Even though the old cliché goes, “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer,” it still costs money. And sometimes a lot of it. Thankfully after years of travel, we’ve been able to hone down our best tips for staying on budget. Whether you’re traveling like a backpacker or living large, we know our tips will be helpful to save on travel costs, so you can spend more on the experiences that make travel so amazing.
Create a Budget
Nobody likes the “b” word, but creating a budget for your trip can actually be very liberating. If you’re not keeping track of your finances it’s hard to estimate how much you’ve been spending. Even though keeping your head in the sand may seem easier than confronting your travel costs, you may find out you’re actually staying under budget! Checking your spending at the end of each day of your trip means you can decide when to save and when to splurge. Consciously scrimping on meals here and there will make splurging on an awesome experience even more rewarding! Budget travel apps like Trailwallet are excellent tools for keeping everything organized.
Find Cheap Flights
Chances are that your flight costs are going to be substantial part of your trip. Unless you’re traveling locally or domestically, airline prices are not going to be cheap. If you’re flying to the other side of the world you can expect your flight expenses to be in the 4 figure mark. Depending on how lavish your trip is, that could be a huge percentage of your travel budget. That’s why finding cheap flights is key for keeping costs at a minimum.
Luckily the internet makes it super easy to find the best deals. These days sites like JustFly compare every possible combination of airline carrier and potential itineraries to make sure you get the best deal. They even have a list of “top daily deals” from your location to get you inspired on where you can travel for cheap! Once you have a cracking airline deal, the rest of your trip planning tends to fall into place.
Stay in Hostels
We know, shacking up with 8 strangers in a dorm room with bunk beds isn’t exactly a dream vacation. But these days you can find some pretty rad hostels/guesthouses. We’ve stayed in some beautiful hostels that have hotel-style amenities like big comfy beds, rainforest showers and even an omelette chef in the morning (check Spin Hostel in El Nido!
Often times a private room in a hostel is still much cheaper than booking a hotel room. The bonus of a hostel is that they usually have very social environments, perfect if you’re traveling solo or in a group looking to make friends. Of course if you’re not interested in chatting with other travelers you can just enjoy the privacy of your own room.
When finding the best hostel deals we always recommend HostelWord, which is basically a massive booking platform for all the best hostels around the world!
Book an Airbnb
If hostels aren’t your scene, Airbnb’s are another great way to cut down on accommodation costs. There are tons of options, from super budget to super splurge. The types of accommodation is also really varied. We’ve seen VW vans, tents and even yurts listed on Airbnb. People often list private rooms in their homes for affordable prices. Since these rooms don’t come with hotel amenities, they are usually listed for quite a bit less than normal hotel rates. Oftentimes, they come with a kitchen which is perfect for our next tip…
Another pricey expense that comes up when traveling is eating out. When you’re back home eating out is usually a special treat. But when you’re traveling you’re forced to eat out at every meal. That’s why booking an Airbnb or hotel with a kitchenette is a great travel hack. Buying groceries and cooking for yourself can save you so much money in the long-term. Even just having a light breakfast or snack on hand can save you from tourist restaurants that have sub-part food for expensive prices. Plus shopping at a local market or grocery store is a cool way to immerse yourself in the local culture.
Travel with a Water Bottle Filter
When traveling in countries that don’t have clean tap water, having a filtered water bottle is key. Not only do you cut down on single use plastic (the environment thanks you!) but you’ll also save money every day. It may not seem like a lot, but if you’re spending $5 a day on water bottles during a month long trip, you’ll save $150! Wouldn’t you rather spend that on a luxurious night in a swanky hotel knowing you contributed to a cleaner earth? Personally, we travel with these awesome LifeStraw Go bottles.
Test out Your Haggling Skills
In some parts of the world haggling down prices is totally normal. It can feel weird if you’re from the US or another country where haggling is frowned upon. But in many situations abroad, bargaining for a cheaper price is expected. Artisan markets are a perfect place to practice your haggling skills. Sellers will often start with a price that is double what they would normally sell it for.
Haggling is a delicate art that often means standing your ground and sometimes doing the old “walk away” trick. The seller will always have a minimum price that they’re willing to take in the back of their mind. And if you have a maximum price that you’re willing to pay, you’ll eventually find a happy medium between the two. To learn more about the art of haggling check out our guide.
This article contains some affiliate links. Clicking them provides us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. It’s what helps keep our site running, awesome and available to provide you the best travel info! And thanks to the article sponsor JustFly for supporting this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own and we would need support a product or service we didn’t truly believe in.
Travel is expensive. We get it. After years on the road we’ve felt the pinch of having to watch our wallets. Luckily we’ve now built a business around traveling. In fact, for us, it’s more expensive to stay in one place because we literally get paid to travel. But we understand that this lifestyle isn’t viable for everyone. Not everyone wants to be on the road forever. Most people want to take a few short, but meaningful trips a year. Or perhaps you’re saving up for that big year long trip of a lifetime. Either way, it’s going to cost you. Thankfully, over the years, we’ve acquired some helpful tips that can help you get some much needed cash and save money for travel. Here are our favorites:
Travel to Cheap Countries
Our most recommended tip is pretty damn simple: travel to cheap countries! Sure, who doesn’t want to sip cocktails in an overwater cabana in the Maldives? Unfortunately those cost $500+ per night. You and your partner can travel for a week or more while backpacking in South America for just the cost of one night of accommodation! And traveling to cheap countries doesn’t mean you need to slum it. There are plenty of luxury locations that will keep you on budget. $5 dollar massages in Thailand come to mind…
Take a “Workcation”
One of the biggest catch 22’s of traveling is that not only are you spending money while traveling, but if you quit your job you risk not earning money for a while! Luckily remote working is becoming a huge trend and more companies are allowing their employees to take “workcations.” There are plenty of “digital nomad” hubs popping up around the world that are perfect if you’re combining work and travel. These spots, like Chiang Mai, Thailand or Medellin, Colombia, are filled with cafes that are perfect to work from by day and restaurants and bars perfect to play from at night! Plus you can take day or weekend trips to nearby locations for adventure! Have a chat with your boss about how taking a workcation can be profitable for the business. It’s alllll about how you spin it!
