In the past 9 years of my life, I have travelled a fair bit. I have lived in New Zealand for 6 months and Australia for about a year and a half. Outside of that, I have spent 2 months in France, 3 weeks in Thailand and I’ve taken many short trips and road trips around the world with many plans for the future!
Sometimes people wonder how I can afford to do all of that because the general thought on the topic is that travelling is expensive, and it can be, but it doesn’t have to be! I am actually a person who has never had a lot of money and I’m usually living paycheck to paycheck, but anyways, I thought that I would share some of my tips to help you travel more and for cheaper.
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 strong 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 enter and leave the country as many times as you please during the duration of your granted Visa.
This is hands down the easiest way to make a serious travelling experience affordable especially if you are a young person because you can generate wealth while you are abroad, but more than that, you get a true feeling of what life is like in that country as well!
Most Working Holiday Visas are limited to people 30 years of age and 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 first experience abroad was the SWAP program found here. This is a non-profit organization run through the Universities of Canada to help set up Canadians with an experience abroad. They will help you to 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 the 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 realise 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 Bargain 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 would experiment with multiple websites to try and find the cheapest possible tickets to save myself as much money as I possibly could.
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 schedule, then you can save hundreds of dollars travelling this way!
Recently, within Canada, I have come to know about budget airlines 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 a more efficient security-screening process.
The cons are that you need to purchase additional baggage for about 50$ each way, so the lighter you can 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 travellers 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 from a local grocery store. 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 restaurant to appeal to you.
Look for restaurants that the locals like to go to! They are usually the most affordable with quality food and good quantities. Check to see if the restaurant has a menu somewhere outside the entrance so you can get an idea of the prices, or do a quick Google search of the place. Beware of the restaurants that are empty and don’t list their prices. This will give you the best idea 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 with you, then you can find a place to stay for dirt cheap, as well as having 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 travellers and friends from all over the world. If you want the atmosphere of backpackers without sharing accommodation, they usually have some private rooms available as well for one or two people. If you opt instead for shared accommodation, just remember to bring a small padlock with you, most hostels will provide a storage container of some sort for each person to lock their belongings in.
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 usually 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 website. Just do your best to be respectful of their property because they will also be reviewing you as a guest! 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!