Hostels arenâ€™t always cheaper
When youâ€™re backpacking your instinct is always drawn towards staying in a hostel. They are geared towards backpackers and budget travellers so they must be the cheapest right? Youâ€™d think so, and a lot of the time they are, but if you know where youâ€™re going to be and when you want to be there, you should think about your alternatives. Renting a room or an apartment can often work out cheaper. Sure youâ€™ll be removed from other travellers but trust me, after a year of travelling, a private double room is a blessing now and again.
You can use things like Gumtree and Craigslist but with more dedicated sites emerging over the last few years you can also look on Airbnb and Roomorama. Another option is to contact local universities and colleges. Between semesters campus dorms are for the most part empty and you could get a bargain.
Travel timing is everything
It can be really easy to get caught up in what youâ€™re doing and where youâ€™re going. Itâ€™s also very easy to slip in to the â€œIâ€™ll sort it out when I get thereâ€ mentality. Iâ€™m been guilty of it before and normally I luck out. Other times Iâ€™ve slept on a mat in the roof of a bar in the middle of the jungle, or paid far more than I should have done.
Plan ahead for locations where there might be events, holidays or festivals. Being British, I took no notice of Labor Day weekend which cost me accommodation wise. Do you plan on going to Sydney for New Yearâ€™s Eve? Well so are 300,000 other international tourists. What about Queenstown New Zealand for some skiing? Did you know the town gets packed out during Winter Festival and accommodation becomes hard to find and the prices go up?
Your plans are flexible and bound to change but if you know youâ€™re going to be somewhere on a certain date it doesnâ€™t hurt to check ahead and plan accordingly.
Consider travelling to locations at the fringes of their off-peak season. For example Monsoon season in Thailand typically runs from July to October. I travelled round Thailand in late September and October. Not only was the monsoon weather negligible but because of the off-peak season there were fewer travellers. Keen to save money I was able to get accommodation down half price and discounts on tours that needed to fill their numbers.
Itâ€™s a risk weather wise but if you catch the end or the beginning of an off-peak season you can save money.
Consider changing banks
Youâ€™ve probably been with the same bank since you were 11 and never thought about changing. I canâ€™t and wonâ€™t give you advice about which bank is the best for travelling abroad; the information would become obsolete as soon as this was published. My advice would be to hit up your local high street banks and find out about their overseas charges for withdrawals. Better yet, think about getting an International Bank Account for overseas travel. I’d also recommend you check what assistance they can give you with lost/stolen cards abroad or if you just happen to leave it in an ATM in Belize because you werenâ€™t paying attention. I never did that, honest.
Get a discount cards
There are some great discount cards available out there that cost next to nothing and save you a bundle. The two I would highly recommend are the YHA membership card and the International Student Identity Card ISIC (for non students there is a International Youth Travel Card IYTC). The YHA membership is currently Â£8.95 for a year for under 26â€™s and the ISIC is Â£9.00. Both of these cards are accepted globally for thousands of discounts. The YHA card can get you $1-$2 off each night at participating hostels. Youâ€™ll easily make your money back and this doesn’t include the money you’ll save at tourist attractions. Just don’t forget to show your card and ask. Not all places advertise that they accept it but youâ€™d be surprised how many do. Both of these cards are very worthy investments.
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