If you’re trying to save up money for a big trip, you may have to get a little creative. We’ve all seen those GoFundMe accounts of people trying to raise money for their trip. And while it may be a bit obnoxious to ask your friends and family for money so you can travel, there are creative ways to fundraise for your trip. Think about how you can give back to people who help you support you. Maybe you’ll run errands for your family and friends for a couple months or make a kick ass short documentary about a country to share when you get back. Figure out your strengths and capitalize on those.
Sell Your Stuff and Rent Out Your Home
If you feel like you’re just not making money fast enough, consider selling some of your stuff. If you’re going on a long trip you probably don’t need that new TV or even your car. Use platforms like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Ebay and Gumtree to list items that you no longer need when you’re on the road. If you’re traveling to a developing country (see: tip 1), chances are you’ll come back realizing you don’t need all that junk you have in the first place!
Another great way to save up some cash is to rent out your place while you’re gone. If you have an apartment, consider subletting it or putting it up on Airbnb so it doesn’t sit empty and you earn a bit of cash while you travel. Getting set up as a host is super simple and all you’ll need to do is hire someone to come and clean the place once the guests are finished. It’s a great way to supplement your travels and be on the road for longer.
Take out a Personal Loan for Travel
If you are saving money, but just feel like it’s not happening fast enough, you may want to consider taking out a personal loan. With lower interest rates than credit cards it’s better than expensing your whole trip on the AmEx. Those looking to take out a personal loan for travel should consider going to a credit union.
Credit unions are owned by their customers – their members- meaning they’re focused on supporting their customers compared to banks who are purely in it for the profit. For Australians, People’s Choice Credit Union offers reputable personal loan options with competitive low rates. Of course, if you are taking out a personal loan, remember to only take what you know you can repay. You want to be realistic about your financial future. Just because you’re approved for a large loan, doesn’t mean you should charter a jet to a private island for the week. Create a plan for paying your loan back as soon as possible!
Never taken out a loan before, and don’t know how it works? People’s Choice Credit Union helps you break it down with their super simple personal loan repayment calculator. Simply input the amount of money you’d like to borrow, set the amount of time you’d like to pay it back in, and the calculator will do the rest. This calculator will help you easily understand exactly how much you need to repay each month, for how long and the total amount of interest you’ll pay. No need for hidden fees and unknown costs, if you’re taking out a loan to travel you should know exactly how much you’re going to need to pay back.
Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive, but there’s no denying that you’ll need some money to get started. With our helpful tips we hope everyone can get out and see the amazing world that we live in. And who knows, we might even catch you someone along the way for a beer!
This article contains an affiliate link with our partner, Airbnb. When you click the link to sign up as a host we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. We have used Airbnb for years and absolutely recommend them. As always, we would never promote a product or service we didn’t personally use or support.
That’s Christine yelling at me as I continue to scour the Internet, falling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, searching for the next best flight deal that never seems to come. I tell myself the perfect budget flight is just around the corner, but that was a few hours ago and I’m not having any luck.
Sound all too familiar? You’re not alone! You’re one of the millions of people every year looking to find the best flight deals for that next big adventure! You know the feeling, the more you search, the harder it becomes. But finding the perfect flight recipe doesn’t have to be that difficult. Two parts destination, a cup of designated dates, a sprinkle of preferred departure time and then liberally apply a ton of savings!
Narrowing Down the Flight Search
With the amount of flight booking websites and apps out there, it’s no surprise people are having a hard time digesting information in the quest to find cheap, flexible flight deals. Even for us, as frequent flyers and world travelers for over five years, the plethora of options can be a tad overwhelming when we begin to plan for our next big trip!
Thankfully, we’ve now been able to narrow down our search for flights to just one super handy search engine that has time and time again provided us with the cheapest flights with flexible dates.
Enter Skyscanner, Savior of the Flight Searchers, First of its Name. Guaranteed to help you find flights that suit your timing, budget and journey of discovery all in one. Originally created as a website, Skyscanner also comes in a very functional and user friendly app that makes finding that amazing flight deal even easier when you’re already on the go.
“So what’s so good about Skyscanner?”
Glad you asked! I know your time and attention is limited, because you’re preoccupied thinking about that next adventure, so I’ll jump straight into it.
Super Flexible Flight Searches
A lot of flight search engines let you toy with a few days here and there, maybe let you check for airports near your destination, but Skyscanner gives you full creative control of when and where you want to go in the world. And for us, this is one of the most important qualities when booking a trip.
When we were leaving San Franciscofor Mexico, we didn’t waste any time searching for individual cities in Mexico, checking and rechecking which city was the cheapest at different dates. We simply jumped on Skyscanner, searched San Francisco Airport to ‘Mexico’ and got a listing of all the cheap flexible flights available, for all cities. This feature is awesome for finding super random cheap deals to an airport you didn’t even know existed.
What’s even better than being able to search for flexible cities? Flexible flight dates! Another awesome feature is the ability to look for the best deals within a whole month. If you’re one of those ‘go with the flow’ type travelers like us, you’ll love this! The search engine will literally pull all the available flights for that whole month and give you an easy layout to see which is cheapest. On the app you get a super simple color-coded chart on the dates. Red means too expensive, yellow is getting there and green means its time to get going!
We use this feature to find the best flight deals, and then we generally build our itinerary around that. For us it always works out to be the cheapest way to fly around the world. In 2015, when traveling through Southeast Asia we used this function a lot. It helped us save a bunch on flights from Vietnam to the Philippines by being open about when we could fly.
