Top 10 Tips for Cheap Travel
Travel for longer on a limited budget by following these simple tips for cheap travel. Logical, easy to implement strategies to save you money and stretch your travel budget further.
- Free/Cheap Camp as often as possible. Every dollar saved on accommodation can extend your trip, or be spent on other essentials.
Information and details on best free camping in Australia.
- Do the free things first. Climb the mountain, bushwalk the national park trail, canoe down the river, snorkel, surf, take advantage of all the free (or very cheap) cultural opportunities, museums and galleries that each new town has to offer. And by the time you've done all the free things, you've likely experienced much of what is on offer, without spending a cent, and it's time to move on!
Information and details of our favourite things to do in Australia.
- Be friendly! Talk to the locals, talk to fellow travellers, converse and learn. Take advice from anyone who wants to give it, on the best campsites, attractions, and any must do's around. Then weigh the advice carefully for yourself, and take advantage of any that suits you. Some of the best campsites and freebies that we've come across have not been listed in guides and brochures, but have been passed on through word of mouth.
- Avoid the cities. It is possible to travel cheaply in the cities, but it is much harder. In our experience, accommodation costs, in particular, are much higher in the cities then elsewhere.
- Cook for yourself. Eating out is expensive! Eating simple, healthy, 'homecooked' meals is likely to be much better for your health as well.
Go to Easy Camping Recipes for simple meals on the road.
- Analyse each area of your travel budget (eg accommodation, transport, food etc) individually, and decide where YOU can save money. Concentrate first on the largest items and work your way through each item systematically, considering where it might be possible to save money (and preferably without sacrificing anything important to you). Keep a spending diary whilst travelling (at least for the first few weeks, and again at intervals throughout the trip), and regularly analyse your spending, taking note of unnecessary costs AND make necessary changes!
- Travel Slowly if possible. Basically, the slower you are prepared to travel, the lower your weekly costs will be. You will save on your weekly fuel costs or cross-country flight costs and so on. Of course, if you are hiring a car or campervan, the savings in fuel would likely be offset by a longer rental period. Note that rental cost per week will fall, as duration of rental period increases beyond a certain number of days/weeks.
The other advantage of travelling slowly, is the likely opportunities that will arise to save money on accommodation, food, and most other items, as you slow down enough to look around, talk to fellow travellers and locals, and take advantage of freebies and special offers that you would otherwise miss as you whiz on down the road!
- Shop around fiercely with large items of initial expenditure. There is the potential to save thousands of dollars by shopping carefully for your vehicle, caravan, and other large items.
- Where possible, plan well ahead and give yourself plenty of time to shop. Determine what you need and then wait for the price to be right.
- Consider buying your caravan in Victoria, where it's likely cheaper than other states of Australia.
- Do you prefer to buy new, or you can save plenty of money on depreciation costs by purchasing 2nd hand.
- Look after what you have. It will cost you more in the long run if you don't (in both time and money).
In short, don't be lazy or become too busy to take the time to maintain your belongings and yourself.
- Take the time to rinse salt off your car/van.
- Put things away around your campsite so they don't get stolen.
- Drive at an appropriate speed so as not to unnecessarily damage your car/van on corrugated tracks.
- Lower tyre pressure when necessary.
- Perform preventative maintenance on your vehicle and caravan, or have a mechanic do it. Change the oil, rotate the tyres etc.
- Look after your health - eat well, exercise regularly and visit the doctor or dentist when necessary.
- Consider expensive one-off opportunities very carefully. We all have that one thing that we have always wanted to do. But beyond that, do you really need (or even really want?) the helicopter flight, boat trip, swim with the whales, and so on? Or are you only booking in for it because others are, or you feel pressured to for some reason? We saved ourselves a fortune by deciding to be content with all we were able to do for free or very cheaply.
I know I'm past 10 tips for cheap travel, but I want to add this extra one:
- Consider travelling less kilometres. For us, fuel was approximately 32% of our discretionary travel budget when travelling around Australia. We could have saved an enormous amount of money by simply covering less kilometres in the same amount of time. This would have had the advantage of covering a smaller portion of the country more thoroughly, but the disadvantage of not achieving the overview of the entire country that we had desired. If it is necessary for you to keep costs down, do seriously consider travelling at a slower pace and covering less distance.
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