I’m asked a lot how I manage to travel so much despite working as little as possible. Yes, I saved a lot while working FIFO but spent most of it travelling in luxury throughout 2013. I knew I couldn’t afford another year of expensive travel but the urge to travel was stronger than ever. This would mean the next trip would include hostels, backpacking, budget tours and flying unknown airlines because they were were cheapest option. It was pretty easy for me to save even when I was earning very little, you just have to reset your priorities.
Now, I’m not an expert on budgeting. God, I blew most of my most recent trip budget out of the water BUT I can atleast provide some tips on how to make the most of your money since this is the one thing I get asked about so much.
– Stop buying expensive shoes and handbags (or whatever your vice is). I started looking at pairs of shoes in terms of ‘I could fly from London to Berlin for that price’ and would walk out of the store empty handed.
– Cut back on drinking (if you live in Perth!). This was pretty easy for me as I eat healthy, work out a lot and hate being hungover. Plus, the price of alcohol in Perth bars is out of control and can easily equate to one (or two) nights accommodation in a hostel in a foreign city. I know where I’d rather put my money.
– Eat out less (this includes before and during your travels). Again, this was easy for me as Perth is stupidly overpriced and I prefer to make my own food at home. Instead of buying your lunch at work, which on average would cost $10 – $15 for a sandwich and drink, prepare your meals in advance. I’m a nana most Sunday afternoons, making my lunches and snacks for the week. The bonus is that you generally eat healthier if you prepare in advance so saving money isn’t the only positive out of all of this. When you’re away, most hostels will have a communal kitchen so you can prepare your own meals instead of eating out and spending more money. Or you could do what I did in London and pretty much lived off crackers, French sticks and Tesco hummus.
– Do part of your travels with a tour group. I managed to get both my Turkey and Nepal / India tours while on sale and saved myself a few hundred dollars. Touring can also give you a decent break if you’re struggling with solo travel. Added bonus is that after two weeks touring you have a new found appreciation of solo travel and will be ready to head off on your own again. You’ll also have a handful of new friends from all over the world.
– Employ the services of a travel agent. This year was the first time I used an agent to organise a section of my trip. He’s a good friend so I trust he has my best interests in mind and he knows how to find a good deal. At times I was too busy with work to do holiday research in my lunch break but after a quick email to Anthony he would have all the answers I needed plus found some amazing deals. Get in touch with him at AnthonyT@travelmanagers.com.au
– Stay in hostels. Now, I know a lot of people (in the past I was one of them) think hostels are dirty, dodgy and full of loud-mouthed alcohol fuelled 20-somethings in 14 bed dorms. This definitely isn’t the case if you choose your hostel wisely. If you check out http://www.hostelworld.com you’ll find loads of hostels with large dorm rooms but also private rooms with your own ensuite. You obviously pay more for the private rooms but it’s usually less than the cost of a hotel room and you don’t have the isolation that comes with hotel stays. The communal areas of hostels are the best place to meet fellow like-minded travellers and you wouldn’t have this kind of opportunity in a hotel environment. I used to love the comfort of hotels (and still do) but give me a hostel over a hotel any day, especially when travelling on your own.
– Register with Airbnb. I’ve used this website when travelling in South Africa, Bali, London, Berlin and Amsterdam. Prices and accommodation varies from basic and cheap to luxurious and expensive. Still, I’ve found it cheaper than staying in a hotel and you get to stay with locals which is even better.
– Register with a Frequent Flyer program. I was fortunate enough to reach platinum status with Qantas as a result of all the flying I did for work. You can pay for some programs but if you fly enough each year (I’m talking to you FIFO workers) you should accumulate enough status credits to move into the next tier. Once you reach gold status you can generally enter the Business class lounges, whether you’re flying Business or not. You also get to eat all the FREE food, use the FREE wifi and sleep in a safe area not having to hug your bags in fear of them being stolen.
– Utilise your tax return. Yes, I could save more money if I had a permanent full-time job but really, who wants work when you can travel instead! Turns out the less you work the more tax you get back so throw your tax return into a high interest earning account and use it for your next trip.