Some great tips for travelling cheaply

Thanks to Sarah from the blog coffeewithasliceoflife.com for allowing us to repost her great article about the methods she uses for travelling as cheaply as possible.

Here is a bit about her:

sarah“My name’s Sarah, I’m 25, I guess you could say I live in the UK, but I tend to avoid it quite successfully.

While writing a blog about my journey on a one way ticket through South America, just for my friends and family to keep up on, I ended up getting some great responses.
Not only did I find out I spend way too much time looking for the cheapest price going on EVERYTHING, I also realized there was a lot of travellers out there who didn’t.

Solution? Document it, Write it, Shout about it. Drink Coffee.
And that I did”

The Ultimate Guide To Cheap Long Term Travel

Almost on a daily basis I get the opened mouthed shocked look when I explain to
travellers how much I’ve spent in the last month in South America.

£80.

Yup you saw that right. That’s including food,accommodation, beers and transport
in the amazing South American country of Ecuador. I even managed to buy some new
clothes within that too.

But how?? This is what I’m going to explain to you all now. So read carefully, a
world of cheap travel is out there waiting to you.

Workaway.info

There we go, I’ve let the secret out straight away. This website is how I have
managed to spend less than £2000 travelling for the last 5 months, (apart from
the one way flight I got to Argentina that £2000 includes EVERYTHING else.)

In my opinion this should be every traveller’s number one resource.

So what is workaway.info?

This website is a community of people from all over the world looking for help.
In a nut shell it is Volunteering. From farm work, baby sitting, to working in
luxury yoga resorts in Hawaii.

In exchange for travellers help hosts offer free accommodation and anything up
to 3 meals a day (there are some exceptions to this rule, but about 80% include
food and accommodation)

Workawayers (that’s us) work for an average of 4 hours a day about 5-6 days a week and are rewarded with a lot more than just free accommodation. You get the chance to emerge yourself into local life, language and experiences.

Did I mention this is a free (minus the 22 Euros workaway registration fee for 2 years) no hefty volunteer charges or hidden fees.Let me give you some examples (and the reason I’ve only spent £80 this month)

  • I contacted an Ecuadorian family who had just posted on Workaway. Within an hour I had set up to arrive at their house the next morning. They wanted help learning English and setting up their business. In exchange I got 3 meals a day, a private cabin with a lake view and free transportation into the local town. Not to mention the parties free Spanish lessons, friends and knowledge.

Still not sold? Listen to this one. My favourite Workaway.

  • Chile, the atacama desert, being an English teacher. Private HOUSE, meals in restaurants, parties every weekend, friends for life and a second home. This experience changed my life, the head teacher, the pupils, the town. I spent a month here, honestly I would of spent my whole year’s budget here, but the kindness and generosity of the amazing people of Taltal would have nothing of it. We went kayaking, to bbqs, to private beaches all while teaching English.
Atacama

Atacama Desert Road

Workaway has given me opportunities of a lifetime and new family, the fact that you get free accommodation is no longer a factor for me. I volunteer through Workaway to experience real travel and real people. I cannot praise it enough.

It has changed the way I travel forever.

There is another site which offers exactly the same services called helpX.com. I used this a few years ago, but since workaway has come out it has become out dated. However I still check it every few months to see if any new hosts have joined, and it is still a brilliant resource.

You also have WWOOF.com if you just want to work on farms, again another great website.

Couch surfing

You’ve all heard of it right? Never tried it? Think it’s dangerous? There’s only one way to find out..
And NO it is not dangerous.
What’s the crack? Simply and honestly, free accommodation in people’s homes all over the world.
I have couchsurfed the whole of South America, and behind Workaway it has provided me my best travel experiences.

  • Pia in Santiago took us out for sushi and then entered us into the colour run with her.
  • Paulo from Vina Del Mar made us homemade whiskey sours and showed us how Chileans drink.
  • Janet and Victor from Lima, Peru took us to a wedding and took us on a bike tour.
  • Mario from Guayquil, Ecuador a professional tour guide gave us a free tour of the city and gave us a back massager for our travels.
  • And
    Katty from Quito, Ecuador took us to the Amazon Rainforest.

The generosity of complete strangers is mind blowing, again free accommodation is way down on the list of why I do it. To meet incredible people and be given inside knowledge is my provocative.

Food

workaway food

Cook your own food!

Cook when possible. Hostals usually have kitchens and Couch surfers almost always do. This will save you so much money. Restaurants are nice as a treat but do not make it a habit, buy food locally, support market sellers, cook your own food and make an extra plate for a hungry traveller you meet in the hostal.

