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24 Travel Hacks for Travelling on a Budget

What’s the one excuse most people bring up for not travelling?

That’s right. It’s too expensive.

The thing is, the idea that you need a lot of money to travel is a myth. There are so many ways to save up for travelling and to save while travelling that money does not have to be an issue. Seriously. Do your homework on budget travelling, and get ready for the best trip of your life.

In this post, I’m sharing 19 travel hacks for travelling on a (tight) budget.

Let’s go!

Think ahead

1. Do research

These days, there are so many resources available for travelling. Besides travel agents, there are books, blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos… Pick a platform and learn as much as you can about the places you’d like to visit.

Some of my local travel blogs for travel tips and inspo are Wanderlust Movement, JaredinCPT,  and 9Lives.

2. Talk to frequent travellers

Chances are, you have that one friend who travels on a yearly basis (or more), posting all those wanderlust-inducing photos on Instagram. Or maybe it’s a colleague at work or a relative.

Organise a coffee date with that person and get advice on saving money when travelling. I’m sure you’ll get to hear some great stories, too!

3. Enter travel competitions

If you’re a travel enthusiast like me, you’ve probably noticed the vast amount of travel-related competitions run by magazines, travel agencies, and more.

If you enter every single travel competition you come across, you’re boosting your chances to win. Free island holidays, anyone?

4. Opt for budget flights

Instead of flying with the standard airlines like SAA and British Airways, do proper research and go for the cheaper airlines. If travelling from South Africa to Europe, for example, KLM, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and Qatar Airways are often the cheapest options.

Bonus travel hack: Try to book your flights for Tuesdays. Flights are usually the cheapest on Tuesdays compared to the rest of the week.

5. Use a VPN or a private window

Use a VPN (virtual private network) to find the cheapest deals. Sometimes when you’re searching from a certain location the websites up the prices, because it’s a “rich” city you might be searching from. Pretending that you’re from another country, then, can save you tons of money.

Moreover, use a private/incognito window on your browser to hide your history when researching or booking flights.

Choose cheap destinations

6. Travel to visa-free countries

Travel visas is a significant expense when travelling. But, luckily, there are lots of countries where South Africans can enter without visas.

Here’s a quick list of great visa-free countries for South Africans:

To learn more about some of these countries, I’d definitely recommend Wanderlust Movement’s article: 12 Best Visa-Free Countries For South Africans To Visit In 2018.

Work and travel

7. Au pair

Au pairing is one of the popular choices. Not only do you get free accommodation, but you also get to play with kiddies. If that’s your thing.

8. Work on a ship

There is a wide selection of jobs to choose from on cruise ships: You can work as a chef, steward, beauty therapist, nurse, security guard, fitness instructor, you name it.  You can also work on yachts or fishing vessels.

9. Teach English abroad

There are countless opportunities to teach English overseas. Especially in China, English teachers tend to make big bucks.

With school holidays, you will have plenty of time to travel as well.

Good news: More often than not, you do not even need a tertiary qualification to teach English abroad; a matric certificate (or equivalent) will do.

10. Work on a farm

There are countless opportunities to work on farms abroad, from seasonal to full-time jobs. Some popular countries to find farm work are the US, England, Ireland, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand. 

11. Volunteer

Lots of volunteer opportunities will provide free accommodation and meals. All you’ll have to do is a little bit of work, and then you can spend the rest of the time vacationing. 

Good websites to find volunteer jobs worldwide are Workaway, Diverbo, WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and Volunteers Base.

Find Cheap (or Free) Accommodation

12. Sleep on a couch

Let’s start with the free option first: CouchSurfing.

CouchSurfing is a hospitality and social networking service that is completely FREE – hosts are not allowed to charge their guests. Members can use the service to arrange homestays, offer lodging and hospitality, and join socials such as “Couch Crashes”.

Sounds sketchy? Here are some tips from an experienced CouchSurfer, Nomadic Matt: How to Crush it on Couchsurfing.

13. Do house sitting

Even better than couch surfing, with house sitting YOU are the one getting paid for your accommodation. And there’s the chance of rooming with a dog or two to keep you company!

14. Camp

If you’re the outdoorsy type, why not sleep in a tent? 

15. Opt for a hostel or backpacker’s lodge

If you don’t mind sleeping in a room full of strangers, a dorm in a hostel or backpacker’s lodge is a good option that won’t bruise your budget too much.

There are hostels right around the world – just consult our friend Google or check on Hostel World.

16. Find a place to stay via Airbnb

Finally, there is Airbnb. “It’s a brilliant way to save some serious moola on your vacation,” says Caré de Wet from 9Lives. 

Read Caré’s article to find out how Airbnb works: Airbnb first-timers: All of your Questions Answered.

Live like a local

17. Make friends

Want to learn about your holiday destination’s secrets? Be friendly with the locals and ask about budget activities, restaurants and bars to try. 

If you build lasting friendships with the locals, you might even score a place to stay when you return. You can return the favour by helping your new friends save money when travelling by letting them crash with you.

18. Shop local

Instead of buying your groceries at conventional supermarkets, go to the local markets or farm stalls for fresh produce and more. You’re sure to find great souvenirs at markets, too.

Moreover, go for cheaper street food instead of restaurants and takeaways.

19. Bargain prices down

When shopping at markets, bargaining is a skill that will come in handy.

In many countries, bargaining down merchants’ prices are the norm. So make like the locals and try to bring down the selling price.

20. Walk

Instead of spending unnecessary money on taxis or fuel, rather walk as much as you can.

Lots of cities and towns also offer free walking tours guided by locals. Besides the fact that you’re saving money, you could also get exclusive insider facts and tips about the place you’re visiting. 

Free stuff and more

21. Make the most of free activities

Are you aware of the abundance of free activities out there?

Walking tours, street performances, museums… These are some of the underrated things to do that are often free of charge.

Here’s an article of mine about free activities most cities have to offer: 6 Free Things to Do in Any City

22. Go Geocaching®

With the Geocaching app, you can go treasure hunting with the world! It’s a great way to spend the day getting to know a city while having an adventure.

The app is available on the App Store and Google Play for free.

23. Get your ISIC card

Ever heard of an International Student Identity Card

“ISIC is the only internationally-recognised student ID. It is your ticket to fantastic discounts and services globally.”

With an ISIC card, you will have exclusive access to everything from travel deals to restaurant discounts.

If you’re not a student, however, there are two related alternatives: an International Teacher Identity Card (for full-time teachers or lecturers) and an International Youth Travel card (if you’re 30 or younger).

24. Travel light

A light suitcase is not just easier to travel with but can also save you money on baggage fees.

If flying, travelling with just cabin luggage is the cheapest option, of course. Simply wear your heaviest layers on the plane.

Moreover, the golden rule when it comes to packing (light) is: When in doubt, leave it at home. Honestly, you never regret the things you don’t pack.

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