Added Inspiration and Adventure
Feeling extra adventurous and spontaneous? Take advantage of the ‘Search Everywhere’ function where you can literally pull the best round the world flight deals straight to your phone or computer. Simply enter your departure airport, search dates (specific days or month) and away you go!
The results will rank the countries by cheapest available flight within the month or date. You just pick which place you want to go and Skyscanner will show you which cities and dates are the cheapest. This flexibility definitely adds an element of excitement to the whole trip planning journey. The idea that you could just pack up and hit the road on a killer deal within the week really gets us excited about travel.
In the Skyscanner app, this is made even easier with the Top Deals feature. They’ll find the best low cost flights based off your closest airport and send a notification directly to your phone. All you have to do is kick back and get inspired for that next exciting trip.
Warning, this feature is bound to induce wild impulsive flights to exciting new places you’ve never even heard of. We take full responsibility for the amount of awesome times you’ll have!
Personalize Your Flight Search
A great way to utilize all the best features of Skyscanner is to download the app, set up some price alerts and let the app do the rest. Planning on a holiday this summer but don’t want to search for cheap flights to Europe every day? Finally headed on that backpacking trip around Central America and want the cheapest deals? Tell Skyscanner and they’ll look after you, sending out notifications to your phone whenever your ideal flight pops up on their searches. You can now spend more time kicking it by the pool instead of checking your phone.
Price alerts are not only convenient, but they’re exciting! It’s like receiving a message from someone saying ‘time to go see the world’, and we couldn’t agree more!
To start your next adventure, jump onto Skyscanner and start planning your trip today! Or grab the app and get lost in the deals in the next boring office meeting you have to attend.
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Disclosure: We love Skyscanner, and not just because they’ve helped sponsor this post, but because for years they’ve been our number one go to search engine for booking budget flights. We would never promote a company we didn’t fully trust, support and use ourselves. It’s just happens that they support us as well!
As long term travelers we’ve learned to become pretty good at finding the best resources to make traveling the world easier, cheaper and more fun. Not only because it’s our job, but because we’re always looking for ways to help the traveling community maximize their time, money and experiences.
Below you’ll find a list of our best resources for independent travel. From booking the cheapest flights and best hostel deals, to finding authentic travel experiences through food and friends.
Travel Resources for Finding Flights
Scott’s Cheap Flights – Gone are the days of searching high and low for that extra special flight deal. Now, let Scott’s Cheap Flights do the work for you! This email subscription based service scourers the internet for all the best deals, fair errors and all round bargains for your next trip. Save up to 90% on flights with this simple to use service.
All you have to do is make an account, pick the departure airports that you’ll be leaving from and Scott’s Cheap Flights does the rest. To make the most of this service you really want to get a Premium Membership, which gives you access to the best premium deals and only costs $49USD a year. And we can guarantee it’ll save you WAY more than that with just one flight deal. Still unsure, take a 14 day free trial of Premium Membership to try it out first.
SecretFlying – Shhh, don’t tell too many people. This site is amazing! Granted, you need to have pretty flexible plans, but if you can find a flight that works for your trip you’ll save TONS of money. Or maybe you’re just looking for a spontaneous getaway? SecretFlying is a site dedicated to finding airline discounts, errors or glitches in the system where ridiculously cheap flights become available. We’re talking New York to the Cayman Islands for $260USD return! There are hundreds of amazing deals on their site, so poke around and be sure to thank us later!
SkyScanner – Similar to Kayak and other flight search engines, but so many more features. We love SkyScanner because they really give you amazing flexibility in your searches. Set your departing airport and search for countries instead of specific airports, or try your luck at their ‘Everywhere’ function that will find you the cheapest spots to fly all over the world. If your dates are flexible you can also search for a month, as opposed to Kayak’s five day flexi search.
Best Travel Websites for Accommodation
HostelWorld – Not only are hostels a super sociable way to meet new traveling companions, but they’re also one of the cheapest places to stay. HostelWorld has a massive database of hostels all over the world, with ratings and reviews for you to find your perfect match. And don’t just associate hostels with grungy shared rooms and cold showers, in the last few years hostels have really taken a turn for the better. Look out for boutique hostels, with all the social perks of a hostel and the home comforts of a hotel.
TrustedHousesitters – Want to stay in beautiful houses for free? Yep, you heard us correctly… FREE! TrustedHousesitters is an awesome website that helps you connect with hosts looking for eager housesitters to take care of their home (and sometimes their adorable pets) while they’re away. From fancy French chateaus to Aussie beach houses, there’s everything and anything in between just waiting for you!
CouchSurfing – Kind of like the Facebook for hospitality exchange, this social networking platform allows you to find hosts generously offering up their place to travelers. The Couchsurfing community is an amazing way to meet likeminded travelers, share experiences and gain new cultural insights. It shouldn’t be used as a free accommodation opportunity, but it’s a nice perk to go along with making new friends. We’ve used Couchsurfing numerous times in the past and always had incredible experiences: from finding new surfing buddies in Mexico to hosting travelers down the Great Ocean Road in Australia.
AirBnB – A great alternative if you long for your own place and want to take a break from hostel or hotel life. You’ll get the luxuries and comforts of your own place, which is perfect for really experiencing somewhere like a local. You can find anything from a shared room in someone’s house, to your own private villa. Want to try it out? Click here and receive $30USD towards your first stay!
HotelsCombined – If you are looking to mix it up for a night or two in some more luxurious locations we recommend checking out HotelsCombined for the best deals. HotelsCombined is a comprehensive search engine (kind of like Google for accommodation) that’ll track down the best deals on hostels, guesthouses, hotels, resorts and everything else you need to make your stay enjoyable. Another good site similar to HotelsCombined, especially if you’re around Asia, is Agoda.
