Just because you pride yourself on being frugally minded doesn’t mean that you can’t follow your dreams. If you yearn to scratch your wanderlust itch and venture off to far flung destinations in a quest to immerse yourself in new cultures, meet new people and see new vistas, you don’t have to break the bank. Instead, you can get your financial obligations and responsibilities ship shape before setting foot on your plane. It doesn’t matter whether you fancy interrailing around Europe or venturing to the Far East, you can do so with thriftiness in mind. Budgeting and saving while planning for a seemingly frivolous foray overseas might seem like an oxymoron. However get the planning and preparation right, and you could be hot-footing it abroad without slipping into a debt trap. Take a look at these simple ways that you can scratch your wanderlust itch without breaking the bank.
Trim Your Outgoings
Any big trip overseas will require a hefty financial outlay even if you are planning on staying in hostels for the entire trek. Flights cost money as do insurances, visas and vaccinations. It’s time to get your finances in order. While you don’t have to be totally debt free before you go abroad, you do need to be able to manage your debt effectively while you are away. Consider taking out a loan to consolidate these outgoings while you aren’t in the country. You may deem it useful to find a loan guarantor as you may get a preferential rate enabling your debt repayments to accrue less interest. With a simplified debt plan, you don’t have to be worrying about having enough money in your bank account to cover multiple different repayments sporadically spread across any given month.
Consider creating a budget spreadsheet to monitor your expenditure. If you are partial to an iced cinnamon whirl on your way to work every Friday, consider cutting this from your outgoings. The beaches of Bali or the jungle of Costa Rica should be enough of an incentive to live a little more frugally for a few months.
When you come to planning your trip overseas, make sure that you utilise the wealth of comparison websites online to shop around for your accommodation, flights and excursions. The best deals may even be going direct with a provider or firm so don’t assume that you are always getting the cheapest deal by using a third party.
Consider taking flights outside of peak season and at more unusual times. A mid-August flight to Australia mid morning on a Saturday will be extortionate. Instead, take a more indirect flight at 2 am in the morning on a Wednesday in March. Yes, it may take a little longer to get to your chosen destination, but you will have a substantial saving in your pocket ready to spend while enjoying your trip.
The same goes for accommodation. Many places offer early bird deals, or throw in a free dinner if you reserve a room. Make sure that you book using a website that allows you to pay the hotel directly, so you pay nothing up front. This way, you don’t have to be tied into staying at any accommodation, and you can be flexible with your travel plans. It can often pay to plan out a skeleton itinerary even if you are the sort of traveller that prides themselves on their spontaneity. Some countries like China even require you to provide a list of where you will be resting your weary bones every night before they will even grant you a visa and permission to visit.
If you adore your tech as a traveller and you don’t want to be without the latest smartphone, GPS unit and SLR camera, make sure that you weigh up the pros and cons of taking such expensive gadgetry with you. You must be fully insured should you break any of your kit or have any of it stolen. Instead of the most expensive gizmos, think about going for more compact, travel-specific and often cheaper gear. Travel cameras are more than half the price of digital SLRs and will take up much less space in your luggage. They are also made to be more robust and rugged. You can take some shots underwater on your first scuba diving lesson on the great barrier reef and not have to worry about dropping your camera when on the Inca Trail.
Don’t even consider packing a bag that holds more than forty five litres. Any more, and you will end up taking way too much stuff that you’ll never use. You will have to wash your clothes so don’t take more than a week’s worth. Utilise a front loading backpack rather than a wheeled hard case as this allows you to be more flexible especially when you are destination hopping.
When abroad, there are always expensive excursions to tempt you. Head to Beijing, and the Great Wall will beckon you to visit it. While you could go on a no expenses spared organised tour to Mutianyu or Badaling, you could opt to go it alone and use public transport. Buses are cheap, safe and frequent, meaning that you could save a small fortune and not be tied into tour timings when you visit one of the world’s finest heritage sites.
Look for free excursions and activities such as national museums and galleries to get your cultural kicks. Try and observe the locals and see where they head to on a rainy day or where they eat. If there are crowds outside an eatery and the smells are divine, the chances are that you could have stumbled upon a little gem of a restaurant. While guidebooks can be useful, they don’t always have the hidden eateries that have managed to escape the tourist trail.
The next time you are planning a getaway, whether this is for three weeks or three months, make sure you follow this guide to help you scratch your wanderlust itch without breaking the bank.