“Not all those who wander are lost.”
So why should you take advice from me? Well, I’ve spent 2 years backpacking across Australasia. Outside of that, I’d spent 2 months living France, 3 weeks in Thailand and I’ve taken numerous short trips around the world for “vacations”, with many more plans for the future! On top of all of that, I’m broke.
Some people I speak with have asked me how I was able to afford to do all of that because the general thought on the topic is that traveling is expensive, and it can be, but it doesn’t have to be! I am actually someone who has never had a lot of money and I’m usually living paycheck to paycheck so I’ve always had to be frugal, but anyways, I thought that I would share some of what I’d learned to help you travel more often and for less.
Working Holiday Visas
The first thing I would suggest to any young people looking for an experience living abroad would be to check and see if you qualify to obtain a Working Holiday Visa in the country of your choice.
Working Holiday Visas are very popular in countries around the world, especially in countries with prominent Western cultures. They generally allow a person to work for up to a year as a temporary resident of the country. You will be able to open bank accounts, file tax returns at the end of the year, find employment, and come and go as you please during the duration of your granted Visa.
This is hands down the easiest way to make a serious travelling experience affordable if you are a young person, because you can recover most of your costs by working while you travel. More than that, you get a true feeling of what life is like as a citizen of another country too!
Most Working Holiday Visas are limited to people 30 years of age or younger, but I have seen some countries that offer their programs up to people 32 years of age and possibly even a little older.
If you are a Canadian considering this option, a wonderful program which I used on my trip to New Zealand was the SWAP program found here. This is a non-profit organization run through the Universities of Canada to help set up young Canadians with an experience abroad. They will book your first few nights accommodation, acquire your working holiday visa, set up your bank account and give you a bit of a safety net abroad in case you were to need it. Check it out today if that interests you, I dare you!
In almost all circumstances, it’s beneficial to travel as lightly as possible. Cut the amount of luggage that you are going to bring on all of your trips down to your bare essentials, bring a few knick-knacks to keep yourself happy and don’t over pack. Not only is this going to make getting around much simpler after your arrival, but when you begin to simplify your life like this, you begin to realize how little you need to truly be happy! It can also leave you with more space in your luggage to bring home souvenirs from your destination.
Find Cheap Flight Tickets
Flights can be the most expensive part of any vacation depending on where you book your tickets and who you’re flying with. When I was travelling abroad I’d experimented with multiple websites to try and find the cheapest possible tickets for my flights.
For Canadians looking to travel internationally, I would recommend sites like CheapOair which will check multiple airlines against each other and come up with the best possible fares for you. As long as you don’t mind the occasional stopover and have some flexibility with your travel dates, then you can save hundreds of dollars travelling this way!
Recently, within Canada, I have come to use another airline operating domestically. Just last week I flew across Canada from Ontario to British Columbia for just over 100$ each way using FlySwoop to get there and back.
The pros of this airline are that you can save an enormous amount of money in transit, leaving you with more cash for your travels and the flights are usually direct. The company also operates through smaller airports which means cheaper parking and an easier security-screening process.
The cons are that you need to purchase additional baggage for about 50$ each way, so the lighter you travel, the cheaper it will be. Also, the list of destinations you can travel to are limited, but if you don’t mind renting a cheap vehicle to get around then this may not bother you too much.
Another tip for budget-conscious travelers would be to watch how much money you spend on food. Yes, eating is important and eating well is going to help you to make the most of your trip and experience by keeping you feeling positive and balanced. However! If you spend too much money eating out at pricey restaurants with drinks on the side then that bill is going to add up quickly.
If you are unable to cook for yourself while you are travelling, then at least grab a few healthy snacks that you can take around with you on your trip. Fruits, protein bars, nuts, sandwiches etc will help keep you satiated so that you’re not absolutely starving and can hold out for the right place to eat.
Look for restaurants that the locals like to go to! They are usually the most affordable with quality food and large quantities. Check to see if the restaurant has a menu somewhere outside the entrance so that you can get an idea of the price before you sit down. Beware of the restaurants that are empty and don’t list their prices. This will give you the best estimate of how much you’re going to be spending on your next meal!
Accommodation is another area where a lot of people will spend way too much money during their trips and without a great return. Hotels are pricey and what they offer is somewhat pathetic. If you are lucky you will have your own microwave and mini-fridge. If you are unfortunate, you won’t even get that for your stay.
Backpacker Hostels will always be #1 when it comes to cheap accommodation. If you can bare living with a few other people in your room at night, then you can find a place to stay for dirt cheap in most big cities. Hostels usually have a shared kitchen to prepare meals and many other perks too. Some Hostels will offer free meals, game nights and other perks. They are also a great way to meet like-minded travelers and friends from all over the world. If you want the atmosphere of a hostel without sharing accommodation, they usually rent out some private rooms as well for singles or doubles. If you opt instead for the shared accommodation, just remember to bring a small padlock with you so you can lock up your belongings. Most hostels will provide a storage container of some sort for each person to store their possessions in while they’re out.
Besides Backpacker Hostels, I’ve recently tried staying in Airbnb accommodations with great success! These accommodations were usually cheaper or about the same price as a hotel and often provide you with an entire suite of your own, including a fully stocked kitchen, TV lounge area and sometimes multiple bedrooms. The locations are often incredible and most hosts go over the top to accommodate because they rely on your positive reviews through the Airbnb website. Just do your best to be respectful of their property because they will also be reviewing you as a guest! Be brave and try it out one day, it’s well worth it!
I hope that this guide will help to serve some of you by helping you to travel longer, cheaper or even just allow you to spend more money on other cool experiences that maybe you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. Good luck, and happy travels!