The most common thing that a lot of people in the blogging industry get asked would hands down be “how do you afford to travel so much” and it’s a very good question which can be answered so many different ways but frankly most of its bullshit and there’s only one way that you can ever have enough money to travel and that’s sacrifice (and only if you were allowed to eat the sacrificial goat or carrot if you’re vegan).
As much as this might sound like a parody of an article, there are so many truths behind travelling and doing it often. For my past two years of travels I have been lucky enough to go on press trips with tourism boards throughout Asia and the Sub Continent so my flights are free which is an epic bonus and being based in Australia can be super difficult unless you want to travel to New Zealand or Indonesia. Despite free flights (on occasions) that means little when your bank account barely reaches $500.
Here’s a Few Stories of Been a Cheapo:
New Zealand Ain’t Cheap
I once got a tax return of $700 odd dollars and I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to get a cheap flight to Queenstown and damn right it was a good idea at the time and with no income stream I wouldn’t be making any more money in the near future unless I got a “proper job”. I ended up hiring the most uneconomical Subaru Outback and as I wanted to go from national park to national park I ended up spending $70 per day on fuel and if you know New Zealand fuel prices are fucked.
As I was burning through so much money all too quickly, I lived on 2 Minute Noodles, day old bread and of course…a case of beers. The New Zealand Government also helped my cause by issuing me a speeding ticket for going 5 kilometres over the speed limit which ended up being $210.
New Zealand isn’t the cheapest country to travel when on a strict budget especially when the food and beers are just too good to resist. A few years later I managed to get a job in Franz Josef at one of the resorts and I was adamant that I was going to save a stack of money. I cooked a weekly batch of meals and froze them which worked very well and as I already mentioned at least twice, New Zealand’s beer is the best so I would buy a case when they came on special.
Where I worked had the devil of all systems where you could on a night out and not have to worry about giving money to the bar tender an online account would tally up how much you drank and then deduct that from your pay slip. The most I ever accrued was $43 NZD and I had heard of stories with bills reaching over $500.
I would get the odd shift working in the most chaotic kitchens known to man and this was a good thing as there would be so many occasions where the chef fucked up the order or burnt a pizza meaning it would be run to a table so basically it was free game, a bit of burnt bacon or soggy chips never hurt anyone.
In the end I had epic access to the mountains both times I travelled New Zealand on a budget.
Not “dessert” rations if you’re wondering, I wish I had dessert in the desert instead I had to opt for much less as I spent a shit tonne of money on my flight to the Red Centre therefore I had to sacrifice what I would be eating on my desert expedition.
I knew I wouldn’t be spending much on accommodation as Brando Yelavich had a tent and my friend Kara had an old school caravan with a swag however what I didn’t spend on a place to sleep I certainly made up for it when it came to damn food.
Yulara is a small resort town about 20 kilometres from Uluru with a variation of resorts to suit budgets which is kind of bullshit as they are all so expensive and then there’s food in Yulara which is more expensive than gold itself. After meeting Brando we went to the pub for a beer and a feed and straightaway I blew my daily budget on one meal as the burger was $18 (chips not included) and the beer was $8 for a schooner. I knew that keeping under budget in the Red Centre was going to be extremely difficult if I stayed in Yulara too long.
7 days later, Brando and I was still in Yulara as one of the bikes need a major repair but in the end it wasn’t all doom and gloom for my bank account. On two of the five nights, Kara and I cooked up a camp oven stew which was enough to feed 10 people while Brando made a cheap damper while another night, I got invited to have dinner at my sisters friends place where I was served a plate of Israeli food. As for the other 4 nights, I cooked up pasta dishes plain and simple.
The Red Centre on a budget is seriously difficult and there aren’t too many ways around it and to make things worse, Brando and I turned up to Yulara at the exact time of a tourism influx as idiots ascended the sacred Uluru before the climb is due to close in late October. This meant that the local IGA had been ransacked by Grey Nomads who hadn’t bothered to stock up on food in Alice Springs before driving to one of the most remote grocery shops in Australia.
Brando had been sponsored by a company called Radix Nutrition therefore most of my breakfast and dinner meals had been covered for the expedition however when you burn thousands of calories each day while on the bike. Halfway into my bike trip, we rocked up at Erldunda Roadhouse and I was hungry enough to eat the horse and jockey instead I opted to table dive and clean up a serving of chips, salad and a mighty fine steak schnitzel while Brando polished off a T-bone steak and yeah it might seem a bit gross but it saved me $30.
On the 2nd last day of my journey with Brando, I ended up buying a bottle of red wine from Stuart’s Well for a reasonable $21 while Brando bought 2 packets of chips for and an ice-cream for $20 when we should have been filling up our water bottles as we basically ran out later that afternoon.