WayToStay – Similar to AirBnB, but specific to Europe. And because it’s by Europe, for Europe, you’ve got some really great accommodation options available. Find amazing deals on apartments, especially if you’re traveling with a few friends and can split a place. Why both jamming into a crammed hostel dorm in Barcelona for 30 Euro each when you can rent your own place for pretty much the same price! Plus you’ll feel like a baller with your own apartment to chill in!
Yotel/ YotelAIR – Yotel is the place to stay if you’re visiting a city and want to be keep things budget friendly while avoiding hostels. These space efficient hotels remove the “unnecessary extras” that hotels add on as an excuse to mark up prices. With features like adjustable smart beds that fold up into a couch, under the bed luggage storage and entertainment console built directly into the wall, no space is left unused here. Still, the rooms somehow feel spacious. Yotel offers competitive rates in cities like New York, San Francisco, Singapore and Boston, all notoriously expensive for hotels. YotelAIR, their airport hotels, are located in London, Amsterdam and Paris. I stayed at their London Heathrow hotel for an overnight layover and absolutely loved my room. With a big comfy bed, rainforest shower head and flatscreen TV, I could forget that I was in an airport and feel like I was in a luxury London hotel.
Best Tech Sites and Apps for Travel
Let’s be real… we’re living in a pretty tech heavy era! So it’s no surprise that the travel industry has also seen the impact of increased technology and how travelers interact with it. You’d be hard pressed to find a hostel in the middle of Peru that didn’t have wifi, so more and more travelers are staying connected while on the road.
Plus, with the growth of remote working while traveling, now we’re seeing even more people ditch their 9-5 office cubicle for a beach side bungalow in Bali… if they can. Here is a list of our favorite tech websites and apps to help make your travels smoother.
NordVPN – Did you know that some countries around the world the government ban websites like Facebook, as well as apps like Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram? Yep, true story! Unfortunately not all countries enjoy the civil liberties of the West, and Internet censorship can be a real pain to stay in touch with friends and family back home.
Not only that, but all your Internet activity and data can be open for other people to track, monitor and use for their own personal gain. It’s pretty messed up! Thankfully for you there are services called VPNs (virtual private networks ) that allow you to bypass the tracking and restrictions by tricking the Internet to make it think you’re someone else. It’s more technical than that, but all you need to know is that it works GREAT! NordVPN is an awesome app/program that you can use on your computer, phone and tablet to make sure you can always access blocked websites and keep your data private and secure!
RVshare – If you’ve ever dreamt of cruising around the United States in an RV, you can finally make that dream come true. Before you invest in purchasing one, try renting a van or RV to see how you like life on the road. RVShare is the largest, most trusted and wide-ranging inventory in peer-to-peer RV rentals. If you’re thinking about going on a road trip, camping, or renting an RV for a special event, RVshare makes the whole process simple and fun. They have a good selection of quality vehicles so you don’t have to worry about getting any lemons! From large vans to full service homes on wheels, you can choose exactly whichever fits your travel style best.
Other Awesome Travel Resources
World Nomads Travel Insurance – When it comes to traveling the world, or traveling your own backyard, never leave home without travel insurance. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind, and an even smaller price to pay if you end up having to need it. That’s why we choose, use and recommend World Nomads travel insurance for all your travel trips. Not only do they provide the most competitive prices, but they also understand traveler’s needs.
In 2014 when we accidentally ‘misplaced’ our camera at an Indonesia airport it was travel insurance that saved the day and helped replace it. Even though we had never used it in the past, that moment right there paid for all the years that we’d been paying for it. If you’re traveling with computers or expensive cameras it really isn’t worth the risk to go without insurance, not to mention having to pay out of pocket for any unfortunate trips to the hospital.
BonAppetour – Similar style platform to AirBnB, but with food! Don’t spend hours pouring over Yelp reviews and TripAdvisor forums for the best local restaurants when they’re all conveniently compiled right here for you. And what better way to experience the connection of food and culture then by visiting a locals own house for a home cooked meal! Want to give it a shot? Click here to get $15 credit towards your first BonAppetour experience!
iVisa Passport and Visa Services – Don’t get caught out without a visa when arriving in a new country, or it might be the shortest holiday you’ve ever had. Whether you’re looking for visa information, or looking to organize a visa, iVisa is the perfect resource to get you started. Simply search from whatever country you’re from, to whatever country you’re going, and find all the information you need!
Don’t Forget To Move would like to disclose that some of the links on this page help provide a little financial support to our site, at absolutely no extra cost to you. We would never endorse a product or service that we didn’t fully support or use ourselves, that’s our guarantee. If you’d like to help our site even more, please come and check out our Support Our Blog page with further details.
The following is a guest post by fellow travel blogger, Jess Signet from Tripelio.
Traveling is one of the most incredible experiences you can have in your life. That’s an undeniable and largely unquestioned fact. However, it’s also fair to say that when traveling it’s easy to miss some of your favorite home comforts. When moving around constantly and staying in hostels, your “home life” can become quite impersonal and formulaic. However, this can easily be remedied with a few simple changes to turn your backpacking hostel into a home away from home. Whether you’re in the middle of Thailand or traveling through the United States, these tips will help you to feel right at home in your hostel no matter what country you’re in.
Build A Home Cinema System
Let’s face it, one of the greatest home comforts that there is, is snuggling up in your pajamas with your duvet and settling down for a movie marathon. Even when traveling, there are some nights where you don’t want to go out and would rather just snuggle in. Unfortunately, many hostels aren’t equipped with lounge areas, and the ones that are usually don’t have a TV—especially not a TV with all your favorite shows and movies on.
Luckily, there is a solution, and it doesn’t involve lugging around all your favorite DVDs and home cinema system. All you have to do is grab your phone, tablet, laptop or whatever piece of technology you have brought with you, and find a cozy corner. This can be in the hostel lounge, dining room or even just your own bed. Curl up, log on to Netflix or another of your favorite streaming sites, plug in your headphones and shut the world out.
