested in food and small touristic places so I avoid that a bit.
When you arrive at touristic places, be careful about the way you participate in activities of tourist agencies. For example when you leave the bus station. Guys will ask you if you have a place to stay already and if you want to do an excursion. Don´t be lead by these guys but follow your own path to the agency and search by yourself for a hostel if you didn’t book one yet, because when one of these sales guys bring you there, you will have to pay extra money for it to him. You will not notice this because it’s included in the price. It happened to me when I was in Lençóis Maranhenses, North of Brazil, that one of these guys brought me to a hostel and an agency. I figured out later that I payed 90R$ instead of 50R$ because of this. The extra 40R$ went to him.
Another story was in Ushuaia, the most southern city of the world. Amazing place but unfortunately very expensive. To get from the city to the national park there are minivans going. It is just a ride of 10 minutes but even that you pay 400 ARG pesos, what is like 24 euro. Insane! When I arrived there I met a girl from Ukraine who hitchhiked there, which was very easy to do in that area. I truly asked myself why I didn´t come up with that idea..
Also very useful to bring during your travel is your student card if you still have one. In most of the countries you get discount as student for museums, cinemas, transportation and sometimes even nightclubs, like in Brazil. Officially it’s intended for only students of that country, but with a smile on your face and pretend not to speak the language you can get there. Once in Fortaleza, the North-East of Brazil, I forgot my student card and had only my driver licence from the US with me. Because the cashier didn’t speak English and I pretend that it was my student card I could enter for free;)
To withdraw cash can be expensive. Most of the ATM´s where you withdraw money charge you at least an extra amount of 4 euros, besides the fee of your own bank. Mostly the cash machines in supermarkets and airports. In most of the countries you can also find a bank where you don’t have to pay a fee, only Argentina is an exception. In Argentina there is one company who runs all the ATM’s of the banks and charge you 94 pesos (6 euro) for every time you withdraw cash. The best thing to do is to withdraw as much as possible in one time so you don’t have to go many times to the ATM and pay every time the extra fee. Also try to pay when possible by card, so you can save your cash money for the moments you need it. What a traveler I met did to avoid the extra fee was asking the person before and after him in the queue of the supermarket to pay their grocery by his credit card. They payed him back in cash so he didn’t has to go to the ATM so many times.
This does not apply for every country, but in the Netherlands for example when you buy clothes, a smartphone or a laptop with your credit card, it has automatically an insurance for damage, losing or stolen. I was lucky because my phone got stolen twice and because it was insured by my credit card and my travel insurance, I made a bit profit on that;).
One thing I strongly recommend not to do is to go to a vaccination agency for advice before your travel. I did, to ask which vaccinations I needed and of course the agency told me that a lot vaccinations are necessary. Be smarter than me and do a lot of research on the internet, because in my case I took 3 shots for a total of 270 euro to prevent myself from Rabies (hondsdolheid), but when I came here I found out that Rabies almost doesn’t exist and if it happens you need an antiserum anyway, the vaccination gives you only a few days delay.
Also in my 7 months Brazil, I didn’t hear any local person talk about the Zika virus when we were talking about problems or issues of the country, so that’s also quite a large media thing even if there are of course some problems. What I know about South America is the only things you need are vaccinations against Yellow fever, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.
There are lots of possibilities to work during your travel. The most common one for travelers is working in a hostel, where you can work in exchange for free accommodation and breakfast. 20 – 24 hours work a week is the usual amount of hours to work for free stay. In some hostels it´s possible to work for a free stay + getting paid if you work more. Hosteljobs.net is a good website to find these jobs, but sending emails, Facebook messages and mostly just door knocking when you are there will be also a good way to find a hostel job.
Another way is to become an English teacher. Officially you need a TESOL, TEFL or CELTA certification for it, but most of the schools in South America hire also people without it, depending on the quality of the school. Also a work visa is not always required. I was 6 weeks ago asked in Buenos Aires to substitute a teacher. It payed well, 165 pesos an hour (10 euro), and was fun to do.
Another way to make money is to make and sell your things on the streets like jeweler. I never did it, but I know some people who did and you can actually make a lot of money with it. Other options are to work in tourism, restaurants, as club promoter or just a normal 40 hours a week job at an office. Websites like workaway.info and worldpackers.com offer multiple options as well.
The last few years affiliate marketing is an upcoming business. As a promoter of products on the internet you only need a laptop and WiFi which makes you able to work everywhere around the world during your travel. Or if you like it in a certain place, you can easily decide to stay there for a longer period of time. To test how and if it works I posted a banner of Skyscanner below. If you click on the banner the homepage of Skyscanner will open in a new tab, which is linked to this blog. Every time you book a flight from that specific web page it will be linked to my affiliate profile and I receive a little commission on that. The price will be exactly the same by the way. You don´t pay anything extra if you go by yourself to the homepage of Skyscanner. Even though that is not always the case with an affiliate program. If you are more interested how affiliate marketing works check this link or contact my friend Romi Yael Tijmersma by her Facebook who has a lot of experience and since 3 months her own company.
These are some tips to save money, travel cheaper and travel longer which I think they are useful. If you know more tips & tricks let me know below. Also feel free to contact me if you want some advice. It would be a pleasure to help you with your plan to have the same awesome experiences I have been through.
The last thing I want to mention is that enjoying your travel is the most important part, so you have to do it in a way you feel comfortable with. On the other hand, trying new things is not a bad thing;)
Saludos from Quito, Ecuador.