Whether you want to backpack through Europe, road trip across the US or teach English as a foreign language in China, your twenties were made for travelling. Frustratingly, a lack of money can sometimes seem like an obstacle to exploring the world. You might have a list as long as your arm of places you want to go, but if your bank balance has seen better days, you might put your travelling dreams on the back-burner.
Thankfully, seeing the world doesn’t have to drive you into the red. There are countless ways to travel on a small budget and I’m going to share just a few here.
Finding cheap flights
Don’t just book the first flights you see. Be sure to use price comparison websites like SkyScanner and Kayak to search hundreds of travel sites at once and ensure you’re getting the best deal.
You might be able to save money by travelling to and from non-local airports. For example, my brother’s girlfriend lives in San Francisco and in a few weeks’ time she’s coming to visit us all the way in Manchester. Instead of flying from San Fran to Manc, she’s hopping on a plane in Oakland and travelling to London. She’s managed to save a few hundred dollars by doing this and will also enjoy a short stay in London before coming up North.
Although this works for her, remember that time is money and there’s no point going OTT and inconveniencing yourself. Sometimes you’re better off paying the extra. You’ll also need to factor taxi fares, train tickets and reluctant relatives who you’ve roped into giving you lifts into the equation.
Take a coach trip
Last month I headed down to London for the UK Money Bloggers SHOMO awards. It cost me £60 for a return train ticket and at first, I thought I’d done pretty well. That’s until I found out that a friend had saved megabucks by taking the Megabus for a fiver. If you’re not afraid to sacrifice comfort and space for a few hours, a coach can be a great way to get around, no matter where in the world you are.
Airbnb has been a game changer for travellers looking for affordable and memorable places to stay. From spare bedrooms in the heart of London and quirky New York studios to luxurious Parisian apartments and secluded Italian farmhouses, Airbnb lets you pretend to be someone else for a little while. Costs can vary but you can often find modest places to stay for as little as £25.
Another option is Couchsurfing. Technically it’s free and your host isn’t allowed to charge you a penny for your stay. However, while most Airbnb hosts expect you to do your own thing, the whole point of Couchsurfing is to be sociable and spend time with your host. It’s all about the experience. It’s about sampling new cultures, meeting new people, and trying your host’s favourite home cooked meal even if it looks a little bit disgusting.
In a blog post called Why ‘Couchsurfing Is Free’ Is A Myth, travel blogger Dale Davies writes: “It’s helped us to meet up with locals who know the location better than any travel guide ever will, it’s connected us with people who have fantastic travel stories of their own that have inspired us to change direction and head somewhere we’d never considered before.”
If you’ve ever felt discriminated against while looking for a place to stay, you’ll love Innclusive. Its founders Rohan Gilkes and Zakiyyah Myers wanted to create a platform where people from all backgrounds could find a friendly and safe place to stay. Like Airbnb, Innclusive places a strong emphasis on affordable travel.
Embrace a bank account that won’t charge you to use your debit card abroad
I’ve recently discovered Starling Bank and since I first downloaded the app and received my debit card in the post, I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen all about it. I use it to track my spending and ensure I pay attention to every pound I spend, but it’s also a fantastic tool to use when travelling.
Starling won’t charge you a penny for using your debit card abroad and it won’t charge you for using ATMs either. You’ll also benefit from Mastercard’s exchange rate without any excess charges on top. Unlike prepaid cards, you won’t be charged to top up your card and you’ll even earn interest on the money you hold in your account. As you’d expect, there are also countless security measures to keep your money safe, including the option to effortlessly ‘lock’ your card from your mobile if you ever lose it.
Turn your own place into a rental or Airbnb
If you’re a homeowner going travelling for a significant period of time, you could potentially rent out your own place or turn it into an Airbnb or Innclusive space. This can be a great way of covering the cost of your accommodation while you’re away!
However, unless you come to an informal ‘house sitting’ arrangement with some friends, this may require a certain amount of planning. In some cases, you may be considered a full-blown landlord and will need to follow legal guidelines. You’ll also need to check with your mortgage provider and insurance company to see whether your contracts include any limitations. Here’s a helpful guide to renting out your home when you’re on holiday.
This post was sponsored by Starling Bank but as always, all opinions are my own and I’d never collaborate with a brand I didn’t love! Visit the website to learn more about Starling’s features.