So maybe it’s not the same as surround sound and a widescreen, but it’ll definitely help make those lazy days in the hostel a little bit easier to cope with. However, be sure to remember to use a VPN when using Netflix abroad as much of its content is geo-blocked so you might not be able to access your favorite shows.
Personalize Your Hostel Bed
When hostelling, your bed is basically your only private space. Unfortunately, many hostel beds can leave a lot to desire in terms of comfort and coziness. However, it’s an undeniable fact that if you personalize your bed space, you’ll automatically feel more at home. This can be done easily no matter how lightly and heavily you’re traveling. Whether you’re bringing your own blankets and pillows, or double up scarfs, cuddly jumpers and travel cushions to create a makeshift bed of your dreams!
If you’re traveling with non-digital photos (you know the kind you print!) you can even stick them up if you want to really go for it. Sure, other hostels users might think you’re a tad crazy, but the familiarity and comfort that it will bring you when you return from a long day out and settle down for bed is unmatchable and totally worth it.
Get to Know Your New “Family”
One of the best ways to feel at home in a hostel is to make friends with the people around you. Many of us are guilty of just checking in and then spending all our time there doing our own thing and ignoring our neighbors, aside from the occasional “hi” when you pass each other in the breakfast room. Hostels are a great place to meet a whole range of interesting people, and once you feel comfortable with those around you, you automatically feel more comfortable in your environment.
This also refers to the hostel staff. More often than not, people who work in hostels do so because they’re friendly, interesting people who love to travel as much as their guests. Make friends with them, and you’re sure to get some great tips and hear some interesting stories, as well as maybe even wrangle another scoop of cereal out of them at breakfast time. Plus, once you’ve formed relationships when traveling, you never know where in the world you’ll meet up with them again.
Make Yourself a Home Cooked Meal
Lots of hostels have kitchen facilities, and more often than not, we don’t go near them. It’s easier to grab a bite to eat from the restaurant across the road or the local takeaway than actually prepare your own. However, nothing christens a new home better than making and sharing a lovingly cooked meal in its kitchen (just don’t leave a mess and be one of ‘those’ hostel people). It’s surprising how much performing every day tasks such as cooking can make somewhere feel like home.
You could even splurge on extra ingredients, cook a massive pot and share the food with other guests. This is a great way to make friends, get conversations going and maybe even get some help with the washing up! It can even be made into a full days activity, starting off by spending the morning browsing the local market and getting tips and recipes for making the local cuisine before heading back to your home away from home and cooking up a feast.
Choose the Right Hostel
Finally, not all hostels are equal. Every hostel has a uniquely different feel to it and this overall atmosphere goes a long way to determine whether you feel comfortable there or not. When booking your hostel, try to get an idea of what you want. Some people aim for social, party hostels, equipped with bar and resident bar crawl tour; whereas others want peace and quiet and more family-friendly fun. Even the difference in decoration and aesthetic style is important when deciding which to choose.
By identifying what you want, and what is important to you in order to feel at home, you can do your research and pick the perfect hostel for you to stay in. Doing this also increases the chance that you’ll make some close friendships during your stay as many guests will have done the same thing and therefore will be extremely likeminded. There’s no better way to feel at home than to find a place that you feel comfortable in, with people who you genuinely get along with.
How else do you make a hostel feel like home?
It’s certainly true that no hostel will ever feel completely like your home, but with these few easy steps, you can certainly go a long way to improving the situation. Every traveler is susceptible to a bout of homesickness now and again, so having a few tactics to relieve that is always a wise thing to do. If you have any more tips on how to make a hostel feel like home, then be sure to comment below and share them with the world!
Throughout the evolution of travel the term ‘get off the beaten track’ has become synonymous with the idealistic wanderer who desperately craves a new perspective on the already over worn tourist trails. Perhaps they’ve watched movies like Into The Wild and The Beach a few too many times, longing for that special place in the world that hasn’t yet been ruined by tacky bars and cheap knock off sunglasses. Or maybe they want to be the first person to explore an exciting new destination, before hostels and hotels open up the market to the hordes of vacationers and holiday goers.
It’s no wonder that phrases such as ‘get off the beaten track’ and ‘off the grid travel’ have become so appealing to travelers that look to the world as a place of mystery and discovery. The sense of desperation to claim these hidden hideouts has also been accelerated in our ever increasingly small and interconnected world. Every year untouched and untainted locations are becoming more difficult to find and even more expensive to travel to as people push the boundaries to find their own personal paradise.
But finding a spot that’s truly off the tourist trail is a lot more difficult than it sounds. You can’t simply jump on a random bus in El Salvador or Cambodia and let it take you out to the middle of nowhere unless you have some idea of what lies ahead. Particularly in some of the sketchier places around the world you always need to consider your own personal safety first. So with that in mind here’s a look at how to really get off the beaten track on your next trip!
Do Your Homework
Yes it’s probably true that if it’s written in a guidebook, or posted all over travel blogs, that the location isn’t as secluded as you’d like, but it pays to get a wide selection of opinions. There is plenty of information that can still lead you to a quiet corner of the world without worrying too much about an overflow of ambitious travelers following the same advice. With the abundance of travel blogs out there these days, try to throw the little guys a bone and search deeper than the first Google page. Chances are you’ll find some bright up-and-comer who’s discovered the next best thing.
Hire/Buy a Motorbike or Car
By far the best adventures we have had on this trip come from our travels via motorbike. Whether it’s renting bikes to get around the island of Phuket,cruising through the Cambodian countryside or buying a bike in the Philippines to tour the whole country beach by beach. Being able to stop when you want to stop, for as long as you want to stay, really increases your level of freedom on the road. With the right research and information you can find all those spots that only locals get to, or that travelers can’t access because tourist transport doesn’t service the area. Plus, it can save you a lot of money in transport costs if you hire your own bike for a day and hit up a bunch of different spots.
