As this is probably one of the things, we get asked about the most, we have brainstormed all our little thrifty tips into this nifty blog post!
The biggest thing that will help you budget to travel is your lifestyle choices. So, unless you are on a six-figure salary the honest truth is you aren’t going to be able to have a new wardrobe every season, party each weekend, go to the spa every month AND be able to go on long amazing trips.
So, what do you want the most? Where can you cut back a little now to save for your long-term travel goals?
Lucy is a self-proclaimed spender (but seriously working hard to curb this!) and Owen is a saver, so we balance each other out well and these are some of the ways we have been able to fund our travels…
Transport for Budget Travel
Budget Flights for budget travel – Try Round the world tickets for budget travel
If you are doing a big trip like we have done this year with multiple destinations, we would highly recommended you look at a multi trip ticket.
We used STA travel. Generally this is perceived to be a travel agency for students and under 30s (which we aren’t) however all that means is there are some even better discounts available for students but anyone of any age can book through them!
We did a bit of research on STA’s website and got an idea of an itinerary, but we decided to actually go into the local branch and talk it through which was so helpful. Our agent Mog was brilliant and offered lots of suggestions on how we could get the cheapest deal. We had actually wanted to leave for Australia in January but all the flights were coming in very pricey so she found out that it would actually save us money to fly to Malaysia and spend a few weeks there first – which was cool with us and gave us chance to explore a country we otherwise wouldn’t have!
This was our flight itinerary:
London Heathrow – Kuala Lumper (Malaysia Airlines)
Kuala Lumper – Perth (Malaysia Airlines)
Melbourne – Nadi (Fiji) (Fiji Airways)
Nadi – LA (Fiji Airways)
LA – Nadi (Fiji Airways)
Nadi – Melbourne (Fiji Airways)
Adelaide – Kuala Lumper (Malaysia Airlines)
Kuala Lumper – London Heathrow (Malaysia Airlines)
The total cost for all these flights was £1827 per person.
As you can see, we had to sort our own internal travel out in Australia. We flew from Perth to Melbourne which cost £115 each. Internal flights in Australia are not particularly cheap but this was actually a very good price to be fair.
On our return to Australia we hired a camper van for the stunning Great Ocean Road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide.
The cool thing about the multi ticket is it’s a big chunk of your trip paid off and you don’t have to worry anymore. If you book your trip in advance you can also pay in instalments (we only booked 1 month before we left so obviously missed the boat on that one!).
Another good thing is that if you need to change any of the dates you only pay the cost of the flight taxes. We decided to return to the UK for the month of September when our return flight from Australia was originally December and it cost us under £100 each to change it.
Just a note of caution – STA will try and up sell you their travel insurance package which was ludicrously expensive like over £1000 per person!! We shopped around for our insurance online and found a good deal with Explorer Travel Insurance and paid £290 for both of us.
Single flight trips for Budget Travel
Our favourite site by far for price comparisons is Skyscanner, it gives you direct flight and multi stop options, you can look at a monthly overview. So if you are flexible on your dates you can see what dates are cheapest and the variance is often huge just by leaving a few days earlier or later.
We have also found Google flights and Skiplagged to search but we always seem to go back to Skyscanner.
As you will get to know as you read our blog we are always super last minute with our plans and flights. Generally booking your flights around 10-12 weeks in advance seems to get you the best prices and often the earlier the better.
However… sometimes being last minute pays off!
For our second travel leg (out of the UK) Our flights from London to Bangkok were just £400 with Ethiad airways departing mid-October, and returning mid-January. We only booked one week before we left!
As a rule if you can avoid school holidays and peak seasons you can get good deals.
Sign up to emails from providers who can inform you about flight sales. We have an annual conference we attend in Las Vegas and we have often found good deals as a result of sales notice emails. Around Black Friday in November and in January they tend to have good sales. We recommend signing up to emails from Flight Centre and Netflights – we have used both of those before and got great deals.
Air miles for Budget Travel
Obviously you can accrue miles every time you fly so if you fly with a particular airline regularly this can be great.
Be aware you often have a time limit on when you can use up your miles by! We have both been stung with this before, having built up lots of points but not booking by a certain date and the points reset to zero – gutted! So, it’s worth checking the membership sites for any air miles or flying clubs you’re signed up to. With any luck you might have lots of points sitting there you can use on your next trip!
You can usually back date flights and enter details from flights 6 months to a year back to retrieve points too.
The other way to accumulate air miles is to use a credit card that is associated with miles so for every £1 you spend it gives you air miles, search the Money Saving Expert website for some great info and deals on that.
On a side note we always recommend booking flights on a credit card as you are more protected should something go wrong (feeling for all the Thomas Cook customers lately, we have met travellers who have lost a lot of money on cancelled flights.)
Camper Van Relocation for Budget Travel
This is what we love about travelling – we actually heard about this from a Swedish couple we met in Fiji!
They told us that camper van rental companies are often looking for people to relocate vans on popular one-way routes back to the starting point.
We did this from LA to San Francisco through JUCY rentals and paid just $1 a day – just go to their website and there’s a “relocate specials” section.
Sometimes the companies will charge you a very small nominal rental fee, others will be completely free and some even contribute towards the cost of fuel and ferry tickets if you are going over water!
There is a time limit so it might be a little rushed, but you still get to take in a lot of sights along the way and save money.
