Different people have a different understanding of what “traveling on a shoestring budget” may mean. For some it means traveling at the lowest budget possible, sometimes included with doing some work while traveling. For us it simply means traveling the world within a reasonable budget on an individual basis. This awesome way of traveling makes us perceive the maximum of freedom and fun! Here are some of our tips and experiences on how to travel on a shoestring budget:
How to get started
In most of our holidays we already enjoyed we did it that way: Book a cheap flight to somewhere we want to go. Maybe book the first accommodation at the destination. At the utmost have a rough idea of our route. Pack our stuff together. Catch the flight and leave!
This made us go to places that we never thought we would ever end up to be. For example, we went to Sydney, Australia and at the end of our journey we found ourselves in Nepal. How exciting, what an experience.
In Nepal, we met a girl from Italy who did it the same way. Originally she visited Iran with a friend. Then they went different ways and she went to Nepal where we met her in Kathmandu on our way to a Stupa.
What to do on your journey – go where ever you want and improvise!
It is really that easy. Once you arrive at your first destination, stay as long as you feel you want to stay. If you have enough just look where you want to go and see how to get there. There are many ways of traveling around. Sometimes we took a flight, sometimes a rental car, on another occasion a bus, a ferry or a train.
When we arrived at Sydney – for example – we originally wanted to go to Tasmania. As we were looking how to get there and where to stay we found out that around Christmas Tasmania is (nearly) fully booked. So we said: “Let’s do that later”, looked where else we could go and went to South Australia where we had an awesome time spending Christmas in Port Lincoln, met many new people, made new friends, visited places we had not known they existed and so forth.
There are endless ways how to save some money when traveling on a shoestring budget. Here are just a few examples of what we did:
- Book accommodations with a kitchen or kitchenette
That will really save you a lot of money. It also gives you a different feeling compared to going out for dinner like on a “usual” holiday as well. What we mean: If you stay at an apartment for a longer time (like we did in Hobart, for example) you do not feel like a tourist if you more or less do the same things that you would do if you were at home – like cooking your own meals in the evening, shop the food stuff you need for that and so on. And – as stated before – it is much cheaper!
- Depending on the amount of time you have look for cheaper options to get around
If you have enough time you may want to wait for a time when you get cheaper air fares or you may want to choose a different option (e.g. a bus, the train) to get to your next destination.
- Avoid peak times, local holidays and weekends
Prices of many attractions you want to visit will vary in price depending on the time you visit them. For example, some sights, museums, art galleries etc. may offer lower prices on a weekday compared to the price on the weekend. One other advantage is that there won’t be big crowds at that times as well.
- When making tours bring your own lunch package with you
When we did our day tours we usually took our very basic lunch package with us. Most often it simply included some fruits, cheese, veggies and bread.
- Look for cheaper opportunities within a segment
Here is an example: In Tasmania we were shocked by the prices that rental car companies would charge. But as we wanted to explore the island individually we did not have many other options than hiring a car. So we checked the internet and found a guy who ran a small rental car company. He mainly offered older cars but at a much lower price and so we got what we wanted. We didn’t need a brand new Mercedes to get around! It served our purpose!
What can go wrong – but won’t stop you from enjoying what you are doing
Here are some things we want to tell you about what went wrong during our journeys – things happen. But we still enjoyed our trips!
- It happened that we ended up in the evening and still had not found an accommodation. Though I set more store on at least some elementary items an accommodation should offer (more than my wife does) I had to cope with it. We had to spend a night in a tiny (and ugly?) container at a campsite. That was not what I wanted but if you do not know in the morning where you will be at the end of the day you have to take that into consideration.
- If you travel a lot by plane and want to save some money you will most likely have to spend many hours at the airport waiting for connection flights. Moreover, the more you fly the bigger the chance that you will have to deal with “normal” delays. That is bothersome but on the other hand a part of this travel style.
OK, that two things should be enough for now! If we spent more time on thinking of what went wrong during our journeys we would certainly come up with more issues that we were facing. But as we said at the beginning: They won’t stop us from enjoying that way to travel and we will certainly do it again!
We love it and always will
Traveling on a shoestring budget is a fantastic way of getting around. You will never experience more freedom than going somewhere you want to and see were you will end up. You will see things you never knew they existed, meet people you will become friends with for the rest of your life and learn something more about yourself and your travel mate(s). That’s simply awesome!