Let’s get one thing straight: you do not need to be rich to travel. Seeing the world is not exclusive to the affluent, and nor should it be. But if travel is your passion, and you’re keen to do it regularly and/or for an extended period of time, you need to make it a priority in your life.
And of course making it a priority means saving every penny you can towards it. There are plenty of things to spend your money on in everyday life, but don’t lose sight of the end game. Because when you’re travelling, there will inevitably be that feeling when, with nothing coming in, the fun you’re having feels slightly less fun.
The best way to counter this, of course, is to keep plenty in reserve, both before you leave and while you’re abroad, thus giving you the confidence of knowing you have enough. Here are some ways in which you can make your pound take you further around the world, and for longer…
Put It On Your Card
There are all sorts of specialist air mile-linked credit cards out there – Amex and MBNA among the leading umbrella brands for these. But you don’t even need to limit yourself to these. Cashback credit cards effectively offer the same thing (provided you can save these funds and allocate them specifically to your travel budget). Basically, you should put as much of your typical monthly spend on these cards as you can in order to maximise rewards. Just one caveat though – it isn’t a licence to go on a spending spree, and you should make sure you pay off your card at the end of each month, thus ensuring you don’t negate the benefits by having to pay interest.
Taking overnight trains or buses is a great way to save on accommodation, especially when you consider that it’s a trip you’d probably be making anyway. So you’re effectively paying for two things in one. Being able to sleep anywhere is a requirement for being a traveller, but the other advantage is that you get to wake up at your destination, thus avoiding ‘dead time’ during the day.
Eat Local Food
It isn’t just about immersing yourself in the local culture – although that is important! Eating local street food also has the massive advantage of being considerably cheaper – particularly if you’re visiting Asia. Chances are, it will probably taste better than a burger from a chain restaurant too.
Book Expensive Activities In Advance
Identifying tourist traps is a gift travellers pick up quickly. But there are ultimately going to be attractions or tours which are unique and iconic to a particular destination, and which you’d like to tick off the bucket list. But plan this well in advance. Earmark what you’d like to do, and what you’re less fussed on. Then book and pay for these as far in advance as you can. It isn’t just about early-bird savings. Planning ahead, and building such things into your budget from the start, will mean that there is no financial shock to the system when you’re actually there doing it.
Be A Savvy Saver
There are clever ways to build up your travel kitty. Having multiple savings accounts is one option, whereby you allocate specific money to certain things for your trip (eg: transport, food, entertainment etc) and keep it ring fenced. But while working hard to save is important, it is equally important that you make your money work for you. Don’t just accept the non-existent interest rates banks offer on savings. There are other alternatives out there – particularly with the new ISA for peer-to-peer lending. There is some risk involved, but, managed properly, the rewards can be handsome.
City Tourist Cards
Hitting the cities can be an expensive business. But if you plan to do it, you’ll like save a bucket load by getting a tourism card. Things such as the Paris Museum Card, Helsinki Card, I Amsterdam City Card and the likes should have you covered for most cities.
Use The Sharing Economy
If you’re up for some adventure, and aren’t too concerned with sleeping on a ‘variety’ of beds, there are all sorts of ways to find free, or very cheap, accommodation. Websites such as Couchsurfing not only afford you the chance of free accommodation, but also to make great friends while travelling. But the sharing economy isn’t just about accommodation – you can do things like ride-share options, find local travel guides, discover home-cooked meals with local chefs, and connect with locals who can help you find the cheapest supermarkets, best sales, value-for-money activities, and hole-in-the-wall bars and restaurants. These are the kinds of things which tend to be off the beaten track, but can save you plenty of money, while helping ensure you have an even more memorable experience.