« »

Saturday, December 21, 2013

3 first hand tips for getting the most of long-term travel on a budget

Don't waste money on unwanted tours or sites when traveling
Foregoing convenience often saves money when traveling
By Kelli Cooper

Many people think because I work while I am traveling that I must be able to totally live it up. Yes, making money as I go along is a huge advantage, but I did not leave on my journey with any sort of travel nest egg. My income is not supplementing anything. It is the only money I am living off of, much like if I was home and working there.

So, I have to watch what I spend much like anyone else traveling. While I am not operating on a tight shoestring, backpacker budget, I certainly am not in a position to just spend freely. I have bills to pay, and I always have an eye towards saving money, for both short and long-term needs. So, I have learned a thing or two about getting the most out of my money and enjoying my trips. Here are a few tips I would like to share in hopes they will help you too on your long-term travel journey.

Don’t force yourself to do things you really don’t want to do

Traveling is all about seeing new things and having new experiences. You are not going somewhere to just lounge around your hotel room all day. But, with that being said, don’t force yourself to do things you may not really have an interest in doing simply because you feel like you should.

If boat rides are the big thing, but you really don’t like boats, don’t waste your money. If one of the signature offerings is some waterfall that takes three hours to get to, and you could not care less, again, don’t waste your money. If you are really pulled towards just walking the city and soaking up the sights and everyday life, that is perfectly fine. Save your money for the things you really feel drawn towards.

Where will you get the most value for your money?

Costs vary wildly depending on your location, and naturally you want to go the places that will stretch your dollars the furthest. Now, people have all sorts of preferences when it comes to travel. Some are perfectly fine with the barest- of- bones- style consisting of hostels with shared bathrooms and living off dirt-cheap street food three meals a day. If this sounds like you, it is likely you can swing most destinations to some degree.

But, for some of us, this is not their idea of an ideal vacation, and I include myself among that bunch. I have no trouble cutting some corners if necessary, but if that was the only way I could fit a destination in my budget, I would take a big pass. This is one of the major reasons I never included Singapore in my itinerary. A quick one-day trip to get a new 30-day stamp for Bali was enough for me to see that I would really have to dial it down to a level I would not enjoy. So, weigh the cost of the destination against your budget and see where you will get the most bang for your buck.

Be willing to trade a little convenience for savings

Convenience is well, convenient. No one likes to be in the middle of nowhere. You want to be a reasonable distance from restaurants and other amenities. But, if you are traveling on a budget, the willingness to give up a little convenience can stretch your dollars much further. Renting an apartment a bit outside the center of town can save you big bucks.

If the public transportation is decent and inexpensive, you are not totally out of the loop. If you are searching for hotels by the beach, look beyond the ones that are right on the water. It won’t kill you to take a 15-20 minute walk, and in my experience, this has added up to substantial savings in beach destinations. And, you will get some forced exercise, which is always a good thing when traveling.

About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about all things travel.

Image: Jscreationsz, FreeDigitalPhotos.net, licensed for use.