Long-term travel can seem like an unaffordable dream. However, slow travel can actually be more affordable than quick vacations and weekends away.
For half a year, my husband and I have been traveling the world on less than most spend at home. Many of our tips can be applied to vacations of any length, although the biggest are for the slowest travelers. Try spending several weeks to a month in a single destination, taking a ‘gap year’ or embracing the nomadic lifestyle.
How much do you need?
I’m convinced that it is possible to live well on $50 a day. That’s how much Paul Terhorst suggested in Cashing in on the American Dream, which inspired us to begin our adventure. Even though his book was published in the 1980s, there’s lots of evidence that it can still be achieved today. ‘Nomadic’ Matt Kepnes has been able to do so for over half a decade. The folks at eTramping do it on even less, and thanks to the tips below, so have we!
My top 10 tips for saving while traveling:
- Luggage – Not only does sticking to hand luggage mean no checked baggage fees, but you can save on storage and tipping. (Plus, no more lost bags or waiting at carousels!) We’ve been traveling to both tropical and snowbound environments with our CabinMax bags. Their ultra light bags are organized by the maximum size available for most airlines. And with no room for souvenirs, that’s another temptation dealt with!
- Flights – One of the biggest advantages to long-term travel is getting cheaper deals in the off season and flying mid-week. Skyscanner is a terrific resource for finding cheap flights.
- Accommodation – Many people are saving on accommodation using AirBnB, but even larger savings can be had with weekly or monthly discounts. This can be more than 50% off! Importantly, finding accommodation that has wifi, a washer, and a kitchen means you can save in other ways too. You can skip getting a SIM card, travel with less baggage, and save on eating out. (This is even more important for travelers with food allergies).
- Insurance – We got a great deal on an annual travel insurance policy. At only $3 a day, it’s much less than private insurance at home, and lower than if we took a couple of trips throughout the year on separate policies.
- Food – At AirBnBs we can usually buy what we need to cook for $20 to $60 a week, depending on location. Using TripAdvisor we have found awesome ‘cheap eats’ for special treats. These include langos in Hungary for around $1, gyros in Greece for $2, or amazing $3 beef bowls in Japan.
- Drinks – We try to take a water bottle whenever we go out. Since neither of us drink alcohol, we’re able to spend much less than most travelers! If you don’t drink either, take this into account when looking at bloggers’ and guide book sample budgets.
- Entertainment – There is SO much you can do for free that we started a series of free guides. Some of the best attractions – historic temples, CERN, views of the Acropolis, incredible museums – are free to enjoy.
- Transportation – Again, there are huge bonuses for slow travelers. Spending a month in a place often means you’re eligible for discounts, such as getting a monthly transport pass. We had one in Budapest for a little over a dollar each per day, for unlimited travel on all transport. Using sites like Megabus we’ve gotten some great deals for inter-city travel (like Scotland to England for a pound!)
- Live like a local – For us, this means cooking rather than eating out at tourist traps, and shopping off of the main strip. Meals in touristy areas can easily cost three times the usual price.
- Learn the language – Not only will making the effort please the locals, but you can often find bargains because in many countries. English-language advertising, signs and menus, and English-speaking staff understandably come at a premium. Duolingo is a great way to learn basic language for free.
Where should I go?
Our average daily spend across Europe and Asia is currently about $22 each. Depending on the location, it has been much more expensive (like in Norway or Switzerland, where we only spent a few days), or as low as $15 when we were in Budapest, Hungary. (Check out our Budapest budget for details). Matt Kepnes includes Budapest (and Thailand and Greece, which we’ve also visited) among his destinations under $30 a day.
Whether you’re planning a quick trip, a dream family holiday or permanent travel, it’s important to calculate how long you can travel for. Once you start exploring, chances are, you’ll find plenty of places below your ‘magic number’!
This post is based on ‘How can I travel the world on $50 a day?’ at Enrichmentality, a blog dedicated to helping you learn the language of money and enrich your future.
After achieving financial independence at the age of 30, Sarah resigned from her position as a lecturer in Japanese sociolinguistics to travel the world with her husband. Her blog, Enrichmentality, is dedicated to helping people learn the language of money and enrich their futures. Sarah believes that the best way to achieve a more socially, environmentally and economically sustainable and equitable society is for more people to become empowered, and that enrichment is not just about money, but about living a rich life more generally. You can find out more about Sarah, including how she paid off her mortgage in just over 4 years and gained financial independence at https://www.enrichmentality.com/about-me/
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