Around the world on a dime
World travel is both exciting and challenging. The biggest challenge is going as far as possible while spending as little as possible. It pays to plan your trip properly and add a little extra for delays and unexpected events. Planning ahead and sticking to the plan as much as possible can save you a small fortune, especially if you book your ticket more than three months in advance.
Internet search engines are a great place to get information on your planned destination(s). All kinds of information is available, from the political state of the country to local bus time-tables, museum entry fees, local business hours, the cost of dining out and even possible health hazards.
This kind of information can help you plan not only travel and accommodation costs, but also sightseeing costs and daily food expenditure.
By getting as much information as possible before you depart, you can create a rough daily budget, with a small allowance for extras. This should help you to stay within budget and perhaps even save extra cash for souvenirs or that special detour you want to take.
If you are planning to be away for a while, say three months to a year, it may be worth your while to join Hostelling International. It will help you find decent hostels at low prices with an additional saving of a few dollars a day at participating hostels around the world.
If you're not sure about hostels, a guest house is also much cheaper than a hotel. In most cases, you would also be wise to avoid hotels in the city center or on the beach.
If you save on hotel accommodations, you could spend those savings on a little luxury, like a Priority Pass, which allows you access to airport VIP lounges in 90 countries. Sometimes a little luxury makes all the difference, and you can use the money saved elsewhere to buy it!
Boost the Budget
If you're a native English speaker, and you're going to be staying in a country for a few weeks, you can often earn a few dollars by being a guest speaker at a language school that offers English lessons. A few hours at $10 an hour will boost your budget. In most countries you're not breaking the law since you're only being reimbursed as a guest speaker and not as an employee.
Often it pays to use public transport rather than hire a car, since it's usually cheap and efficient and it'll get you where you're going without getting lost. Sometimes you can buy special discount tickets or day passes that will bring costs down even further.
In some countries, you can rent a bicycle to see the local sights rather than using public transport or renting a car. If you're worried about getting lost though, just stick to the public transport system.
Another good way to save on costs is to avoid peak travel seasons and resorts. Traveling at year end will cost you much more. It also pays to research local holidays at your intended destination. Sometimes an unexpected local holiday or international sporting event can cost you more than budgeted.
Eating Within Budget
When it comes to meals, you have several options. Ask the desk staff at your hotel or hostel for advice on reputable, low-cost taverns and restaurants in the area that are frequented by locals more than tourists. If your accommodation has self-catering facilities, you can also do a little shopping for things like bread, cheese, cold meat and tinned foods. If a microwave is available, TV dinners may also work for you.
If all else fails, many countries now boast a local McDonald's, KFC or even a Subway. It may not be the healthiest food to live on, but in a crunch or when local cuisine is dubious, it's a tried and tested option.
Medical and Other Expenses
The last thing you want is to end up in a foreign hospital and be unable to pay the bill! While you can get free travel insurance if you buy your ticket with your credit card, this is by no means comprehensive. Find and pay for a good travel insurance plan before you leave - that way, you'll always be covered. Ex-Pat insurance can be pretty expensive, but if you're going away for a year or more, it's probably well worth it, especially if you'll be working! You'll be covered for everything from accidents to psychiatry and maternity.
Your other expenses would include the cost of visas. Depending on the country, you'll pay less by waiting 10 or more days for your visa, rather than demanding it next day or on the same day you apply.
By Trevor Roberts