The beauty of slow travel might not appeal to everyone, but when you’ve got the time it’s the best way to get off the beaten track. Most people who have limited time choose the top tourist spots, so they rarely have time to explore their wider surrounding. And rightly so if you’ve got a tight schedule. If you were only in Cambodia for a week then you’d prioritize Angkor Wat over little Banlung. However, if you were there any longer I’d say definitely pencil it in. All around the world there are hidden locations on the fringe of major tourist attractions just waiting to be explored. Traveling slow also gives you more time to do your research and find the best/cheapest ways to get out to the locations you want to explore.
Make Friends With Locals
Part of traveling slow also gives you the added opportunity to lay a few extra roots in each spot that you stay. In doing so you get the chance to meet locals that know their country’s secret spots better than anyone. Not only will they give you the local perspective on these places, but you’ll also learn a lot more about the culture and history of the country you’re staying in. Local friends are also great because they have the hook ups for places to stay and eat in area that have yet to be saturated with tourists. And they speak the local language, so it’s always easier to travel with them. Broaden your horizons away from the standard backpacker crowd, there are so many awesome new local friends out there waiting to meet you!
Learn the Language
This is a little easier said than done, especially if you’re off to somewhere completely linguistically different to your native tongue; like Vietnam or Indonesia for an English speaker. But give it a shot, learning a bit of the language will definitely help you navigate local transport and negotiate good deals on places to stay and eat. Cuba would not have been the same for us without being able to speak some moderate Spanish, and we’ve heard others struggle to escape the delicately mapped out tourist route without having a few more words than ‘dos cervezas, por favor’. Do a quick Google search for the top phrases, write them down in a notebook and then take them out to practice for a day. You’ll be speaking like a local in no time… sort of!
There are always more ways to get off the beaten track if you’re willing to sacrifice a little more. Sometimes you’ll have to be prepared to ditch the modern day comforts of hot showered hostels and breakfast-included backpackers, but you’ll unlock the true meaning of exploration and discovery as you find the locations that inspire a new generation of travelers.
Deep down, most people have the desire to travel. Often it’s pushed into the distant future, a romantic thought for “someday” seeing the world. But by waiting until retirement, you’re wasting valuable travel time! Why wait until old age when you can begin creating a lifetime of memories around the world? We’ve rounded up our top 30 reasons to backpack the world to convince you that there are more reasons to travel than there are excuses not to. Caution: this list may induce rapid job quitting and spontaneous flight bookings!
Soak in a new culture and learn all about the fascinating and interesting difference lifestyles on this Earth! Easily one of the top reasons to backpack the world. The longer you can spend in a country the better you’ll understand it.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone. This might be diving off a 10 meter waterfall, swimming with sharks, or taking a chance on that dodgy looking Mexican ferris wheel. Challenge yourself and see how brave you are!
Make new friends from around the world. You’ll always have a couch to sleep on for that next big trip.
To be thankful for everything you have back home, no matter how big or small. Also to appreciate just how lucky you are if you have the option to travel.
Learn new things about yourself. There’s a lot of inner strength inside just waiting to be tapped.
Sit on a bus for over 24 hours just to save $20. It’s an experience that’s for sure. Also a great way to see how the locals travel. In some countries be prepared for inappropriate action movies played 6 times on repeat.
Live the life of a hardcore budget backpacker by sleeping in an airport for a night. You’ll never appreciate a shitty hostel bed more the next day.
Spend more time doing what you love. If you love surfing, find a beach with killer waves and post up for a month. If it’s yoga, check out a peaceful countryside retreat.
Address that deep yearning you’ve had to see the world. Make your dreams a reality and don’t wait for the future. You never know what might change, so take the opportunity while you can!
Sample beer from all over the world! Or rum, or wine, or whatever gets the job done. You get the point!
Learn a different language. Even if it’s just a few sentences to get you by, the locals will love it and it’ll enhance your traveling by a long shot.
Visit as many countries as you can. Just make sure you give yourself time to enjoy them.
Spend the night on a toilet because you picked the wrong street food (not something to brag about, but a funnier story in hindsight).
To sit on a chicken bus through Central America, and literally have a chicken sit on your lap.
CouchSurf with a stranger (who hopefully isn’t a weirdo).
Expand your culinary experiences. It may include a couple of wacky things along the way, but every culture is not without their weird and wonderful foods. I’m Australian, and I can admit that Vegemite is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it sure is delicious!
Explore your spirituality…. Wherever that may take you.
Hike up a massive volcano, bring a sleeping bag, camp on the top, and then wake up to a new day.
Prove to your friends and family back home that you’re a badass who isn’t scared to take the world head on!
Pick up a new traveling skill or hobby like juggling, slack lining or poi.
Get a crazy random tattoo with a bunch of strangers that have now become your fellow Pioneers.
Reinvent yourself! It’s the perfect time to break away from your perception back home and be whoever you want to be!
This is by the far the most common question Jules and I receive in our inboxes, Facebook messages and from other travelers we meet on the road. It’s a bit frustrating to give an answer because most people are hoping to hear a magic solution, or some secret trick to getting a boat-load of cash and then jetting off to a foreign country. Unfortunately it doesn’t really work like that. It’s more like a combination of gradually saving up money and then traveling reallycheaply once we’re off. We’ve written articles about our best budget travel tips and even cheap tricks from other travel bloggers, but today we’re going to give you tips on how to save money for travel TODAY!
“Cutting back to a minimalist lifestyle will not only save you the big bucks for traveling, but it’ll give you more room to breathe and lead a happier life in general”
Start to Downsize
This can mean different things depending on your lifestyle, but almost everyone has the wiggle room to downsize a bit. When you finally get to travel, you’ll be amazed at how little stuff you actually need in your life. Downsize your closet by creating a capsule wardrobe and then sell the extras on a consignment site like Twice. Downsize your monster TV and stereo set for something a little more reasonable. Cutting back to a minimalist lifestyle will not only save you the big bucks for traveling, but it’ll give you more room to breathe and lead a happier life in general.
