Debunking the Myth – Travel Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
If I had a dollar for every time someone commented on how rich I must be to be going on my trips or how expensive travel is, I would probably have enough for my next air ticket out. Don’t get me wrong, travelling is definitely not cheap. But it does not have to be expensive.
When I first decided that my sabbatical year would be the year I travel more, I needed to find a way to do so with my limited savings and ad-hoc income from side hustles. (Yes, the term sabbatical might have been a bit of a misnomer.) To pre-sabbatical me, holidays and travels always meant giving myself free rein to spend. After all, I deserved it after all that stress at work, I reasoned. But, sabbatical me couldn’t afford that style of travel.
And so started the journey of scouring for budget travel tips, backpacker blogs, and guidebooks, in search of ways I could make this work. After seven trips adding up to almost five months of being on the road, conversations with fellow-travellers-turned-friends, and others who also embarked on long-term travel, I’ve found these tips to be my favourite few in making the most of your travels while keeping your budget in check:
1. Ditch the Check-In Baggage
With more airlines, even full-service carriers, decoupling check-in baggage, adding this to your flight can easily cost you an additional hundred dollars or more. Not only will this give you the freedom to breeze through check-in and the baggage carousel at the arrival hall, but you’ll also never have to deal with lost or damaged baggage.
On a recent two-week trip to Europe, I was so frustrated by the crazy prices for check-in baggage that I ended up purchasing a 40-litre front-loading backpack that was carry-on-friendly, and also cheaper than the original baggage fees. Not only did I save money, but bringing only carry-on also meant that I had the flexibility of not opting for check-in baggage on my subsequent domestic flights, and also a more hassle-free experience at my destination when making my way to my accommodation.
2. Being flexible with travel dates and locations
It is not uncommon for most people to think of travelling during the year-end holiday period. But everyone else is probably thinking the same thing as you, making air ticket prices sky-high. If you’re travelling solo or have travel companions who are more flexible, look at moving your travel dates and locations around to snag the cheapest possible combination of ticket prices.
Travelling during shoulder season, the sweet spot between the peak and off-peak periods, has also become a new habit of mine. Not only do you not have to deal with fewer crowds, you still get to enjoy some, if not most, of the destination’s highlights before they wind down for the off-peak season.
3. Free Walking Tours
I’ve done free walking tours in many cities all over the world and even in sunny Singapore, and have never regretted any of them. Free walking tours are just as its name suggests - free, so you don’t even have to fork out anything. (Though a small tip is advised if you can afford it.) Such tours are usually also organised by really enthusiastic locals or expats who may have lived a while in the city. As a solo traveller I’ve found these tours to be one of the best ways to get to know fellow travellers who wouldn’t mind exploring the city together with you afterwards! If you ask nicely, the guides would probably share with you their favourite local hangouts that don’t charge tourist prices.
With Anywhr, you also have the chance to choose a hostel option for your accommodation, the perfect jump-start to meeting other travellers!
*Related Post: Travelling Incognito – Maximising Your Anywhr Experience
4. Eating out at lunch instead of dinner
All of us would probably have our must-go food places while on holiday and some of these places don’t come cheap. Some dining establishments offer lunch menus with similar dishes, but at a fraction of their dinner prices. Call ahead and ask if they have lunch specials or better still, ask a local – you might find somewhere your guidebooks or friends never even knew about.
5. Shopping at local markets and fleas for souvenirs
While I’ve since stopped buying conventional souvenirs (think magnets, keychains, and shirts), I understand most people would still love to grab a little something for their loved ones back home. Instead of shopping at run-of-the-mill tourist shops which would tend to charge a pretty penny for cheaply-produced knick-knacks, consider popping by a local market or search the local newspapers/magazines for flea events where you might find local artistes peddling their handicraft such as handmade stickers or accessories. Not only will these products be more unique and probably much more appreciated by your loved ones, but you’re also supporting the local economy and their industry.
*Related Post: Traveller or Tourist, Which Are You?
Despite having had a free rein mentality on my previous travels, I realised that I wasn’t necessarily getting the best experiences. Pricey? Yes. Enjoyable? Debatable. A year of travels later, I’ve since jumped back into the corporate nine-to-five and I could probably afford to expand my travel budget a little, but now that I know how I can do much more with so much less, I’ll probably keep travelling this way for a while.
Going Anywhr gives you the flexibility of tailoring your trip duration, region and accommodation to suit your travel budget. Click around to customise your first Anywhr trip and you’ll see what we mean.