Fancy a lap around the globe but find your wallet’s wincing at the thought? Don’t panic! You don’t need to win the lottery or discover a forgotten bank account to fund your wanderlust.
I have been scrimping and saving for years to fund my travels, but I always want to travel more than my budget allows, so I’ve had to dig a bit deeper and get creative.
Here are some unconventional strategies to slash those pesky travel costs and get you gallivanting more often.
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1. Become a Swapper of Houses
Ever considered swapping your humble abode with someone else’s? House swapping is like Airbnb without the price tag.
You stay in their place, they stay in yours, and all you’ve got to worry about is not mixing up your return dates.
It’s a fab way to soak up local culture and avoid the tourist traps.
2. The Caravan Club
Why book a boutique hotel when you can have a home on wheels? A caravan’s not just for the retired folk touring the coast.
It’s freedom with a side of adventure and with caravans for sale at very reasonable prices you cannot lose by investing in one if you like to explore off the beaten path.
Park up at scenic spots and wave ta-ra to expensive room service. Plus, you can change your views faster than a chameleon on a rainbow.
If a caravan is not for you, perhaps try an RV or a campervan instead.
3. Become a Travel Writer (or Vlogger)
Got a knack for storytelling or a selfie stick that’s gathering dust? Then why not document your travels and share your experiences?
Now, I am proof this probably won’t get you rich, but it definitely does have its benefits.
It might start as a hobby but could lead to freebies, discounts, or even a following that’ll foot part of your travel bill and allow you to do even more of the thing you love doing the most.
Just be careful. The more you travel and earn, the more you want to travel and earn, it’s a catch-22 situation and totally addictive.
4. Workaway for Your Stay
This is for those who don’t mind rolling up their sleeves while travelling.
Websites like Workaway connect travellers with hosts who offer free accommodation in exchange for some hard (or sometimes not so hard) work.
It could be anything from teaching the host’s kids English to helping out on a farm.
You’ll gain new skills, make friends, and have cracking stories for the pub.
5. Work as a Mystery Shopper
Become a mystery shopper for travel companies – yes it’s a thing! They’ll send you to check out their services in disguise (the disguise is optional), and in return, you get discounted travel! Not bad, right?
There are companies out there that want mystery shoppers to test their flights, hotels, tours and activities.
Do a quick search on what is available in your country, and if you’re flexible, willing to fill out the reports and perhaps do things you normally wouldn’t, then this is a great way to see the world.
6. Off-Peak Prowess
Travel during the shoulder season – just after the peak tourist times. Everything’s cheaper, from flights to accommodation, and you’ll avoid the hordes of tourists photobombing your selfies.
Sadly the shoulder season is getting harder to find though, so you will need to do your research.
Don’t just assume it will be cheaper in Italy in June and September, you might have to push it to May or October with the peak season getting longer.
Once you find the right time for your destination, you can start dreaming about enjoying a Spritz as you relax by the sea, without the crowds.
7. The ‘Stay Longer, Pay Less’ Paradox
It sounds bonkers, but sometimes staying somewhere longer can be cheaper.
So, be sure to look for monthly rates on accommodation, which can be significantly less per night compared to the short-stay prices.
Staying in one place longer also cuts down on travel expenses, so it’s a win-win situation.
This is perfect for the slow traveller who likes to really get under the skin of a place or wants to experience a short stint of living like a local.
8. Stay Onboard
Swap a night in a hotel for an overnight train or bus and you can save hundreds over the course of a trip by not needing to book into a room quite as often.
Yes, this is the classic backpackers’ tip, but you don’t have to completely give up your comfort. This does not necessarily mean a sleepless night sitting bolt-upright on hard and uncomfortable seats.
There are many buses now with big comfy seats that lay down, or even sleeper buses with proper beds. Trains too can have sleeper berths for reasonable prices.
Do your research and check your options. See how much you can slash off your nights of accommodation.
Saving on the cost of travel means travelling more, so be sure to try some of the above on your next big trip!
Want more ways to save on your travels? Read these blog posts next
Too Old for Hostels? A Gen Xer’s Guide to Budget Travel
Best Books for Budget Travellers
6 Ways to Save Money on Travel
TRAVEL PLANNING ESSENTIALS
Find flights – I always use Skyscanner as my starting point when searching for flights. One search will give many options including airlines I may not have thought of. This means I can find the best possible flights to suit my needs
Book accommodation – my go to is always Booking.com for the best places to stay. It’s not just hotels anymore, but hostels, apartments, B&Bs and more. I love that the bookings are usually cancellable, and that I can book now and pay later.
Hire a rental car – RentalCars.com is my go to here. It allows me to do just one search and it finds cars from many of the different supplies, so no checking multiple websites to compare.
Get travel insurance – you would have heard by now that saying “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel”. If we’ve learnt anything from the last couple of years it should be how essential travel insurance is. I use CoverMore for my insurance.
Pick up an eSIM – I tried an eSIM on my last trip and it was fantastic. I set it up before I went so it was ready as soon as I landed, and I still had access to my home number for emergencies. Get your own eSIM at Airalo.
Book activities, tours & attractions – I use a few different websites for this. Viator and Get Your Guide tend to be the first places I look. In Asia, Klook often has more options, and in Australia it’s Experience Oz.
Manage your money – the best way to manage your different currencies is with an account from Wise. You can hold money in many different currencies, and use them with the ATM card or from your phone.