Below is a breakdown of how we made our money go further while we were travelling. We were overseas for more than three months, so the only way to make sure our savings went as far as possible was to be really smart and limit unnecessary expenses.
I think that one of the biggest reasons why we were able to make our money go as far as possible was because of four main things we did before we had even left Australia. If it wasn’t for these four things, our trip could have been very expensive. So, without further ado, here is how we made our money go further while we were travelling.
Making our money go further
BEFORE THE TRIP:
1. Chose to go in low season/winter.
Before we ever booked anything we had to make the decision of where and when we were going to go. Ultimately, we decided on heading overseas in low season, more commonly known as winter. If we had decided to travel to the Northern Hemisphere in Summer we would have had more time to save money, but it also would have meant we would have to fork out more money. Travelling in low seasons are always going to work out cheaper.
2. Purchased Round The World flights (RTW flights)
The second thing was purchasing Round The World flights. If you’re going to multiple destinations around the world then RTW flights might be something to consider. Instead of purchasing four individual flights separately, you purchase all four flights on the one ticket. Our RTW flight itinerary was 1. Melbourne to Hong Kong. 2. Hong Kong to London. 3. London to Los Angeles. 4. Los Angeles to Melbourne. All four of these flights were on the same ticket and cost us $1300 each. A single flight from Melbourne to London or Los Angeles can cost more than that. With the RTW flights booked in, we just filled in the gaps with a trip to Vietnam from Hong Kong. A trip to Europe and Morocco from London and then flights to Canada and Mexico from Los Angeles.
3. Purchased the Eurail pass
Travelling by plane from city to city in Europe was not an option for us, travelling by train was a much better option. This is where our pre-purchased Eurail pass saved us a lot of money. The Eurail pass allowed us unlimited train travel on most European trains for 15 days, within a two month period. While we did have to pay for a couple of seat reservations, on top of what we already paid for the Eurail Pass, having the pass meant we could get the reservations for discounted rates. If we had to purchase tickets for every train trip we took, we would have spent hundreds of dollars more for the amount of train travel we did.
MUST READ ARTICLE: How to use the Eurail pass
4. Booked everything through comparison websites
The fourth and final thing was booking everything we could through comparison websites. The majority of our hotel bookings, car hire and flights (except the RTW flights) were booked through various comparison sites. We used sites like Skyscanner, Kayak, Hotelscombined, rentalcars.com, Booking and Agoda. There are hundreds of others out there which allowed us to see the cheapest prices for the same rooms, best rates for plane seats and best value for the same car. These comparison websites allowed us to make the best decision, based on the price we were willing to pay.
How we made our money go further – During the trip:
The four points above were the aspects that had the most impact on our finances before we left Australia. But there were many reasons, while we were travelling, that helped us to save and make the money go further. Many of the things listed below overlap and interconnect with the four listed previously. Here is how we made our money go further while we were travelling.
Opted for longer means of travel
On many occasions, we opted for the longest and, of course, the cheapest mode of transport. Kayleigh and I caught buses from London to Paris, from Dubrovnik to Split and Merida to Playa Del Carmen in Mexico. We also opted for trains in almost all of Europe, including long trips from Paris to Barcelona, Berlin to Amsterdam and Stockholm to Oslo.
We walked everywhere
In big cities like Paris, London, Barcelona, Rome and Mexico City we walked almost everywhere it was possible. Walking kept our costs down, it also allowed us to see streets, artworks, architecture and gardens we wouldn’t have otherwise seen.
We used public transport
Public transport was usually our first choice. We used the metro system wherever we could, including in Hong Kong, London, Lisbon, Naples, Vancouver and Los Angeles. Public transport should be utilised as much as possible, that’s why they are there. If the places you are visiting have the services available you should take advantage of them.
Used Uber over taxis whenever we could
It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, taxis are expensive and drivers always try to rip you off. This is why we try to avoid them as much as possible and use Uber instead. We used Uber in parts of Europe, including Dubrovnik, Vienna, Munich and Stockholm. We also used it multiple times in Los Angeles and Mexico City. Uber was comfortable, cheaper and completely safe to use.
If you haven’t yet signed up for Uber then you can sign up with my referral link below and get $10 off your first ride. Sign up by clicking the link below.
RELATED POST: Why you should use Uber while travelling overseas
We booked low-cost airlines
When booking flights, we booked the low-cost airlines. It goes without saying why we booked them. The seats my not be as comfortable and they may not have as much leg room, but we don’t mind that if we are able to save money. Some low-cost airlines we used included TAP Portugal, Easy Jet, Vueling, West Jet, Inter Jet and Jetstar.
