Not only are people looking for holidays now days, they are also looking for life-changing adventures that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
This can be a 1-month trip, a year-long trip or even in extreme cases a 5+ year trip. Of course, this becomes financially difficult. That is what we have thrown together some budget travel tips for you to think about on your next trip.
We collected these tips while traveling Southeast Asia on a shoestring budget for 6 months but the general principle applies for no matter what country you visit as tourists are super easy for locals to exploit ;)
1. Find a Something In Common
Get a feel for how much the essentials cost and the standard prices. This will allow you to make comparisons and perceive the value of things. For example, if we can buy a water from a convenient store for $1 and then a street vendor tries to charge us $4 we know we are getting a tourist price ;)
The items we used for our comparisons were:
– A bottled water
– The price of a beer
– The most common meal on all menus.
Check out the Big Mac index of the world here which also gives you a pretty good corner stone for comparison!
2. Ask The Local’s
It is always a good idea to quiz the locals on pricing, the best spots to visit and the best ways to get around!
We tend to ask the owners or other travels of the homestay, hostel or hotel we are staying at. Some of the common questions we would ask were:
– How much should it cost per km in a taxi?
– Following this, ask how far things are in km not for the price upfront.
– Best price for the popular tours.
– How much it should cost to hire a motorbike (Essential in South East Asia)
– How much one liter of petrol should cost? (There are a lot of dodgy street vendors with vodka bottles full of murky petrol to look for!)
3. Keep Track of Your Travel Spending
Try and keep a log of how much you spend per day. Even if it is on a scrap of paper, in the notes of your phone or even in the back of the book you are reading while traveling.
This allows you to get a perception of value for money and keep on eye on how much each city or country costs.
Remember this can be as accurate as you want. Try and round to the closest dollar, closest 10 dollars or even 100 dollars.
Keeping a rough idea of how much your are spening a day lets you budget your meals, activites and travel expenses so you don’t have to end your trip early ;)
4. US dollars are Handy At the Border!
Get as many US dollars as you can! Visas, entry/exit fees and a lot of other places accept them no matter what country you are in.
When paying in local currency you can sometimes be given a bad exchange rate as you have to withdraw money at the border.
You will also have to pay ATM fees to withdraw in a foreign currency unless you have some sort of travel card. The USD is a pretty universal currency and countries like Cambodia would prefer to be paid in American dollars.
Once you find a good exchange rate, try and keep a stash of US dollars in your bag (not too big) so you can get the better of the situation.
5. BYO When You Can
Try and take your own bottle of water when possible, as they are half the price at the convenience store around the corner. Restaurants, tours or venters love up charging for travelers convenience!
Same rule applies for transfers/busses/trains/flights etc to your next destination. Take your own water or snacks, otherwise you will be paying for the convenience!
At the end of the day your trip should be fun and full of memories these are a few small tips for the budget traveler. Remember that if you do get ripped off or taken advantage of it is just someone trying to make the most of their situation so don’t get offered or angry as that helps no one!
Share this post with someone you know who is jet-setting off to another country soon!
great tips. I had no idea that there was a Big Mac index! That is awesome. One of the best sites I use that you should look into, (I am sure you know about it) is Price of Travel! It is great because it gives you a full index on nearly any country you can think of and is updated regularly!