Friday, 9 September 2016

Saving costs while travelling.

Well most of you already know these tips but I'll just state some of the tricks I've used to keep going as some people have asked how come i haven't run out of money yet.

1) Night transport.
This is a no brainer be it a night bus train or red eye flight. Especially when the journey to the next location is going to take more than 6-8 hours. You save a nights accomodation, sleep and when you wake up, voila, you're where you wanted to be. This helps much especially when you're on a tight time line as you don't lose a whole day travelling  and can hit the ground running. or even if you're not. It helps if you can sleep through anything though as generally you're in even closer proximity to others than in a hostel. Depending on the country you are travelling in, the costs can also be substantial. An example would be NYC. A night in a hostel would be at least USD50 a night and that is in a pretty crappy place which would be far out. If you spent the day travelling to the next destination, you would effectively have to pay for 2 extra nights as well as meals for that day. So if you were in the united states, you could be saving over a hundred dollars.

Even for night buses, there are generally different classes of buses and you could be paying half the price taking a second class bus versus a first class. Again, this really depends on how much you value your sleep and if you're even affected. I almost never took a first class bus while travelling in the night in Mexico if I had the option. Of course the first class buses had more luxurious seats which could incline further bank and were wider or they might have USB ports for you to charge your electronic devices. So I guess you just have to weigh how much you're willing to sacrifice. I sleep the equally well whether i was in a first class or second class bus so if it took the same time and was half to a third the price, it was a no brainer for me.

2) Looking for other travellers with the same itinerary.
Sharing the same itinerary means you are part of a larger group. Numbers means more bargaining power. For example a short Tuktuk ride could be 30pesos for a single person. If you squeezed in 3 or even 4 pax into the tuk tuk, you could negotiate a lower price for example 50 or 60 pesos. If you had 4 pax, each person saves 15pesos (approximately 1usd). If you get to do this 4-5x a day with the group, that'd be a meal and a half assuming you were in Mexico. If you're only travelling for a week or 2 then the savings aren't really that substantial. However for someone on the road for a substantially longer time, all those small bits can add up to a whole lot more. The 20-30 usd you saved in a week could be used later down the road for a room upgrade or maybe the entrance fee to some major attraction.
In the parts of the US where I had already rented a car, and attended Couchsurfing meetings, I would try to find other travellers who also were planning to visit the same places but had yet to secure their transport. If they were agreeable, I would split the cost of the car rental for the time period we travelled together as well as the gas consumed. Since I had already commited to renting that vehicle, and I would be doing the same drive alone anyway, every little bit contributed helped.

3) Staying in Hostels/ couchsurfing hosts
If you're going to be staying in the Ritz Carlton, you're going to be going through a few thousand every month just on accomodation. Definitely not sustainable if you're talking about travelling for months unless you're already a multimillionaire, then by all means carry on! As a single male traveller, I found that couchsurfing was not as useful to me. In 3.5 months in the USA despite sending out countless requests, I only had one night accepted. I personally found going for the CS meetups more useful as I would be able to meet more travellers and hopefully reduce my costs by travelling in a group. Generally if you're looking for people to see the tourist attractions in a new place, hostel are a great way to meet new people too. Plus the cost of a dorm bed is a fraction of a hotel room. In parts of Latin America and Asia, you'd be looking at less than 10usd a night. I've seen an average of 5-7 usd in many places. whereas a hotel room would normally be at least 60usd a night. Even a private room in a hostel is cheaper than that. For me I am normally out of the accommodation all day, only returning to sleep so I don't really see the need to pay for all the additional facilities. Some hotels don't even provide free WiFi, a most important feature in todays world!

4) Cooking
I've to admit, I haven't been cooking all that much due to the short span of time I spend in many places. Whenever I do extend my stay however, I try to cook or prepare my own meals. It can cut down costs quite a bit and even though you can find really cheap food along the streets, most of the time they aren't very healthy options!

5) Sleeping in your car ( assuming you rented one)
I've done this a couple of times before, mainly in the USA as sometimes it is cheaper to rent a car than to take a tour. In certain places, you could be looking at over a hundred a night especially in some of the more touristy places. So i occasionally just choose to sleep in the car. Definitely do check weather conditions though. I have been in the back of a car when it was 3 degrees celcius outside with nothing more than a light jacket and tropical hiking equipment. Needless to say i did not get very much sleep that night.

Some additional tips in the US. Certain states frown upon one sleeping in the car as it is interpreted as vagrancy. You don't really want someone (cops/security) knocking on your car while you are there. You could consider the parking lots at the big supermarkets like walmart though. I have also slept in the carpark of a casino. You'd want it to be a more secure location with lights and cameras so that there is more security Yet not stand out like a sore thumb.

6) Volunteering
You could also try volunteering in city you're in. I've done so in hostels in Mexico especially when you're staying a long time. True, I did not get any pay but I had no need to pay for accomodation either. One could use Workaway or Wwoofing to source for work too.

Well back to travelling!