Not everyone has this option, but if it’s possible, I highly recommend moving in with your parents/ grandparents/ extended family to save on rent (at least for a couple of months!). This is probably the number one reason we’ve been able to save so much over the years. Thanks Mom & Dad, and Nan! Again, I’m completely aware that this isn’t an option for most people, but if it is, take advantage! Rent is a huge chunk of your income, and if you can cut that down you’ll be cruising.
“Would you rather spend $500 dollars on a weekend at Coachella or 3 weeks traveling Central America?”
Evaluate Purchases Big and Small
The best way to start saving money is, obviously, to stop spending it. Make a list of any big purchases you’ve made lately or are about to make. Are these absolutely necessary, such as paying student loans? Or could they be cut out? Ask yourself if these are a higher priority than travel. Would you rather spend $500 dollars on a weekend at Coachella or 3 weeks traveling Central America? If it’s the former, that’s fine, but own your choices and make them consciously.
But don’t just evaluate big purchases; those small ones sneak up on you too. I know I for one have spent way too much money on clothing. Even if you’re buying on sale, those $10 tee shirts add up over time. It makes me feel a bit ill thinking about how much I’ve spent at Target over the years, and where that money could have gone instead!
Cancel All Your Subscriptions
Yep. I’m calling all you Netflix addicts out! These days there are so many awesome monthly subscriptions for movies, books, music, etc. And a $10 monthly subscription to Spotify may seem like a small price to pay for music, but over the course of a year or two, you’re looking at a few hundred dollars. Controlling all that passive money that’s leaking out from your bank account every month could mean an extra week or two on the beaches of Mexico. Or last you a whole month in Cuba. So cancel your StitchFix account and hop on your friend’s Netflix. Doesn’t everyone download their movies anyway?
“Sell your photography in a local café, fundraise on GoFundMe, or set up a lemonade stand. Whatever it takes to make that moola!”
Source Out Extra Income
So you make just enough to scrape by, but saving up for travel seems entirely unattainable? I totally understand. Young people, especially in major cities around the world, are often underpaid and overpaying for stuff like rent, food, etc. Now’s the time to start bringing in a little extra income- a “side hustle” if you will. Figure out your talents and passions, ideally the ones that don’t get utilized at work, so you don’t feel burnt out. Baby-sit for your neighbors (you may be pushing the 16 year olds out of a job, but jeeze those babysitters get paid a lot!), run errands on Task Rabbit, check out the “gigs” section of Craigslist (fair warning, there are a lot of creeps). Sell your photography in a local café, fundraise on GoFundMe, or set up a lemonade stand. Whatever it takes to make that moola!
Make a Rough Budget
Even if your trip is a year away, start creating a rough budget for it now. Research how much you’ll need for the type of trip that you want and see how much things cost in that country. Check out cheap accommodation, discounted trips and economy air-fare. Once you’re able to start putting a price tag on specific items, you can have a clearer idea of how much you need to save. Not only that, but the next time you’re tempted to spend $30 on a boozy brunch, you can remind yourself that that $30 is an entire day of exploring the backstreets of Bangkok or swimming in the gorgeous Caribbean ocean.
So you’re going to Southeast Asia, congrats! You’re about to embark on the trip of a lifetime. This region has so much to explore, from the gorgeous white sand beaches to the lush waterfalls to the vibrant backpacker scene. But now comes the inevitable question, what to pack? Packing for Southeast Asia isn’t easy. Depending on the length of your trip and what activities you’re planning, you’ll probably need a wide range of clothes, shoes and accessories. After spending months traveling around this region, I’ve collated the ultimate girls packing list for Southeast Asia:
Basic Packing Tips for Southeast Asia
Roll your clothes to make them more compact. It also helps eliminate creasing.
Keep heavier items on the bottom to keep the weight off your shoulders as much as possible. This is CRUCIAL if you’re traveling with a backpack.
Definitely grab some packing cells. They help you organize your clothes in smaller bags, so packing your big bag is a breeze! They things are life-savers! Otherwise your bag will end up one jumbled mess of clothing.
Always follow the golden rule: Less is more. When you’re lugging your pack across a border crossing in the hot sun, you’ll be grateful.
Best Backpacking Bags for Southeast Asia
Choosing a good backpack is important for being able to pack efficiently and feel comfortable carrying around your life on your back. I’ve had an Osprey Ariel 55L which was great and now I currently have a Gregory Deva 70L pictured below.
I recommend browsing backpacks on Amazon to get an idea of what styles and brands you may like. Then visit REI or another backpacking store in person and try on bags to get a good feel. They can put sandbags into the backpack so you can feel what it will be like fully packed. This thing is going to become your best friend so you want to make sure it’s a perfect fit!
If you do want to purchase online, here are some bags we recommend:
This is a great, durable backpack for long trips. With tons of pockets and spaces to fit all of your big and small items, it comes at a great price point too. My favorite thing about this bag is that it has a drawstring at the top to pack, as well as a zip on the front to lay the bag on its straps and pack like a suitcase. This small feature is invaluable when you realize the one item you need is at the very bottom of your backpack.
If you’re buying a backpack for the first time, give thought to what size you really need for your trip. Sizes come in liters, but bigger isn’t always better. Packing for Southeast Asia is relatively easy because the climate isn’t that varied. There are also many options for shopping in the region, so you can really get away with packing a limited amount. Having a smaller backpack may seem silly when you can just buy a bigger one and not fill it, but having a compact backpack will make it so much easier to move, especially when walking or on public transportation. This 55L pack from Osprey is a great women’s pack that will make sure you don’t buy too many souvenirs.