I cannot believe the amount of travellers that eat in restaurants everyday and then wonder why they have spent so much money. Food can be a massive budget maker or breaker.

Another cheap and exciting way to dine is through closed door restaurants. These are restaurants created in local’s homes and host visitors through reservations. They are, in effect, paying dinner parties.

They are usually advertised by word of mouth on Facebook, and may require references to make a reservation. An underground restaurant is also known as a guestaurant, which is a hybrid between being a guest in a dinner party and a restaurant. These are still very secretive in a lot of cities but Buenos Aires has the best example of closed door dining.

Check out my blog on being a Vegetarian in Argentina to find out more information

There is a website around called Ghetto Gourmet

Transport

Easy… go local.

Take the local bus, it will usually be 5 times cheaper. It may be longer with less space,but it will get you there.
Controversial tip here. Do not book in advance.
Why?
Well firstly if you miss it you’ve lost your money and secondly you usually find the price is lower if you book directly at the station rather than in a shop.

Many a time I have booked a ticket with an agent and then arrived at the terminal to a big sign advertising the ticket I just bought at $10 cheaper.

There is also a Website called Lyft, it connects you with locals who are prepared to take you where you want to go for a fee, this is usually about 30% cheaper than taxis, and you get to meet a friend.

Talk to people, talk to everyone. Learn the local language. People are the connections of the world. Through talking you will find recommendations, money saving tips, and advice. Someone would have been where you are going next and you would have been where they are heading too. Be generous with your knowledge, share it, we can only find out if someone is prepared to tell.

The not tested sites

Throughout my research/travels I have come across some websites I am yet to try out, but that seem really interesting.

House sitting.

The concept of this is like Workaway and Couchsurfing rolled into one. You look after someone’s house while they are away on business or holiday and keep up with the daily housework, while living there full time. This can be a period of anything between 1 week and a few years, with locations all over the world. Some of the properties are luxury accommodation and even offer a salary.

So why haven’t I signed straight up?

The sign up fee I think is quite high, and the amount of properties listed is not even half the amount of members.
Although the exceptation is Mindmyhouse.com (Their fee is only $20 a year)

Experienced sitters seem to get the gigs over new ones, and a lot of the adverts are in the USA and Europe. So so far, I haven’t felt the urge to sign up as I am in South America, but it is definitely something I want to give a go soon.
Another site is housecarers.com which charges a $50 fee to sign up.

Warm Showers.org

Is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. People who are
willing to host touring cyclists sign up and provide their contact information,
and may occasionally have someone stay with them and share great stories and a
drink

Campinmygarden.com

Is the only online garden camping community in the world. It was launched in April 2011 with an open invitation to all. As a member of this community you can advertise your own garden as a campsite and/or book accommodation in other community members’ gardens. You pay a small fee for camping and have to provide your own equipment.

All in all there are hundreds of websites out there offering free and cheap food and accommodation. Hostals are a dying breed, think outside the box and remember planning is the key to travelling cheap!

7 replies
  1. Victor
    Victor says:

    Sarah,

    Thanks for posting this. My fiancé and I are getting married later this year. For our honeymoon we’re going on a 1 year road-trip throughout Latin America and resources like this are great for travel planning.

    Thanks,
    Vic

    Reply
  2. exploramum
    exploramum says:

    wow – just joined the campinmygarden site – well done on putting that in. We have travelled 21 countries in 18 months – single Mum and son. We will be driving an RV around UK and Europe and wondered if any others know of a site like this where we can plug in or park and not pay outrageous campsite fees, thanks

    Reply
  3. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Vic- wow what a honeymoon!! When are you going? Im starting my central america leg next month so hoping to cover all of Latin America! So keep an eye on the blog!
    And exploramum that sounds so awesome!! 21 countries.. ive got a lot of catching up to do to get to that amount ekk. Thanks for reading.

    Sarah
    coffeewithasliceoflife.com

    Reply
  4. anita edmondson
    anita edmondson says:

    Wow some great stuff there I am travelling for 1 year with my 2 sons 16 24 we are learning as we go which is hard as we have made many mistakes and been ripped off ( often ) . We are into our 4 month and many highs and lows as been together 24 7 can be tiresome and as much as I love been with my sons we can rub each other up the wrong way and one son has some challenging ways . If the boys are hungry or tired mmmmmm it can be tough especially on a strict budget which we are blowing too quickly . There have been a succesion of girls Tru out the trip as both boys very easy on the eye and just love their company . I have been both entertained and annoyed by some of their antics. I am beyond thrilled as we go from country to country with my son’s But TRAVELING is not a HOLIDAY

    Reply

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