The #1 question people ask us is…
…“How do you guys afford to travel?”
First and foremost, you don’t need to be rich to travel. If you want to travel, you can, and you don’t need to have tons of money to do it. We’ll post some articles on how we’ve managed to save up large amounts of money, along with tips and tricks to help you do the same, but here I’d like to share a few examples of how we’ve been able to go further with less, and lend some thoughtful ideas as to how you can extend your dollar while on your next adventure.
So without further adieu, here are 8 Money Savvy Tips to Help You Travel Longer.
1. Travel in a Group
As you may know, the High On Life crew usually roams the world in packs of 3 or 4 or sometimes more. When you travel in a small group, you open yourself to various small perks. For example, when negotiating the rate for watersports in Greece, I went up to the staff member and asked for the going price. I then explained that I had three other friends standing outside the shop, also interested, if the price was right. This dropped things from $30 to $20 in a matter of seconds. Another example where this bargaining method works is with accommodation: if you plan on staying in a single location for more than one or two nights, bargain! Saving any amount will add up in the long run and give you more money to spend on activities and excursions. The bargaining power when speaking for a group is KEY! You hold in your hands a lot of potential business, so asking someone to lower their rates by 10-20%, even 30%, is not uncommon. Prices around the world are not set in stone like they are in North America. You’ll be surprised with what you can do if you just ask.
2. Start a Community Fund
This ties into the group travel tip, and it’s something we’d like to “Colombus” as our own idea. We call it the “Community Fund”! In theory, it doesn’t actually save you any money but it will ensure the costs of travel in a group are split evenly amongst everyone and it makes life a lot easier. First thing you do is elect a trustworthy person in your group to be the “Wallet”. Your Wallet must be intelligent, accountable, intimidating, and… own a wallet. The second thing you do is get everyone in the group put the same amount of money in the Wallet. We go in batches of $100, and replenished it with the same amount once the Community Fund would run low. The Community Fund is a big wad of cash used for anything and everything that would typically require each traveller to pay the same amount for. Examples include: accommodation, transportation, excursions, team mango shakes, rounds at the bar, etc… The Community Fund is reliable and creates a much more efficient way to pay for any group activities, since one person has enough cash to pay for everyone! This makes your bargaining power similar to how a travel company would negotiate with businesses, since they represent a group of people… so does the “Wallet”!
Side Story: Back in ‘Nam, Parker got robbed and the cunning thieves got away with our Community Fund! Lesson learned: well… I guess there isn’t really a lesson because it can happen to anybody, so make sure the intimidation factor is huge.
3. Stop Flying! Use Local Transit: Bus/Train/Boat/Bike/Walk/Ride
A lot of people don’t think in this mindset because their trips are short and they want to get from A to B in the fastest most efficient way possible. But as the guys and I can attest, you can certainly save a lot of money by taking +8 hour bus and boat rides to get into another city or country. Albeit this has at times seemed to be the sketchiest of choices, but we’ve never been robbed or gotten in trouble taking local transit.
For example, while adventuring in South East Asia, you can take over-night buses from one side of a country to the other for $15-45. Some companies will even help handle your Visa applications and processing if you cross a border. My personal favourites are the buses that leave in the evening, and arrive at your destination the next morning. We’ve done a handful of these where, during the 8-10 hour journey, you can get a couple relatively long naps in, and save on a night’s accommodation.
Another cheap option is buying and owning a mode of transportation like a motorbike, caravan, or car. I definitely recommend this as it’s proven to be some of the funnest most adventurous ways to experience a country. Back in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2012, Parker, Alexey, Max and I each spent $300 USD and got 110cc Honda Win Motorcycles. We then spent the next 30 days driving up the east coast of the Country never staying more than 2 nights in one place at a time.
Sure, the bikes broke down, we crashed and had near death experiences, but the memories of that trip still make me smile today, and we all sold our bikes at the end of the trip. The costs to travel by motorbike for us included: $300 bike, $100 on repairs, $20 on a cell phone with 100 minutes, $5-10/day on gas (we drove 4-8 hours a day), alongside accommodation and food, we spent around $1,800 in total that month.
