Seeing the world on a shoestring budget needn’t be problematic so long as you go about it cleverly. In fact, many of the restrictions that apply to the low-cost traveller can actually have a beneficial effect on your holiday experience, enabling you to develop a deeper understanding and connection with the places you visit and people you meet. Here are ten golden rules the budget traveller should abide by.
Thou shalt eat as much street food as you can.
Eating where the locals eat means you will pay far less than you would at a more touristy establishment, and you can also be reasonably sure you’ll get a decent meal. Your money will go straight into the local economy, and not only that, but you will enjoy some of the best-tasting grub you’ll ever eat, straight off the grill. Exploring the medinas of Morocco, the night-markets of Bangkok, or the farmers’ markets of San Francisco and you’ll be overwhelmed by the tastes and smells of fantastic, locally-produced delicacies, all at low low prices.
Thou shalt avoid expensive hotels like the plague.
When virtually every destination now offers so many options, from budget hostels to sofa-surfing, there’s no excuse for paying top dollar to rent a premium room. Especially because on the best holidays you should only really use your room to shower and sleep anyway.
Thou shalt pack light.
If you can get away with just hand-luggage or a small rucksack then you can move around a lot easier on public transport or on foot, negating the need for expensive taxi journeys. Even a two week holiday can be accomplished with a tiny bag if you pack smart.
Thou shalt know how to spot a false economy.
That 3rd class overnight ticket from Bangkok to Chiang-Mai may be far less expensive than a first-class one, or a flight, but boy will you regret not spending a bit more by the time you arrive, with cricked back, red sleepless eyes and the smell of a hundred food and drink spillages forever soaked into your trainers.
Thou shalt not worship your guidebook.
Even if your copy is completely up-to-date, thousands of other travellers will have bought the exact same edition, and that amazing backstreet noodle bar only frequented by locals you’re heading for is now a tourist hotspot.
Thou shalt consider joining a group holiday.
Book a holiday through the TrekAmerica website and not only do you automatically get paired up with a ready-made bunch of travel buddies, but you share the costs of travel, food and accommodation with them too. You’ll also be more likely to get group discounts on excursions.
Thou shalt do your research.
How much should a taxi cost from the city centre to the beach? What is the expected amount of tip to leave in a restaurant? That way you ensure you don’t end up paying too much.
Thou shalt consume less.
The biggest expenses on holiday are often on food and drink, especially alcohol. Cut back on your booze intake, save yourself the hangover and some money, and get more out of your holiday. After all you didn’t pay all that money to spend the week alternating between the bar and the bathroom.
Thou shalt stay flexible.
As a general rule, flights and accommodations become more expensive the nearer you get to departure, but for the flexible budget traveller, fantastic deals are possible by leaving it to the last minute. This does involve risk of course, but many budget travellers are even content not to decide on a destination before they get to the airport and see what flights are cheap and have seats available.
Thou shalt travel off-peak.
Avoid dates when there are festivals on, public holidays, and especially school holidays (if you can) so you can take advantage of the best rates.