* Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Cover-More. The opinions contained herein are completely my own based on my extensive and independent experience with the company, of which they were unaware when I was approached to write this. *
A few months ago I wrote an article for Globelle Travels on how to take your dream trip without breaking the bank, which looked at the things you can do in the months leading up to your trip to travel on a budget without having to compromise too much. But I didn’t really touch on what happens when you’re actually there, when you’ve paid off the flights and accommodation, and bought your snow jackets and guide books, and you’ve actually arrived at your destination, still on a bit of a budget. It’s time to take a look at that part.
As stated above, yes this is a sponsored post, and if you’ve been following my adventures for a while, you’ll notice these posts are few and far between; I won’t ever write about anything I don’t actually believe in just for compensation. But I was really happy to take this opportunity when it came along because Cover-More is a company that I’ve actually had a lot of first-hand experience with, and it’s all honestly been great! So on that note, let me now run you through 10 golden rules I try to stick with while I’m actually on the road in order to see and do it all without having to re-mortgage the house in the process…
1. Travel insurance – duh! And not just because of the Cover-More collaboration! For those of you who have been travelling for a little while, you know that sometimes, no matter how prepared you are, things just go wrong. Like that time I was meant to fly from San Francisco to Las Vegas and the airline cancelled our flight two hours before we were meant to fly, and we had to find a new flight, extra accommodation in SFO, lose a night of accommodation in Vegas, organise new airport transfers, and we missed our helicopter Grand Canyon tour (our one big spending extravagance as our Christmas present to ourselves). Anyway, because I like to prepare for the worst, insurance had been purchased with Cover-More at the time we booked our flights so we just submitted our claim when we got home, money was recovered for us and put towards our next trip! Number one rule for travelling on a budget: INSURANCE!!! It would have been really hard for us to keep travelling on the cheap if we’d completely lost all of that money! And why Cover-More? For us, we keep choosing them because they’ve been around for so long and have established a pretty good reputation for offering good cover for a great price – we didn’t want to lose out on decent coverage because of cost, and keep finding that Cover-More fits that option for us.
2. Extra accommodation expenses – not the accommodation itself, the extras. Buy a small travel clothes line and a big bar of laundry soap so you can wash your clothes in your sink or bathtub and hang them up to dry while you’re out during the day. Instead of consuming from the mini bar, buy your own drinks and snacks from a supermarket. And if the WiFi isn’t free, wait until you’re at a café that does offer free access and use that instead.
3. Staying in touch – I’ve disabled international roaming on my phone and I turn off cellular data when I travel. When I want to contact someone, I connect to free WiFi and call using WhatsApp, or text using iMessage. Taking advantage of free WiFi to contact home while I’m gone means I don’t have a phone bill to come home to – happy days!
4. Breakfast – if it’s not included in your hotel room rate, don’t pay extra for it! Breakfast is such an overpriced meal, with cafes easily charging $10+ for a simple bowl of muesli with yoghurt. What I tend to do when I’m travelling is visit a supermarket/convenience store and buy a box of muesli or cereal, a bit of fruit, and some milk or yoghurt to take back to my hotel; it makes a lot more sense to spend $10 on a box of cereal and some fruit that you can stretch out over 4 or 5 days than spending the same amount every morning for the same thing!
5. Hot drinks – this may not be as applicable to everyone, but for anyone like me who is a big tea or even coffee drinker, one of the best investments I made was my KeepCup! Instead of paying $4 each time we wanted a hot drink while we were travelling around wintery America over December and January, husband and I just made our own in our hotel rooms (we found that most, if not all accommodation will offer tea and coffee making facilities, I also packed a few tea bags just in case, and we used some of that milk we’d bought for breakfasts) and hit the road! Saved a ton of money!
6. Food – so important… I’ve always found that the best food is generally street or market food to be honest! When you have the option to do the street food thing, you’re not only going to save money, but you’re also going to be most likely eating freshly prepared food (high product turnover with lots of locals eating it, too), authentic food (ie not Westernised and served with French fries), and actually experience the place you’re travelling through properly! Nice restaurants certainly have their place, but don’t get caught up thinking that you can’t have just as nice a time in Paris lunching under the Eiffel Tower with a ham and cheese baguette that you’ve made yourself from grocery store ingredients for a quarter of the price of the ones you saw in the café window!
7. Cash – this one can seem tricky but doesn’t have to be. If you plan on using your card to withdraw money from ATMs overseas, try to take out bigger amounts at a time to avoid multiple fees (and don’t carry it all around with you – use your hotel’s safety deposit box, or keep it in several places). To combat the fees/carrying too much cash issue, I’ve got myself a Multicurrency Cash Passport, which I’ve been travelling with for years – it’s basically like a debit card that adapts to which ever country you’re in which means low, if any, withdrawal fees. Also super easy to top up while you’re on the road if you want to add more currency. Definitely worth checking out.
8. Getting around – generally taxis are a waste of money. If you have the option, use public transport instead, and if possible, walk!!! You will see SO much more of the city and make so many more amazing discoveries on your own two feet than from inside a train or car!
9. Travel blogs/social media – this is a bit of a random one, but following travel blogs and social media feeds/tags (Instagram particularly) of the places you’re visiting can give you some really great ideas; my sister and I discovered super cheap Bale Well in Hoi An from checking the hashtag #hoian on Instagram before heading out one night, and the $5 feast we got, as well as the adventure and new friends was something we’d never have experienced otherwise, nor was it an experience we could have gotten from an expensive restaurant dinner! You’ll also find that travel bloggers who stumble across hotels, restaurants, tours etc that are well priced and offer good value will usually share them!
10. Souvenirs – one of the biggest money wasters for travellers. I’ve got a new system; if you’ve seen the image below on my blog (which reminds me, it’s a little old and has many new additions since being taken!), you’ve just about seen the extent of my souvenirs, for the most part. I buy something small from most cities I visit, representative of them (the sugar skull from Isla Mujeres, the wooden elephant from Phuket, the carnivale mask from Venice, etc) and keep them on that little table. I also frame a photograph from each city I visit to add to the wall. And finally, I put the hundreds of photos I take each time I travel into photo books so that I can look back over them whenever I want. The memories I have from looking at my own photographs are far better souvenirs and mementos than any tacky plastic touristy object I could have wasted my money on!
So, there you go – my best tried and tested tips for travelling on a budget. I really hope at least some of them can help others see travel as being a bit more affordable and accessible, and if anyone has any further tips to add to the list, please share; the more help we can offer each other, the more of a chance we all have to see the world!