The only other cost you need to pay is your insurance, the level of cover you go for is of course up to you. We paid $14 per day for the highest level of insurance.
So not only do you have free or very cheap transport you have a home for the night too!
There are many websites that do this, we recommend you sign up to one called iMoova as they send regular routes and check the JUCY sites regularly too.
Van relocation seems to be available in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Europe.
Ride Sharing apps for Budget Travel
We’re sure most of our readers have heard of Uber – such a game changer right?!
We have used Uber in South America, Australia, New Zealand & the USA and of course it is always cheaper and more convenient than taxis.
You might not have heard of Lyft – it’s exactly the same as Uber and we found Lyft to be cheaper than Uber in the USA.
For US$5 in ride credit, download the Lyft app using our referral link: https://www.lyft.com/invite/LUCY93314
In SE Asia the ride share app is called Grab. We have used this in Malaysia and Thailand so far and found it to be readily available in big cities but not so much the smaller towns.
You can even get Grab Motorbikes so when Lucy was on her own in Bangkok she used these, pretty terrifying, but very cheap at abut £1.00 a pop to go anywhere around the city!
Housesitting for Budget round the world travel
House and pet sitting were two of those things that just seemed to keep cropping up for us as we researched budget travel. We had met a few friends who had done it in New Zealand, Australia and America.
So, when we started planning our year long trip we knew this was something we should look into. Essentially you pay a year’s membership of £100 but you can apply and sit as many times as you like. This has honestly saved us £1000’s!!
We use a site called Trusted Housesitters, we did sign up and pay for another site in Australia called Happy Housesitters but found it hard to use and got absolutely zero responses to our applications. For a 25% discount on your Trusted Housitters membership click here.
We have eight 5-star reviews under our belt now and could potentially start charging for our services and turn this into another income stream. We don’t currently plan to do this, but it is something you might want to consider if you are planning long term travel.
Accommodation for Budget Travel
Our go to site for accommodation is Airbnb. Airbnb is great particularly in Western countries, we haven’t tried it in Asia or South America as yet. We like the homely vibe, meeting lovely hosts and getting locals tips that you just wouldn’t otherwise.
One of our really memorable experiences was in New Zealand where our hosts invited us to their summer “batch” (kind of like a summer house / beach shack) it was right on the beach at the bottom of a completely private road. We shared travel stories over wine, had an amazing paella cooked for us and on the drive home at night we have never seen so many stars! You just wouldn’t have had that experience any other way. For a discount on your first Airbnb stay.
Our other tip for budget travel accommodation is thinking about who do you know?
Seriously – if you have friends, family, or even very loose connections that live in countries you plan to visit get in touch and let them know you’re coming. We have done this so many times just with the intention to meet up for a drink and have pretty much always had the offer to stay in their homes and why not!
Us Brits can be so shy and polite that we think we are imposing on people!
If you have people in your life who are kind enough to offer you a bed for a few nights go for it, it saves you a lot of money and you are more than likely to have a great time and again it’s all about those local tips and insights that make a trip so memorable.
We often joke when people say “you’re more than welcome to come and stay anytime” that we actually will take them up on it so don’t surprised to get a call or message from us to say we’re coming!
Massive shout out and huge appreciation to everyone who has offered us a bed for the night on our travels!
Eating out on your Budget Travel round the world trip
As you can see a lot of these tips tie in with each other. Through having whole homes to ourselves via Trusted Housesitters, we were able to cook at home which saves so much money. We were so well behaved in Perth and loved our house, so we hardly ever ate out!
This is why in the past we have often opted for AirBnb’s when we’ve been on longer trips. Even if you just have a small kitchenette to sort breakfast and snacks it can still save a lot versus eating out for three meals a day.
If you follow our personal social media accounts, you’ll know we are actually consultants for an online health and wellness business. We can’t survive without our vegan nutrition supplements and protein shakes so a lot of the time we have a shake for breakfast which also saves us money!
Can you believe we are actually carrying around a 3-month supply of protein around Asia?! It’s coming in so handy on those long bus journeys thankfully!
In South East Asia (where we currently are) eating out is so cheap. We usually opt for night markets and street food and you can get a very filling and decent meal out for around £2-3 each.
We were a little worried before we came here about how safe this was and if we would get sick at all, but we can honestly say 99% of the time it’s been no issue at all. We think this is probably because we are vegetarian so to be 100% safe maybe avoid the meat and fish! Eating veggie is generally much cheaper too.
We might have a meal out in an actual restaurant once a week or so but on the whole the street food here has just been awesome!
Another tip is to always carry a reusable water bottle everywhere! There are usually lots of places you can refill, not only is this SO MUCH BETTER for the planet it’s better for your wallet.
You can also buy bottles on Amazon which have built in water filters so you can drink the tap water. Owen has been using his “WaterWell” bottle since he got to Thailand and has had no issues so far!
Cashback websites for Budget Travel
Our final tip is to book through cash back websites such as Topcashback. You can do this for flights, trains, hotels and loads more! You get a small % back from the companies through doing this. It can take a while for the payment to be ready (up to 22 weeks after booking) so consider it as savings for future trips!
We have only used the site since May and have already clocked up £160 cash back for making bookings we would have done anyway. To register for Topcashback click here.
We hope you enjoyed these top 5 budget tips and found them useful!
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