The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
~ St. Augustine
Everything about living lightly is about living life to the fullest frugally. And you can live frugally and live life fully. Those two are complementary.
Today I want to share some tips with the frugal traveler. In fact if you are reading this someplace in the rich world i.e. North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand amongst other places then I bet you can travel the world cheaper than it costs you to stay at home.
How do I know this, because I’ve done it myself.
The key is to make use of an extensive stay. If you want to travel cheap you really need to spend 3 or more months travelling. That is the best way to save the most amount of money, but you can do travel cheaply on an excursion as short as 1 month.
Let’s do an example shall we. Let’s say that your rent, utilities, taxes, ISP etc is around $800 per month. This will be cheap for most of you. Let’s further say that your car and insurance and other things are $200 per month. You also pay for food, eating out, clothes and a host of other sundry things that you do with your time and money. Le’t say that’s another $500 per month.
Living where you are without leaving your city is already costing you $1,500 per month and that’s likely conservative. For most of us we’ll be in for $2k or more.
You can travel and live in many places in the world for way less than $1,500 a month, in many places, $1,200 will have you living very well indeed.
So how do you travel on the cheap and with a frugal budget. Well, you start by paying less money for your airfare. That’s a given but it should not be underestimated. Use price comparison websites to shop for cheap airline tickets. You can also read my blog post about saving money by flying standby.
I won’t go into great details about saving money on your airplane ticket as I’ve written about it above and there are many other great sites that provide that information. Suffice it to say that you should experiment with different air carriers, different times, different days of the week, layovers etc. But you should be able to save a couple of hundred dollars or more depending on where you are flying into.
But to really travel frugally and to save a lot of money while travelling overseas you really need to take care of the big things.
And the big things are your daily and monthly expenses while you are at your destination.
If you like to set things up ahead of time, one of the best ways to save money travelling is to rent a place like a local for a month or more. And you do that by putting a sign up in Craigslist for the city you are going to be staying at looking for an assistant who speaks English and who can act on your behalf to negotiate a rental rate that would be reasonable for a local.
If you try to do this yourself you’ll likely get gouged because landlords realize you have no idea of the prices in their town and further they’ll think that they can get more from you because you’re a rich westerner.
Doing this will also get you a friend who can show you around the local area and where the cheapest eats and shops are. This is very valuable.
You’ll likely pay for a service like this, but not very much considering the amount of money you’ll spend. If you’re wondering how much to pay for a travel assistant then Google how much the local minimum wage is in that country and then pay double that rate or even triple that rate.
I don’t like to pay per hour but rather per job. So I reckon it’ll take a couple of hours or so for a local to search the papers or find an apartment to rent and negotiate the price for me, so I’ll pay a flat fee based on 2 or 3 hours.
You can also start by staying at an AirBnB place or a hostel while you get your boots on then ground and speak to locals about more inexpensive places.
This is a safer way to do it but will end up costing you more. Still way cheaper than staying at a hotel.
The thing to remember is, the more you follow the quote “when in Rome do as the Romans”, the more you will save money while frugally travelling. What this means is that we are blessed as “rich” Westerners and the more you can behave and act just like the locals do the more money you will save.
Ride in the taxis they use, use their public transportation. Choose coach over first class. This will not only give you a better and more immersive traveling experience but it will also help you save hundreds of dollars while you travel on the cheap. Perhaps even more. For more ideas, you can check out How to Travel for Free.