Just a disclaimer that these tips are more appropriate for people backpacking longer term like 3 months+. Also, just because something worked for me does not mean it will work for everyone. I spent a month cutting rice and spreading manure with my hands in Nepal showering maybe 3 times a week, a few weeks having only bucket showers, no electricity and a spider infested bathroom in Thailand. This is not for everyone, I understand that these are just my suggestions and tips, and will mean a change in the way you think about travelling as not just a holiday but an experience. Contrary to what you may think, I do not go adventuring every day and I live pretty basically.
Work whilst you travel:
This is much easier than you would think. You can finance yourself travelling or at least save money whilst travelling if you work. This is not recommendable unless you are travelling for longer periods of time. It is not legal to work for money in many countries without a visa. So, by work, I mean voluntary work.
I do not necessarily mean help the poor voluntary work (although that is always good and nice to do), but work in exchange for food and or a bed. This can be in any form, whether it be a farm, a bar, a hostel, or a wide variety of other things. I usually find my workplaces through Workaway.
Workaway is a work exchange platform; it sets hosts up with volunteers in countries all over the world (some even include a form of payment i.e. tips in a bar). I’ll soon be writing an article on why I like Workaway and how it has worked for me. I tend to avoid Workaway placements where you pay money unless it is for a good cause or your hosts do not have much money, and if the cost per day of staying is less than the average cost of travel in that country. So when I stayed in Nepal working on a farm I paid my host family for my stay the equivalent of 5 euros per day, this covered, food, accommodation etc. and it went to a really good cause of supporting a non-profit orphanage.
To start a Workaway you must pay a fee for signing up of about $30 per year, which if you compare it to the cost of staying somewhere for a month is nothing. You can also just find voluntary places in many popular touristy towns e.g. Pai, Thailand. This is what I did in Luang Prabang. I showed up and found work advertised in a bar and ended up staying a month (sometimes it is nicer to do things on a whim).
So I have only just sort of stumbled on these things but, you can work online whilst on the go, and you do not need to be particularly skilled to do this. A few ways in which you can do this which actually have potential to help you earn significant money (survey taking does not get you serious money despite what some blogs may say) is to:
- Sell stock photos (if you have a good, high-quality camera).
- Do transcriptions (this can be time-consuming but if you’ve got the time it can make you quite a bit of money I recommend transcribeme.com but this has a very hard competency test, so I’d recommend scribie.com for first-time users, pay is less but it is not as hard).
- Travel writing, Travelista.club pays about $30 per article and they can be written quickly and easily and can help you keep track of things you have done! Although I have found it takes travelling a while to know what you would put into a travel article and what information is lacking out there on the internet, through your own experiences. If you do not necessarily want to write travel articles, through Writers Academy you can find freelance jobs on almost any topic. There are also various other communities and sites like the Matador Market Place that offer chances to write in exchange for money.
- You can also browse through websites such as UpWork and check in occasionally to see if there is any online freelance work that fits your skill set with no commitments or obligations.
Use your skills:
If you have specific skills that could be in demand use them to your advantage. If you can sing, dance, spin fire, paint etc… use it! Many hostels or bars will offer free accommodation, or food, or drink in exchange for multiple different skills. You can paint a mural, spin fire or perform in exchange for a bed or food or drinks. In Spain, I helped make a mosaic!
Sell your craft/art:
If you can make some form of art or craft, that is preferably small you can often sell it. For example, jewellery making from shells and stones you find on your travels, this is a low-cost initial investment and you can often find people to sell to wherever you are staying particularly social hostels. However, I would be careful to not encroach on the ‘territory’ of local craft tradesmen etc…
Eat Street Food/ Eat In:
Don’t listen to people. Most of the time street food is absolutely safe, filling and super cheap. It is often even better than some restaurants as you can see them preparing food and tell that it is fresh. I ate a lot of street food in India and Nepal and I never got Delhi Belly, same applies for Vietnam, where often a restaurant is a street food stall with some very tiny plastic chairs nearby (hopefully you do not have my misfortune of getting your ass stuck).
Often hostels have kitchens that you can use to cook your own meals which is cheaper than eating out unless you are somewhere like Southeast Asia where you cannot beat $1 fried rice or Bahn Mi ( I literally ate about 3 a day).
Choose the right countries:
If you are working on a budget then choose the countries you go to wisely. The cost of living in India is much less than anywhere in Europe by a looooong way. So it is better to choose cheaper countries rather than more expensive countries, Europe can wait, you can have so much more fun in Southern Asia than you will with the same budget in Europe. Also, check price differences between two similar countries. For example, there are lots of aspects of Central American countries that are similar and they often have similar activities. So sometimes it is best to choose the cheaper country. So if I were to travel Central America again I’d choose Panama or Nicaragua in exchange for Costa Rica as it was much harder to budget travel in Costa Rica and both Panama and Nicaragua have similar activities at lower prices.
Choose your Activities Wisely:
On a similar note pick and choose what activities you want to do wisely, use internet guides, fellow travellers recommendations and blogs, to decide what is truly worth it. Do not always go with what Lonely Planet recommends (they often get paid, and that is where everyone else will be). If you are in an expensive city, choose a free walking tour, its an activity to keep you busy for a few hours and it only costs you the tip and you can learn a lot. A few examples of where you can choose wisely:
- If you aren’t that interested in art don’t go to The Uffizi in Florence because it isn’t worth the money or the wait IF you aren’t going to appreciate it.
- If you are on a budget in Sintra choose the National Palace over all of the other gardens and palaces you can see.
- At Angkor Wat, if you aren’t interested in history or temples get the one day ticket, if you want to save money on the three-day tickets cycle it (for a $1 a day).
- Luang Prabang is a city full of temples choose the one that interests you most to go to (if it costs money), and then spend the rest of your day wandering around the free (and also extremely beautiful temples).
Do you get my drift? Even the small things matter, I can go on and on, but the point is to pick and choose wisely considering costs, and all the other activities you may want to do in that area.
Also, avoid paid tours and guides they are often crowded, they force you to move quickly and cost more money than they are worth. If you want to know more about the place, google it. In Nicaragua, we chose to do the Miraflor nature reserve unguided i.e. free, so we could then afford to spend $20 going to Somoto Canyon where a tour guide was compulsory (and so worth it).
Take a carry on:
No matter how long you are travelling for, you can make a carry on work. It can save you money on luggage charge. This way you can take cheaper budget airlines and even avoid charges that sometimes come on buses. Plus it stops you buying that extra pair of elephant trousers that you most definitely do not need.
Travel cheap and by land:
Don’t always take the easiest way out. As appealing as the tourist bus, sleeper bus, or even flight may seem a slight bit of discomfort is worth the money you can save. If you’re young and have time take the slower route and you
may even end up with quite a few adventurous stories to tell. See my Travellers tale, coming soon on the bus I got from Delhi to Kathmandu!
I know this is not for everyone and many people are wary of the prospect of staying with a stranger but Couchsurfing is a great way to save money, get to know a city and make a friend if you are travelling alone. Couchsurfing is particularly useful in Europe due to the expenses of living in a city. Couchsurfing is also a great way to meet like-minded people even if you do not want to be hosted. They have various meetups (sometimes they have free food and drink) and a hangout portion to meet other travellers
- The Travelista.club and Workaway.com, are affiliate links