On 2nd thoughts, I think expeditions should be excluded from travelling on a budget as its near impossible especially when you burn so many calories and have to drink so much water. As Brando and I arrived in Alice Springs we were so done that we laid up the bikes outside the doors of KFC and ordered 2 of the biggest meals they had to offer and boooom see ya later money.
Two nights later Brando and I dressed up to celebrate the end of my adventure, we both went to a few local pubs in Alice Springs to sink a few beers and with Brando’s bank account on near zero I said I’d pay for his food and drinks that night but really it doesn’t matter the night that you are getting drunk…it’s the next morning that hurts when you look at your bank account “shit did I really shout the whole bar a drink”.
So How Do I Really Save Money To Travel?
Sacrifices plain and simple.
I hear a lot of people saying “I wish I had enough money to travel” and they would have enough money to travel if they stopped buying things like clothes, new phones or getting take away every night. If you limit how much you buy you’re going to save big time. I honestly have the worst wardrobe in existence and haven’t added any new clothes to it in 5 odd years.
Here’s a bit of math to help you on your way;
Daily Cup of Coffee - $4.50 (5 x 4.50 = 22.50) x 365 = $8,212.50. Instead buy 1 kilogram of coffee beans and brew your own coffee. If you stopped buying coffee for a year, you’d be able to fund your travels to anywhere in the world.
Brunch – seriously brunch is a bunch of bullshit like who in their right mind has breakfast so late! For two slices of sourdough, two eggs and an avocado will set you back $18. I would rather spend $18 on a local market in Istanbul on Turkish coffee or hire a local guide to explore the ancient ruins of Rome than spend it on a meal that you’re probably eating along with a hangover.
Friday Nights – are just as bad as brunch and if you are celebrating the end of the week, something is definitely wrong. The average price of a beer is $6 (where I am from) and if I were to go for a night out on $6 beers I’d probably drink 5 or 6.
That equates to $36 and that doesn’t even put into consideration the $25 meal I would buy later on that night. $36 can get you a night in a hostel in Queenstown and the change is enough to buy you a bottle of beer that you can enjoy while watching the sun set over the Southern Alps.
Haircuts – Getting a haircut in Australia will set your wallet back $20 to $100 depending on whether you are a man or a woman and we all need haircuts every few months. Thankfully my hair grows fairly slowly but when it does get long I will no longer go to the local hairdressers in town as they will sit me down, cut my hair and ask me my life story. My last 2 haircuts have been done in Kathmandu and Hospet in India for a price of $2 and it even included an eyebrow trim and head massage. Trust me; wait until you are overseas especially if you are planning on going to Asia.
Buy That Super Cheap Ticket – most days of the week there are specials on flights to pretty much every corner of the world and most of them won’t include check-in baggage but honestly if you see a ticket for a bargain price, grab it. I recently bought a ticket to Bangkok for $296 from Sydney and all that it includes is a 10 kg bag, no meal and no in flight entertainment and at first thought before buying it I was like ‘what the hell am I going to do for 8 hours?’…well sleep I’d say and in the end I am going to sacrifice comfort but in the end I saved $200.
The Trap – I think this is the most important thing on the list. I named it the trap as I am not very original when it comes to naming things but the trap is basically the thought that humans need to get a good paying job, buy a car then a house, have a kid or two then settle down and maybe once in a blue moon get a cruise to Vanuatu. This is a life that’s going to severely restrict your life of travel and once you fall into this trap, its game fucking over.
No To Debts – Instead of paying off your loan on your new car, mortgage on your house and the debt on your credit card, why not at least put it off for 5-10 years and go travel? One of the funniest memes I have seen on the internet in the past few years is the one of plane isle with the quote “my friends walking down the aisle” (wedding aisle) and “me walking down the aisle” (plane aisle).
Airport Floors –I am not a fan of sleeping on airport floors as they are the grittiest places on earth but it will save you a night’s accommodation if you can find a table to sleep under or a few flat seats to lay on.
If you want to travel on the cheap, you will hands down have to make sacrifices in your day to day life and also while you are travelling. There’s no shame in having a meal of two minute noodles with a few pieces of white bread and cheap red wine from the discount bin and if you can do this for the whole period while on the road, there’s no reason why you can’t extend your stay by 2 weeks to a month, even longer.
Budget travel is awesome and I would prefer it any day over luxury travel so never be afraid to travel on the cheap…who the fuck wants to spend a bazillion dollars on a hotel room in New York when you’ll be too busy eating dollar pizza in Queens.