On three separate occasions, we chose to hire a car using rentalcars.com. We love this company, They always seem to have cars for the best prices every single time. The three countries we hired a car in were Croatia, Iceland and Canada. It was cheaper for us to drive from Split to Zagreb with a stop at Plitvice Lakes than it was to do a tour or catch a bus to and from there. It was also cheaper for us to hire a car for a few days and drive anywhere we wanted, rather than doing multiple tours and airport shuttle transfers in Iceland. In Canada, it was easier for us to hire a car for a few days and drive from Vancouver to Calgary, with stops in Jasper and Banff, than it was to fly or catch public transport. Hiring a car isn’t always going to be the best value for money. The cost of car hire should be weighed up against possible costs of tours, or other forms of transport.
Stayed in 3-star hotels
Spending money on expensive hotels was not going to be sustainable. However, staying in 3-star hotels and hostels was. Except for a few rare occasions, we stayed in only 3-star hotels and a few hostels. The way we looked at it was our rooms were just a place to sleep at night and to store our luggage.
To book the majority of our hotels we used Hotels Combined, our favourite hotel comparison and booking website. Check out Hotels Combined for your next holiday.
Stayed in Airbnbs
We didn’t always choose to stay in hotels on our recent trip. Airbnb is a service we absolutely love. We used Airbnb in Dubrovnik, Split, Ljubljana, Bergen, Vancouver and Playa Del Carmen. Airbnb allowed us to have amazing views in Dubrovnik and Bergen. It also gave us the opportunity to save money on eating out by cooking our own foods.
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Stayed in less touristy areas
On a few occasions, we stayed in less touristy areas, which means more locals and cheaper accommodation, restaurants and cafes nearby. Instead of staying in the city centre of Bergen we stayed in an Airbnb in a residential area. Rather than staying in Downtown Los Angeles, we stayed 20 minutes away in Pasadena. Stockholm city centre? No, a short train trip to Odenplan. Inside the walls of Dubrovnik’s Old Town? No, a ten minute walk away. Less touristy areas will almost always be cheaper.
Booked our accommodation in advance
To avoid exorbitant prices for accommodation we booked as far in advance as possible. The closer it gets to your preferred dates, the higher the prices will be.
Booked hotels with breakfast included
We saved money on food by booking as many hotels with breakfast included as we could. This meant we could fill up on as much food as we wanted at breakfast. We didn’t need to buy breakfast or lunch every day. Muffins, bananas and pastries may have been stashed into our bags.
Everyday purchases and necessities
Pre-made supermarket food
Rather than eating out every day we bought lunch from supermarkets and convenient stores. We lived on pre-made supermarket foods like sandwiches, wraps, fruit, yoghurts, snacks and more. We did dine out, just not every day.
Avoided food near tourist hotspots
When we bought food, whether, from a supermarket or cafe, we always avoided those closest to the major landmarks and tourist hotspots. These establishments are almost always more expensive than those a few streets back.
Hand washed our clothes in our hotels
It is impossible to go for three months without washing clothes. Washing clothing is an important aspect of travelling, we had to do it several times. Rather than paying for laundry services from hotels or going to a coin-operated laundromat, we hand-washed our dirty clothing in hotel sinks.
Used Skype and Facebook to make calls
We didn’t buy a sim card while we were travelling, we contacted family back home, and anyone else we had to call, using Facebook and Skype. Skype to Skype and Facebook Messenger are both free. Skype can even be used to call landline numbers, once loaded with credit.
We didn’t do a lot of tours
Tours and day trips can be expensive, doing them for every destination was not going to happen. Kayleigh and I decided to do most of the trip ourselves, we decided we would only book tours for the things we really wanted to do. Travelling in Morocco on our own wasn’t something we felt comfortable with, so we chose to do an Intrepid tour. To see the Northern Lights in Iceland we decided on a tour because we didn’t know where to go to see them. We found it hard to get to Chichen Itza in Mexico without car hire (which we could not afford by that point of our travels), so we chose a really cheap tour.
READ MORE ABOUT TOURS HERE: How to choose the best tour company for your trip
We didn’t always go to the touristy spots
Travelling doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money to go and do a lot of fancy tours and see all the touristy landmarks. With a bit of research, it is not hard to find gems off the beaten track. There are also plenty of free museums in the world, which are worth seeing and amazing places to hike and take in amazing views. We did a bit of everything, saw the major tourist attractions, explored some things well off the beaten track, went to free museums and did a few hikes.
We didn’t buy souvenirs
The last point on this long list of how we made our money go further while we were travelling is not buying souvenirs. At various times on our trip, it was very tempting to buy authentic souvenirs and gifts. However, the way we looked at it was that money could be used on more important things like food or putting it towards a bus ticket or entry fee to a landmark. For us, taking photos and recording videos were our souvenirs. These things will last a lot longer than a souvenir, these are the things we will be able to look back at in the future.
Thanks for reading about how we made our money go further while we were travelling. Travelling doesn’t mean you have to spend lots of money, there are many temptations and distractions. If you are smart with your money you can avoid paying for unnecessary things and paying too much for certain things. How do you make your money last longer when you go travelling?