4. Cook Your Own Meals!
Of course part of enjoying a country’s culture is enjoying their selection of food. But nothing drains the pocket more than eating out 3 meals a day! You can cut your food spending in half by simply hitting the local market or grocery store, stocking up on the cheapest supplies (in other words, where the locals buy the things they sell you), and cooking your own meals. Sure this means you may need access to a stovetop or oven, but with very little effort you will be surprised how easy it is to find an open kitchen or space you can use to prep food (especially if you’re traveling and using a service like couchsurfing.com). For me, this is as simple as buying fruit, yogurt, and snack bars for breakfast, and finding something I can cook that will last me 2/3 meals. Some may hate this idea, and others, like Parker, thrive on it and use their money for more experiential things.
5. Find a Job!
The easiest way to travel further and longer with less money is finding a job and making a small income while being a traveller. The easiest way to do this and our biggest suggestion is working at your hostel. There are thousands of hostels around the world that will give you free accommodation, bar tabs, activity perks, and even pay you to work 10-40 hours a week. This may seem stupid because you’re supposed to be a world class traveller right? But if your goal is to take the 3k bucks you saved and span it over 3 months… this is your best option. Besides, working at a hostel can provide an amazing way to meet people and experience a ton of adventure on its own. Finding hostels where you can work isn’t always the easiest thing to do, sometimes the best way is by hitting the pavement like finding a “real” job, and talking to hostel owners to see what’s out there.
If hostel work doesn’t interest you, there are hundreds of other paying jobs to find while overseas. Research work opportunities before you leave home, look on the countries craigslist and other job search sites, find work programs and apply in advance for working holiday visas, wash dishes, wash windows, serve food, serve drinks, teach tourists how to surf or teach locals how to speak English… the key is to be open to new opportunities. Finding work overseas can be tricky, but if you’re strapped for cash and want to keep the adventure going, this is the greatest way to do long term travel.
6. Write a Travel Blog
Want to make money blogging? Basically you just need to be a good writer and understand how to run a basic website, but it’ll work to your advantage if you put the time into it. I’m not going to explain how to be a professional travel blogger; I’d rather just explain how you can use it as a tool to travel more with less. Before heading out, send an email to the various places you’d like to stay at and activities you’d like to do, and ask if they have a “media rate” for bloggers. Along with this, send them a brief outline of your blog and bio about yourself. If there’s interest, create your pitch and tell them exactly what you’re willing to do for them in exchange for their discount. Creating a successful travel blog will also lead you to plenty of other benefits like invites onto press trips, sponsorships, and income from advertisements and brand endorsements. If you’re creative and have a voice you’d like to share with the world, there’s nothing stopping you and nothing to lose.
Alexey and his girlfriend created a travel blog called Wandervibes that documents the adventures of a travelling couple. Their website gets decent traffic, and by approaching business owners with propositions of documenting their experiences of the place, it has led to accommodation discounts and even complimentary stay.
7. Use a Pre-Paid Visa instead of Racking up Credit Debt
This tip goes over most travellers heads, and not following it has been a pain in the arse at times for the guys and I. Having a credit card while travelling can be extremely useful when paying for things online (like flights and accommodation), as well in situations where you’ve got no cash in hand. The only problem is that if you’re not paying off your credit card while away, it leads to debt, interest, and even bank fees. It always surprises me how easy it is to spend the cash I’ve saved up for travelling and come home with additional debt that I wasn’t planning on bringing with me! There are so many times I just “throw it on the visa” and don’t look at my balance until a few weeks later. To eliminate this, we suggest using a pre-paid visa like the one Mogo offers, that allows you to put money you already have onto a Visa card that’s got all same functionality as a standard credit card (they also come in custom designs). Doing this eliminates the thought of “I’ll just pay this off when I’m home”, and it keeps you out of debt.
8. Start a YouTube channel, make epic travel videos, amass a dedicated social following, and create partnerships with various travel brands to help fund your escapades.
Okay, this isn’t the most obvious option but it’s pretty much the story of how High On Life / Sundayfundayz came to be, and actually took us about 3 years to make happen. If making videos and travelling are your passions then by all means, get out there and start making content that you love and share it with the world. You can read more about our story and our frequently asked questions –> here.
There you have it, all of our travel budget secrets. With a little bit of thoughtfulness and dedication, it’s completely feasible to take your dollar further while embarking on your next adventure. We know these tips aren’t for everyone, and are mostly geared towards long term travel, but even if you plan on doing three or four weeks away from your home, these tips will help you to come back with a little bit more cash in your pocket instead of a lottle bit more debt on your credit card! The greatest myth of travel is believing that you have to spend a ton of money to have a good time. Take it from us – it is entirely possible to Do More, Spend Less.
Leave a comment to let us know what you think of our wacky tips and if you’ve got any that work!!