REI is always a good choice when you’re purchasing outdoor gear. As a co-op, they have an amazing membership program and incredible return policy. They also have unique technology in their backpacks, like their REI Uplift Compression which pulls the weight of your backpack up and in, making it easier on your shoulders. After walking around with 65 liters on your back trying to find your hole-in-the-wall hostel, you’ll be glad you have that technology!
Best Day Packs/ Carry-on Bags
There are all sorts of carry-on bags out there, from big sturdy backpacks to those little day packs you can squish into a ball. Base your choice on how much stuff you plan on carrying on a day to day basis (such as camera, sweater, water bottle, etc.). Here are our favorites on the market:
You may have seen Herschel bags explode on the bag market a couple years ago. These bags are sturdy, dependable and super stylish. They have a variety of day packs from drawstring to zip up to strap closes.
Having a versatile day pack like this one from Zomake is super useful for day trips like hikes or beach days. It’s foldable so you can easily toss it in the bottom of your big bag and pull it out when you need an extra day pack. And it’s only $16 on Amazon!
This basic canvas bag may look like a simple weekend bag, but it’s actually super useful. As you can see from the photo, there is a slot in the back of the bag to easily slide it on to a luggage handle. I can’t tell you how many purses I’ve had tip over as I try to balance them on my wheelie bag. It’s big enough to cram all your stuff in, but compact enough to fit under an airplane seat!
This drawstring backpack is made of water resistant nylon perfect for any time you may get caught in a light shower. It has plenty of pockets to keep your stuff organized. Plus it comes in lots of cute colors!
Best Tops For Southeast Asia
Real talk: Southeast Asia weather is like being in a perpetual sauna. It’s hot and it’s definitely humid – morning, noon and night. I’ve found that the best type of clothing for this weather is made of thin and loose fabric. You’ll live in tank tops and t-shirts. The brand Everlane is perfect for this climate. I have a couple of their loose fitting shirts and a couple of their tank tops. The fabric is light and super breathable, but stylish and good quality. I have a few other tank tops in the mix because they are perfect for this weather. I also brought a few t-shirts to avoid the painful shoulder sunburn, especially if we’re out for the day cruising on the back of a moto or island hopping in a speed boat.
Here are some of my favorite tank top and t-shirt options:
If you want to have a special date night or are just feeling a bit extra and want to dress up for an Instagram photo, this gorgeous floral maxi is perfect!
Best Bottoms For Southeast Asia
I’ve applied my strategy of packing lightweight clothing to my bottoms, as well. I have 3 pairs of comfortable running shorts for working out and lounging around. I have one pair of jeans, which seem impractical but you may experience cooler climates like in Northern Thailand or the Philippines and there’s nothing comfier than a pair of worn-in jeans. I also like to have a few of skirts with me for nice dinners or nights out.
I highly recommend one pair of light cotton pants, (which you can easily buy there, especially if you want a pair of the infamous elephant pattern backpacker pants) and a pair of leggings because what girl travels without a pair of leggings? They can be dressed up, dressed down, used for PJ’s or even for going on a run (okay, that last one is probably not going to happen, haha). But seriously ladies, a good pair of leggings is a travel necessity.
A great pair of lightweight shorts are perfect for a day out exploring. As much as I love a cute pair of denim cutoffs, they’re just not cut out for Southeast Asia weather. I find that running shorts, especially moisture-wicking ones, are the most comfortable and breathable!
These adorable little yellow shorts are perfect for standing out in the Southeast Asian jungle. Rayan isn’t the best for humidity but its a thin material so it’ll keep you cool in the heat.
Me & My Tevas, told you they weren’t that bad!
Best Swimsuits for Southeast Asia
If there’s one thing that Southeast Asia has a lot of, it’s beaches. From undiscovered Koh Rong Samloem in Cambodia, to party backpacker heaven Koh Phangan in Thailand to the gorgeous Kalanggaman Island in the Philippines (our personal favorite), you’ll find yourself on a whole lot of beaches. Believe me, you’ll want a few swimsuits. I find that a mix of one piece and bikinis are good to have. You never know when you’ll find yourself on a modest beach and want to cover up. On the other hand, you may find yourself at a raging pool party in Bali and want to show off a little skin!
My absolute favorite sweater is my Patagonia fleece. This thing is incredibly soft and I’m actually excited to get to cold weather so I can bust it out again. If you’ve read Jules’ Guys Packing List for Southeast Asia you’ve probably noticed him mention his fleece. Yes we have matching black Patagonia fleeces, but I promise we aren’t going to turn into that couple.
A lightweight shell rain jacket if you’ll be traveling anytime around the rainy season.The thing about Southeast Asia is that it’s always hot and humid, even while it’s raining. A thin jacket like this one is better in hot weather than something made of Gortex or another thick material.
A simple, lightweight hoodie can be nice to travel with to grab when you’re just feeling a bit chilly, like an air conditioned bus or plane. Its also nice to fold up into a pillow when you need an impromptu nap.
Best Shoes for Southeast Asia
For shoes I like to keep things simple. I pack one pair of flip flops (which you can easily buy in SEA), a pair of Teva sandals, one pair of dressier sandals, a pair of sneakers and a pair of hiking boots if we’re planning on doing a serious trek.
I know, Tevas are so ‘middle aged American tourist.’ But Tevas are so comfortable and these are actually pretty cute. And I promise I will never wear them with socks! Teva has a million styles to choose from so you can have your pick!
If you’re planning on doing any of the bigger treks around Southeast Asia (hello Everest!), you’ll want to make sure you have a comfortable pair of hiking boots before you leave home. This will be a lifesaver on the trail and you’ll want to make sure you have a pair that fits you really well beforehand.
Best Hats For Southeast Asia
Not everyone is a hat person, but I strongly encourage you to bring at least a baseball cap for Southeast Asia! The sun is strong and you’ll want something to protect your face when you’re wandering through Bali’s rice terraces. Here are some of my favorites: