So you’ve been travelling once or twice for a few months or even possibly a year and the bug has infected you, you want more! You want to hit the road for a few years, but how do you do it without having tens of thousands in savings? Well the solution might just surprise you, because you don’t need that much. If anything the longer you are travelling, the lower your average daily spending will become. It all comes down to good management of five travel essentials:
With the right ratios and some tactical investments you'll be shocked by how low you can get your daily spending. Here are my top tips for managing the five:
Buy Your Own Transport
The cost of buses and trains quickly adds up (except in India) and will eat into your funds as fast as food and accommodation will. Depending where you are, you will have different vehicles to choose from. In SE Asia, motorbikes and scooters would be the way to go. In western countries cars and vans. Or if you’re glutton for punishment and the ultimate in satisfaction; bicycles. If you go for the car or van option you potentially have your accommodation sorted too if you buy something big enough to put a bed into. You can also carry cooking gear like a BBQ which means you can shop in supermarkets and make your own food rather than spending out in restaurants 2 or 3 times a day. A few years ago we drove from Vancouver to the Florida Keys, right across the USA in a $250 car. We drove over 12,000kms over 7 weeks and spent $1500 (£1000) for everything, for both of us (watch the video here).
Best thing is at the end of your trip, assuming you've taken care of your vehicle, you can sell it on for hopefully the same sort of money as you bought it, giving you a chunk of cash for your next adventure! Make sure though that you give yourself a week or so at the end to sell it otherwise you will take the first low ball offer you get if you have a flight to catch. Something's better than nothing!
Camp Out Wherever Possible
Not only does wild camping save you a chunk of cash each night, but also means you can sleep with views that money can't buy. Cheap tents tend to be pretty heavy so we only bring ours along on for camping trips. All other trips, buried in the bottom of our rucksacks we both have a travel hammock. It’s a heavy duty hammock with a built in mosquito net that can be used strung up between trees or laid on the ground as a shelter.
For the sake of an extra kilogram of weight in our bags, we now have the option to camp out whenever we find somewhere suitable. Every night under the stars is another $10+ saved so if you do it every night, you're laughing. We spent a month cycling and camping around Morocco and only spent $450 (£300) for the two of us, including flights.
Get A Job
If you are serious about long term travel, you need to stop seeing your trip as a holiday and start seeing it as you just living around the world, and part of living is working. No matter where you are in the world, you will be able to find a job. Some will pay, some will just provide accommodation and food in return for a few hours work a day.
If you are aged between 18 and 30, you can get 1 year work visas for Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK (easier for some than for others, depends what passport you have). These visas allow you to basically apply for any job you want in those countries as if it was your own.
I firmly believe EVERYONE should work abroad at some time, I guarantee it'll be one of the most life changing things you ever do.
Travel Where It’s Cheap
If you're lucky enough to live and work in the west, the cost of living in places like India, Asia and Central/South America is a fraction of what you will be used too. If you want long term travel, these are the places to focus your travels on. Don't go saving all your money then heading off to the UK, Australia or Scandinavia etc (unless you have a work visa) for 3 months where even a beer will set you back the best part of $10. You’ll be broke and back home before you know it. SE Asia, South America, India etc is where your money is going to go furthest and should be where you focus your attention. Having said that, if you can get paid work in the more expensive countries, it’s a great place to charge your bank account whilst exploring what that country has to offer.
Cut Out Your Vices
Easier said than done, I know, but these vices will all start adding up if left unchecked. Yeah a small can of beer might cost $1, but an average of 5 a day (easily done in hot countries) over a month that's $150, which equates to $1,800 a year!! It’s easy for a few social beers a day to completely ruin your budget without you even noticing it. I love a couple of beers at sunset but generally I knock it on the head after that unless of course the intention is to get drunk, in which case a bottle of the local spirit will generally work out cheaper.
What's the hurry? If you don't have a job or a child to get back to, why rush? In fact the slower you travel the lower your average daily spend will become. If you stay put in places for a week or more, chances are you will get your accommodation cheaper and you'll have time to wait for a cheaper train, bus or flight to wherever you're off to next.
Eat Street Food
Street food has a bit of a bad rep amongst tourists as being a sure fire way to lose a few pounds from food poisoning but experience has taught me, if you're going to get the shits, you're going to get the shits. It doesn't matter where you eat!
Phad Thai on the street in Thailand will set you back $1 but the same portion in a restaurant is around $4. Again, two meals a day in restaurants will add another $5 or so to your daily spending, again, that adds up to about $1,800 a year.
Find A Way To Make Money Online
Every year we make a trip back to India, mainly to chill, but while we are there we will buy £500 worth of clothes and ship them back to the UK to sell on eBay. We
will at least double our money, if not triple it but it's a slow process that takes most of the year. However having £50+ a week coming in gives us more than enough money to live on week by week.
This website will eventually hopefully provide a similar income to keep us going.
If you have other skills like graphic design or a skill that means you can work freelance whenever and wherever you want, you're laughing. Earning western money whilst living in a cheaper country is your key to travelling indefinitely.